I am in no way an expert and I am sure that other people have other ways of doing things but I am going to explain how I made rules amongst my Helpers and hope my experience can help someone out there either with DID or loving/caring for someone with it.
Long before I knew that I had DID, I was having periods of severe self harm, issues with eating, therapy being very inconsistent, some extremely inappropriate behaviours, as well as flickering in and out of interactions with people as often as every minute or so.
I had all the diagnoseable issue of memory lapses/losses and such as well but it was these issues that either caused me personal harm or threatened my recovery that I felt I needed to tackle first.
I decided on a short list of really important rules. You can decide your own. I just chose what affected me the most.
- No self harm, suicide attempts or alcohol.
- Heather is the only one that goes to therapy. Julie (Head Honcho Helper) can be there too (co-conscious) but silent until the session is over.
- The children can not drive or engage in any other “adults only” activities.
- If asked your name, you must give it honestly.
- Heather needs to be present as much as possible.
The list is not long but these were the 5 most important issues for me to deal with right off the bat. I was frustrated by these 5 things the most.
For me, making rules felt weird. Who do I tell the rules to? How do I know they hear me or will respect what I say? Do I even HAVE DID for real?
My nurse at the time just said to start talking inwardly about the rules and why they are so important. I also found that getting someone else to tell me the rules or recording my own voice talking about the rules then listening to it was helpful as well.
I will be honest, nothing at all changed for a while but then I decided to start making some deals with them. I knew that a teenage Helper was doing the self harm so I tried to support her and care for her like you would any teenager. I finally started getting some contact with her through pictures (usually drawn in blood but hey… it was a start). She was hurting so badly and even though I don’t know exactly why, I asked her to give me the chance to start dealing with these things myself. That I am an adult now and I can solve some of the things that are likely troubling her. I found out that she was a big fan of tattoo’s. Trees and owls being her most loved subject matter. I decided to try something…
I made her a deal that if she did not harm me for 3 months, I would get a tattoo similar to one of her drawings on the wrist with the most damage. I had no idea if that would work but suddenly the cutting stopped. One time a new location was found but then I added that to the rule. NO cutting anywhere for 3 months.
Eventually I went and got that tattoo. I added words that I really liked and some leaves but the actual design was mostly hers. Then the deal was not to cut the tattoo. It was beautiful and expensive. If no cutting continued, we’d do the other wrist too with an owl.
I am very happy to say that I have been harm/cut free now for 20 months.
The other rules were dealt with the same way. Just gentle and respectful talk. There has to be something in for them to though in my experience. I’ve made deals like…
- If someone takes over or arrives in therapy, they can speak for 5 minutes but they must admit who they are. After 5 minutes, they must give the session back to me. Therapy is Heathers time but often (almost always) these takeovers have a reason. They need to say something and it often ends up helping me.
- I will allow the young ones time to colour when I can because I know they enjoy it.
- Certain decisions are made as a group if at all possible. We have a journal together that notes may be left. They are often nasty but I overlook that. I know they are hurting. It is what they say they need that is important. Big decisions like leaving the therapist that I wrote about awhile ago were made this way.
- I promise to NEVER discuss integration. If other parts choose to become closer to me, allow me their memories and want to be more of a part of my life? That is great but NO ONE is going to be “erased”.
It is not an exact science and you need to try to do what will work for you but eventually you will find some little pathways in to their hearts and minds.
One last and really important note. This matters a lot to me.
Try not to be afraid of your other parts. They are all you and they were all created to protect you as the host. They are not hurtful people with horrible agendas. They are hurt, sad and very often in a lot of pain. They act out quite often in inappropriate ways but that is what people in pain do. They need compassion and care just as we do. So many are young too. At least for me. Remembering these young Helpers need time to play, colour and be children. They never got to be children and neither did I so colouring and play time is important.
My Helpers total 24 (that I know of) and each one of us is important. We all have our own opinions, memories, gifts and challenges. With respect, calmness, and caring, we work better and better as a team. I hope the years that follow will bring us even closer. I wish the same for you and yours. ❤