Taking Care of Your Inside Community: A Therapy Workbook for Living With Dissociative Identity Disorder

by Heidi D. Hansen, M.A. copyright2017

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This is a welcoming, warm, reassuring walkthrough along a path of skills and insights for persons who have dissociative identities.
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Firstly, understand that dissociative identity is a 3 – dimensional experience to process, not a linear illness to “cure” or “fix.”  Dissociation is a way your inner life is organized, a structure that helps you relate to and work in the outside world.  Dissociation does not have a “fix,” nor should it.  You have a right to be who you are.  You don’t have to change it, just learn how to work with yourself in a more complex way.
You may come into therapy because of depression, anxiety, compulsive behaviors, substance abuse, etc., but understand there is a “who” on the inside that owns that depression or anxiety or compulsive behavior.  It’s not global, it’s specific.  Presenting problems are not ‘one size fits all’ for your inside community.
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In therapy, you are working with many persons, some of whom have problems, others who do not.  It is dehumanizing, demoralizing and possibly medically neglectful/abusive to judge some inside persons falsely.  This guide book will help you clarify what belongs to whom, and give you a good start on organizing a daily quality of life and also your plan in therapy.
Secondly, you have the right to be who you are, and you are the only one who has the right to say who you are.  You have a right to have a life like everybody else does.
Thirdly, as you grow in compassion for your inside community and empowerment in its gifts, your many personalities can give you a  rich and deeply meaningful life that has so much to offer others that you can have great pride and carry yourself with respect.
Workbook Chapter 1:  Getting To Know You
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Inside communities likely have personalities that are young, very little, an older leader, a sad one, a scared one, an angry one, one who mis-behaves, one who has a drug or alcohol issue, one who is talented and skilled in a specific area, one who can be sociable, one who can handle stress, one who falls apart easily, one who is dependent, one who rejects others too quickly, one who collects information, one who observes you from a distance, etc…
Can you draw or describe in words, colors, shapes each of the  inside people you think are there at this time in the spaces shown here?  (note:  the purchase version of this workbook will have a graph here).
Now,  list out names, and functions, roles, duties, or feelings associated with these inside people using a map like the one below, and adjust as you need.   Use the icon box to provide unique characteristics, and add your own.  (note:  the purchase version of this workbook will have a graph here).
Map out which insiders stay on the inside, which ones come outside (and where, when, and to whom), and which ones seem to be hiding but hovering, using the icons and colors in your tool box.  (note:  the purchase version of this workbook will have a graph here).
Now, using the journal page provided here (note:  the purchase version of this workbook will have a special journal page here),  list out how each of these personalities need to be taken care of.
Using self-care, comfort and safety, and allowing and encouraging inside people to meet their goals and needs, your life with dissociation will be manageable and sensible and even enjoyable!
The key is to be specific about what each person needs, and meet those needs — either on the inside, or the outside world.  This is a challenging adventure, but worth it.  Your insiders need to be heard, some need to tell their stories, some need to be visible, some need to be important and useful on the outside.  And some just need to be cared for and comforted.
Using the Three C’s each day, in some fashion, will help your insiders feel safe, heard, and cared for.  The Three C’s?  Communication, Cooperation, and Creativity.
Communication — Find a way to let insiders talk to each other (the maps and graphs above is a good daily way of doing this).  Find a way for insiders to communicate with the outside world.
Using the journal page here (note:  the purchase version of this workbook will have a graph here),  write or draw out what certain insiders need to say on the inside and on the outside.  What needs to be heard?
Cooperation — Using he journal page here (note:  the purchase version of this workbook will have a graph here),  ask the insiders to help out the overall community in some way in which they are skilled and able.  Say thanks.
Ask the ones who might not fit in with an outside task to remain calm and busy inside while you do outside things.   Ask the acting-out or destructive ones to use their power to keep you safe and fulfilled.   Ask them to cooperate with your counselor or friends or family.  Say thanks for the cooperation.  Reward all the cooperation with things that make sense to that person.
Creativity —  Inside communities are by nature creative solutions to unbearable situations.  So, you are very likely a creative person in general — and it is your dignity to use that in your own control to help yourself find the life you want and deserve.
Know the more creative you can be in allowing your inside community to tell their stories, to survive (safety and self-care) and thrive (leading a meaningful, high quality of life), the more you’ll have success in your overall life.
How can you be creative in learning and using the skills in this workbook?
How can you be creative in surviving your presenting problems?
How can you be more creative in self-care?
How can you be more creative in getting more quality of life?
How can you be more creative in getting your insiders to have a more meaningful life?
Workbook Chapter 2:  Getting Organized
Give your inside community a metaphor that feels like it fits for you and gives you an ease to communicate and cooperate as a whole.
This can be a structure that is very finite or more ephemeral, your choice.  Some examples are a universe, a galaxy, a country, a city, a highrise, a mall, a university, a paint palette, an art studio, a quilt,  — whatever comes to mind as you read this, start with that.  You are in charge of this, you own your inside community, only you can organize it and give the whole a unique form.
Use meditation to increase awareness of what is going on inside. Get in the habit of asking, on the “deep inside and far away,” — who on the inside is best suited to learn and use this skill?  This task?  Handle this feeling?  Work through this problem? Achieve this goal?
Then, listen for answers.  Allow each insider to answer, and to do the job that is asked for or needed. Remember, go slow.  Inside people don’t just pop in and out on demand.  And it takes a long time to get to a place in therapy and recovery where this can come naturally.  Practice.
Make a place of peace in your daily routines to just chill-out and let the insiders do their thing.  A place of peace is safe, still, and comforting.  A place to just listen to the inside.
Acknowledge and assign jobs to each of the insiders you are aware of.  You can draw our write this out, or just roll through it while meditating in your place of peace.
What are the goals of each of your insiders?
What outside tasks can they take over?
Who on the inside is best suited to learn and do?
(note:  the purchase version of this workbook will have specialized journal pages that complete this chapter).
Workbook Chapter 3:  Getting Calm, Cool, and Collected
Understand that when you have panic attacks or severe depression it may be an insider wanting to come forward or switch.  Ask and meditate:  What does that insider want to say?  To do?  If it’s safe, can you allow them out to do what they want and need?  When you allow this kind of process to unfold naturally, does the anxiety and depression get better?
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(note:  the purchase version of this workbook will have specialized journal pages that complete this theme).
Other people might want to diagnose you as bipolar or borderline.  Clarify your personal situation for others by having an explanation card ready to give a counselor or crisis worker so they know not to mis-diagnose you or judge you in an inappropriate and possibly destructive way. Make a crisis card to have on hand to explain to  helper — in a crisis — what your DID is like and what you specifically need.
(note:  the purchase version of this workbook will have specialized journal pages that complete this theme).
Advocating for yourself for who you are is critical for your overall wellness and quality of life.  A big part of advocating is educating others.  A big part of educating others is letting them know you expect respect and dignity and boundaries and inclusion.
How do you want to be respected by others?
How do you want to be more included, involved?
In what ways would you like to be more valued by others?
Allow yourself to go slow.  Make room for switching.  When you notice a switch happening, or someone you trust notices, write down what you observed in yourself.
(note:  the purchase version of this workbook will have specialized journal pages that complete this chapter).
Often there will be insiders whose job it is to observe.  If you feel an out-of-body experience, or like you are watching yourself from he ceiling that may be an observer part of you.  Let that happen and make notes or sketches on it.
Accept that there will be “scrub” days.  Days in which nothing syncs, days where all doors are closed on the inside and the outside world is just a fumble.  These are days to just let go of. Just let it be and focus on self-care.  Other days will be more productive and clear for you.  Give yourself a break — that’s what “normies” go through, too.
Forgiveness is a wellness tool to use often through the day.  Forgiveness means letting it go.  No getting stuck on it.  Forgiveness of others, and ourselves.
In what ways do you need to forgive yourself today?
With dissociation, you will lose track of time and place.  You’ll feel like you just woke up, entered the room, or got here.  That’s okay.  No big.
Go slow.  Do one thing, then wait.  Then one more thing, and wait.  When you allow insiders to do things that have a tangible, concrete finished product, the more you’ll be able to look back say, “yeah,– I was here!”
Sometimes you have to fight your way into a space that you find more productive for your goals.  Sometimes you’ll really have to push and challenge yourself.  Sometimes you’ll have to call out to the inside community to pony up determination and perseverance and resilience when you might not believe it’s in there.
We have the right to have a quality of life just like everyone else.  That means family, work, contributing, receiving, having fun, celebrating achievements and anniversaries, getting out and involved.
In what ways do you want more of these?  (note:  the purchase version of this workbook will have specialized journal pages that complete this theme).
Write down a list of insiders who have a clear idea of what that looks like.  Write down the insiders who are murky on what these look like.  Write down the insiders who would like to sabotage or destroy these things.  How does the understanding of these elements help your inside community overall?
(note:  the purchase version of this workbook will have specialized pages here).
If you can do a few of these things in this guide book,  at the end of the day, you’ll be able to say “I felt real today.  I wasn’t hiding so much.  I felt visible and safe in it.  I was present and accounted for and have something to show for it.  I did meaningful work and loved someone in a meaningful way. “
Getting well, or better, or recovering  — is your right.  Know that it’s also a responsibility.
To be responsible in your recover and wellness and quality of life, what do you need from others?
What responsible thing do you need to do?
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The journey path of living with dissociative identities can be at times confusing, at times frustrating, often discouraging, but most certainly worth it.  Dissociation gives you many talents and insights and skills that others don’t have.  The more you understand the patterns of you dissociative experiences, and work to honor them and allow them to thrive as they want and need, your life will be rich and dynamic and a help to many others.
“Taking Care of Your Inside Community” and the mental health muse (icon figure) are copyrighted to Heidi D. Hansen, M.A. 2017.  All rights reserved.  Printing and use is prohibited unless purchased.
Purchase price of the entire workbook and permission to reproduce is $29.99.  Private consultation on dissociative identity disorder is available at a fee of $65.00 per hour.  Payment can be made using major credit cards via Paypal, using the button provided here.

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Heidi Hansen can be reached in Vancouver, WA, USA, at (360) 892-5218, and email at dog.hotel.hansen@gmail.com.bizcardpic


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