Thursday, January 19, 2017

My Mom has DID

My Mom has DID- a guide for pre-teens and older

Having a Mom with DID can be tough. You may often times wish you had a "normal" Mom. You may find yourself getting angry or embarrassed at your Mom for being the way that she is. That's okay. It is difficult to understand and sometimes it's hard to believe that it's real. I would like to help you to understand and how to cope with DID. 
As a Mom (who has DID) to 3 children I know how frustrating it can be for them. They often feel very alone in their feelings and confusion. You are not alone in this. There are lots of kids just like you who have a Mom with DID who also have the same questions and concerns that you have. By understanding what DID is you will be able to build a good relationship with your Mom and be able to offer your support to her. I will go slow and explain it in terms you will understand. (Although DID can affect both women and men I will be focusing on women, as they are the most commonly affected

CHAPTER 1 WHAT IS DID

DID is an abbreviation for Dissociative Identity Disorder. It used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder. Let me define each part of the definition for you so you can better understand what it means. 
Dissociative-this is when a person loses track of time or what is happening around them. 
For example: When you are in school and the teacher is talking, you may find yourself daydreaming. The teacher calls on you to answer a question and you don't know what the answer is because you don't know what the teacher was even talking about! You were in your own place and not aware of what was being said or done around you. That's one example. Another way of dissociating is when you are reading a really good book in a noisy room and you get so involved that you no longer notice the noise or people around you! Your mind becomes unaware of the distractions and focuses on the book you are reading. 
Identity- this is who you are! This is how people know you from other people. Your identity is unique from anybody else's! 
Disorder- can mean a lot of different things. In this case it means an ailment or irregular behavior. A person who has this disorder may lose track of time, forget things, or be unaware of their surroundings (by dissociating), have many identities, which causes their behavior to change! That is what DID is! 
DID is a creative coping skill that your Mom used to survive horrendous childhood abuse. It happens to people who were hurt repeatedly by physical, sexual and emotional means. Your Mom learned to escape the pain by creating an imaginary person to take her place. That is a form of dissociation! The imaginary person would come out and your Mom (as a child) would go someplace else imaginary. She may have had a special room in her mind that was filled with toys or candy and would stay there until the abuse was over. Then she would come back from her special place and the imaginary person would go away. Your Mom would come back and not even remember what happened because she wasn't even there! Over time your Mom (child) would create more imaginary people to handle certain scary situations. Eventually these imaginary people started to feel real and even chose their names. Whatever the age your Mom was when she created the imaginary person is usually the age that they are too. As your Mom grew up and had birthdays a lot of the people created stayed the same age. Some of the imaginary people started out as older people as a way to feel strong and safe and are the same age today as they were when they were first created! 
Even though your Mom is an adult, these people inside (called alters) are still there. Sometimes when your Mom gets scared, stressed, overly tired, or other reasons, these alters may come out to protect your Mom. That is why they were created and they have a job to do! The alters have their own distinct identities! Each one may have their own way of talking, thinking, dressing and more! Some do not know who your Mom is or that they are sharing your Mom's body! When they look in the mirror they only see themselves. Your Mom's identity is unique just as theirs is unique! 
Life becomes disordered when these alters begin trying to live their life separately. They may take money out of the bank and spend it, wreck the car, take a vacation to another country while using your Mom's body! Your Mom may find themselves in strange and scary situations. They will not know how they got to where they are or how their bank account was emptied! Your Mom may hear voices in their head but not know where the voices are coming from. They may find letters with strange handwriting on them or have strangers call them by a different name. This can be extremely frightening and confusing and can make life feel chaotic! 
Dissociative Identity Disorder is not a mental illness. It is a creative, intelligent way to survive! The term disorder does not mean sickness! It's simply a term used to describe something that is not considered to be normal. Not being normal is not a bad thing it's just different. Everyone has his or her own idea to what normal means so it is a good idea not to get too hung up on that word.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED SO FAR?

1. What is DID? 
2. In what ways have you dissociated? 
3. What are the created people called? 
4. My feelings right now are: 

CHAPTER 2 WHO ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE ANYWAY?!

A person with DID can have from 2 to over 100 or more alternate personalities! That's pretty amazing isn't it? So how do you know who is who and what age and so forth? It will take some time to get to know each personality and their ages, likes and dislikes, their names, and their role in the system (that being their job inside which some people with DID call a system.) Let's go through some of the different types of alters you may come in contact with or may already recognize in your own Mom and how to deal with them. 

THE LITTLES These are children alters. They can be babies up to the age of 5 or 6 years old. Some of these littles may be scared or shy and some may not even speak. Some are rowdy and active, coloring the walls, getting into things, throwing food, etc. There are some littles who like to play and have fun and are well behaved. You might meet a little who needs to be comforted and held. Every person who has DID is different so the littles that they have created are different from someone else who has DID. The most important thing to remember when dealing with littles is to make them feel safe! Remember these children were created because of trauma and they can be frightened very easily! Get to know them and find out what they like and do not like. Although it can be amusing to see your Mom act like a toddler, resist the urge to encourage bad behavior. If you feel uncomfortable dealing with the littles, you can try asking for an older alter or your Mom to come out so you can talk to them. That may not always work and if you don't know what to do, call someone (who is aware of the DID and also a support person) and ask them to help. If you feel okay with having the littles out then be sure to supervise what is going on. You can read them a book or color or whatever they like to do. This can be a great experience for you! In a way you get to see your Mom when she was a child and it can be lots of fun. Again, the importance of safety is the most important. Do not ever hit, yell of do anything that may frighten them. Handling the littles calmly is the best way to get cooperation. 

THE MIDDLES These, too, are children but usually range in age from 7 to 12 years old. Some of these middles can be shy, aggressive, angry, happy or very sad. Again, it depends on the person who created them. The same techniques apply as said about the littles. Safety and trust! Some of the middles may behave badly and make fun of you or not listen to you. Do not take it personally even though it may hurt your feelings. These children have been hurt and sometimes the words they use are only because they are so angry. Try to understand them and what they say to you. Reassure them that they are safe and no longer need to worry about the bad people hurting them. Again, if you run into problems and are unable to ask your Mom to come back, call a support person. 

THE TEENS The teenage alters can also be challenging if you are a teen yourself. They may want to break rules that your Mom has set. Do not follow along! It may be fun to have someone who wants to do things you aren't allowed and may seem cool but you must not encourage them! By doing so you are taking advantage of your Mom because, after all, it is the same person. One of the positive aspects of the teens is that they can relate to you and problems you may have as a teenager. They can become a friend to you and a person you can confide in and trust. The teen alters may disclose things that are disturbing to you regarding sex. You need to set boundaries on what topics you are willing to discuss with them. Should the teen alter tell you something they are doing that could be harmful to your Mom, such as doing drugs, having relationships outside of marriage, driving under the influence of alcohol or anything else dangerous you must make your Mom aware of what is going on. It is a difficult thing to do because you run the risk of upsetting the teen and they may feel betrayed by you telling on them. It is much more important to protect your Mom then to stay silent! 

THE BIGS The bigs are alters over the age of 19 years old. You may find it frustrating to have all these adults telling you what to do. They may be very strict and controlling or they may be very loving and nurturing. It's important to show respect to the older alters. They have a very important role and help your Mom to function on tasks they may not be able to do on their own. The bigs also tend to be the ones who take care of the children alters inside. If a big ever threatens you or hurts you in any way you must tell your Mom about it. If you are unable to get your Mom to come out remember get to a phone to call someone or try to get away from the big who is scaring you. The nice part of having big alters is that you can get different kind of attention from one to another.

DIFFERENT GENDER Some people with DID create someone of the opposite sex. You would treat them according to what gender they are portraying.

ANIMAL ALTERS Some people with DID create an animal alter to protect them. They can be a big dog or a tiny mouse. It is difficult to say how to handle these alters as they obviously will not speak. As long as they are not being destructive then the best thing to do would to allow them their time out or call for your Mom to come back. 

OBJECTS Some people create alters to be objects like trees, walls, rocks and so on. The advice would be the same as above. Why would someone create a wall or a tree? It makes sense if you think about it. It can be a way of feeling strong and not feeling pain. It's a way to not show emotion or fear. People with DID are VERY creative! 

SHADOWS Shadow alters are created to kind of hide out and observe the others inside. They usually cannot be seen clearly and rarely come out. 

LIGHT Light alters are bright, glowing and usually calm. I am not real clear on what the purpose of the light is but it is very meaningful to those who have them. 

MONSTERS/DEMONS Some alters can be very scary. Some people with DID were abused by people involved with people who practiced evil religions. Sometimes these people created scary or evil like alters in your Mom so they could control them with scare tactics. If you ever are confronted by one of these alters try not to let yourself show fear. Their role is most often to terrify the alters so they will not talk about their past abuse. Fortunately these alters seldom appear outwardly but their presence is usually felt by the people inside. 

THE HOST This is the personality that is usually in charge and present. More often than not it is the natural born personality, not one that was created. 
These are the most common types of alters found in DID. There may be more that I have not mentioned but these are the ones I am familiar with. 

You may be asking yourself why these alters are still around when your Mom is no longer being abused. That can be very confusing and frustrating for you. What typically happens is the alters believe they are their own person that they don't know that they are not needed any longer. That is why a lot of people with DID decide to integrate their personalities into one person. I will discuss this later in this book. Some people, like me, choose to allow their alters to remain but in a way then everyone is aware of what everyone else is doing. That is what is called co-consciousness. Again, I will discuss this and integration later on. 

UNDERSTANDING EACH ALTER
Understanding each alter and what their role is will help you to get along and communicate with each other when they are out. It can be awkward at first getting to know each alter but in time it will get easier. A way you can learn is to keep notes.

HERE IS AN EXAMPLE OF HOW YOU COULD TAKE NOTES ON EACH ALTER: 
Alter's name:_____________________________________ 
Alter's age: ______________________________________ 
Female or Male? ____________________ 
Unique mannerism (something they do like twisting hair around their finger) 
My feelings about this alter: 
Alter's role: 
Just fill in the blanks and keep the notebook handy. If you are comfortable sharing your notes with your Mom by all means do so! Your Mom may be able to give you more information that will help you to learn about the different parts that make up who they are. 
Another good idea would be to discuss with your Mom about how to get them to come back when another alter is out and you need to speak with your Mom. You could come up with a keyword or a particular hand signal that will let the alters know that your Mom is needed

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED SO FAR?
1. What types of alters are there? 
2. What should I do if I am uncertain or am scared of an alter?

3. What is the most important thing to remember when dealing with the alters, especially with the little

CHAPTER 3 WHY IS MY MOM GROUNDED

A person with DID will often say they do not feel very grounded or they may say I need to get grounded. No, they are not asking to be punished! What they are saying is they feel as if they may be getting ready to disassociate. Being grounded in DID language is simply being here in the present and being aware of what is going on. Think of it like when you are in school and have to give a report in front of the class. You feel nervous and scared. You may feel like you might faint or forget what you are saying and get embarrassed. Most people try to focus on something in the room to look at while they are giving their report so they can get through it without messing up. It's the same thing with DID. By focusing on something real, the person with DID can stay grounded and aware of their surroundings. 
There are many ways a person with DID can stay grounded. You might talk with your Mom to see what techniques she uses. You can help her out by reminding her of the things she can use.

SOME EXAMPLES OF GROUNDING TECHNIQUES ARE: 
Deep breathing Using a cold washcloth on the forehead Listening to music Walking Reciting the alphabet Drawing Reading Calling a support person Saying their name and age (I am Sherry and I am 39 years old) Moving into another room 
These are just a few ways a person with DID copes with feeling ungrounded. Ask your Mom to let you know when she feels this way and that way you can help her to stay focused. Ask your Mom to give you a list of things that are triggers to her. Triggers are things that stir up a memory or cause fear and in turn can cause her to become ungrounded. Examples of triggers could be: 
The color red 
A song 
Smells 
Fire 
A certain touch 

TRIGGERS Everyone with DID has different triggers so it is important to find out what your Mom's are and keep notes so you will remember. It may be a poster on your wall and you do not see anything wrong with it but it scares your Mom. It may not seem fair but the poster needs to come down out of respect for your Mom. It doesn't matter if you understand why what is important is that your Mom feel safe in her home. 
SWITCHING Sometimes grounding techniques do not always work. Your Mom may still disassociate into another personality. The term for this is called switching There are some signs you can look for to see if this is happening. Here is a common list: 
Severe headache Complains of feeling cold Feels spacey or things looks dreamlike Twitching Eyes roll upward Stares off Looks downward at the floor Feels pain in private areas Gets confused while talking Forgets what they are saying Coughs or grunts Shivers Voice starts to change Face looks different (softer or harder for example) 
These are some of the signs that switching is about to or has just taken place. Try calling your Mom back and if that doesn't work then you will need to deal with the alter who is out. Keep your support list close by in case you need it. Do not feel like you have somehow failed, if you were trying to help your Mom stay grounded and she switched anyway. Sometimes there is a good reason why she has switched and the grounding technique wouldn't work no matter what anyone tried to do. A lot of times your Mom may have trouble staying grounded because she had a rough therapy session that day or perhaps she is over tired. There are lots of reasons it happens. The important thing to remember is that you are helping the best that you can. 
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED SO FAR?
1. What does it mean to be grounded? 
2. What are some ways I can help my Mom to stay grounded? 
3. What does it mean to switch? 
4. What are some signs that my Mom is about to switch or has switched? 

CHAPTER 4 THERAPISTS AND HOSPITAL STAYS


When a person is DID it is important for them to see a therapist to talk about their past and how to deal with their life today. It may be very scary and difficult for your Mom to talk about the things that were done to her. A therapist helps her to learn to cope with the memories and how to manage her emotions. Your Mom may come home from therapy feeling very sad or even angry. She may lock herself into a room and not want to be bothered. Her alters may come out and cause things to be chaotic. Dealing with the memories is very courageous for your Mom. When she works on healing the past it can seem like it is happening all over again. 
Therapists are just like a Doctor only they help people to feel better in their minds. Sometimes your Mom will talk about what is happening in her life today and other times she will focus on her past. Each therapist is different and helps people in different ways. There will be days when you may feel that the therapy does not seem to be helping your Mom. It may even seem as if she is getting worse instead of better. That is normal to feel that way. A lot of time when your Mom talks with her therapist about the bad memories the alters get upset. Some of the alters were created to keep secrets and if the secrets get told they feel angry or scared. Some alters get nervous because the people who hurt them threatened them that if they told they would be in big trouble. The alters are kind of stuck in a time warp. They often think they are still living in the same time that they were created. So, they get afraid that they will be punished not realizing that their abusers are no longer here. 
The therapist works with the alters and helps them to understand that the abuse happened a long time ago. Sometimes your Mom may have to go into the hospital for awhile. When too much stress happens inside dealing with the memories or your Mom feels scared of some of her alters (that they may hurt her) the best thing for her is to be hospitalized. She will go to a special place in the hospital for people who are having problems mentally or emotionally. This place is called a psychiatric ward. This is a place where special doctors and staff can help your Mom feel better again. It's okay to feel upset if your Mom is hospitalized. You may feel embarrassed that your Mom is in a psychiatric ward. You may feel scared when you go to visit because there are people on the ward that act strangely. You might even be very angry with your Mom and not want to visit her there. These are normal feelings and it's okay.
If you feel uncomfortable going to the hospital to see her you could write your Mom a letter or buy her a card. Your Mom needs a lot of support while she in the hospital to help her to feel better. It is a good idea to talk with your Mom about your feelings and ask her questions if you do not understand something. Often times your Mom will be given medicine to help her cope with feelings of sadness or anxiety while in the hospital. After she gets out she may have to continue taking the medicine. When she comes home from the hospital she will have learned some new ways of coping. There will be times when she may have to return to the hospital again but that is okay. Each time is different.

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED SO FAR?

1. What does a therapist do? 
2. What are some questions I could ask my Mom about the psychiatric ward? 
3. How do I feel when my Mom is hospitalized? 
4. What are some ways I could offer support to my Mom?

CHAPTER 5 WHAT DO I TELL MY FRIENDS?

Telling your friends about your Mom's DID needs to be done with caution. The first and most important thing to do is to discuss it with your Mom first. Find out what her feelings are about other people knowing. Having DID is nothing to be ashamed about but unfortunately not everyone understands or believes in DID. Some people think that having DID means you are crazy or dangerous. That, of course, is not true. You may tell a friend about your Mom and he/she is okay with it but when he/she tells their parent's about it their parent's are not okay with it. This can be very difficult, as they may not allow your friend to come over anymore. It is not your fault! People just do not always take the time to learn and understand about DID. If you are feeling alone and feel the need to confide in someone about the stress of having a Mom with DID you should ask yourself the following questions: 
1. Why do I feel I should tell? 
2. How well do I trust this person? 
3. How will I deal with a negative reaction? 
4. Am I telling for the right reasons? (IE: for support, advice, etc.) 
The first question is why do you want to tell? Are you feeling stressed, alone, depressed, or angry? Do you think by telling your friend(s) it is going to benefit you in the long run? I know from experience that kids can be cruel. You must be very careful! As question 2 asks, "How well do I trust this person?" You may feel very close to your friend(s) and find out, after you disclose the information about your Mom's DID, they have told the whole school about it. That brings us to question 3 "How will I deal with a negative reaction?" When you tell your friend(s) about the DID they may respond in a different way than you expected. Some may be very positive and supportive while others may look at you like you as if you came from Mars. If other kids find about it you could may teased or avoided as if DID might be catching. You may find that some kids suddenly want to be your friend and come over to your house (out of curiosity). That brings us to the last question, "Am I telling for the right reasons?" Do you want to tell because you are angry with your Mom and want to embarrass her? Or are you looking for support or advice? You need to think about these questions very carefully. Once you have gone through all the reasons ask to speak with your Mom about it. If your Mom does not want you tell anyone about it you MUST respect that and remain silent. 
Some alternatives for you would be to speak with a counselor or therapist about your feelings. You could write in a journal and get your feelings out that way. If you attend church you may want to speak to your minister about what is going on. These are all ways that you can get support without worry of others finding out. Ministers and therapists are not allowed to tell anyone what you have talked about (unless, of course, it involves something dangerous) and they can be wonderful support people! Keeping the DID secret can seem unfair. No one really likes to keep secrets but sometimes it is necessary to protect the people we love. One of the problems people with DID have is the fact that this is one more secret they have to keep. All their life they kept the abuse a secret and it seems unfair that they have to keep the DID secret when it was the abuse that caused it in the first place. That is how life is sometimes. Until people understand how child abuse affects people and that sometimes DID is a result of abuse it will be one of those things we have to deal with in a careful way. One thing I want to make absolutely clear to you is those if someone is abusing you DO NOT keep that a secret! Tell someone! No one deserves to be abused and that is one thing that should not be kept hidden. You must tell and tell until somebody listens and believes you! 
WHAT HAVE I LEARNED SO FAR?
1. Who should I talk to first before telling anyone about my Mom's DID? 
2. How will I handle any negative reactions? 
3. If I am not able to tell my friend whom else can I talk to? 
4 What do I want to discuss with my Mom? 

CHAPTER 6 WHAT ABOUT MY FEELINGS?! 

There may be days when you feel like your whole world is a big mess. You are tired of dealing with your Mom's DID and want a normal life. . You are faced with a lot more to deal with then a lot of kids your age. It can seem so unfair at times. You didn't ask for all this responsibility and stress. You want to have your friends come over without quietly fretting that your Mom will stay normal while they're visiting. What are you supposed to do with all these feelings? Lets go over some of the emotions you may be experiencing and figure out ways to deal with them. Just remember that you are only human and it is okay to feel the way you do sometimes! 
Anger
You may find yourself getting angry with your Mom for having DID. You may ask yourself "why can't she just get over it?" or "why won't her alters just go away!" Feeling angry comes from being frustrated. You want to grow up like other kids who have Mom's who aren't DID. You might find yourself wishing you had a different or better Mom. You might even feel angry with the people who hurt your Mom and made her develop DID. Everyone gets angry. It is a normal emotion. One thing about anger is that it can be unhealthy and damaging. It can destroy relationships and make you an unpleasant person. Learning to deal with anger is very important! When you are angry stop and think about why you feel this way. Learn to recognize the symptoms of anger when they first start and find a way to manage those feelings. Keeping a journal is one way to learn about your feelings. Learning to recognize the feelings leading up to anger is the first start. Here are some examples: 
Clenching your jaws 
Tightness in your stomach or chest 
Breathing heavily Feeling very hot 
Tense muscles 
These are just a few. Each person experiences anger differently. Learn to recognize your bodies clues that your are becoming angry. When you start to feel angry find some ways to take time out from the feeling. Some ways to calm down are:
Deep breathing 
Walk away from the source of anger 
Count to 10 slowly 
Pray 
Distract yourself by going for a walk or reading 
Write your feelings down 
Once you have calmed down then you can approach the initial anger in a responsible way. Talk to the person who has made you feel angry or write them a letter. When you have your anger under control you will be able to deal with it much easier. It is not good to keep anger locked up inside because it can end up causing you to explode or feel depressed, which is the next emotion we will talk about. 
Depression
Depression is a feeling of overwhelming sadness. Some symptoms of depression are: 
Extreme sadness 
Feeling empty inside or worthless
Oversleeping 
Loss of appetite or overeating 
Losing interest in things that you once enjoyed 
Thoughts of killing yourself 
Isolating yourself from other people 
These are only a few signs. If you are feeling any of these symptoms TELL someone about them. Depression can become very serious and often life threatening if not treated. Talk to your parents about what you are feeling. Ask to see a counselor or minister to help you deal with your sadness. Sometimes medicine is given to people who are depressed to help them feel better. It is nothing to be ashamed of! Lots of people suffer from depression and it can be helped with medicine and therapy. Having a Mom with DID can be sad and can make you feel alone. You may somehow feel responsible for your Mom's DID and feel like you are unable to help her. It is not your fault and you do not have to carry the burden of her DID. The best way to deal with depression or sadness is to talk to someone. If you feel you can not talk to anyone try writing your feelings down in a journal. If you feel uncomfortable talking to your parent's about your depression you could write down what you are feeling and have them read it. Whatever you have to do to let people know how you're feeling is up to you. The important thing is just letting someone know about your sadness!

ANXIETY/NERVOUSNESS
Having a Mom with DID may make you feel very uncomfortable or nervous. You may find yourself panicking at the thought of one of her alter's coming out, especially in front of your friends. You may find yourself unable to sleep at night because you're worried about what your Mom might do or say in your presence. The best thing to do is to sit down with your Mom and tell her how you are feeling (or write her a letter.) Explain that you are uncomfortable or nervous around her alter's. By getting to know your Mom's different parts can help you feel less nervous. Learn about each alter and try to talk to them. The feeling of nervousness and awkwardness will become less as you get to know each part. 

EMBARRASSMENT/SHAME
You may feel embarrassed or ashamed of your Mom's DID. You might avoid bringing your friends over because she might switch into a different personality. You might be embarrassed that your Mom sometimes has to go into the hospital and are afraid people will find out and think she is crazy. It is difficult to deal with your embarrassed feelings. Remember that having DID does not mean your Mom is mentally ill. It is a coping mechanism she created to survive childhood trauma. If you are worried about being seen with your Mom or having friends over sit down with her and let her know your concerns. You could come up with an agreement that when your friends are over she needs to stay grounded. If she feels that she is not very grounded she should let you know privately. Come up with a signal that you both can remember to alert you that she is not feeling grounded and your friends need to leave or go into another room. You may come up with some other ideas, as well. The important thing is to talk about how you are feeling. Your Mom understands what you are feeling and will be willing to respect your concerns. 

SCARED
You might feel scared of your Mom's DID. You may not like the feeling of not knowing what to expect each day. You may feel afraid of some of her alters or what to do when they come out. It's okay to feel scared. A way to overcome your fear is to learn about DID and your Mom's different parts. Interacting with the different parts can be fun, challenging and sometimes frustrating but it will help you to get to know them and not be afraid anymore. If your Mom has an alter who isn't very nice and has threatened you make your Mom aware of this and explain to her that if this alter comes out you will have to leave or call a support person. Do not get into a verbal fight with an alter like this as it can be harmful to you and your Mom. 

CONFUSED
DID can be very confusing! Trying to get to know all the different parts, understanding what DID is and how to help can make your mind swim! Taking time and going slow are the only ways to solve this. Anytime you learn something new it is confusing and this is no different. Asking lots of questions and reading books about DID can be very helpful. One of the best ways you can offer support to your Mom is by being involved! The best way to handle any of these emotions and any others you're experiencing is to seek out a counselor who is experienced with DID. Talking to an outside person can really help as you can open up and confide in them without worrying about hurting their feelings. If you are not seeing a therapist I strongly suggest you ask your parents to get you into see one. You should not have to deal with this on your own.

WHAT HAVE I LEARNED SO FAR?
1. What are some of the feelings I have about my Mom's DID? 
2. What are some ways I can deal with these feelings? 
3. Some things I'd like to discuss with my Mom?

CHAPTER 7 WHAT THE HECK IS INTEGRATION AND CO-CONSCIOUSNESS?

INTEGRATION You may have heard your Mom talk about integration. What integration means is when all the different personalities (alters) come together and become one person. Your Mom would then have all the memories and characteristics of all the alters. They would no longer be separate. Sometimes people with DID choose to only integrate a few of the personalities, sometimes they choose to integrate them all. Occasionally 2 or more personalities decide to become one personality but do not integrate but become fused. In a way it's kind of like integration but the 2 personalities decide to join together as 1 instead of everyone joining with them. (This is called fusion)
Each person who has DID decides whether or not to integrate their personalities. Sometimes none of the alters want to integrate or only a few want to. When integration takes place everyone inside has to be in agreement or the integration will not work. A lot of people who have DID try to integrate the alters because they are afraid of them or do not want them. Integration can not be forced or used to make the alters just go away. It is a team effort! If your Mom chooses to integrate her personalities she will need lots of support. It does not happen immediately and will take time to successfully work. She may feel sad or scared of the integration process. She has lived here whole life with all these separate people inside and it can be frightening to not have them around as individuals anymore. The thing about integration is that the alters don't die or go away. They just become part of your Mom's personality. They are still there but in a different way. 
After the whole integration process is over your Mom will still have to continue seeing a therapist. She will have to learn how to function as one person rather that many people. This is called post integration therapy and everyone takes a different amount of time to get used to being one person. There are times after a person with DID has integrated her personalities when suddenly a new alter shows up. This could be because they got stressed and unknowingly created a new person or it could have been an alter who was hiding out. Another things that can happen is the integrated personalities come back. This could be because the integrated alters were not really ready to become one or they were forced to integrate. This is why it is important that all the people inside the person with DID are ready and in agreement. If the integration did not work the therapist ant the person with DID have to start over again. It could take a long time to successfully integrate or for some people it may happen immediately. Each person is unique. 
CO-CONSCIOUSNESS Co-Consciousness is when the person with DID is aware of all the alters and what they are doing. A lot of people with DID choose this over integration because they have learned to function very well as a team. When a person is Co-Conscious they are aware of what is going on when the alters are out and do not lose track of time. Some people who are Co-Conscious choose to fuse some of their alters into one. The reason being is that some of the alters are very similar and by fusing them into one can make that alter healthier and stronger. When a person is co-conscious it helps to not have too many alters to keep track of! That is why sometimes it is a good idea to fuse the similar alters into one person. Whatever your Mom decided to do she needs to have support and understanding. She should never feel guilty for the decision she chooses. She should not feel forced to do something she is not comfortable with and should be respected for her decision. You may have different feelings about her DID and want her to integrate so the alters will disappear. Remember that the decision is hers and hers alone. Having the different alters around may not always be fun for you but the point is this is who your Mom is and she will do what she needs to do to be the best Mom that she can be for you. Continue to offer your support and ask questions. Voice your opinions and feelings but respect her at the same time. >

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED SO FAR?
1. What is integration? 
2. What is fusion? 
3. What is Co-Consciousness? My feelings about this are: 

CHAPTER 8 WHY IS SHE HURTING HERSELF?
People with DID may hurt themselves intentionally. It doesn't make sense and it may makes us afraid or sad to see the damage they have done. Why would anyone do this to herself? One of the reasons people with DID do this is because they were so abused as children that they feel they need to continue the abuse because they feel bad about themselves. Some people with DID do not realize they are hurting themselves because one of their alters is doing it. Some common self-injury behaviors are: 
Burning the skin 
Cutting the skin 
Poking holes in the skin 
Pulling hair out of the head 
Hitting oneself 
Biting the arms 
Breaking bones in the body (not as common) 
Not eating 
Perhaps you have witnessed or saw the aftermath of self- injury. It can be frightening to say the least. You may want to know why she hurt herself, become angry with her or feel sad. Some of the reasons we have heard from other people as to why they self-injure are: 
Scared 
Stressed 
Angry 
Lonesome 
Feels emotionally numb 
Feels hatred 
Doesn't feel worthy of love 
Trying to stay grounded 
Pain makes them feel alive 
Makes me feel better 
Although some of these reasons may not make sense to you they feel very real to the person who is doing self-injury. When a person grows up in a home where there is abuse they get love and pain confused. They may have had a parent who would say "I love you" and 5 minutes later would beat them. It can be difficult to understand how a person who claims to love you would end hurting you. When abuse is done repeatedly the person being abused begins to think poorly of themselves and often times begins to no longer feel pain. 
When an abused child grows up sometimes they do not know how to handle feelings of anger or sadness. The only thing that helps to feel better is to hurt themselves because that is all they know. As a child who was never allowed to express emotions grows up they learn that pain is the one emotion that was given to them. That is why a lot of people hurt themselves. They do not have good coping skills when dealing with emotions. That is one thing that the therapist can help them to learn. 
If the person with DID can not stop the self-injury behavior she may have to go into the hospital for a while to be safe. If one of the alters is doing the harm that alter needs to sign a safety contract with the therapist and the person with DID (host personality) to ensure that they will not harm the body anymore. One thing to mention is that although it is scary most people who are DID and self-injure are not trying to kill themselves. It is just another coping mechanism (an unhealthy one) that is used to deal with feelings. If your Mom or one of her alter's threatens to kill themselves do not ignore them! Call 911 immediately! A person who threatens suicide is looking for help and should always be taken seriously no matter how many times they may have threatened it in the past!

It might help for you to talk to your Mom and ask her to tell you if she feels like hurting herself. Help her by getting her safety kit (a bag with her calming things in it), talking with her and if need be call her therapist. If you are too late and you find your Mom has hurt herself stay calm. Look over the wounds and help clean up any cuts or burns. Call your support person or your Mom's therapist for help. Do not try to take care of this by yourself. Do not let your Mom or her alters talk you out of getting help. Try to be strong and do the right thing by getting help for your Mom. It's okay if she gets mad at you! What is more important in this situation is getting her the care she needs.

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED SO FAR
1. What is self-injury? 
2. What are some reasons people self-injure?


3. What can I do if I find my Mom hurt? 

LAST WORD
I hope that this book has helped you have some understanding about DID. Although it seems unfair at times to have a Mom with DID just remember that all people are unique and all families have their own kinds of problems. Learning to deal with problems is part of growing up. It may not be fun and it may not be easy but with your effort to learn you can do it! Communication is the best tool you have at problem solving! Talk, write, ask questions and you will find that you can live a productive and happy relationship with your Mom.

GLOSSARY
Alter- alternate personality
Bigs- the adult personalities 
Co-Consciousness Being aware of all the personalities inside. 
DID-(Dissociative Identity Disorder) having 2 or more distinct personalities. 
Fusion-Joining two personalities into one. 
Grounding-Staying in the present and being focused. 
Host- The personality who is owns the body, usually the natural born personality. 
Integration- The process of all personalities becoming one 
Littles- the children personalities ages 0-6 
Middles- children personalities aged 7-12 
Safety contract- an agreement between the alters and the host that no one will injure the body. Self-injury-the act of harming oneself 
Switching- going from one personality to another 
Trigger- something that causes fear and may make the personalities switch (IE; smell, sound, touch)

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