I feel like so many of the did community on tumblr seem to have co conscious and rarely blackouts. As someone who has full blackouts every time, I feel like I don't relate to people's struggles. Any advice how to work towards having some communication between alters where there is 0 or co consciousness?
Honestly, the best suggestion I can give is less communication based and more healing based because I was in a similar boat as you and focusing on communication didn’t do much for me. It was helpful, but increasing communication through internal or external means didn’t actually stop the blackouts or even lessen them. I had to stabilize my life and focus on making healthier life choices, including better ways of handling PTSD issues, and everything else just sort of followed.
Increasing communication or co-consciousness is only part of the equation. A lot of the times, more severe or frequent periods of amnesia and increased barriers between alters is a symptom of a larger problem that needs to be addressed. The brain reacts to internal and external situations, and if it’s prone to dissociation in order to cope, it’s going to rely on that in increasing amounts when your life is unstable or unhealthy in some way. Increasing communication is really only a band-aid fix - it may help in the short term, but it can’t be all that you work on because the cause of the instability will still be there and still causing problems for you. The dissociation, and thus the blackouts and poor communication, will persist or return if the other factors aren’t addressed.
What that looks like for you is going to depend on your situation. Everyone’s situation and needs are different, and there’s only so much advice we can provide on that front. Part of the problem with the Tumblr DID community is that it focuses on alters way too much and neglects the rest of the condition, which is unhealthy and contributes to instability in the long run. In order for me to heal, I had to largely detach myself from the Tumblr DID community with the exception of this blog and @whynot-dissociativedegu. Instead, I directed my attention to real life problems I needed to address but was otherwise neglecting, such as problems with isolating myself, a lack of spirituality, and substance/alcohol dependency. Working on those things helped the blackouts and communication problems way more than trying to work with individual alters because everyone in the system benefits from that stability.
Again, your needs are probably going to be different. It might be a good time to take a step back, try to analyze the situation and make a note of what things are causing problems for you. Then, just as a starting point, what aspects of that situation can you work on improving now? What’s going to wind up being a long term goal if you can’t reach it now? How can you take the little steps you need to heal? Who can you rely on when things get tough, and what connections need repairing to make that easier to do?
Take care of yourself, okay?
J (of SN)
I disagree slightly with SN. I agree with them that external stabilization is extremely important, but internal communication can help you not only to decrease dissociative barriers in the long term (leading to reduced dissociative symptoms and helping you to heal from your trauma more easily), but it can also often help you to stabilize your external life. This is partially because sometimes, alters can be stressors in of themselves! If communication and cooperation are poor, your alters might have their own ideas about how to spend money, how to change your appearance, or how to treat people in your life. As well, amnesia can be a problem for academics and work.
On the other hand, working with your alters can actually increase your functioning beyond the obvious ways because alters can bring their own strengths to the table. For example, as I’ve said, I’m switching extremely rarely right now. That forces me to concentrate heavily on external life, so I’ve been spending the last few years trying to get myself as healthy as I can and get my life in working order. However, I’m still dissociative. My alters didn’t disappear, and I still can’t access everything that they hold. Apparently, this includes some of the knowledge and skills needed to avoid unhealthy relationships.
A month or so back, one of my alters was triggered out and ended up talking with SN, and it turned out that I’d been in a relationship that was so lacking in boundaries that it had begun causing issues for my PTSD. I’d been in denial for months, but within a few hours, my alter sent an email to my therapist explaining the situation and asking for help. Crucially, not only did the alter try to help directly and get others involved, but they also made sure to gather enough evidence that something was wrong that I’d be forced to agree with them. If we hadn’t been communicating, if they hadn’t been able to find out what was going on or if I hadn’t listened to their concerns, it might have taken much longer for me to try to lay down solid boundaries, and I could have gotten seriously hurt.
Your alters are part of you, and making sure that you’re all working together can be important to keeping you safe and healthy. Like SN said, this can be more easily said than done, especially if stress is increasing dissociative barriers. However, there are still things that you can do.
If your alters are willing to communicate with you, you might want to start by leaving messages for them in a journal, on your computer, on your phone, or on sticky notes around the house. If they also talk to some of your friends, you could try to pass messages along that way. Your therapist can also serve as a intermediary between you, and they may have suggestions for how to learn to communicate internally. As a starting point, you might want to figure out if there’s anything that you can do to make your alters feel safer or more willing to communicate.
Do keep in mind that your own feelings will also influence the ease of communication. If you’re scared of your alters or of what they hold, it may be harder for you to be present with them. For example, an alter may not want to work towards being co-conscious with you if they sense that you’re scared about catching a glimpse of the trauma that they (you) survived. As well, any denial on your part may complicate the process.
We wish you the best of luck,
Katherine of Those Interrupted