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Working with Alters

Krystle Vermes
A critical aspect of living with dissociative identity disorder (DID) and all your moving parts is having multiple personalities to manage on a regular basis. These personalities often vary in age and appearance, and they typically have traits that make them unique in the eye of the individual living with DID. Taking care of parts is essential to managing DID on a daily basis, but what happens when their needs are not met?
Krystle Vermes
"What do your alters look like?" is but one question I receive from people who do not live with dissociative identity disorder (DID). It's because one of the most fascinating parts of DID to people who don’t live with it is the concept of alters. Under the internal family system (IFS) theory, we all have parts of our personality that make us tick. While we may have one part that wants to eat a slice of cake, we might have another part that tells us to skip the empty calories. This isn’t so far from what people with DID experience, but on a more extreme basis. People living with DID may have dozens of parts to juggle regularly, which may make it slightly more challenging compared to the average person.
Krystle Vermes
One of the most important tactics you can learn as a person living with dissociative identity disorder (DID) is journaling. Although it may seem like a relatively easy concept, many people take journaling for granted amidst the other options to manage the condition, such as meditation and exercise.
Becca Hargis
What is it like to hear voices in dissociative identity disorder (DID)? Hearing voices, sometimes known as auditory hallucinations, and having DID does not mean one is psychotic or delusional. Hearing voices is actually common with the disorder, but it is also a complicated topic for which a one-size-fits-all answer does not work. However, we can still understand the phenomenon of hearing voices when we examine how our alters influence us.
Becca Hargis
Is it necessary to dialogue with your parts in dissociative identity disorder? What are the benefits of dialoguing? What exactly does it mean to dialogue with your parts? In previous posts, I have written how important it is to communicate with your parts, or headmates as I call them. However, dialoguing with headmates is something more. What does dialoguing look like, and why should you try it?
Becca Hargis
An alter in dissociative identity disorder (DID) is always assigned a role or a job. For example, an alter might be a host, protector, persecutor, rescuer, gatekeeper, etc., and the alter usually has his or her job from the time he or she is created. As a result, it is an important question to ask if it is ever appropriate to assign an alter a different job. What if the role for which the alter is responsible puts the DID system in harm's way? What should you do then? Should you tell the headmates they are not needed anymore, that you can perform their jobs and take care of yourself?
Becca Hargis
Should a loved one or a friend ever be allowed to force a switch in someone with dissociative identity disorder (DID)? What does forcing a switch mean? Let's go back to basics first.
Becca Hargis
Persecutory alters are something that can exist within a dissociative identity disorder (DID) system. We, ourselves, live with this kind of alter. We can feel threatened, taunted, and condemmed by this kind of alter. We are harassed with negative messages in our head, screaming that we deserved the abuse and the mistreatment and that we are worthy of death. These cruel messages are ones that persecutory alters in DID offer us. (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
Becca Hargis
The time to talk about suicide and dissociative identity disorder (DID) is now. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in adults. For those with dissociative identity disorder (DID), the Cleveland Clinic asserts that 70 percent of sufferers, more than any other mental health condition, have tried to die by suicide. Discussion of suicidality is no longer optional. It is imperative that we end its stigma and discuss it now. There are 12 coping strategies and skills you can use to help those who are suffering and wanting to die by suicide. What specifically can those with DID do to help themselves and their headmates cope with the overwhelming desire to end their pain? (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
Becca Hargis
If living with dissociative identity disorder (DID) is not challenging enough, it can be even more difficult and imposing when learning your system might include opposite-gender alters.