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D.I.D. A Legitimate Diagnosis
A Spiritual Healing
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Support for Supporters of Survivors with D.I.D.
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First of all I want to commend anyone and everyone who supports a survivor of any type of abuse. I realize that it takes much compassion and empathy to deal with someone who has experienced so much pain in their lives and have so much baggage to tote around. If you are a supporter of someone who has Dissociative Identity Disorder, your friendship is unique and can be a special one for the both of you.
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Just as anyone who experiences trauma needs to talk about their pain, multiples need an outlet as well. However when you're dealing with a survivor with D.I.D. you are also dealing with more than one individual, taking into consideration the mental, emotional and even the physical stamina that appear in each alter personality.
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That being said, I feel that it is important here to emphasize how separated our memories are. In general multiples are often accused of being chronic liars because one alter personality may relay a memory of their childhood to you; while another alter personality may confess that there are no memories of childhood at all. The survivor may also seem like they are contradicting themselves at times by giving you two or more opinions or answers to one question or event, when in reality you have been conversing with two or more alter personalities during that one conversation.
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During our life time we are also thought of as a Hypochondriac, suffering with one ailment after another and never seeming to get to the bottom of what is causing the pain. This happens because each alter personality deals with different issues and each alter personality carries his or her own memories, including "body memories." And also, we really do suffer with a multitude of ailments simply because we are under so much stress.
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And while you may have spoken to one alter personality a few days ago and they told you that their favorite color was pink and had seafood for lunch, today another alter personality may tell you they like the color yellow and had a hamburger for lunch the other day. Well, the other day to that particular alter personality could actually have been three years ago if that alter personality has not been out and active in a while.
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Survivors who live with D.I.D. are forced to cope with a tremendous amount of noise in our heads from the alter personalities talking back and forth and the children inside who are singing, laughing or crying and the angry alter personalities who are ranting and raving while still other alter personalities may be comforting another alter personality with a lullaby or humming.
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To top that off when a survivor is trying to have a conversation with you, other alter personalities may also be listening and can be triggered by something you or the alter personality that is already out might say, or a certain noise, smell or any other stimuli that could catch the attention of other alter personalities.
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These triggers have the potential to cause an alter personality to switch in completely and take over the conversation, which in reality probably happens a lot more than you are aware of. But your friend, or one of the alter personalities may at some point want to tell you what they are seeing in their heads, but be ware that if a person is a multiple, then what you are about to hear is not the usual pat on the behind or a beating with an iron rod. The type of abuse that causes a person to create alter personalities is far more graphic and unbearable than you can ever imagine.
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I am told that just by hearing of the atrocities performed on someone who is a DID survivor could even cause the listener to dissociate. You must protect yourself from any damage that could be caused by listening to the stories of torment that the survivor has experienced. You might stop the survivor and gently suggest writing these thoughts down so that they can be sure to tell the therapist on the next visit. But unless you've been trained to treat such disorders please refrain from counseling your friend, it could actually do more harm than good.
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You may notice that the survivors alter personalities start switching in and out more often than before. That happens because all of a sudden all of these selves are coming out of hiding after years and years; and more alter personalities with even more hidden memories get triggered by the last memories and then more memories and the survivor is flooded with images and sounds that no human should ever have to experience. Another reason that this switching might become more obvious is that you may be paying closer attention, or the alters are beginning to get more comfortable and want to spend "their" time with you.
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Probably the worst comments you can make are "I understand" "things will get better" and "I know, I was abused too"! No one could possibly understand what this individual has been through! Even if you are a survivor of childhood abuse yourself, each case is unique and each survivor has earned the right to own the feelings that they have, and only a trained professional should proceed with counseling.
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Another one of my pet peeves is having someone try to cheer me up. You must understand, that what has made your friend so depressed is far more serious than just a bad hair day. And don't forget that you may be dealing with an alter personality who may not have the capability to be anything but sad (most of the alters only have one emotion and that emotion is usually exaggerated many times because that is all that they are).
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But you may also be dealing with an alter personality who simply does not like you and that "one alter personality" has the ability to sabotage the entire relationship between you and your friend for good if they choose to do so. Please remember though that just because one alter personality may not like you, it does not have any affect on how the other alter personalities feel about you. Be careful not to take it personally.
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If you choose to remain friends with a survivor after learning of their diagnosis you will have to accept the fact that these alter personalities are not simply just another side of your friends personality but rather they are separate individuals who, for the most part have absolutely no knowledge of one another.
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Be honest with your friend! If you find that the friendship is overwhelming and is interfering with your own lifestyle or comfort zone and you feel uncomfortable, then by all means please do not take the friendship any further. We survivors are strong and intelligent and we'd much rather face an honest denial than a long drawn-out, confusing friendship.
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By the way, this does not make you a bad person by ending the friendship! As a general rule I would have to say that multiples do not pose a physical threat to you or anyone else for that matter with one exception (their own body). Even the angry alter personalities for the most part have their place but know where to draw the line. All we want is that you treat us with the respect that you would the next person.
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Another good tip to remember is that the process of healing does not necessarily mean integration. If your friend tells you that he/she is happy with the progress that they have made, then you must respect that. And if your friend and his/her alter personalities decide that integration is not for them; then be happy that at least he/she is feeling better. After all that's what is important. You may not understand why your friend does not want to be like other people, and experience life as a whole integrated person but it is a scary issue to face.
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After all we survivors have lived the majority of our lives by dissociating, therefore this has become our comfort zone. Integration may come later if the alter personalities decided that it is safe enough, but until then your friendship will have to stand on it's own for what it is. And if you're waiting for the day that this person becomes whole, you could be wasting a lot of precious time that could be better spent just enjoying their company because most multiples are in therapy for years and years until the final stage of good mental health is achieved (what ever level that may be).
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If you have an issue with one alter, you have to address the alter personality that you have the issue with while they are still in control of the conscious part of the mind in order for the issue to be resolved. Otherwise the innocent alter personality will be confused, having no recollection of the incident that you are addressing. Before your friend has been in therapy long enough to gain some control, you may tire of the alter personalities switching in and out and even become angry because of the alter personalities speaking out of turn. However if you direct your anger or lack of patience toward another alter personality, (as if that alter personality were the guilty party) then your point has not been made.
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Being a friend to someone who has Dissociative Identity Disorder is much like being a friend to someone without D.I.D. You just need to remember that your friend is not always in control of the conscious part of the mind. And your friend may be and probably is an alter personality and not the original person who was born to the body. Try to be yourself! Be a friend and leave the rest to the professionals.
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Try not to guess what's going on in your "multiple" friends mind, it'll drive you crazy for one thing and besides the survivors who are living with this disorder do not even understand the mechanics of it, or how we created these selves in the first place (or else we would know how to undo what has been done), We only live with it!
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And finally if you love someone who suffers with D.I.D. and you need more information about the disorder or how to treat that person, him or her. Remember that you have a friend who has been silenced for an eternity and chances are that he or she would be delighted to know that you care enough to acknowledge their pain, and eager to share in the discovery of their inner world.
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By: Candy Little
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Candy Little
D.I.D. A Legitimate Diagnosis
A Spiritual Healing
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