Put on the shoes of Kevin Wendell played by James McAvoy from the 2016 movie entitled “Split” or the book character “Sybil”. Both characters suffer from dissociative identity disorder (DID) which was formerly known as multiple personality disorder. People diagnosed with DID have two or more personalities or identities. Each of them has its own unique patterns of perceiving things. Transitions from one identity to another, also known as switching, are often triggered by psychosocial stress. Most commonly, these people have experienced post-traumatic stress as well such as sexual and physical abuse, especially during childhood. Hence, it became a very controversial disorder even until now. So how do we support or help someone with DID? How do we keep them safe and free from harm? Here are some helpful reminders of anybody with DID and how to handle the switching of alternate personalities.
Get to know the different alters
The different alters or personalities have their own unique characteristics. Take note that there can be amiable alters as well as violent or destructive alters. Speak to the current alter and allow him/her to tell you their own story. It is crucial to know what the perception of the alters is to the host.
Show compassion and understanding
It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms every time a person change alters. It is also essential to recognize the distinct characteristic each alter displays by asking questions to help with identifying. Please note that you must do this in a very non-judgmental manner. The person must feel the genuine understanding and empathy as it can reduce their feelings of stress and anxiety.
Join a support group
Creating an environment where they feel supported and having a sense of belongingness is important. As previously said, switching of alters is triggered by stress. The group can provide learning opportunities in recognizing symptoms and managing it to avoid harm to self or others. Online therapy and the accessibility of online therapists are very helpful in this digital age. They are readily available to provide information and education to persons living with dissociative identity disorder like how to effectively handle situations when the patient is under extreme stress that might trigger switching alters. People living with DID also have the tendency to develop frustrations and disappointments. That is why it is crucial that they also receive an equal amount of support and understanding. There could be an enormous amount of pressure and burden on their shoulders. Therefore online therapists can aid them in handling these challenging circumstances.
Dealing with patients with DID require tons of patience and understanding. Apart from being compliant to treatments and medications, keeping them safe and providing a less stressful atmosphere are very vital for their condition. The most important factor to consider is being there for the patient. Sometimes these people don’t need somebody to solve their problems for them but someone who is there to support.