Lately I have been dissociating a lot more and my friends were asking me how they could help and support me.
1. It’s healthy for someone with DID or OSDD to have alters for different situations.
You might think that someone is doing really well when the host can deal with more things on a daily basis or if they are out a lot. It may seem like they’re acting more like a normal person, because they are handling everything with one personality. This is however not how peoples brains work when they have DID or OSDD-1. All functions are split up between alters. One alter can’t access all the areas of the brain, so it’s not possible for one alter to have the ability to handle every single situation. It’s still healthy for people with DID or OSDD-1 to rely on their system and trust their system to handle different parts of life. It’s how we’re built! So don’t try to encourage one alter to take on everything, it’s actually really counterproductive.
2. Please do not try to tell us what we should or shouldn’t do.
Unless you are a trained therapist or psychologist, try not to tell us what we should or shouldn’t do in order to get better. Don’t say things like: ‘You should be able to handle this by yourself, you don’t need an alter for this.’ Things like that can be very hurtful. Some advice can be really helpful though, simple tips like: ‘Don’t forget to stay hydrated today!’ or ‘Have you eaten anything yet?’
3. Trauma and Triggers.
DID and OSDD are trauma-related disorders. These people have been through a lot. DID/OSDD-1B is in some ways a form of complex PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder). Just like people with PTSD, we have triggers and flashbacks. All these things come with
If you are interacting with a system or getting to know a system, be aware of their triggers. Not all triggers will make sense to you. It’s whatever the brain associates with something traumatic, it can be anything and it can take us back there. We can relive the experience, emotions and physical feelings can come back.
4. Asking for other alters.
Try not to push aside an alter or make any alter feel unwelcome. They all have a right to be there, even if you can’t see what they are doing to help the system. If they weren’t needed in that system, they wouldn’t be in that system. Everybody has a right to use the body. It is very hurtful to say ‘sorry, you’re not my favorite’. It makes us feel very unwanted. Please don’t imply that we are not wanted by asking for somebody else to front.
If an alter is very distressed, and you need to ask for a protector (Victoria, Norah, Julia…), sometimes repeating the name of an alter can help bring them to front. If you need to talk to someone that day you could say something like ‘I really want to talk to … at some point of this day’. Don’t say something like: ‘Oh, I don’t want to talk to you right now. I need to talk to someone else.’, ‘Can you switch out?’ or ‘I’ll come back later when this alter is out.’ Don’t ask for another alter to front unless it’s an emergency or you need to pass on information- in which case: politely bring up the subject.
5. Respect all alters.
Every alter has feelings and emotions, some may have very repressed emotions or don’t express them very well. Always try to make the alters feel respected, loved and wanted. They are all part of the person you love. All alters together make up the system and that system is the person that you are friends with. If you are trying to support the system, it means that you have to support everyone in that system. It doesn’t mean that you have to love or even like all of them, but you have to respect them.
6. Exaggerated startle reflex.
A lot of people with a disorder caused by trauma have an exaggerated startle reflex. A lot of people find it very funny to make people with an exaggerated startle reflex jump, because their reactions are usually extreme and dramatic. Don’t do this, please. It is terrifying, and it can be very triggering. I really don’t like this.
Because a lot of people with DID/OSDD have trauma, be careful how you touch them. Touching is so much more than just touching. This is very hard for people to understand, but touching certain spots can be very triggering and unpleasant. Make sure to know where we are happy to be touched. Some people don’t like to be hugged. This van be different for every single alter. Know what they are comfortable with. Be careful how you touch and interact with a person that has DID/OSDD. You don’t have to make a big deal out of it, you can just ask ‘Are you okay with hugs?’ or ‘Would you prefer if I don’t touch you?’
8. Triggering out an alter.
Never ever trigger out an alter, even if you are using a positive trigger. You can only do this if you have agreed with the people in the system if that it’s okay in an emergency situation. Triggering out an alter is a big no-go. There are negative triggers and positive triggers, negative triggers are bad triggers that can cause an alter to front for bad reasons. They may cause flashbacks and the alter can be in a distressed state. For example, crowded places and loud noises are negative triggers for me. Negative triggers can make people re-experience trauma.
An example of positive triggers can be certain foods, or children’s toys are often a positive trigger for Lily. Triggering out an alter on purpose feels violating. It feels like someone is robbing you of the control you have over your body and your mind. Don’t trigger an alter out just because you want to spend time with them, because it’s very unpleasant.
9. Respect the privacy of every alter.
Respect the privacy of every single alter. Not every alter is going to enjoy sharing personal things with you. Not every alter is going to open up about things. Some alters may have trouble trusting others. Not every alter is going to act the same way. Be respectful of every alters needs and understand that everyone is going to feel a little bit differently about every situation. If one alter has shared something with you, as in, a memory of trauma, that doesn’t mean that you have the right to tell another alter that, unless you have been given permission. There is a reason not every alter will remember certain things, so be careful with what information you share with the other alters.
10. Trauma jokes.
Don’t joke about trauma. Seriously. Don’t. It’s not funny and it is very hurtful. Be careful with this. Try to be sensitive to the things that we may have experienced. Be aware of why we are who we are.
11. Who is fronting? – It’s okay to ask!
When you meet up with a system, don’t expect that the host is always fronting. Just because the system has a host, doesn’t mean that this is the person who is always fronting when you meet them. If you are not sure, you can always ask! ‘Can I just ask, who is out right now ?’ or ‘Is this still …’. It is always okay to ask this! Approach it delicately. It’s okay for someone to say ‘I am not sure right now.’ Sometimes (more often with OSDD-1B), a combination of alters is fronting, so it’s sometimes hard to tell who is fronting. It can also be really hard to tell who is fronting because of dissociation.
What should you do if someone is switching? Give the person time. Switching can be very disorientating. It takes time to adjust. The person that came forward may not know where they are and whether they are in a safe situation or not. It will take some time to regain their bearings. Reassure us that we are safe, and tell us that we can take our time.
PLEASE DO NOT interrupt us while dissociating.
13. Please do not distract us while we are dissociating.
Dissociation can be very disorientating. Don’t touch us while we are switching or when we are very dissociated, unless you know for a hundred percent that it is okay (even if you are a close friend, never assume this though!). Otherwise, it can be very startling.
When someone is dissociating, don’t distract them. People might try to get our attention, because it looks like we are zoning out instead of dissociating. They will try to get our attention by clapping their hands, waving etc. It is horrifying. It can be triggering, so please don’t do that.
You might see that my list is a little bit shorter than the list of the DissociaDID system, but this is just what I found very important.
It is really important to note that if you have ever accidentally done this to me, it is okay! i understand it can be hard to adjust to it, but i really hope you will try. thank you so much for reading this.
I love you all!