Dissociative Identity Disorder Self-Care: Meeting Basic Needs
Wednesday, April 27 2016 Crystalie Matulewicz
For those living with dissociative identity disorder (DID), self-care -- even the most basic physiological and safety needs -- can feel like impossible tasks to fulfill, especially during times when self-care is most needed. If basic needs are unmet, this can hinder the healing process and make living with DID a little more challenging. You must meet your basic needs with DID self-care.
Dissociative Identity Disorder Self-Care: Meeting Your Physiological Needs
Psychologist Abraham Maslow developed the theory of the hierarchy of needs to describe the needs of all human beings. At the very bottom of the hierarchy are physiological needs -- air, food, water, and shelter. These may seem like simple needs that no one should have a problem meeting, but the truth is that it's not that easy when you have DID. Some days, it may be difficult just to get enough food and water. This is especially true if you suffer with an eating disorder in addition to DID.
While one alter may have regular eating patterns, another alter may restrict or refuse to eat altogether. It requires a lot of collaboration and communication between alters within the system to make sure the body is getting adequate nutrition. Without enough food and water, a person can experience physical and psychological symptoms that can worsen DID symptoms.
Dissociative Identity Disorder Self-Care: Your Safety Needs
If one's physiological needs are met, the next step is safety needs. Safety needs are perhaps the most difficult for people with DID to fulfill. For many with DID and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a history of trauma, child abuse, and/or neglect makes feeling safe seem like an impossible task (Effects of Child Abuse Impact Adult Survivors). This is because safety and security needs were not met in childhood at a time when they were needed the most. As a result, even as adults, it can be difficult to really feel safe in the world, and sometimes even in one's own home.
When you don't feel safe anxiety symptoms worsen. Sleeping issues can affect mental health. Dissociation and other dissociative symptoms may increase. These symptoms can affect your personal, social, and occupational life considerably.
If you cannot advocate for your own needs, try to find a support person who can advocate for you. At times, hospitalization is needed to get a person back to better physical and psychological health. With DID, sometimes you have to start from the very basic, bottom-level concepts and work your way up. You won't always be able to do that on your own.
My Struggle with Dissociative Identity Disorder and Self-Care
It is a struggle for me to meet my basic needs. In addition to my DID, I have an eating disorder and a complicated history with food and malnutrition. Some parts in my system are stuck in the same eating patterns we endured in childhood. My PTSD symptoms are in high gear and I don't feel safe anywhere I go. I run on little food and little sleep.
I realize how much these unmet needs are affecting my life. My DID symptoms are worse. I feel physically ill. Therapy has hit a roadblock because I'm not well enough to move forward with processing trauma. I need help, and that is difficult for me to admit. I am 30 years old and I can't handle things I should be able to handle, the needs I should have been taught about in childhood, the needs that were neglected for my entire life. It shouldn't be this hard, but it is.