Melissa: I have alternate personalities.
Skittle: It’s really funny!
Melissa: But what if none of this is real?
Unknown: She doesn’t even like me!
Melissa: Where was I when that happened?
Melissa: SNAP back to it, man. Snap back to it.
SpitFire: Can she just get out of my face?!
Skittle: I want to watch a cartoon!
Melissa: What if I’m not real?
End Intro Reel
While life moves at its own speed, I’m dissociating, one step ahead of the stampede.
Dissociative Identity Disorder can feel like constantly trying to catch up with yourself, and the world, and only falling behind. Some might feel that is all there is to DID; getting trampled and getting nowhere. I’d like to present both ends of what the reality is for myself and my system.
Is there hope for someone with DID to be successful and find normalcy? Does it ever get easy? In the opening of the second season of The Bag System podcast, we discuss a perspective that contributes to hope.
If you have a dissociative disorder and feel that your future is lost, or if you love someone who is struggling, or simply wish to learn, this episode allows a peek into our experiences. We crumble, we fall, we collect ourselves and get back up. While sometimes, this feels like one of those lather, rinse, and repeat scenarios, there is more to this journey than our knees in the dirt.
I will not be kept down. I will not give up. Determination drives my pace to match the stampede, which really, is attainable. How do I do that? I’d love to tell you more.
This season of The Bag System podcast is hoped to be one of realistic optimism, education, and humanizing what is considered overly tragic or fascinating. We are all only human after all.
If you give us a listen and you want to find out more, you can find us over at thebagsystem.com
You can find our online DID merch shop at dissociative.store where we custom designed T-shirts, tank tops, posters, blankets for littles and for systems, mugs & Tumblers, and of course, bags
Stay tuned for the end, where we make a few shoutouts
When you feel that we’ve earned those stars, consider a moment to leave us a rating and review, wherever you listen.
While it’s not all doom and gloom, regardless of Dissociative Identity Disorder or not, everyone’s path crosses a little of both. Also, regardless of DID, some paths have a little more doom, and others, a little less gloom. While tragedy may cause DID, this is not what ones life is alined to be. While some refer to alters as demons, I say, they are the angels that saved my mind.
There’s nothing mystical about Headmates. They are a necessary product of life experiences, and a creative method of survival. Rather than perceiving them as tragic results, one might pay them the respect and dignity offered to those who put themselves in harms way for another.
So, if not tragic nor mystical, or if not what ends a life, but saves it, then can the only path for those with Headmates be dreary failure? Unfortunately, it can be, but not because there was no other way.
Sometimes, there are survival kits engrained in a young one as they learn and age. Sometimes, this kit can be taught to those who grew up without one. Some may see a lost cause and not offer them a kit, or, one might feel like a lost cause, and not reach out for one.
In trauma and dissociation, when there is no safety to reach for, when there are no resources, no options, with only ourself to care for ourself, our creative escape saves our mind, but leaves the future insecure.
In our case, our symptoms led to years of psychiatric holds and inpatient stays. We didn’t know how to cope because with years of inner retreat, we built our own world, while losing track of how to live our day to day.
We worked for years in a care home for the elderly before the flashbacks, dissociation, self-loathing, and self-destruction became such an issue that we were no longer functional. We had been independent, found our own way, while I ignored the signs that I was not alone in my efforts.
The first time that I completely stopped eating and drinking water, I was 3 years old, and when I started acts of self-harm, I was 5. This engrained negative coping was the only survival kit I knew, and the only one I reached for.
Starving myself into a lessening existence was not a solution, but it took my mind off the problem, as well as gave me a direction with which to aim the anger that was not owed to me.
I was in a sort of limbo. If it weren’t for another trauma in early 2019, the dissociative symptoms may never have escalated to the degree where the signs of DID I was dismissing, were then, clearly not merely quirks. I may have gone my entire life unaware of the existence I shared.
In some ways, I miss believing in my solitude. Though, while owning our own space in our head may feel comforting, so is the chance to heal with the truth.
A DID diagnosis was not what meant the end of my future, but the beginning. With an awareness of the source of the symptoms I was experiencing, the appropriate help could then be put in place.
With therapy, self-awareness, ability to recognize what my experiences were and responding accordingly, I finally found a concrete chance at turning my life around.
A point to note though, is that despite spending most of my life unaware of the issue for which to form a solution, my life was not lost to gloom. I gradually fought my way into mental health advocacy and taking a stand for myself and others. Creative outlets led to pencil etched binders, adding up to 3 full published novels. In speaking out, or in persevering in what drove me, opportunities were offered, such as guest staring in an episode of two different major Canadian documentary series, or national radio, publication in the Montreal Gazette, or closing motivational conference speeches; all offers to which I seized.
While my life held a degree of success, I was also crumbling; barely surviving. The only part of life keeping me holding onto the earth we live, was reaching out to make a difference for those around me. If I didn’t have that one powerful thing… seeing something good come from my place in the world, I may have given up.
Now, I continue to strive to make my positive dent, though, I also live for myself, and for those with whom I share this life.
I do things I enjoy, like this podcast. I aspire to achieve for the satisfaction of advancing and improving towards bettering our wellbeing. After 5 years of employment at a non-profit assisting those with Tourette syndrome and their loved-ones, I branched off and took a leap in starting my own business in web design and search engine optimization. With inspiration from the influence of Headmate John Q, we took an interest in learning coding and our knowledge is growing. Alongside a team of volunteer coders, we continue to project manage the development of a web app that we concept created for assisting communication in DID/OSDD systems.
So, what made the difference?
Not only did the diagnosis allow a clearer roadmap, but I was not left alone to steer my recovery. When the help offered was impeding rather than improving my state, I made clear what my needs were and pushed for specialized assistance that was appropriate to that diagnosis.
I learned skills, positive self-talk, or at least, less negative, and I learned to work as a team. With radical acceptance of the situation, or also, radically adapting to the reality of multiplicity, it became clear that I kept crumbling to dysfunction because a ship is steered by its crew; not manned merely by one captain. At first, I sought to steer on my own, though, with symptoms increasing, system awareness spreading, switches rapidly alternating, I found myself on the ground more than I ever had previously.
I feared sleep, as flashbacks and night terrors lived in the dark. I lost a sense of the passing of time, and gaps in memory created confusing encounters with strangers who claimed to know me. I forgot the things I’d done, or even more, the things that needed to be done, while time sank from awareness and a post traumatic state of complete dissociation led us to a crisis centre for PTSD. Work leave was necessary, while communicating as once before was lost along with the capacity to live alone at home.
With inner communication, assistance from therapy, a lot of practice at trying our legs with the strength in lift we only achieved in unison, our steps forward didn’t leave us falling so far back.
If you’re in the same place as we were, I can pass on a few tips.
If you’re dealing with spacing out and losing track of time or the tasks required to self-care, one option is to make lists of reminders of what needs to be done and set alert notifications for the time the task is needed. This way, when floating off into dissociating and losing track of time, the reminder alert will help to think to eat, or shower, or take medication.
In response to dissociative episodes, the application of grounding techniques could bring your awareness back enough to find the present, or to think clearer in order to manage another step in regulating symptoms. The ones that work vary for the individual, so it may be helpful to try a few of them to see what grounds you most. One that I find helpful is sensation, such as walking, or even stomping a little, to feel the sensation of your feet on the ground and remember that you are real and present.
Eating, as in, the act of chewing, especially something crunchy and moving the jaw is helpful. I can’t eat when I’m already full though, so a trick I found is to grab my toothbrush and brush my teeth. I do this while reminding myself that I’m real and present. A trick for on the go could be to bring a bag of almonds or a box of Tic-Tacs to crunch and ground yourself without necessarily mentioning why, if preferred not to.
If sitting or being stationary induces further or continued dissociation, it may help to get up and stretch your legs and walk around, maybe while taking heavy steps to feel feet pound floor.
Adding a few cubes of ice to a large bowl or bucket of cold water, then holding your breath and plunging your face into the water to hold it there for the duration of safe ability provides a sudden rise to the present, as well as calms the heart rate and anxiety that may have spurred on the dissociation.
If you have a support system, scheduling times with one or a few of them each day where they check in on you at a certain hour, just to be sure you are safe, can be a source of sense of safety.
If you feel that your security is at risk, then while these methods might help, more assistance may be needed. While self-help is often necessary and positive in the long-run, It’s okay to ask for help.
The moral of the story, and of course, there is a moral to the story, is that DID is not the end of something; it’s just a different something. The mind is meant to follow a certain varied means of path that may wind, or flow up and downhill that each takes their own speed and ability, or is achieved with various creativity. With Dissociative Identity Disorder, we also require to tread as anyone else, though, the road forks in all directions with unbeaten paths that lead away, or are long loops back to the start. It’s frustrating, disorienting, confusing, and sometimes frightening.
Keep a lamp light on that beaten path so it can lead you back. The mind may fork in unpredicted paths, but as a team on those paths, reach out to each other. Together, you can find your way.
Life flows at its pace, though rather than feeling like a stampede is racing up behind you, find your footing together; even if that means asking inwardly that for everyone’s wellbeing, there is no tug-of-war for control. Allow the host, or whoever is able to carry on, to move forward with the crowd, and not disoriented by it. Support each other, even if it’s by stepping back when necessary, or coming forward when your strengths are needed. Communicate. Hold your lanterns high and call out for each other. In guiding together on forked, confusing roads, you complete each other.
DID is not overly fascinating and mystical, nor is it purely tragic and a lost cause. While most may follow a single winding road, ours not only forks, we also walk simultaneously down multiple paths as separate and unique from each other, while being one-whole. Relationships are part of everyone’s beaten path. Ours is merely different, while not less human, but more-so, as relationships spread as much inwardly, as they do outwardly.
Sometimes, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel until we put one there. We may wish for someone to hold guiding lit ground, and while some are fortunate to have such a person, the strongest, most enduring illumination can only resonate from within you; distinct lanterns, leading themselves to daylight.
Own the day. Be your own stampede.
Special thanks to Wu who listens supportively on Podchaser and leaves a star rating to every episode. A warm comment from Wu can be quoted as, “Do you know that some of the actual instances of your life are some of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever come to know?”
Shoutout to our listeners on Audible, who are now our second-most source of downloads.
Shoutout to everyone who clicked on that subscribe button, boosted the star ratings, or left a thoughtful review. Shoutout to anyone who binge-listened to the show, or who faithfully clicked that play button to every episode from the start.
A warm hello to the United States, who lead the statistics charts in locations per country by thousands.
As said in the beginning, find us at thebagsystem.com where our public Discord link is located, or search our DID merch shop is at dissociative.store