Friday, February 25, 2011


A major challenge in learning to live with DID is switching.  Switching is when alters come out, or 'switch' to another.  In someone with DID that is not co-conscious as I am, that would mean an alter takes over completely.  This might sound drastic but is rarely noticeable to outsiders.  People only see what they expect to see, and no one expects to see another person taken over by another personality unless they are aware they have them.  Sometimes I do black out completely, and wake up walking or browsing the internet, usually just a continuum of what I was doing before.  As far as I have noticed, I only lose a few seconds or a few minutes when this happens.  It is hard for me, at home by myself, to even realize that I have lost time.  To me it is a second.  I may blink and lose two minutes.  I usually only notice that I have lost time when I look at the clock and what felt like five minutes has been a hour, etc.  (This happens a lot, with time and also days.  I have been quite happy with myself recently for getting a calender and closely monitoring it and the computer so that I usually now know what day it is.  Time is a bit better, I feel great satisfaction looking at the clock having expected five minutes to go by and it was indeed only five.)
In public when this happens it is usually under a lot of stress, as everyone is aware and trying to get out and see or very agitated, and switching happens much more frequently.  I usually have a headache from all the switching or from trying to hold control, where I literally tighten the muscles in my body and head to try and 'hold' onto it.  With a complete switch as I described above, I will have the headache, and feel myself start to 'slide' sideways and then black out for a rapid second.  It is like blinking without closing your eyes.  The sliding is a bit akin to having the 'room spin' as in a panic attack but much more intense and brief, and always precedes a switch.
The most common switching for me is co-conscious, meaning someone else will take over most or all of the functions of the body, but I am still aware with all my senses of what is going on.  It is like standing behind their shoulder (left shoulder, always the left for me, my counselor has noted I'm very spacial:)  no, no, spacial, not special!).  Sometime when I am 'in the back' so to speak, I can give them information, or guide them, usually as with children alters to help take care of them and keep them safe.  If needed sometimes I can pull myself to the forefront with great effort.  Usually being addressed by another person jerks me to the front, since everyone inside knows they are talking to me, and the rapid jerking and or forcing myself to stay in front gives me a headache.  Sometimes, however, I cannot take charge, or even communicate with the alter that is, and they usually do their best to avoid people or simply ignore them. 
Going out in public is a challenge that we are working on.  Some alters express a desire to be out in public, especially recently my five year old.  She is brave and loves being around people, so we have been able to work out a deal where I will be in charge and she can come out too and just watch, or if she is in front and in charge I can guide her and take over if necessary.  Switching in public is probably more scary for me than for them, it makes me much more aware of the process of losing control of my body while someone else steps in, and worry of what will happen or what they will say, and realizing I have less control than I think at times.  Managing switching depends on how well you can communicate with your alters, since it is a group effort.  Ignoring anyone or any part in the body, something anyone who has grown up in an abusive home has learned to do, is catastrophic with DID.  However, learning to work with everyone results in an impressive team.

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