Journaling with Dissociative Identity Disorder

Alex Robboy, CAS, MSW, LCSW
Individual, Couples & Family Therapy
IMAGO Certified Marriage Counselor
AASECT Certified Sex Therapist Supervisor
Founder & Director of the Center for Growth Inc.

Posted by: Alex Robboy
CAS, MSW, LCSW Individual, Couples & Family Therapy IMAGO Certified Marriage Counselor AASECT Certified Sex Therapist Supervisor Founder & Director of the Center for Growth Inc.
267-324-9564

Dissociative Identity Disorder Treatment in Philadelphia:  The power of journaling. 

If you have Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), journaling is an effective way for you to increase internal communication.  Increasing internal communication means increasing your and your alters’ knowledge about what each of you is experiencing.  This is important because it will help you all work more effectively together.  It will enable you to address ongoing issues and concerns.  Being able to work more cooperatively with each other will help you to complete daily life tasks more effectively.  In addition, journaling to increase internal communication is an important step in working towards integration.  The more your alters can be in tune with one another, the less likely they will be to split off or separate themselves from others.
 

If you are attending therapy for DID, your therapist can also make use of your journal.  First it can provide the therapist with a way for them to get to know all of your personalities, especially since some might not come to therapy as frequently.  Typically therapy is once or twice a week for an hour and if you have many alters, there is simply not enough time in each session for each alter to get the attention they may need. Secondly, the journal serves as a way for the therapist to make his/her own observations about what you and your alters might need to work on or address.  Most importantly, the therapist can also use the journal to talk with your other alters.  Even if an alter does not come frequently to therapy the therapist can still work with him/her in some way via the journal.

Tips for Journaling for people with a Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

 
1) Write Daily:  As the host personality, make sure to write daily.  Ultimately you are in charge and it is important for you to set a good example.  Even if you feel that there is nothing exciting or of interest to report, document the facts of the day.  This will help get you into the habit of journaling.  Also, it might be important to note what comes up for you when you’re bored versus when you’re busy or overwhelmed. 

2) Alters’ Writing Requirements:  Encourage your alters to write at least two times per week in the journal.  It is important to have each alter write at least twice a week to keep track of what is happening in their life.  Remember, each alter has something important to contribute that all the other alters can learn from. 

3) Record the Date & Time:  Recording the date and time will help you simply keep track of what was happening when.  This will help you determine if certain alters write at certain times.  This will also enable you, the host, to have a better understanding of who is privy to what information.   

4) Sign Off:  Always leave your name at the end of an entry.  This rule should apply to all alters and will help you keep track of who is writing what. 

5) Write to An Alter:  Both you and your alters should write to each other.  Perhaps you have a question that you’d like to ask another alter or want to address something that they have written in an entry.  You can also challenge an alter, but be sure to communicate what your intent is in challenging them.  Are you trying to help them see a harmful pattern they have?  Are you trying to inspire them to accomplish a goal you know they are capable of?  In addition, if an alter is not meeting expectations of the system, or they are “slaking off”, call them out on their behavior. 

6) Encourage Everyone to Read:  You and all of your alters should be reading everyone else’s entries to learn about each other.  You might be able to help each other more than you are aware of!

Rules for Communication in the Journal for people with a Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

The journal is meant to be a safe space.  There must be some ground rules for yourself, and each alter to feel safe enough to write in the journal.  Post these rules in the front of your journal and have each alter sign to indicate that they have read and understand the rules. 

1. Be respectful of others.  Each of you has your own values and opinions that have been informed by your life experiences.  These differences are important and should be respected.

2. Offer constructive feedback.  Criticism and verbal attacks have no place in the journal.  If you need or want to offer feedback, it needs to be done in a respectful and constructive way.

3. Be supportive and empathic.  It’s important to demonstrate your support and empathy.  Make sure to convey this when writing to another alter.

4. No advice giving.  Definitive statements like, “You should…” or “You must…” are not helpful.  Offer suggestions instead of advice.  These statements could begin with, “I wonder what it would be like for you to…” or “When I was in that situation I found it helpful to…”
 

What to Write for people with a Dissociative Identity Disorder

Journal entries should always include the three following things:  date, time, and the author.  Besides that journal entries can address a range of topics.  Encourage yourself and your alters to write about their daily life tasks, concerns or worries they might be experiencing, upcoming challenges, positive life events and negative life events. Ask each other to talk about what makes them feel angry, anxious, sad, mad jealous, happy, excited, etc.  Talk about any memories, flashbacks or nightmares that you might have or are currently experiencing.  Discuss any conflicts you might be experiencing with another alter, the host or another person in your life.  It will also be helpful for you to write about your experiences of switching.  If you are going to therapy, journaling is an excellent way to reflect on your sessions.  Your therapist can also leave specific reflection questions for yourself or your alters.
 

 

Learning From Your Journal for people with a Dissociative Identity Disorder

Your journal can provide you with a wealth of information about yourself and your alters.  Before looking for patterns make sure that you have been journaling for at least one month.  Ask yourself the following questions below to learn more from your journal.  As you continue to write in your journal make sure to return to these questions every three to four months.  We all change, including alters, and it is important to be able to track these changes over time.  Doing an inventory of your journal using the questions below will help you be more aware of these changes.  Make sure to allow yourself at least two hours each time you do an inventory.  The questions will require you to go through your old entries and reflect on how you, each alter and the system is doing as a whole. 

1)  Who writes the most (besides the host personality)?

a)  When does this alter typically write? 

b)  What are the themes of the content?

c)  What is this alter’s role or function in the system?

d)  How aware is this alter that they journal the most?

2)  Who writes the least? 

a)  When does this alter usually journal?

b)  What does this alter typically write about?

c)  What is this alter’s role or function in the system?

d)  How aware is this alter that they journal the least?

3)  Who writes the most about traumatic memories?

a)  What is the content?

b)  Are these particular to the alter or are they your (the host’s) real memories from a period in your life?

4)  Who writes the most about happy memories?

a)  What are the themes of these memories?

b)  Do these memories belong to the alter or are they your (the host’s) memories from your life? 

5)  For each emotion below, list which alter is able to express this emotion or feeling through writing:

a) happiness:

b) boredom:

c) playfulness:

d) anger:

e) sadness:

f) frustration:

g) fear:

h) joy:

i) hope:

j) love:

k) sympathy:

l) hate:

m) rage:

n) worry:

o) desire:

p) grief:

q) shame:

6)  Who writes the most to other alters?

7)  Who writes the least to other alters?

8)  Who responds the least when others write to them?

9)  Who is most likely to respond when written to?

10)  Who is doing well right now?

11)  Who is struggling right now?

12)  What does each alter do to make it safe for the other alters to co- exist and support growth?

Summary...Journaling can be an excellent way for you to learn about yourself, your alters and your system as a whole.  Although it may be time consuming, it is one of the most effective ways to increase internal communication and manage your system.

Still struggling? Have you or a loved one been diagnosised with a Dissociative Identity Disorder? If so, call Therapy in Philadelphia today and one of our therapists can help you.  267 324 9564.