Staying Organized with Dissociative Identity Disorder

* Detailed instructions for making comments are in “News Items.”

* These conferences address dissociation in general. Proposals for presentations on ritual abuse for the February 2020 conferences are welcomed.

An Infinite Mind is presenting its first “Healing Together” regional conference.
September 21, 2019
McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA. (just outside Boston, MA.)
Space is limited to 100 attendees. Registration fee is $89.
Information, including agenda, at https://www.aninfinitemind.com/healing-together-boston.html   

An Infinite Mind’s 10th annual “Healing Together” international conference.
February 7 – 9, 2020; Orlando, FL
Submit proposals for presentations before August 15. 
Submission guidelines, vendor information, and hotel information at https://www.aninfinitemind.com/healing-together.html

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I’m not the best one to give information about organizational tools. I make lists and lose them. I make lists, know where they are, but forget to look at them. Oh, well.

I use two simple tools which I keep on my computer. One is the calendar which came with my Mac. It has a useful feature: you can make an event repeat daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly. That way I get reminded to pay my credit card and the utilities.  If I don’t do it the day I am reminded, I put it on the calendar for the next day.

The other tool is a list in TextEdit, the simplest word processing program on the Mac. It’s a more detailed calendar. I write the days of the week with their dates and list the things I have to do and want to do each day. Things that don’t get done get moved to the following day. There’s a master marketing list at the end of the week. When I need to go to the store, I just look at the list, write what I need on an index card, and put it in my purse immediately. When I am through with a week, I cut and paste it at the end of the document.

I know that this won’t be enough to help those trying to work with many alters and communicate what has been done, opinions and feelings, etc. I wouldn’t have the faintest idea what to suggest.

I was thrilled, therefore, to come across an article that addresses this very situation and immediately wrote for permission to post it here. I read it through and thought some of the suggestions might be helpful to me if I can get through the initial phase of getting used to a new system. (My learning curve is very long.)

“Staying Organized with Dissociative Identity Disorder” was written by Casper from the Phanspastic System. You can see it at https://www.didselfhelp.com/staying-organized. Check out the whole website – there are a lot of other self-help articles with really good ideas. https://www.didselfhelp.com/

Staying Organized with Dissociative Identity Disorder

Sometimes life can be a bit chaotic when living with Dissociative Identity Disorder. You share a body with other people, and you probably experience amnesia and other dissociative symptoms on a regular basis. So, staying organized can be a bit of a challenge. This is why I have decided to compile a short list of helpful tools to stay organized and also keep the best amount of communication with your alters, even if amnesiac symptoms and dissociative barriers between alters are at a high level.

Some of the best ways that MY system find useful for keeping contact with alters and staying organized are:

• Journaling
• Planners
• Sticky notes
• Daylio app
• Upword app

Journaling

Journaling is one of the best ways to keep in contact with your alters. Journals provide a safe place for alters to express themselves. This safe space can become somewhere where your alters turn to when they are feeling distressed and need to express how they feel, and can thus encourage hidden alters to start coming forward. And it’s also just a great way for alters to help each other keep up to date on what happened during the day when a particular alter was out and how they were feeling throughout the day. This can be a physical notebook or binder or it could also be a digital notebook on a phone or computer. As long as all of the alters have access to it, anything can be used as a system journal!

The way that we set up our own personal journal is to keep it organized by date. We try to write in it daily keeping note of what happened during the day, what we did. We also log how we felt about a particular event that happened, and then occasionally we will end it off with a question or two, asking how the others (who may or may not been present at the time) how THEY felt about what happened or if there is any input/advice they think would be helpful for us as a collective. Things such as goals for the future can also be added. We also have a separate section for our therapy sessions to keep log of the progress and also advice that we received to help us keep moving forward so that anyone who was not present during therapy can overlook what was discussed.

Our therapist had recommended that we DON’T read back through old entries of our journal, as it can sometimes be triggering. However, I think this is sometimes impractical for systems since a lot of the things written in a journal need to be expressed to each other as a collective and it’s not always possible for alters to always be able to communicate these things internally, when it is sometimes necessary for the others to know about them. However, if a particular journal entry contains a lot of triggering material, after a few days, consider tossing it out with the permission of the alter who wrote it. We want to move forward in healing, and sometimes holding onto these emotions from the past can be damaging over time. It’s important to recognize and especially validate these emotions (and be sure to let the alter know you’ve validated their emotions), but then eventually it will be time to let them go. But definitely figure out what works best for you and your system mates, as it may very from person to person.

Planners

Planners are probably one of the best ways to keep a system organized with daily events, both future and past! Planners are already organized by date and can be used for small notes to communicate between the system.

We have two planners. We specifically chose planners that have enough space to write a few notes on EACH DAY. So that it’s a little easier for us to write a little bit of a description to help other system members understand what each entry means. We keep the planners on our nightstand so that everyone can easily find it (and especially since we all visit our bed multiple times a day, haha). We have one planner for future events and one for past events.

Our future planner we use to keep note of plans that anyone in the system has made, such as outings with friends, appointments, work schedules, etc. occasionally listed with a time or address if needed. We also use it to remind everyone to pay bills on time! We write down a small note on each day that a bill is due to remind us to pay it on time.

Our past planner is used to write down small notes about important events that happened during the day that we think the others need to know. This could include things like chores that have been done or partially done that need to be finished, groceries that were picked up, any completed task that was done, any commitments that we have made with other people that the others should know about, and other such things that help keep the others in-the-loop, that would leave them at a bit of a surprise if they didn’t otherwise know about it.

This method has been really effective for us (as long as all the alters commit to writing in it when needed), and i really hope it works out for other systems too!

Sticky Notes

Sticky notes, for us, are just small reminders or messages that can help each member of our system have some communication. For example, if there is a particular alter that always forgets to do something, you can place a sticky note on a spot that that alter passes by frequently to remind them. They can also be used as a small reminder for groceries. In this case, we put a sticky note of what items we need, and place it on the front door, so that whoever leaves the house next can be aware of what we need, and they can also remove the note from the door and take it with them as they leave! We also will occasionally use sticky notes to communicate whether the dishwasher is clean or not (which can be handy if you also have roommates, etc), and what laundry has already been done and what needs to be done next by placing one on the laundry room door, in case there is a switch in the middle of doing the chore.

I think sticky notes are otherwise self-explanatory. You can really use them for whatever you want! Our therapist will even sometimes write notes for us on sticky notes so we can place them in frequently visited parts of our home to remind us to do some of the things our therapist recommends. You could ask your therapist to do the same if you think it would be helpful for your system.

Daylio App

Daylio is a great app and is probably one of our favorites! Daylio is an app that is meant to be used as a mood and activity log. This is great for systems for obvious reasons!

You can add as many activities as you like, so we kind of cheated a bit and added our alters’ names for some of the “activities”. What this does is allows you to track when alters were out during what times of the day with little icons, what they did at that time and how they were feeling (assuming the alters log when they are out), with just a few taps. They also provide a section for notes for every entry as well but its optional.

Daylio keeps track of all of the activities in a monthly chart as well so you can also look back and see how often each alter comes out every month, and which activities/moods are commonly associated with them. Which again, is fantastic for systems!

You can set push notification reminders for entries to remind alters to log each day, or even several times a day.

We use this all the time to help us keep track of nearly everything! And it’s particularly great with being something portable that can be logged at any time, any where.

Upword App

Upword is primarily a note app. We personally feel like this app in particular is superior to a lot of other note apps for the amount of organization and other tools it has in its utility belt.

One of these tools is the ability to create folders (and folders within folders). Each folder can have a color added to it (which many of our alters love, haha). They can also be easily moved around. Not just above and below other folders, but folders can easily be moved into or out of other folders. This makes it great for reorganization in case a particular organization method becomes a bit too messy after awhile. It also has a search function in case you end up losing a note among the different folders, so it’s really hard to actually lose anything among the near-limitless folders.

We have three main folders at the top of the others on the main page. One listed as our “bulletin” and another listed as “extras”, and a final one listed as “reminders”; below those three folders we have a separate folders for EACH of our alters that they can organize and use however they like for their own personal use.

Our bulletin folder is used for important information we think all of the system members should know about, such as our budget, coping skills, etc. We also use it to keep record of confirmation codes for bills that we have paid, how much the bill was, what for, and when we paid it. Our extras folder is also a shared folder we use for less important things and is mostly reserved for fun ideas or things we think is helpful for the system; it’s much like a little private blog for each of us to share.

The great thing about this app too, that i briefly already mentioned, is that you can create reminders that are attached to the notes you make! We have made a folder for these reminders to keep them all in one place but you can attach them to ANY note. We have personally set this up for appointment and bill pay reminders and also weekly (or monthly) chore reminders! We create a list of chores in one of the notes and than attach a reminder of when, and how often, we would like those chores to be done. This is a great tool, for obvious reasons, for alters to remind each other when things need to be done. We personally create several different notes for different days of the week so that we can spread out our chores instead of doing them all on one day. But do whatever works for your system!

All in all, this app is pretty amazing and we use it all the time! It has so many different tools that can be used and many of them are PERFECT for systems. Another app that we use occasionally that is fairly similar is SomNote. The only reason we don’t like this one as much is because you can only create folders on one page (you cannot put folders inside folders). So this has less use in that regard but it does have the option to attach images to notes which is something i don’t think is an option in UpWord. Some of my alters personally use this one as a spiritual notebook and a dream log, but you could can use this one however you like! I thought I’d mention it, just in case, since the ability to attach pictures could be helpful for some. We just don’t think it has as much use for us as a collective alter notebook, personally.

Conclusion

Well! I hope these are all helpful. These are some of the ways that we found work best for us to keep organized as a system, and we hope that it is helpful for others, too. If you have any other suggestions to add, please contact us at m.me/Phanspastic and we will be sure to add it!

*This article is brought to you by Casper from the Phanspastic System.

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Upcoming Holidays

Note: Information on the following holidays is available at:
Lammas: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/category/lamas
August Ritual Dates: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/august-ritual-dates/  y

Fall Equinox:  https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/the-fall-equinox/

July
7/2 Total solar eclipse. Visible in parts of South America
7/4 Fourth of July/ US Independence Day
7/16 Full moon
7/16 – 17 Partial lunar eclipse. Visible in South America, Africa, most of Europe and Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.
August
8/1 Lammas/Lughnasadh
9/
8/15 Full moon
September
9/2 Labor Day (US)
9/5 – 9/7 Feast of the Beast/Marriage of the Beast
9/13 Full moon
9/23 Fall equinox

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
7/29 Hitler proclaimed leader of the Nazi party
9/29 – 10/1 Rosh Hashanah (New Year, Day of Judgement)
(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices and the equinoxes)

The Unconscious

* Detailed instructions for making comments are in “News Items.”

* Candlemas is right around the corner, on February 2. I always found that this was a hard Satanic holiday to remember, as it lives on only as Groundhog Day. I hope that all of you have remembered it is coming up and have made plans for safety and to minimize the amount of misery that flashbacks may bring.

You can read about the background of Candlemas at https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/candlemas/ The history of Valentine’s Day is at https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/valentines-day/

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The idea of an unconscious has always seemed peculiar to me. How can I know something, remember something, feel something physically and emotionally, and not know I know, remember or feel it? When I think about that, it is really spooky.

Where are all these things I don’t know located? It’s not like I have a giant filing cabinet in my brain stuffed full of things unknown to me. Or a library of microfiches, which would take up less room. Does it have its own little corner of the brain, or does it piggyback on a part that stores things that I am conscious of?

Apparently, the conscious and the unconscious mind are pretty much the same thing, so there is no separate place for information stored in the unconscious. When things happen, the same areas of the brain light up – and almost all the brain is active in processing sensory information and storing it, whether we later can access it or not. The main difference is that trauma memories are stored as blocks of sensory information, while non-trauma memories are stored as narrative.

We, can, however, direct our awareness only to certain things; what we are doing in the moment and what we can remember if we wish. The amount of things we can easily remember is quite small compared to all the things that we have lived through. I know what I ate for breakfast this morning and one marvelous breakfast in Italy comes to mind easily but that leaves about 29,000 unaccounted for.

We can stretch our minds and get access to some stuff that was previously inaccessible. For example, I studied calculus in high school. About the only memory I have of calculus is that I spent a year studying it and that I liked it. And the phrase “asymptotically approaching zero.” The rest is lost to me – it is in my unconscious.

Now if I start studying calculus again, chunks of what I learned in high school will come back to me and I will learn more quickly than I did back then. Part of my unconscious has become once more conscious.

But I still find it spooky. How do some things get forgotten and others remembered? How can we forget something even as it is happening? This has happened to me, in everyday life, when I lost control of my car on a snowy road. I remember the moment I lost control, then nothing until I found myself in a snow bank with no idea of how far I skidded or whether I had spun or not.

It gets more complicated when multiplicity is added to the mix.

Okay, I know the theory. Trauma causes the mind to split and, if the same trauma is repeated, that split continues to evolve until it appears to have a separate identity with its own history, memories, and its own unconscious. Alter A may not know a word of German and Alter B may speak German fluently. Alter C remembers going to college and Alter D has no memories of anything that happened after age six. And all these alters may have forgotten some of the same things and so, in a very real sense, they share the same unconscious as well as having their own unconsciousnesses.

Back to how one piece of information is selected for conscious recall and the myriad other memories are not.
I fondly recall knowing a young gay man named Bobby who called himself Sonny when he went out dancing.

No problem, very normal. He only began to consider that he might be multiple when Karen came on the scene to choose whether he went out clubbing and therefore was Sonny or whether he stayed home as Bobby.

So do I have a Karen that chooses what I can remember and what stays firmly in my unconscious? I doubt it. But even if I did, it wouldn’t explain how Karen chooses. Does Karen have access to everything that happened to me? Does she have no unconscious? And what would motivate her to choose one thing to share with me and not another?

And animals? Do they have an unconscious, or do they have access to everything that ever happened to them? How could we tell, anyway?

The more I brood over these things, the spookier it gets. Multiple or singleton, the mind is mysterious and will surely not give up its secrets in my lifetime. It’s best just to accept that some things are so without worrying about why or how it works.

Guess I am lucky to have a mind, lucky to be able to ask unanswerable questions, lucky to be able to live with uncertainty.

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Upcoming Holidays

February
2/2 S Candlemas/Imbolc/Satanic Revels
2/14 Valentine’s Day
2/18 President’s Day/Washington’s Birthday
2/19 Full moon
2/25 Walpurgis Day

March
3/1 St. Eichstadt’s Day
3/5 Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras
3/6 Ash Wednesday/Beginning of Lent
3/17 St. Patrick’s Day
3/20 Full moon
3/20 Spring Equinox
3/24 Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan

April
4/1 April Fool´s Day
4/8 Day of the Masters
4/14 Palm Sunday
4/19 Full moon
4/19 Good Friday
4/20 Holy Saturday
4/21 Easter Sunday
4/26 Grand Climax/De Meur
4/30 Walpurgisnacht/May Eve

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
3/20 – 3/21 Purim (Deliverance of the Jewish people from Haman in Persia)
4/19 – 4/27 Passover/Pesach (Deliverance of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt)
4/20 Hitler´s actual birthday
4/21 Hitler’s alternative birthday ((Note: Hitler was born on Easter, so Nazis celebrate his actual birthday and half-birthday on 4/20 and 10/20. His alternate birthday is celebrated on Easter of the current year and his alternate half-birthday six months later.)
4/30 Anniversary of Hitler’s death

(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices and the equinoxes)

Harm Reduction

* Detailed instructions for making comments are in “News Items.”

* Most of the 2019 calendar is posted now!

 

Harm reduction is usually thought of in terms of supplying clean needles to drug addicts. The idea is to lessen the transmission of blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis and to prevent bacterial infections. It works but unfortunately it has a bad rep. “OOOH! That means you are encouraging addiction!”

It has been proved, however, to be useful in working with drug addicts. Now only does it lower disease transmission, but it brings addicts into a setting where they are respected and their welfare is considered important. This is often a first step toward getting clean.

It’s a useful concept in many other areas, as well. I’ll write about cutting, a form of self-harm  wwhich many ritual abuse survivors engage in at some point in their lives. It is often misunderstood by people in schools, medical settings, and even peer groups. Since the vast majority of us have DID, I’ll write from a multiple’s point of view.

A part cuts for a reason, and until you can understand that reason, contact the part, and negotiate another behavior, chances are the cutting will continue. Willpower only takes you so far: it becomes useless the moment you switch. A lot of people do not understand this, and any suggestion of reducing the harm of cutting to the body and to the system is usually met with the argument that you are encouraging cutting.

(Here is a nice article by Kerry Gutridge, “Safer Self-Injury or Assisted Self-Harm?” in The Journal of Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2847158/)

Harm reduction techniques for cutting are done by parts of the system that do not want to self-harm. They plan ahead and buy blades, bandages, isopropyl alcohol for sterilization, and topical antibiotics. Equally important is understanding where major arteries, veins, and tendons are located. The part that cuts may be persuaded to avoid them, and if they are cut, plans have been made for this emergency. Preparations and care for the wound are both done by one or more parts of the system that do not want to self-harm.

If you are going to try this, be sure to talk to the part(s) that cut. Tell them that you are aware that they are trying to help and that you believe that they are trying to catch your attention and warn you of danger. Be sure and let them know that you aren’t telling them to go away and that you will take their message seriously. In actuality, you are spending more time attending to what they have to say, as preparations and wound care are time-consuming.

Perhaps, in return, they could cut fewer times, less deeply, or in less conspicuous places? Perhaps they could explain to you what they are trying to protect you from? Is it punishment from the perpetrator? Strong emotions that you aren’t ready to handle? Something else that you haven’t thought of?

(Here is an article was written by Amelia, who speaks from experience. https://imaginaryplaygrounds.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/a-harm-reduction-guide-to-cutting-an-early-version/ It covers medical issues in depth and social and legal issues as well. It probably doesn’t occur to many people that open wounds or even scars can get you court-ordered for evaluation and/or treatment. I really recommend it.)

When I was a practicing therapist, we used the term “turning down the volume.” We asked kids that were having tantrums to see if they could turn down the volume “just a little bit.” We also wondered what they wanted to say to their parents but couldn’t say in words.

Sometimes it worked. A couple of kids took the directions literally and didn’t scream as loud. If one of the parents needed the kid to act up for some reason, it didn’t work at all. We often had to find another way to phrase it or another approach altogether.

It worked brilliantly with my first adult RA client. The process made sense to her and she did a ton of internal work. It made me realize that everything I knew applied to RA survivors simply because they were people like everybody else. They were just more complicated due to the severity of their trauma.

Realizing that every symptom had a meaning and served a purpose also reassured me. Symptoms were a form of communication and wondering what they were saying that couldn’t be said in words helped translate them into a language the client and I had in common. We had a framework we could work within.

So I am all for harm reduction, not only to reduce harm but to explore what the self-harming behavior means and what purpose it is serving. Saying that the symptom should be given up all at once is like slamming a door in somebody’s face and shutting down all chance of communication. I find it disrespectful and counter-productive.

If you would like to explore more about this topic (not just cutting), ra-info.org (Ritual Abuse, Ritual Crime, and Healing) has a self-harm bibliography at http://ra-info.org/for-researchers/bibliographies/s/ It contains both websites and books. The first two websites are not currently active. Enter their URL in the Wayback Machine at https://web.archive.org/ Use early pages in the Wayback Machine for “Healing Self-Injury:” the later ones get squirrely.

If you want my opinion, the Wayback Machine is just about the best thing since sliced bread!

Upcoming Holidays

January
1/13 Satanic New Year
1/17 Feast of Fools/Old Twelfth Night/Satanic and demon revels
1/20 St. Agnes’ Eve
1/20 Full moon
1/21 Martin Luther King Day
1/20 – 21 Total lunar eclipse. Visible in North and South America and partially visible in Europe.

February
2/2 S Candlemas/Imbolc/Satanic Revels
2/14 Valentine’s Day
2/18 President’s Day/Washington’s Birthday
2/19 Full moon
2/25 Walpurgis Day

March
3/1 St. Eichstadt’s Day
3/5 Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras
3/6 Ash Wednesday/Beginning of Lent
3/17 Str Patrick’s Day
3/20 Full moon
3/20 Spring Equinox
3/24 Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
1/20 – 1/21 Tu B´Shvat (Celebration of spring)
1/30 Hitler named Chancellor of Germany
3/20 – 3/21 Purim (Deliverance of the Jewish people from Haman in Persia)
(Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices and the equinoxes)