Communicating Between Alters in Dissociative Identity Disorder

Sunday, April 12 2015 Sherry Polley

In dissociative identity disorder (DID), communication between alters (alternate personalities) is the key to a person’s well-being. With DID, a person may have one or many alters, all working together to form the whole of who the person is. I have formed a couple of ways of working with my alters to create communication within dissociative identity disorder between alters.

How Can I Increase Communication Between Alters in DID?

One powerful way that I have created communication within dissociative identity disorder, is to create a “mediator” alter. I call this voice "The Mediator" because it exists solely to create communication between one alter to another. I developed it on purpose, as I learned to do during my experience with DID.

Using The Mediator To Increase Communication Between Alternate Personalities

Communication between alters in dissociative identity disorder can be challenging. Learn better ways to communicate between alters in DID.

The Mediator holds all of the factual information. They know where the person lives, the phone number and the safe people to call. They know who the person has and has not met before, and when something is dangerous. This is important because some alters will become very frightened when they don’t know who they are with or where they are. The Mediator can tell any alter the factual information, so he or she can stay safe, not be afraid and get help, if needed.

Some alters may resist The Mediator, at first. They may not trust this voice that is interjecting. It is important that each alter learn to trust The Mediator, in order that it can function properly. When they learn to trust it, they may choose to ignore it, but at least they have access to the facts. This will be a helpful way to increase communication between alters within dissociative identity disorder.

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Author: Sherry Polley

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Communicating Between Alters in Dissociative Identity Disorder

Kelly
says:
April, 12 2015 at 3:14 pm

Hello Sherry,

I would love to know how you created an alter with this purpose of communicating with everyone. I still don't know how many alters I have. I only know of one at the moment (Little Girl). I don't hear voices like others have shared but I now can recognize when I feel the little girl. I am wondering once I become more and more aware of things if I will start hearing others. I do dissociate a lot and went through a period (about 7-8 months ago) where I was fixated on suicide (I am thinking that during that time I was dissociating and there was an alter more present than I was). It scares me that now that I have this new diagnosis (just a few months now) and things are getting so very confusing/difficult that I have that suicide ideation already in my head somewhere. All that said, I am very interested in hearing more about communication between alters and myself.

I also suspect I may have an alter that the rest of us do not like at all because she is so angry. So, it seems very hard to imagine communicating with one that we don't like. I guess I need to start with maybe getting to know her better.

Thank you Sherry for blogging for everyone that has DID!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Sherry Polley
says:
April, 18 2015 at 7:06 pm

Hi Kelly! Thanks for your comment. I don't really recall "how" I created the alter, per say... I just know that I needed an alter like this, and I just kind of made her. Like she appeared when I had thought of needing her? I'm not sure exactly, as my memory from that time is very splotchy. I have had alters create other alters, at least once, where my little girl created a mother alter that she needed. I think if you recognize the need for them they kind of create themselves somehow. I'm not really sure. It's the same way I developed all of my alters. I made them but I can't tell you how.

It is common to have one or more alters that most of you don't like. For me this was Christine, or Chrissy. She was abrasive and did destructive things. But it was important for me to accept her as she was and to embrace her as part of the "system". At first i tried to reject her, but that was not a good idea. I couldn't heal this way.

I am not an expert on DID. I can only share my experience as I recall it. And sometimes I can't recall it very clearly, as is the nature of DID. I'm glad you enjoy reading my blog! I hope you will find topics that are useful. Thank you for the comment!

beverly
says:
April, 19 2015 at 6:35 am

I am trying to communicate better with my parts and it is getting easier. I asked one of "front" parts to help but it wasn't successful. Now I try and keep a journal of day so other parts can read what we did, who we met... I also use it to ask questions like. Do we want a new puppy or Why are we afraid of going to the mall? Everyone gets a chance to respond and it helps alot. Takes a week or so for everyone to answer but it's working.
I am also interested in how you did this. Was it a part already? Do you think it might be your core self? In is buried deep inside) or were you actually able to create a new functional part?

Mary S.
says:
April, 28 2015 at 3:24 pm

beverly,
Years ago when I was doing a lot of my own therapeutic work to try to integrate my parts (primarily because I was undiagnosed and unable to get any therapist to recognize the challenges of my condition or even recognize it), I used a process of guided imagery to set up a means of communication where all of my parts could literally "come to the table" for discussion.
I went into a light meditative state, by closing my eyes and letting go of any particular idea of what needed to happen, and created an image of a conference room with a large round table. I sat down at the head of the table and asked all of my parts to enter the room and sit at the table (if they were willing) in the most appropriate place that would symbolically represent their position and relationship to me. Some sat at the table, some stood off by a window looking indifferent, and one stood just outside the door to listen but not really participate. I worked with this same basic image and request for several months, dialoging with each part and negotiating lots of decisions and personal issues. Eventually, I began to experience the integration of some parts and a real ability to communicate with parts that had been completely cutoff before doing this work. I still use this image on occasion when I feel like I am splitting off or if I have a part that is becoming unruly--and I use it immediately when any major trauma or emotional loss occurs to prevent any major setback to the best of my ability. Hope this is helpful.

Meri
says:
July, 14 2015 at 6:34 am

Hi Sherry,
I appreciate reading your perspective on ways to promote dialogue/awareness between alters. The important base starting point appears to be either "allowing a self/alter" to naturally fall into the mediator role or to create a necessary new mediator self/alter.
After a year and a half of therapy and improved mindful and meditation skills, I'm becoming aware of my daily selves and, it seems, my ability to create new selves for new jobs etc. So far, I've been writing and talking to my selves with some scepticism. Lately though, with a change in acceptance/gentleness I have recently noticed/accepted the differences in our writing and drawings. I'm guessing with a more gentle approach with myselves I'll eventually reach a point where we can have helpful meetings that you've described. Thanks for the info.

Jake
says:
March, 22 2016 at 7:23 am

I found this idea very enlightening, and am going to have a try at it when I get home. Thanks!

Bill Blatch
says:
July, 18 2016 at 8:38 am

I am very new to this and have one alter called Tilly, a female 35 years old who has been very vocal of late in her frustration of feeling trapped within me. She has become very insistent that I adopt her wishes over my own and has at times caused me to inflict self harm for not allowing her to form external relationships. Can anyone offer anything to help me.

Kelly
says:
July, 20 2016 at 11:51 am

Bill, I have two alters (so far that I know about). I also am co-conscience and have a skilled counselor. I will share what has worked for me but I also know that DID experiences vary very widely among all of us with DID. I worked with my counselor and I set boundaries for my alters. I give them time (for me this is after my kids go to bed) and they also have time with my counselor. I keep communication lines open and since my others are children I have to explain again and again why we have the boundaries that we do. Other times I work hard to stay in control when it isn't appropriate for the others to come out. For me, it feels like I am trying to move through really thick jello and my thinking and speech slows down tremendously. I couldn't always stay in control in the beginning but now their pushing out doesn't happen as frequently as it used to. They do NEED to have relationships with others. BUT I have had to limit who that is. For me I have a supportive husband and counselor so they (my husband and counselor) have built relationships with them that are strong. That seems to satisfy their ache for being with others.

Beatriz
says:
September, 12 2016 at 7:35 am

Hey, I'm 16 years old and... I think I have DID. But I'm still a bit confused, like- I have voices in my head. I think I had it for at least 6 years right now... I started to become a little scared when I couldn't remember what I have done or talked to other people around me. I discovered 4 of them in my head and- I'm trying to talk to them but I don't really know how to do it. I researched and found out about the diary used to communicate with them... But how exactly I do it? What if they don't write anything in the pages? And about one of them... She is a kid. I don't know her age or even her name(I call her Z) but she is scared of something. What can I do to help her? She keeps crying for her mama- my head hurts when she does that. Please help me, I don't know what to do.

Lucy
says:
December, 2 2016 at 12:22 am

Hi Beatriz,

I'm glad you've been able to reach out for support, how brave. It sounds like you've been very resourceful, seeking out information that will help you heal. I remember when I first realised that I had a part of me inside that seemed like a child, she too was crying out for a caring adult, and I too found it very difficult to know how to respond. What my therapist encouraged me to do, and what ended up working for me (and my little self), was the following:

1) To validate her feelings - e.g. With a compassionate tone of voice, saying 'I'm sorry you're feeling so scared - I'm not sure what you're scared of, but it makes sense that you're scared'.

When children have difficult feelings, those feelings may not make sense to the adults around them, but that doesn't mean they're not valid feelings. Children need adults to validate and accept their feelings, no matter what is causing them. That helps the child feel safe - they know that their feeling is okay/accepted - which actually helps the feeling reduce in intensity, and the child's "thinking brain" can switch on (it gets switched off during really intense emotion), and often the child can then let the adult know what it is that has caused the feeling (i.e. what it is that frightened them) because they can think more clearly, and they feel safe with the adult who has accepted their feelings.

2) Check that you are safe now (physically safe and secure), and if you are indeed safe, reassure the child part that you are safe now, and that it is okay for her to tell you what is frightening her. You can explain to her that you are more grown up now than you were when you were little, so that you can look after her and help her feel safe. If you're not currently safe, it is really important that you seek out help to become safe from harm. Safety is a really important first step. All parts of you need to know that you are currently safe in order to feel comfortable sharing their feelings and experiences.

3) Don't worry if it doesn't feel as though she can hear you or is responding to what you are saying. She might not trust you yet. That doesn't mean you can't be trusted - it just means that because she's been stuck with her frightening feelings for so long and hasn't had a chance to share them with a safe adult, it might just take her a while to learn to trust you. You'll need to earn her trust by being consistent and a safe person for her. You CAN build a good relationship with her - it will just take time. Unfortunately I can't say how long, as it's different for everyone.

4) If you get a sense that she can't tell you what is frightening her, don't try and force it or worry too much. A frightened child needs reassurance more than anything, and then, in their own time, they might be able to talk about or draw what has frightened them (that's why it's important to make sure you're safe now, then she'll be able to trust your reassuring messages). This is where the diary comes in. This point can also be applied to the other parts you are talking about (in fact all these points are applicable to any part). It takes a lot of courage for parts of us who have not communicated with us (for very good/important reasons) to learn to trust us with what they have to share. They have often been traumatised and made to do things according to other peoples' agendas and according to other peoples' time frames, so in order to create a healing environment for them, it is important that they receive a clear message that they can share if and when they feel comfortable sharing, and in their own time and at their own pace. This might not feel very convenient to us, but it is important to remember that those parts are playing a protective role, and they will often only share something with us when they know we can handle it. You can start the diary off by writing a letter to your parts, or drawing them a picture if you think they might find that easier. Imagine that a caring support person was writing to you or drawing for you, validating your feelings of fear, sharing their care and concern for you, and inviting you to share with them in your own time what is upsetting or frightening you. You could write the letter to your parts as you'd imagine that caring person might write to you. You could share simple, non-threatening things about yourself, such as what your favourite colour is. Remember, these parts often have the mindset of a traumatised child, so simple and comforting messages are important.

I've written a lot - I hope I haven't overwhelmed you, Beatriz. Again, I'm so impressed by your courage, and wish you all the best as you build on the great start you've made.

Warmly, Lucy.

Johnmark
says:
February, 7 2017 at 7:21 pm

Hi , I'm johnmark and I have a question?
So my long distance girlfriend has DID I know one of her alters already named DaKota. She the protector of the body , she told me every alters insides my gf's head . She warned me about the persecutor , named "guy" she told me that he is a destructive of my gf and he wants her death. How to do you deal with it and how do you make them not kill the body of the owner ? .

God this situation is hard for me , I can't do anything I can't even go to the state she lives in furge.

Please answer this as soon as possible.

Kaylee Delfino
says:
February, 18 2017 at 12:01 am

I can communicate pretty well with about 5 of my alters and have been working with them for as long as I can remember, I don't know very well how others can do this or if my situation is even similar to others with DID but I've been looking into things and thinking about trying to get a list or something of all of my alters so I know how many and who all are there because it seems once I know about them communicating becomes easier do you have any ideas how I might be able to go about this, I could really use some help.

ROBERT MATTHIAS
says:
March, 7 2017 at 3:50 am

I managed 20 alters with a lady I supported from a teething baby 2yr olds young older teens adults of either sex . I spoke to each as they arrived , called them family with host as mommy or big sister. I discovered their likes/ dislikes and reassured. Explaining where they were who family were . They communicated through notes and emails which I shared as intermediate. 21 yr old male was protector but eventually learned to trust

ROBERT MATTHIAS
says:
March, 7 2017 at 3:53 am

I managed 20 from teething baby to 2yr olds teens to adults. I asked their interests music , food, hobbies etc. Communicated through me by email and diary and notes . I was seen as big brother

Todd Cox
says:
March, 12 2018 at 12:21 am

How did you create a "mediator"? I am just learning about mine. I just been learning as much as I can about it because I know of one that I have through friends. We have named him TJ or Little Tom depending on his age when he is triggered to come out. If I see something or get on a topic that triggers him, he comes out. I don't know if I have anymore then just the one. Unless each age is a different one? Please let me know how to do this cuz he comes out a lot and I don't get things done that I need to get done. How do you find out if you have more then the one? How do you get across to them that you need to get stuff done so they need to wait to come out kind of thing? Any help, or advise would be helpful. Also, how do you work a job if it keeps coming out?

Kenneth Brown
says:
August, 11 2018 at 4:59 pm

I don't know how to communicate with my younger alter, he is always hiding from me. He claims a lot that he doesn't like crying in front of people and that he wants his parent and go back home. He doesn't feel like he should be around people because he is scared that they hit him. He thinks everyone has something against him and he brings me sort of painful flashbacks that must belong to him. I don't know what to do, he gives me headaches and I feel like he just can't feel safe...
I'd like some help..I want to help him

Carrie
says:
October, 28 2018 at 10:35 pm

okay so, i might have DID,but i dont know cuz i also have depression.if i do have it,i have on that loves food cuz everytime im talking to someone with a cupcake in hand,i blackout for a sec and then the cupcakes gone. everyone says i ate it.i also always forget if i ate,or what i did eat within a few hours.

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