Handling Holiday Stress with Dissociative Identity Disorder
Holidays can be a stressful time for anyone, but when you have dissociative identity disorder (DID), handling holiday stress can be especially overwhelming. Anniversary reactions, sensory overload, and boundary violations are common stressors for those with DID, and are most prevalent around the holidays. It may feel overwhelming, but there are ways to handle the holiday stress when you have DID.
The Holiday Stress of Anniversary Reactions
Many people with dissociative identity disorder (DID) experience anniversary reactions around the holidays, especially the December holidays of Christmas and Winter Solstice. Anniversary reactions can be conscious or unconscious and can be experienced by you or one or more of your alters. Experiencing these anniversary reactions can bring up unresolved grief and may even cause a person to relive the original trauma.
The first step in handling the holiday stress of anniversary reactions with DID is acknowledgment. If you know that a certain holiday is a trigger for you, you can prepare for any possible emotional reactions ahead of time. Work with your therapist and your parts to make a plan of action in case things get too difficult. Reach out for support. Remind yourself and your parts that you are here in the present, and no longer in danger in the traumas of the past.
Sensory Overload Increases Holiday Stress
Although sensory issues are not inherent to dissociative identity disorder, it is not uncommon for people with DID to experience sensory overload. The holidays can be especially difficult for those with sensory issues; the bright lights, loud noises, and large crowds can seem like they are unavoidable this time of year. When you have DID, these sensory stimuli can trigger dissociation.
It is important to recognize what your triggers are so you can try to work around them. While it is impossible to avoid every trigger, you can make changes that can help decrease the risk. Avoid large crowds by buying online or shopping during slow hours. Put ear plugs in to muffle loud noise. Ask someone you trust to stay with you in case you get triggered and need support. If you start to feel dissociated, practice grounding techniques to keep yourself in the present.
Maintain Healthy Boundaries When Handling Holiday Stress
Holidays involve being surrounded by lots of people. Sometimes there are people we don't want to be surrounded by. For those with DID, the holidays can bring about contact with an abusive person, which can be a trigger. It's okay to avoid contact with anyone you or your parts do not want to see. You and your parts are a priority.
Kissing, hugging, and other forms of physical touch can seem normal to most people, but these forms of touch can be a trigger when you have DID. You can say no to any unwelcome touch. You are not required to do anything you are not comfortable with. It's healthy to maintain personal boundaries. Don't feel guilty or ashamed for asserting your needs.
Don't feel obligated to feel or act happy just because it's the holidays. It's okay to cry. It's okay to scream. It's okay to be hurt. It's okay to grieve. You and your parts experienced a lot. You don't have to keep your feelings inside just because it's a holiday. Be who you are. Be who you all are. Whoever that happens to be. You can handle holiday stress with dissociative identity disorder.
Matulewicz, C. (2016, December 7). Handling Holiday Stress with Dissociative Identity Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 15 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/dissociativeliving/2016/12/handling-holiday-stress-with-dissociative-identity-disorder