Another year has passed, and here we are at DID Awareness Day again!
I challenged many of the DDCF forum members last year to do some inspiring things for DID, and we had some interesting success stories of public speaking, publishing stories, presenting educational information to professionals, displaying artwork, etc. Spreading accurate and helpful information about DID has been a goal for most of the DDCF forum members, and I am very proud to see the DDCF forum members step up in various advocacy roles. Such go-getters, they are!
And as a forum community, we took our experience of DID Awareness to a whole new level this year. Let me share this fascinating story with you.
Want to learn about DID and see what it’s like to live with Dissociative Identity Disorder?
We did exactly that, by doing exactly that!
For the first time, in Sept 2022, we held a 10-day retreat for trauma survivors with Dissociative Identity Disorder. This was a new concept, and yep, a entire house-full of DID survivors experienced a DID-specific retreat. We came together as a group, and over the course of those 10 days, I guarantee you that everyone there learned more about DID than they expected to see. Not only did everyone learn about their own personal internal dissociative system, but their external DID AWARENESS most definitely increased as well.
We had educational discussions, informational discussions, difficult discussions, painful discussions, hilarious discussions, professional presentations, writing projects, art projects, recreational activities, skit scenarios, music for littles, dance classes, story time, cookie day, adventure walks, etc.
We ate meals together, played music together, took strolls together, cooked cakes and crepes together, sat and talked together, threw mud together.
We shared laughter, and tears, and fears, and anger too.
We told stories. Life stories. Heartbreaking stories. Hilarious stories. Freaky stories. Tender stories. Real stories.
The week was packed full of every single thing we could squeeze into every single 24-hr day in our amazing Montana mountain setting, far out away from the city crowds — just a group of trauma survivors with DID hanging out together.
Simple, but beautiful.
Creative, but casual.
Happy, but happening!
Intense, but relaxing.
Quiet, but so busy.
If you’ve ever been in a large country house full of more than a dozen dissociative survivors at any one time, you’ll know that was a very very happening place.
Someone is always awake.
Someone is likely asleep.
Someone is talking.
Someone is staring off into the distance.
Someone is working on personal internal communication.
Someone is listening to a friend.
Someone is drawing, someone is singing.
Someone is feeling sadness, others are sharing smiles and giggles.
Someone is most definitely switching to someone else!
There’s all kinds of activity, emotions of all varieties, all at the same time!
Everything and nothing stays the same.
Increasing DID AWARENESS
Life quickly became very DID AWARE in that cozy Montana cabin. We each learned so much, seeing how other people lived their lives as a dissociative system.
Not everyone is the same.
And not everyone is so different either.
Some people switch often, frequently, comfortably, being many selves all day long.
Other people switch occasionally, just once in awhile, allowing each self to get involved without interruption.
Some people flittered back and forth between their people, arguing about who was coming out next.
Other people fought hard to not switch at all, or at least to hide it as long as possible. (ha, good luck with that!)
Not everyone was the same!
But every attendee was dissociative.
Just watching the other attendees was increasing our DID Awareness.
How many other insiders have you met in other DID systems?
Have you had the opportunity to see drastic changes and subtle changes?
Have you witnessed someone experiencing time loss right in front of you, wondering, questioning, not remembering anything that you knew happened an hour ago?
Have you heard voice changes, watched body movements change, or seen micro-expressions change a person into someone else?
Have you seen a capable, talented adult person switch suddenly into a silly giggling child? Or vice versa?
Learning about the many ways of expressing DID was one of the benefits of the P4 Retreat: Montana 2022.
Learning how dissociation impacts daily lives, minute by minute decisions, breakfast preferences, clothing worn, conversation topics … we saw it all. If the retreat attendees weren’t DID Aware before they arrived, they most certainly were DID Aware when they left! AND, they felt better knowing that they were not alone. They were not crazy. They were not so bad. They were like all these other wonderful people. They could see that there were other people who really did experience life in ways similar to them.
DID Awareness ACCOMPLISHED!
The Color with Me Quilt — a Picture of DID Awareness
See that perfectly made quilt in the picture? This handmade quilt had been donated at the Chicago P4² Conference, and finally, in the mountains of Montana, it was handed to its new owner. I must give another shout out and THANK YOU to the talented quilter who created this lovely quilt. Such an gifted person you are, and thank you for your kindness and generosity. Your work will be forever treasured, I’m sure.
The Color with Me Quilt — full of colors, just like every dissociative system I know. One can be colorful, white, black, sparkly, or even rainbow. All those colors are important, and distinctly different in their presentation.
This quilt has predictable patterned brightness on one side, and a black-and-white complexity on the other side. The quilt itself has several layers of fabric, all sewn together with intricate stitching. Again, this reminds me of dissociative systems, layers of insiders, layers of memories, and even layers of complex programming.
DID Awareness. You can see it everywhere.
DID Awareness 2023
What will the DDCF forum group do this year? I haven’t raised the challenge yet, but I will be having a Zoom Group with them soon, and I’m sure we’ll be discussing exactly that.
Some of the group members will continue with their speaking engagements.
Some will talk to their family members, share tender details with their close friends, maybe even explain something to a random stranger.
No doubt many will teach new information to their therapists and local community supports.
Some will continue writing, and drawing, and contributing to the field of ever-growing information.
Some will keep living their life, proving that life is worth living, even with DID. DID is not a life-stopper!
And of course, some will attend the next P4 Retreat. We’re headed to the luscious, lofty rainforests of North Carolina this year! NC ’23!
My Hope for DID Awareness?
Overall, what I hope, is that anytime anyone asks you a question about DID, I hope that you can provide an adequate and helpful answer to the inquiring mind who wants to know. Feel encouraged to explain what DID is, and be quick to inform what it isn’t. There are a million myths still floating around out there in the world. The more we can beat those back with the reality of what dissociative living is about, the better we’ll be. The quicker the world understands the impact of severe trauma, and the need for dissociative insiders, the more awareness, resources, and opportunities for assistance there will be.
And of course, if you run across a question about DID that you just can’t answer or really don’t know, feel free to get in touch with me or anyone from the DDCF forum community. Post a comment. Ask your question! There’s a lot of expertise and dissociative knowledge stirring around this community. If one of us doesn’t know, someone else will!
And THANK YOU for learning about DID, for finding the beauty, for stretching your abilities. Dissociative people really are some of the most fascinating, entertaining and warm-spirited people I know. Complicated? yeah. Complex? of course. But the more DID AWARENESS that you have, the more you just see the people.
Real people. Seeing real people. THAT is being DID AWARE.
Take gentle care.
I wish you the very safest of healing journeys.
Copyright © 2008-2023 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation
We LOVED that “stair step listing” of stuff….😊 ….”Everything and nothing stays the same”….makes so much sense to us…..
We haven’t gotten to a Retreat yet – but we aim to one of these days!….In the meantime – we are practicing and getting ready by “having our voice” here….. seeing who all we are here so we can “BE” who all we are THERE….We mostly “hide” on the Outside….wonder what it will be like to NOT have to hide…..sounds WAY cool!….😊
Our day is coming!….we are practicing “AWARENESS”….😁
Thank you Kathy for this post.
As i get to know my insiders more and more, I feel less safe sharing my DID diagnosis. My therapist is very careful to ask permission even to share with me what a Insider shared with her. She made it clear to me and all of the me’s inside that she will not keep any secrets from others. All insiders know that whatever they say to her, she will find out if I heard or will tell me what was said.
Sometimes, like the other day, I’m riding with a friend. She doesn’t know that I have DID though she knows I dissociate. (DDNOS previously) She’s a good friend but not the most empathetic, we all have our ways of being and all of them have to be acceptable if I want that person as a real friend. We don’t change people, we friendship with them as they are or we don’t.
In the moment I felt warm, fuzzy, and safe and opened my mouth with the intention of saying I have DID. Before she retired she was a mental health professional so she would know what it was.
I was a few moments away from all the words falling out of my mouth when I heard inside very loudly “NO.” a few words fell out of my mouth when I said “oh never mind.” of course she was encouraging me oh no go ahead, what were you going to say? We actually weren’t that far from her home and as I was scrambling as to what to say, I just said oh it’s a long story and we don’t have enough time. She said oh ok.
You know wasn’t there a part of me that wanted to say, like I now sometimes say in therapy, “sorry I don’t have permission to share that.”
There’s nothing more outing of yourself about DID, to those in the know, like a therapist etc., than to say “I don’t have permission to share that.” Right?
So I guess for DID Awareness Day,
rather than me sitting here writing “oh no I can’t do” “I can’t show” “i can’t say”… Instead I’m going to praise my system and say for DID Awareness Day this year, me, Be., the usual host, I’m going to acknowledge that the insiders were born to protect me and it’s my job now to protect them. So that’s my honoring DID story for this year.
I think in fact I just left a zoom because what was being said was triggering inside and my communication has increased enough this year that I can feel that somebody was being bothered. I honored whoever was feeling stirred by saying sorry I need to leave. I didn’t need to give an excuse. I didn’t need to say anything more than that. I’m not going to put somebody else’s possibly hurt feelings for leaving while they were talking, above the feelings of my own Insider feeling triggered.
This year, its an inside job. We honor each other by getting permission before we share anybody else’s story.
Thanks for the space to say that. One of my littles is afraid we will be in trouble for writing this. Here I am saying I will honor insider feelings, but sometimes my little kids need to know that they are adults now and can say what they want without getting hit. As a friend of mine said to me once “Be., adults don’t get in trouble that’s a very small child way to feel. I didn’t know adults don’t get in “trouble.” Yeah just one more sign I had DID. Thanks. Be. 3/5/2023
Montana was so beautiful. We loved being able to go for a few days.