Dissociative Identity Disorder Self-Care: Setting Boundaries
Self-care involves taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional needs, and is especially important for people with dissociative identity disorder (DID). One component of self-care that is essential for people with DID to practice is setting boundaries. Healthy boundaries are necessary in order to maintain good health. Setting these boundaries and communicating your needs can make managing life with DID a little easier.
Healthy Boundaries Can Be Difficult for People with DID
Many people with dissociative identity disorder have experienced childhood trauma. Personal boundary violations are often a part of that trauma and abuse experienced in childhood. As such, it is less likely that healthy boundaries were learned as as a child, and some people continue to have trouble with appropriate boundaries into their adulthood.
It may be difficult to realize that your boundaries aren't healthy because you never learned what healthy, appropriate boundaries were, and that's okay. You can learn how to set healthy boundaries at any age.
Setting and Communicating Boundaries is Essential for Managing Life with DID
Self-care like setting boundaries is a universal right that all human beings are entitled to, even those who don't have DID. However, for those with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or DID, physical boundaries are especially important, as certain physical touches or actions can trigger flashbacks or dissociation. Even certain words can be triggers. It is important to keep yourself safe by avoiding and coping with these triggers as best you can. You can do this by establishing your own personal boundaries, and by communicating those boundaries to the people around you. Your boundaries with DID will depend on your needs; there are no set guidelines.
Don't be afraid to let others know your boundaries. You don't have to talk about your DID if you are not comfortable doing so. You can tell people which things are okay and which are not okay, whether it be specific physical interactions or certain words or topics of conversation. Many have found it easier to explain their boundary needs within the scope of having PTSD, as PTSD is less stigmatized and more widely understood than DID. It may also help to write out what you want to say first, and practice it. You can even write your needs down on a piece of paper or a card and keep it with you. This can help remind you of the boundaries you set in place, and it can also be used in difficult times when you are having trouble communicating your needs out loud.
Involve Your Alters With Self-Care and Setting Personal Boundaries in DID
Boundaries are meant to protect you. This is even more important for people with DID, because oftentimes, there are parts that were not protected at one time or another. It is important to have physical, emotional, and sexual boundaries in place for the entire system to follow to keep everyone safe.
Alters may disagree on what boundaries should be followed. It is beneficial to work with all of your parts to come to a mutual agreement. If there is disparity within the system, the boundaries you set will not be effective. All parts involved need to understand what boundaries are needed and why, and that these boundaries are not meant to punish anyone or make anyone feel guilty. It may take some time to come to an agreement.
Start out small by setting a few boundaries, and add more as you become more comfortable. Remember, practicing self-care and setting boundaries are meant to keep the whole you safe and healthy. You are worth being protected.
Matulewicz, C. (2016, February 17). Dissociative Identity Disorder Self-Care: Setting Boundaries, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, November 29 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/dissociativeliving/2016/02/dissociative-identity-disorder-and-self-care-setting-boundaries
Author: Crystalie Matulewicz
For me, boundaries mean keeping away from people that are not safe. Unfortunately I have people that I have to be around (in-laws). So, when we have to visit my husband makes sure he is always in the room with me and his mom. Also, I no longer carry on a "pretend" relationship with her through phone calls because inevitably she would say something to trigger me. I guess I am learning who is safe and who isn't in my life. The lady I work with isn't safe so I no longer share anything personal with her. To be honest, having the background I do it is so hard for me to determine who is safe and who isn't. I can take ALOT of abuse and still call someone safe. I am now trying to look at the small clues along the way of getting to know someone and backaway at those moments before the small clues turn into painful clues. One book that has helped me along those lines is "People of the Lie".