So, I've got a friend with PTSD and DID... I could use advice.

Discussion in 'Braaaaiiiinnnns...' started by Delta Juliette, Apr 15, 2017.

  1. Trigger warnings: PTSD, abuse, trauma, trauma alters, suicide attempt, self-harm… sweet Athena, that’s kinda terrifying when I spell it all out like that.

    So, I’ve got a friend with PTSD and DID. I’ve run into a few of their trauma alters lately, and tried to help - but I’m pretty much flying by the seat of my pants and that kinda terrifies me, to be facing that much pain armed with this much ignorance. I’d like to have more understanding of what I’m working with, and who I'm trying to help. They have a therapist, she’s helping too - but I’ve got a lot more face time with the system than they do.

    The system has undergone multiple types of abuse - there was a big incident at a young age which I believe caused the initial split, and then things have continued to happen, and they haven’t been in a safe place to process this stuff until recently.

    The cast of (relevant) characters!

    Silver: The primary (and oldest) ANP - Silver is the one who identifies with their legal name. They minimize a lot and repress a lot, as you’d expect from an ANP, but they’re working on getting better. Silver has been around since the initial split.

    Gold: A child alter, ish. Gold has very deep system-level access, we suspect they’re the host. They went deep into headspace and beyond after the initial split, only came back a year or two ago. They’re willful and quite sharp - a friend described Gold as the “rapid-learning module” for how quickly they pick things up. Gold also runs a memory bridge - memories of what happens to the body get shared across the system. As long as Gold is awake, the system doesn’t experience much in the way of blackouts or memory loss.

    Alloy: An integration of Silver, Gold, and a few others I haven’t mentioned. Alloy has been around for a while in various ways - Silver and Gold have always been more integrated than other alters; I’ve been calling them a subsystem, rather than separate people. Alloy is their integration. They count as a single person for some in-system things.

    Blue: Daemon, protector. Blue is the daemon of Silver, Gold, and Alloy. Blue was the first alter to show up after the initial split (that I know of), they started as Silver’s daemon.

    Teal: Protector, analyst. Teal is the second alter to show up after the initial split, the system was just Silver, Blue, and Teal for a while (probably until more recent abuses, and with Gold somewhere very deep in headspace.) Teal recently has also gained system-level access, and is one of the strongest and best-differentiated alters.

    Purple: Teal’s daemon, showed up a couple of years after Teal.

    Mithril: Significantly powerful trickster, only shows up occasionally - has a life outside of the system. Mithril cares about the system, and has shown up to support it in times of need.

    Olive: Also significantly powerful, also only shows up occasionally. A fairly practical protector, Olive helped hold down an alter with intent to self-harm. Also has a life outside of the system.

    And the ones I really want advice for helping:

    Red: Survivor. Red is the one who takes care of the system when things must be done. They tend to show up in moments of distress, especially when the system is off-balance. As they said to me, they don't really have free will - they do what needs to be done, that is their purpose.

    Cream: Victim. Cream started as the terrified, hiding-in-a-corner, please-don’t-hurt-me alter. They seem to have been stuck in that role for quite a while. Recently, they’ve shown up with a very different presentation - not sure how connected the new them is to the old them, but they seem better balanced?

    Green: Victim? Green showed up with intent to self-harm, and when Olive and I were keeping them from doing so, Green happily told me repeatedly to fuck off. I talked them down, finally got through to them with a hug and honesty about the pain of my own growing up.

    Black: Persecutor. Black showed up the night after Green, and when I called them out, they lunged for a bottle of tylenol to attempt suicide. I got through to them with a hug as well, and then they left the front in favor of:

    Gray: Persecutor. Gray took over right after Black, once again threatening suicide with a fortunately-imaginary knife. Once again, usual technique was employed (hug all the trauma alters!), and I got through to them with that and some painful honesty.

    Green, Black, and Gray each seem to represent a different traumatic set of experiences - Green is recent, from recent events. They called me a lot of names as I was trying to get through to them, gleeful in the belief that doing so would destroy my friendship with other alters. They also seemed pretty ineffective - I was able to keep them from physical self-harm pretty easily.

    Black is older, and I suspect represents parental abuse. They had a ton more anger aimed at me, and it showed - they spat “whore” at me with more fury than Green had showed all the previous night. (The system’s parents are pretty transphobic, too, so I suspect there was a lot of internalization going on there.)

    Gray is the oldest trauma alter. Gray believes that they are born in sin, the evil child of the initial trauma that caused the split. If anything, they took the longest to get through to, and they’ve been lurking, unacknowledged, in the background for quite a while. The system as a whole had been repressing the trauma that caused the split, so I’m not surprised that there’s a lot of energy there, too.

    That said, Green, Black, and Gray seem pretty solidly connected - according to some parts of the system, they may have integrated? They all spring from a very common theme.

    So. My bag of tricks pretty much bottoms out at hugging, acknowledging the pain that the trauma alters have been through, acknowledging that they’re part of the system too, and that what happened to them (both the system at large and the specific alters, who have been pretty much shoved from the front) wasn’t even remotely fair, and trying to show them that there’s a way out, that they can become important and healthy parts of the system. I’m trying to get the system at large to acknowledge its hurts and start working through them (that one’s very much a job for their therapist), which should start easing the pain that caused these alters.

    What else can I do? How can I help friends who carry this much pain? How can I help the trauma alters? And on my side of the picture, how can I keep my conditioned-to-take-care-of-other-people-first self healthy? I’d really rather not get subsumed into someone else’s psychodrama, and I know I’ve got tendencies in that general direction. (Yaaaaay internalizer victim of emotionally immature parents. Everything must be my fault, and my problem to fix! Or something.)
    • Witnessed x 1
  2. seebs

    seebs Benevolent Dictator

    So I guess the big thing I want to stress is: You're in over your head, but that's okay, so's everyone else! And honestly, for trauma, sometimes there's really nothing better than a person who wants to hug you. Especially if part of why you're traumatized is a complete lack of genuine affection or concern.

    I don't know what an "ANP" is.
    • Agree x 1
  3. chaoticArbiter

    chaoticArbiter an actual shiny eevee (destroyer of worlds)

    apparently normal part. usually handles daily life and stuff like that.
  4. chaoticArbiter

    chaoticArbiter an actual shiny eevee (destroyer of worlds)

    as a person who has PTSD and DID, I might be able to help some? unfortunately, I've never been on the receiving end of dealing with my meltdowns or my alters' meltdowns, though, because....I am the one with DID and therefore being on the opposite end would be impossible for me. but I could certainly offer something, probably.
    I can't talk today, I'm gonna be out and about all day with likely no time to sit and internet, but I'll be here pretty much every day after that if you have questions for me or anything.
    • Like x 2
  5. Thanks, CA, you're the best. I'll be here whenever you're ready, plus or minus time zones. (I really do want your thoughts, even if I'm not around to respond immediately.)
  6. system anon

    system anon Member

    My name's Elle, I have PTSD and what my psychiatrist calls DID (with good inter-system communication and few blackouts, not unlike your friends), so let me take a crack at this.

    Firstly, I'd like to talk about your boundaries. Multiples often find it difficult to talk about their experiences, and the pressure of that on outsiders can be difficult to deal with, especially if you're the sort to take on all of someone else's problems. Are you their only non-medical support? If you are, I'd encourage them to seek out another support group, even if it's just online. Are they your only support? The same applies to you. Therapists are vital, but they generally can't provide day-to-day support, so a support network is really important for doing the daily legwork.

    Do you know what you're willing and what you're not willing to do? Be realistic with your own safety assessment. Are you okay with hugging it out so they don't hurt themselves? Do you need to talk about it with someone else in their system (or someone else entirely) afterwards to process it? Or is that asking too much of you, and do you need to be able to ring outside support when threats like that happen? On the emotional side of things, what do you need to be able to listen to aggressive alters threatening you? Or is listening to those things actually not something you can do, and should you and your friends organise a plan to deal with it when it happens? Having a plan to deal with your hurt is important if you don't want to burn out.

    Also keep in mind how much trauma you're able to listen to safely; hearing about someone you care about suffering is hard psychologically, and it's worth having a plan in place for you being able to tap out if it ever gets to be too much. You matter too, and that's something which is important to remember when someone else is suffering loudly. 'I can't help you with this right now' is a totally okay sentence to say. Since you're in real life with them instead of online, it might be worth working out some alternatives you can redirect them to when you can't handle their problems. You could suggest watching a movie or doing something else distracting instead, or asking your friends to call/email their therapist or a hotline.

    Okay, now I've talked about that - it sounds like the issue you're having here is with someone/s who are struggling with self-harm, so my advice is very similar to how you would deal with a non-multiple person dealing with overwhelming self-harm urges. The important question to ask is: why do they want to hurt themselves? If it's to experience pain, I'd suggest clutching ice cubes. If it's to release overwhelming emotions, art can be a really good outlet, even if it's just ripping up the paper. If it's to remind them they're still alive, mindfulness and grounding can be really useful tools. [ETA: I excised a suggestion about sternum rubs here because I got nervous about whether they actually were harmless.]

    Suicidal urges are a similar-but-different beast. Liza (who is someone who has tried to commit suicide dramatically) suggests that having someone in-system keep an eye on the suicidal party is a good idea, since your friends have pretty good communication generally. Also, if it's possible, talking to them when they're calm and not about to kill themselves can help to avoid them getting to the point where they feel they have to take the nuclear option. Having ways to express yourself can help a lot. I also want to point out that it's important to do groundwork when you know that you (or someone else in your system) is suicidal, as you would with a singular person -- preventative measures which you set up when you're not actively trying to kill yourself are really important. For example, securing drugs so they can't be lunged for in a moment of desperation can help a lot. This is something I do myself. If the suicidal gestures are impromptu and can be talked down, the extra few moments of having to think about it/search/open up the container can make a big difference. If the suicidal alters can't do this themselves, alters like Olive or Teal might be able to do the prep work instead.

    Have they tried journalling? Not only can it be a useful inter-system communication tool, it's also really useful for expressing feelings, and going back over them later it can be really useful to see how their reactions take shape. It's also something which can be used in therapy if they're comfortable with that.

    Your tea-and-sympathy methodology seems pretty sound to me. Validating your friends' pain is pretty useful - it's probably why this forum got its culture of 'Witnessing' painful things. My boyfriend gets our kids tea when they come out during flashbacks, to help with grounding and calming them down. (You may want to make sure the tea isn't boiling.) Listening and affirming is a good route.

    Unfortunately, I think that's probably the most you can do, at least unless they ask specifically for something. Intense helping which solves their problems and helps them to live a fulfilled life falls under their own work on themselves, with the support of their care team. (Therapy gives you the tools to manage your own life more than it solves the problems for you.) And that's okay! What you're doing is already really intensive for a friendship. You're already doing what you can do, and I think you should ask yourself whether you're okay with what you're doing currently instead of looking for additional things to do.

    I hope this was helpful and not too long.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2017
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  7. Codeless

    Codeless Cheshire Cat

    Ok so I have nothing else useful to add but wrt tea, while it probably shouldn´t be boiling having it be pretty hot might be a good thing. I use tea to calm down and the heat is something that helps ground me. You know those pictures of people holding hot teacup in both hands? Doing that for me and breathing in the smell helps ground me and calm me down some along with the heat from drinking the tea.

    (Obviously your mileage may vary, it might not work for everyone)
    • Like x 1
  8. chaoticArbiter

    chaoticArbiter an actual shiny eevee (destroyer of worlds)

    I return
    first off, got a couple things I want to say.

    Cream and Green: they sound like trauma holders to me. what this means, basically, is that they're probably the ones with the most intense recall or maybe even the only recall of severe trauma that's happened to the system's body. things that will help trauma alters are going to vary largely depending on what the trauma they recall is, what they personally are like, what they want to happen, and how willing they are to be helped. trauma alters are typically pretty important to the system healing together and learning to function as a unit or the system integrating, whichever ends up being what they want as a long-term goal, but trauma alters need to first process the trauma individually, which is something that should really be done in therapy.

    second, Green sounds like a trauma holder with a bit of a persecutor theme mixed in, which is very possible and probably a result of the trauma that they hold. which brings me to my thing about persecutors: while persecutors do generally seek to hurt the system/people in the system, they're actually a form of protector. they don't really represent or hold trauma memories, they represent a reaction to a trauma and a drive to keep the system safe from abusers by basically emulating the abuser in question. persecutors are typically protectors who think that if they can get everyone in the system to toe the line according to what they think the abuser of the system wants, everyone will be safer in the long run. they tend to achieve this by acting as in-system abusers and trying to hurt or cut off the system from other people who they view as going against what they think the abuser of the system would want. they may view what they're doing as the lesser of two evils--the hurt they cause is not as bad as the hurt the abuser would cause if the persecutor stopped doing their job, essentially--or they may not realize that they're going about things in the wrong way. bottom line, though: you're rarely going to encounter an alter who is doing things purely out of malicious intent. most alters, even if they seem to be doing bad things, are doing what they do because they think it will help the system in the long run or because that's what they know to do. if you can speak to the persecutors and find out why they're doing the things they do, that will make it a little easier to deal with them and get them to stop hurting the system.

    also, Gold sounds like they've somehow gained the job of what some refer to as a 'secret-keeper', which basically means they have access to the memory bank of the system and access to just about anything and anywhere in the system, and thus they can know a lot of stuff that others in the system may not be privy to. that means they're probably going to be important in the recovery process, and it means you also may want to ask them if there are any alters that they know about that others are unaware of at this time--you don't need to get those alters' names, but it can be helpful to know if hidden or dormant alters exist so they don't take you all by surprise if they show up.

    finally, I want to comment on Red. Red sounds to me like some kind of....last-ditch effort to keep daily life running smoothly, almost a backup plan for the system for when everything's going to shit, and so I'd probably class that as an external system helper or something along that line. the thing is, while Red's existence as a person who does that might be necessary for the system, I'd be worried about Red and the toll that takes on them. the description of them not having free will also concerns me. I think someone should be communicating more with Red, at the very least to try and learn or help Red define who they are and what they like and what they want, because existing as just a backup plan isn't something that will be good for Red long-term, and you need to remember that while a system does need to function well as a whole with each member doing their job, you also need to be thinking about the individual health of each member of the system. Red being nothing more than a fail-safe could lead to them lashing out down the road, or becoming too depressed to do what they need to, or other problems like that, and so I think that someone needs to find a way to communicate with Red, at the very least to find out how they feel about not having free will and their job within the system. I also think it might be a good idea to have Red speak to a therapist, just like I think Cream and Green should be seeing a therapist. I mean, I think everyone in the system might benefit from having a therapist around, but Cream, Green, and Red sound like they should definitely be in therapy.

    I also have a few questions. first--Alloy. is this a proper integration of Gold and Silver and the others, or is it more of a thing that comes and goes, or are Gold and Silver and the others genuinely a subsystem? a subsystem is very possible, and it's basically a system within a system, but it's a permanent thing. if Silver and Gold are a subsystem, it would mean that while they could both be awake, only one of them would be 'around' in the headspace. essentially, Silver could front while Gold was in the headspace of the subsystem that is Silver and Gold and vice versa, but if they cofronted then it would probably be more an amalgamation of the two of them rather than both of them existing at the same time. if they can exist separately, that's not a subsystem, but if it is, then that's important to note, because subsystems can indicate layers of trauma, which means there's a lot more to work through than you or others in the system might be presently aware of in terms of trauma. second, if Alloy is not a proper integration, I'd consider it something that can tend to happen when alters cofront or work closely together, which some people call 'blending' and is sort of like a....temporary integration, think something like fusion from Steven Universe. the alters will basically meld together to form one person, but they can split back apart if they want to or if they get too out of sync. I'm also curious about Green, Gray, and Black re: integration, and whether or not they've actually integrated or simply have the capability to 'fuse', because that would indicate that even if they come from separate trauma splits, they're very close in terms of behavior or attitude or something, and that's worth knowing.

    additionally, I'm curious about Mithril's purpose and personality, and I'm also curious about the meaning of the word 'daemon' here and how it's being used. it sounds almost like 'daemon' is being used to mean 'this alter is specifically attached to this alter/these alters', but from there I'd question what the daemon's job in relation to those other alters is--sometimes an alter or group of alters will have another alter who is the personal protector or caretaker of the first alter/group of alters, and that's also important to note, because it usually indicates something significant about the first alter or group of alters.

    anyway. I'd like to know a bit more about all the alters' personalities if you can elaborate, particularly Red, Gold, Gray, Green, and Black. I'd also like to know what you mean by 'system access'--is this something that means that the alters can access a memory bank of sorts, or what? are there parts of the system that are closed off to some alters? and I'm also curious about Olive's abilities, as well as Mithril's, because you note both as being powerful, and I'd like to know what they can do within the system.

    I'm also curious about what 'life outside the system' means--is there a space in headspace where they can go, or do they seem to leave the system, or do you just mean they have a life involving daily IRL things?

    okay, I think that's all I've got--and if you have questions for me, you can ask them also.
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  9. Thank you all for your thoughts, they're very helpful; I've got a much longer response in the works but I'm running it past Gold and Teal before posting.
    • Like x 1
  10. Thank you all for your comments - there’s a lot there to parse, and it’s all very helpful.

    Elle, thank you for starting with concern for me - my own health and safety is a thing I’ve been conditioned to disregard, and getting over that is still a work in progress. I am not the system’s only support, although I’m definitely the first responder; when Rainbow (as good a proper name as any for the system as a whole) has a bad night, I’m usually the first to know. They’re not my only support either - they’ve called me on conditioning that I needed to be called on (see the earlier mention of disregarding my own health and safety), but I’m not counting on them for emotional support in any significant way.

    I… hm. I need to do more thinking about my boundaries and safety. Thank you for putting as many words into it as you did.

    Aggressive alters pretty much wash off of me - I know that anger directed at me is anger that’s been bottled up inside the system for a long, long time, that it’s an expression of pain. And, honestly, I was dealing with reasonably heavy depression and low self-esteem right up until I started transitioning, none of the aggressive alters have said anything to me that I haven’t told myself. I’m stable enough in who I am that it doesn’t move me, especially knowing what I know about the source. The thing that terrifies me the most has been the attempts at self-harm; I consider a lot of the system members to be my friends and the thought of losing them all at once is horrific.

    I may have understated things in my previous post - there have been instances where the system has completely crashed and gone catatonic, there have been flashbacks where the system (or parts of the system) are physically replaying traumatic events, and there have been times with alters fronting with intent to commit suicide - “I can’t help you with this right now” is a great line, and one that I need to work on saying, but there are times where Rainbow needs a minder to avoid significant consequences.

    (Herein lies a way that we’re similar; both Rainbow and I are victims of emotional abuse, “I can’t help you with this right now” sounds an awful lot like “go away” sounds an awful lot like “I hate you” to both of us - it’s hard to say and hard to hear. We’re both working on that one with our respective therapists.)

    I do want to talk more with Green, Black, and Gray - the only times I’ve interacted with them thus far have been their initial appearances; they’ve each been the only one awake after a crash, and they’ve been actively intending self harm. I should poke Teal about that one, make sure they’re getting what they need- my point at the time was to try to help them become more than the trauma that they carry, and I suspect that process could use checking up on.

    I don’t believe they’ve tried journalling. In-system communication seems to be good (at least when things are on an even keel, people can and do talk with each other, play games with who’s fronting, etc), so I’m not terribly concerned there - we’ve set up a system so they can leave notes for themselves if necessary, which gets used, and system members don’t black out often.

    And seriously, thank you again - the affirmation of “What you’re doing is already really intensive for a friendship” is really powerful, and something I needed to hear.

    (Hi, Codeless! I love your avatar. I also love a hot teacup - thermal stimming is lovely stuff, and fragrant steam is amazing too.)

    And hi again, ChaoticArbiter!

    I think you’re right on about Cream and Green, and probably Gray and Black too - there were several months where Silver and Gold were very much not talking about the trauma that caused the initial split, and I suspect they’d repressed a lot of it. Bringing it out into the light has been rough, but it’s the first step towards healing. They’re more open about more recent traumas, but I suspect there’s been a lot of repression on the emotional side there too - potentially necessary, as they haven’t been in a space where it’s safe to process this stuff until recently, but still painful.

    Thank you so much for the terminology! Secret-keeper is exactly what Gold is; you’ve hit the nail on the head with that one.

    I don’t have a good answer regarding Alloy. I suspect they’re a fusion, based on your description - they’re definitely not a subsystem, because they do have separate existences, but at the same time they’re very connected, and can easily slide from one into the other or an amalgam of both. (Another component of Alloy is actually an alter who started as exactly that - an amalgam of all the other parts of Alloy. Maybe a first shot at a fusion or integration?)

    When I say “daemon,” I mean in the His Dark Materials (& fan community) sense, with a side of “oh hey they’re actually real people because the system has the hardware to run more than one person.” Blue and Purple are both companions of their respective damiens (is there a proper term for that?); they provide advice and alternate perspectives and express things that the damiens have trouble doing for themselves. Blue has done guardian work, because Alloy & co. have needed it; Purple snarks at Teal a lot and generally helps Teal not take things quite as seriously, which they’ve needed.

    I don’t think I mentioned this in my first post, but I have solid, non-paranoid reasons to believe that abusers are looking for information that they can use against Rainbow. As such, I’m being careful to keep as much potentially-identifying information out of this post as possible; I really don’t want their abusers to know any of this about Rainbow, that just ends badly for everyone involved. I’m taking steps to keep myself, and Rainbow, safe, and avoiding details is one of them.

    I’m running all my posts past Gold and Blue before posting, so this is what they (and I) are comfortable saying:

    Gold is, as you spotted, a secret-keeper. They’re also a child alter; while they can and do operate on pretty impressive levels, they’re also very much a child on an emotional level. There’s a lot of don’t-hurt-me symbolism running around with this one. I’d trust them with my books or computer, but not my credit card, if that makes sense; they’re good people, but can be impulsive. This has shown up both as impulse purchases and in reaction to psychological stuff - they’re inclined to leap first and look later. My tarot deck has happily decided that they’re The Fool, with a side of transcension.

    Mithril is… hm. Mithril says They are the real-world deity that Silver and Gold (and to a lesser extent, the others) venerate. You’re welcome to have your own perspective on that one, my only hard evidence is that my phone was glowing with Their aura when They first said “hi” (via the internet), and it was doing so before They mentioned who They were. That’s never happened before or since, with anyone else (either part of Rainbow or anyone else entirely). Both Mithril and Olive seem to leave the system entirely, and spend most of their time outside it; they only show up when needed. (Or when it’s funny; neither of them are above seizing the opportunity for comedy.)

    (I should point out here, Mithril is not Athena, and I have zero inclination to convert. That strikes me as being a Very Bad Idea for many reasons. And Mithril will have to try a lot harder than They have been if They want me to leave owl-mom behind.)

    Both Mithril and Olive have showed up when it seems that the only alter awake (and certainly the only alter fronting) is a trauma-holder; they helped a lot with getting through to Green, Black, and Gray, including (briefly, with struggle) seizing the front to forcibly restrain them. Mithril has also helped ride herd on some of Gold’s more harmful impulses.

    Red is a counterbalance; I’ve dubbed them a survivor because that’s what they do, they do what is necessary to survive in the heat of a traumatic situation. They’re also a check on the ANPs, insisting that no, things aren’t fine, especially when the system hasn’t been tending to its psychological needs. They’ve acted on that a lot; when they’re fronting, it’s usually to either ride out a traumatic situation or to take care of something that the ANPs have been putting off. (Picking up medication, dealing with dysphoria, etc.) They have a lot of leverage in specific circumstances, which they use to try to protect the system. And you’re right - they’re very in tune with physical and emotional needs (especially when it comes to dysphoria), and that definitely needs to be listened to.

    I know very little about Gray, Green, and Black - the only times I’ve interacted with them were their initial appearances, when they were trying to actively harm the system. My impression is that they all reflect their individual traumas; Green was spiteful and gleeful, in keeping with the abusers in the harm they carry, Black was cold, cold, cold, with a heart of frozen anger, and Gray was more expressive and much more fatalistic; completely overpowered, as the system was in the traumatic situation that they carry. I don’t know much about them, and Rainbow hasn’t talked about them much beyond saying that they’re connected, somehow. My suspicion is that they’re all trauma holders, and that role blends together? I don’t know. (And now I want to hug them more)

    I don’t think any of them are bad people, or inherently malicious, as you’ve said. Green, Gray, and Black were suicidal because they want the pain to stop, because they think it’s their only way out. My goal both in immediate intervention and longer-term is to help them expand their options, and to move beyond “the person who holds trauma X” to a more healthy role in the system.

    Who are they outside of the traumas they carry? I don’t know. I’d like to find out; I am a singleton, but I have my own trauma and parts of self that reflect that, an inner voice that yells “but it’s not fair!” on a regular basis. I’ve spent a lot of time getting through to her, getting her to be a productive part of me, and I really value her anger for justice; I really hope I can help Gray, Green, and Black become that, or something else of similar value, for Rainbow.

    So, my questions back for you, and other people with knowledge of DID:

    I suspect that the system, and especially the ANPs, have been doing a ton of repression of their trauma. This is mostly a job for their therapist, but how do I help them work through that and acknowledge what happened in a safe way?

    My impression of Gray, Green, and Black was that all three of them had been stuck, for quite a while, in the same place that Rainbow was repressing trauma to. They all seemed to believe that that trauma was what defined each of them, that they’d never be free of it. Is this something other people have seen? What are techniques the system, or their therapist, or I could use to help get them out of that place?

    Gold says that the system is poly-fragmented, that the cast of alters is not stable; and indeed that maps to what I’ve seen pretty well. There are a lot of alters who have shown up, been around for a while, and then sorta vanished. How can we make it easier on new alters, especially those who are nonhuman, not from this time, and/or fictives? (I’ve gotten really good at the “welcome to Earth” speech, but I could use more tools.)
  11. chaoticArbiter

    chaoticArbiter an actual shiny eevee (destroyer of worlds)

    okay, I'm going to address your questions first.

    the ANPs almost certainly are and have been doing a fuckton of repression of trauma; that's almost part of the definition of what an ANP is. they repress trauma, leave that to other alters and the depths of their mind, and instead focus on handling the day-to-day stuff. for what you can do to help them with this...I'd say mostly just express to them that if they need to talk about anything, you're there to listen, assuming that's a thing you're willing to do--as someone who had to acknowledge their trauma eventually, it really helps to have someone who you can go to and be like "so I think (x) might have been a thing that happened to me", even if that's the only thing that's ever said. something about expressing it and having someone actually believe you and tell you that it's okay and it doesn't make you broken, or whatever other things the person in question might want to hear, is just really helpful. I would caution you that you need to set firm boundaries in advance for this one, or you could end up hearing detailed trauma stories that you are not prepared to hear, but otherwise I think that this is a thing that would help the ANP parts when they are ready to acknowledge the trauma. as for working through the trauma....I don't really have much that I think you could do; working through it tends to be something to be done with a therapist, although if one of the alters comes to you and expresses a particular thought pattern, like self-loathing thoughts or something, if you can think of thought patterns they can use to combat the thoughts they're dealing with, that's very much something that would help in the long run.

    .....the first people who come to mind for me with this are Kas, Gwen, and (my) Blue. those are alters in my own system, and Blue and Kas both spent a lot of time forcibly repressed by my refusal to acknowledge the trauma that they were associated with. Gwen....I don't know for sure if they were repressed or just actively hid, but Gwen thinks of themselves very much as 'defined by the trauma that caused them to form', and on the one hand, that sort of makes sense as a mindset for an alter--trauma caused them to spring up, therefore the trauma is what defines their existence. the thing is, dealing with alters who think this is going to be different depending on what kind of person they are and what they think.

    Gwen, for instance, is a very shy, anxious, very much a "don't hurt me please" kind of person. they didn't just think they were defined by their trauma, they based their entire personality around what happened. what ended up helping Gwen was introducing them to things outside of the trauma, showing them stuff in the real world like movies and TV shows that were light-hearted and fun, and having them talk to some people I trusted and try and get them to make friends, and just kind of letting them hang around and sort of co-front whenever they wanted so they could see that things weren't all bad, and helping them develop more of a personality beyond shy and anxious, so they could become a person whose entire personality wasn't based around the trauma that created them. if the only traits an alter has are based around the trauma they formed in response to or the trauma they hold, then of course they're going to think that the trauma is what defines them, so what I'd do with that sort of a case is try and get them to differentiate themselves from just being a response to trauma. try and get them to find things they enjoy doing or watching, try and get them to talk to people, try and get them to learn new things about themselves and what they like and dislike.

    on the other hand, Blue is a child alter and trauma holder, so dealing with her was very different. she was sort of trapped for a long time but didn't really comprehend why, and so she's very quiet and kind of just tries to keep out of people's way. she doesn't talk much, and she tends to latch on to a particular alter or person and then just follow them around, and she's also prone to nightmares, which was essentially how the trauma she held kept hold of her and basically followed her around. with her, we sort of just tried to let her warm up to people in her own time, and there's another alter here who kind of keeps an eye on her and helps her with nightmares and watches cute kids' shows with her and things so she can try and have a normal childhood, but I have a feeling Blue's case might not be especially helpful here because child alters tend to be different from older alters, the same way a normal human child will be different from an older person.

    and then there's Kas. Kas was....almost a trauma response, I think, and then she was repressed in the place where the trauma and such was repressed to for years. she's angry, bitter, and not easy to talk to. she defines herself by the trauma that caused her in part because that's why she was trapped for so long, and the forced repression of her is part of what makes her personality what it is. she also defines herself by the trauma because that's what caused her, that's what she was created to prevent and that's all she had to keep her company for years and years when she wasn't able to front or really communicate with anyone else. and honestly....the thing that Kas needed most from me, at least, was an apology for doing that to her, and an acknowledgment that she didn't deserve it, of course she didn't, because just because something bad happened didn't make it her fault, and she wasn't to blame for the thing that made her exist, and just because that's what made her exist doesn't mean it's the only thing she can ever be. basically, logic your way through it. just because something made an alter exist doesn't mean it has to define them, or that they can't ever be free of it, or that it's their fault; they have the capability to be more than what they were created to be, just like every other alter. outside of that, to them. that's what works with Kas; just keep talking to her. respect it if they tell you to go away and seem to mean it, but otherwise, just persist in talking to them and letting them know that at the very least, someone is there to be a friend to them.

    okay, I have to be honest, I kind of suspected they might be polyfragmented; polyfrag systems tend to have a lot of alters, but some of those alters will show up and then integrate while others will stay, or hang out for a while and then integrate, or seem to have integrated but then suddenly de-integrate. I don't really know what dictates it, but the other thing worth knowing is that polyfragmented systems tend to have layers of trauma, and that's what can cause alters to spring up and disappear so much--there's just so much trauma that there are a lot of things that can cause an alter to form. I also have polyfragmented DID, and while I do try and keep a list of the main players in the system, it's a little hard because there are just a lot of them and some of them will come and go like that, and some will have been here for ages and then suddenly be gone but we'll have someone new and it's just....hard. polyfragmented systems are often kind of turbulent in terms of integration and new alters and fusion-type things.

    with making things easier on new alters....well, if they're nonhuman, not from this time, or fictives (particularly the last one), I'd gauge by reaction first. some of the people we've gotten have freaked out on their arrival, and at that point the most important thing is really to just try and get them to calm down and help them understand what's going on as best you can. outside of that, I think the most important thing for us has always been trying to make people feel more at home here, so when a new alter shows up, I kind of try to get a feel for their personality and then point them in the direction of a few others who I think they might be comfortable talking to, or I let them talk about their canon or time period they came from, things like that. try to make them comfortable, essentially, whatever that might mean for them. if that means trying to help them find new interests completely different from their old ones, then go for that; if it means listening to them talk about what they are or who they are or where they came from, then try that.

    in my experience, fictives who have memories of the world they came from tend to have the hardest time adjusting to being in the system to begin with, while nonhuman alters tend to struggle a lot with the fact that the physical body doesn't match their body and thus have a hard time with some sort of dysphoria. I don't have much experience with alters not from this time, unfortunately, but I'd imagine similar things apply.

    now then, a response to the other stuff!

    repression of the trauma's very much a thing I'd expect--that's part of what causes DID to begin with, is a need to keep the trauma separate from the ANP/ANPs so that they can continue to function and manage daily life as smoothly as possible. now that they're in a safe place, opening up about the trauma and processing it is a necessary thing, and I'd expect it to be a difficult process, but there's really no telling how it will go otherwise, although right now it seems like it's going a bit slow where older traumas are involved, but that makes sense to me. honestly, the fact that they're willing to acknowledge or be open about any traumas at all is a pretty good step forward.

    Alloy indeed sounds like a fusion sort of situation, and interestingly, a fusion sort of situation that seems to have somehow spawned another alter, since you mentioned another alter who is an amalgam of the other parts of Alloy. the fact that Gold and Silver can fuse so easily suggests that they're close, which means that they've either spent a lot of time together, worked closely together, one of them split from the other, or two or more of the above. it sounds to me like it's probably at the very least that they've worked closely together, because they both sound fairly integral to the functioning of the system, and alters who are ANPs that handle daily life or secret-keepers tend to work closely together to try and keep things running relatively smoothly.

    I was wondering if you meant daemon in the HDM sense!!! spergs about old special interest anyway. that makes sense, and going by what I remember, it would mean that the daemon and the damien(s) are probably connected in a way that other alters might not be, and it sounds like the daemons are definitely a kind of alter that works specifically to keep the damien(s) they're associated with sort of....doing okay, I guess? so that makes sense, thank you for answering that.

    re: keeping details out as much as possible because of abusers, I understand that and that's definitely a smart move. I will try to stay away from questions needing detail in the answers, but running your posts by Gold and Blue is definitely a good idea.

    that....doesn't surprise me about Gold. child alters are children. sure, they can be children with a lot of access to the system, or incredibly sharp and quick learning skills, or the knowledge of how to drive a car, but at their core, they're still children, and you can't treat them the way you would an adult. of course, like normal children, their personalities will vary, but basically, where child alters are involved, my two go-to rules are "don't leave them in charge by themselves" and "don't give them the credit card".

    Mithril.....honestly almost sounds like a name I've heard before, which is interesting to me. that aside, there are circumstances where an alter can form as essentially a deity, and have those powers within headspace and such, so I'm not too surprised by the possibility of them having some actual power as well.

    I'd like to note that the fact that Mithril and Olive are both alters who are powerful and yet also struggled to seize front from Green, Black, and Grey suggests that Green, Black, and Grey are also fairly powerful in some sense, or at the very least are powerful when they're fueled by emotion or a desire to do something they think needs to be done. the latter would fit with the other things I've heard of them, but it also doesn't bode very well for if they show up and there's no one around to help/stop them--which isn't to say you need to start keeping constant tabs on them or anything, but I am saying you should be kind of cautious about that.

    Red sounds like almost a mix of an ANP and an EP, and also like a pretty important player in keeping the system functional, which just suggests to me more that someone should be keeping an eye on them and making sure they're doing okay; having an important alter suddenly falter because they're not doing so hot is never a good thing.

    Gray, Green, and Black sound like trauma holder/persecutor mixes, which doesn't surprise me too much. trauma holders tend to shape their personalities around the trauma that made them, and the persecutor aspect of them is the part that thinks it's doing what's best by effectively trying to kill everyone in the system or push people away or what have you. they're trying to do what they think is needed or helpful, they're just...hurting a lot, and not necessarily thinking clearly enough to really know what's needed. the fact that they're the main trauma holder/persecutor mixes who've been mentioned thus far makes their closeness make sense; alters who hold such similar positions sometimes group together because they can understand each other better than another alter who isn't the same position might. that said, I think having some of the calmer, more level-headed or kinder alters try to talk to them from time to time might help them--I'll leave that up to you to consider and try and figure out, you know the system better than I do.
    • Informative x 1
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