Managing Dissociation When You're Homeless with DID
Managing dissociation when you have dissociative identity disorder (DID) is easier when you feel safe and secure. When the DID system feels safe, it is easier to function more effectively. But what happens when the environment changes and, all of a sudden, that sense of safety is gone? Is managing dissociation still possible when you don't have a secure environment to live in?
Maintaining Safety Is Essential to Managing Dissociation
Whether you are homeless or just living in an unstable environment, managing dissociation requires you to establish and maintain a sense of safety for you and your parts, or alters. It may not be possible to live in a secure environment all the time, but that doesn't mean your system's sense of safety has to crumble. There are ways to help keep you and your system safe even when things around you are unstable.
Establish a safe space. It could be anywhere: your car, a favorite coffee shop, or even the bathroom. Try to pick a place that is easily accessible. Let your parts know that it is the place you all can go when you need to remember you are safe. Keep a bag with self-soothing items, like stuffed animals, essential oils, and candy, as well cards and safety statements to read when things get tough.
Reach Out for Support in Managing Dissociation
Many people who have experienced trauma and abuse have difficulty reaching out and asking for help and support when they need it. But if your environment becomes unstable and you are faced with homelessness, reaching out for support becomes more important than ever. There is nothing wrong with asking for help from others, whether that help be in the form of financial support, physical support, emotional support, or otherwise. There are organizations in the US that help people with mental health struggles find stable housing. Therapists and social workers can also connect you with additional resources, as well as provide additional therapeutic support if needed.
Don't isolate. You and your system are going through a lot, and having other safe people around can increase a general sense of safety and security. Support groups, both in-person and online, can provide you with a place to go as well as continued support from others who understand. Reassure your parts that it's okay to reach out to others, both inside and outside the system.
My Struggle of Living with DID While Homeless
I recently became homeless after an unexpected hospitalization in April. I left the hospital with a few days worth of clothes and nowhere to go. My system was in chaos. My parts and I lost our sense of safety and security.
My emotions were all over the place, yet I went numb. My younger parts were confused and crying. One teenage part was convinced that it would be better to end our lives. Another part insisted that we return home, the very place we ran away from after enduring 29 years of abuse and trauma.
I did my best to try to keep it together. I was ashamed, but eventually, I reached out to my friends and told them my situation. One friend offered me a couch to crash on. Many other friends sent financial support. It allowed me to re-establish that sense of safety for me and my parts again. We didn't have to go without food. We could take the bus to places where we felt safe. I made sure to get our favorite stuffed animal and most comforting scent spray to carry around.
I reached out to my social worker, who was then able to find me a bed at a homeless shelter so I wouldn't have to sleep on the streets. I've been communicating with my therapists via email and text, so I can have that sense of support even though I am displaced. I check in with friends every day so I don't isolate. I constantly remind my parts that we are going to be okay, that we are safe, and that this is only temporary.
While it's not the most ideal situation, I'm doing the best I can for me and my parts. There's not as much chaos now, though there's still confusion. I don't know where I'll end up, but I refuse to give up. My parts and I have overcome so much already.
Matulewicz, C. (2018, May 10). Managing Dissociation When You're Homeless with DID, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, March 30 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/dissociativeliving/2018/5/managing-dissociation-when-youre-homeless-with-did