People with dissociative identity disorder, or DID, often refer to their overall consciousness and way of living as a “system.” In some cases, the system works together well and the various states of altered consciousness support each other through their days. In other cases, the various “alters” in a system may struggle to navigate their days and to manage stress and trauma. In any case, it’s important for someone with DID to have clinical support so they can feel more grounded and discover a better quality of life overall.
Dissociative identity disorder is an automatic coping mechanism. The original onset of the disorder happened as a way to adapt to an incredibly distressing trigger. For someone living with DID now, the stress may not be immediately present, but at one time it was. Most often, the disorder was a result of trauma in their childhood. As the person’s identity was still developing, they struggled with abuse or violence or some other form of intense trauma. And their development was stunted; they became unable to integrate the naturally multi-dimensional aspects of their own personality. Without adequate treatment, they’ve been unable to recover and work to integrate these distinctive aspects that do their best to show up and protect the collective self from the unbearable trauma still stored in their psyche.
As well-intentioned as this original adaptation may have been, in the long run, it can prevent balance in life, complete self-knowledge, and grounded relationships. The instability of this person’s presence in daily life may put work, education, and other regular responsibilities out of reach. And the distress can increase greatly with time when left untreated.