Identifying Why I Dissociate



I am currently working on finding the reasons why I dissociate, this might sound simple but actually it’s quite hard. Often I am unaware that I have dissociated and switched alters until well after the event, after all I am not the part of me in control at that time.

Often my first realisation I have switched is a loss of time, I can find myself feeling confused and perplexed and wondering why I am eating a food I don’t like, or doing something that is unusual for me. Yet without that inquisitiveness I wouldn’t be able to understand more about me and my alters the other parts of me.

I know one of my little parts has a very sweet tooth, not great when I’m on a healthy eating plan and one of my parts clearly like clothes very different to my usual choice. Perhaps that’s why there are clothes in my wardrobe I have no recollection of buying, things I would never be seen wearing.
One of my parts is sporty and can get quite loud apparently at sporting events even shouting at the referees and at least one of me is scared of heights and yet other parts are not.

When I dissociate I switch alters, I take a back seat and some other part takes control of this body that we all share. It is challenging and it disrupts day to day life in a way many would find hard to comprehend. With each switch comes different emotions and feelings, different vocabulary and annotation and different reactions to the same situation. It’s no wonder that living with or supporting someone with Dissociative Identity Disorder is a challenge, that requires a huge amount of patience and understanding.

Thus for me currently one of the things I need to do in order to make life less chaotic and less disruptive is to try and reduce the number of times I dissociate in a day. But for me to do that I need to establish the triggers that cause me to dissociate in the first place. These triggers are wide and varied they range from different sounds to they way people speak to us, they can include everyday things that are impossible to avoid. My phone ringing can cause me to switch and I even find using public transport difficult, I haven’t been on a bus in years as they trigger me.

So in recent weeks I have been writing down when I recognise a switch, this is usually as a result of my sensing a change in emotional state. I also try and record other periods when I realise afterwards that I’ve dissociated, usually based upon the information supplied by family, friends or my support workers. But not only do I write down the switch itself, but what I was feeling, thinking and doing at that time. I’m trying to establish what it is that causes me to dissociate and which part of me it triggers. It can take a while for a pattern to emerge enabling me to identify a trigger and realise at least at little about the part that takes over.


It’s an ongoing process and it’s time consuming and yet it’s already helping me to see the reasons why I dissociate. I now know for example that being judged or feeling like we are being judged leads me to dissociate and often a more vulnerable part comes out who is distressed and fearful.

I’m also aware that when things go wrong I dissociate, though on these occasions usually a part of me that gets angry and cross comes out. In fact earlier this week an incident occurred when I felt I had broken something that wasn’t mine and I did dissociate. I apparently swore like a trooper and much to my sons consternation was not a very nice person.

Of course how I change this is still anyone’s guess but my hope is that by knowing what things and situations cause me to dissociate I can reduce these occurrences. If I can find a way of reacting to these situations without dissociating that has to be progress with a very large capital P.

Dissociation has been my life line for so long now, it saved me as a child from mentally enduring the worst of my abuse and I know without that ability at that time I would most probably not be here today. But because dissociation became my life saver back then means it has also became my inbuilt default position, hence why today I still dissociate. I don’t do this consciously it is an automatic reaction to a set of circumstances whatever they maybe, and it’s not something I can just stop. Things that triggered me as a child to dissociate still trigger me today, hence the judgemental issue being a trigger. As a child I feared being judged because it usually meant I’d be hurt and that fear still triggers me now, hence I dissociate.

I know this is a long process and so until I establish ways of working through my trauma, reducing my triggers and dissociation I will keep noting down my feelings. For by doing this my hope is I can move forwards and one day I might not dissociate quite so much.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2014


2 thoughts on “Identifying Why I Dissociate

  1. Hi,

    Am thinking that understanding your dissociative “symptoms” is bound to be helpful. Understanding how you all work/don’t together is key (or one of them!).

    It looks pretty tough since so much of the “work” seems to be yours with recording switches, and so many other things you`ve written of before. It must be really tiring:-( .

    Was just thinking, could it help to have “healthy” sweet things around for the sweet toothed amongst you? I don’t know…things like meringues / dried fruit / angel delight are relatively low cal/fat and might be accepted by that one of you, and easier for you to accept(?). With clothes…argh, yep, know what you mean! For us, it has just helped to accept that our tastes are [fairly moderately] different in clothes and try to function in a state of democracy, rather than like in our past when it was very much a fight for control.

    Recognising triggers and working out who of you it triggers and whether those reactions can be changed in the near future will no doubt be hard work, too. As you`ll know, it`s a [painfully] slow process to find ways of negotiating, understanding, accepting and so many more skills which all have to be “tweaked” to suit each of you individually.

    Thinking of you and wishing you all the best.


    • Thanks broken but being repaired for your comments. You’re right it is a painfully slow process to work with and understand the alters. As I have said in my latest post I think I am now accepting that I’m a work in progress. ๐Ÿ™‚

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