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"Am I Part of a System?"

Written by Caspian, 4/9/2023 at 1:40 p.m.

Content Warnings: None

Now that you have a basic understanding of Dissociative Identity Disorder, I wanted to create an article for those who may be questioning if they're part of a system. Please note that this requires a lot of exploration into the self, and it could take months or years to determine if you're part of a system. You may get frustrated that this is taking a while, or scared because you're having flashbacks of things you may or may not remember. Please take your time; take breaks if you need to. If you're having thoughts of harming yourself or others, please seek professional help.

With that in the open, let's discuss some things that might come up as you're exploring your potential systemhood.

I'm hearing voices that aren't my own. Does that mean I'm a system?

Just experiencing the symptom of hearing voices does not automatically mean you have DID or part of a system. Hearing voices can be an indicator of a number of issues, including stress, lack of sleep, side effects of recreational or perscription drugs, and other mental health conditions (such as bipolar disorder, some cases of severe depression, schizophrenia, etc.) Check the side effects of any medication that you take, see if you have other mental health conditions, lower your stress, try to get sleep; make sure this isn't caused by an underlying health condition first.

If you are spiritual or believe in entities that can cause you to hear voices, consult a spiritual leader (such as a priest, coven leader, etc) to clense your home of any negative energies or assist you in having the entity leave you alone. Hang or place protective symbols around your home (cross, eggshells, etc); make sure this isn't caused by a paranormal or spiritual entity. On a similar note, have your home checked for carbon monoxide poisoning as this can cause you to become disoriented and hard to think, and has been shown to be mistaken for hauntings in the past.

If it isn't the above, and you can interact with the voices, see if you can ask them questions about themselves or what may be happening. Leave sticky notes around the house; are you seeing handwriting that isn't your own, or you don't remember writing down something? This may be an indicator of DID, but not always (see carbon monoxide message above).

To summarize: make sure that nothing physical is going on (a medical issue or a home issue), and, if you so believe in it, make sure nothing spritiual is going on (haunting or likewise.)

I have memory loss sometimes, but do I have enough to be a system?

Memory loss is a common symptom of DID and dissociative amnesia, among other medical conditions. Again, please make sure you don't have another medical condition that could explain the memory loss (such as a brain tumor, head trauma, dementia, depression, and many other conditions.) Memory loss that's common among people with DID and dissociative amnesia includes forgetting large gaps in your memory (usually spans months, years, or decades), forgetting what you did the other day/week, not remembering personal information (such as your cell phone number, your age, your birthdate, etc), and not remembering people around you (such as friends, family, coworkers, etc.) Another part of dissocative amnesia is dissocative fugue, where a person adopts a new identity and forgets details about their life and "previous" identity.

You may or may not experience distress over memory loss, and you especially may not be worried in the beginning. You may assume that this is normal and that everyone experiences this. While memory loss and general dissociation is common among the population, memory loss to the degree of losing hours or years at a time is not normal nor a common experience among people.

I don't identify with my physical appearance and/or birth name. Is that part of it?

I would do some research on being transgender to see if that matches with your experience any. Do you feel as though your birth name isn't who you acually are, and you would be better off as a different gender? You might be trans, friend. You can also be part of a system and trans as well, so if you aren't trans try and think on why you don't identify with those aspects of yourself. Do you dislike your name? Do you have low self-esteem? Or maybe you feel like you're putting on an act around other people? Think long and hard about it, maybe try journaling about it and talking with a mental health professional.

Wait, I can talk to my doctor/therapist about this?

You absolutely can. In the matter of therapists, I would reccomend (if you don't already have) a trauma-informed therapist. This basically means that your therapist will be aware of how trauma impacts your suffering and coping mechanisms. You can work through any concerns you may have, and I would implore you to ask about DID with them. Some medical professionals still believe that DID isn't real; please don't be afraid to seek out a new therapist if this happens. Remember: they work for YOU.

This person told me I have DID/This online test says I might have DID

Unless that person is a medical professional, online strangers (or even online friends) cannot diagnose you with any medical condition over the internet even if they say they have the disorder themselves. It's important to do your own research on these conditions to see if symptoms line up as well as to seek out medical care if that's an option that's available to you. By "do your own research", I mean looking at multiple different sources and especially not taking random tests. Unless this test has been used by or created by medical professionals, AND it states that it cannot be used to diagnose you with a certain condition, you shouldn't trust random quizzes you find and/or are sent. At the end of the day, you know your body and mind best and you should discern if you have certain symptoms or not.

What kind of research can I look into?

Check peer reviewed articles, your local library for books on the disorder (note that they may use the outdated terms "multiple personality disorder" and "multiple personalities", but books written by those with DID and doctors who helped those with DID can be a good resource), blog posts from medical professionals who are trauma-informed/specialize in DID, and blog posts from those with the disorder are good resources to start out with. I wouldn't recommend relying on social media as your one and only source of information as misinformation can spread rapidly, and some people may be purposfully spreading misinformation to get a rise out of others or to cause chaos within the community.

Okay, I did some reading and I think I'm part of a system. What's next?

Check out my blog post for new systems, as well as some of the resources we have on our page!

- Caspian

Note that this post may be updated in the future