The two most popular techniques to choose from when it comes to dealing with Dissociative Identity Disorder are cooperation and integration. Cooperation generally includes learning to cooperate and work with the different parts, personalities or alters that a person has within their DID system (or person) while maintaining all parts or alters as they are. This generally includes an attempt to help all parts cooperate with each other in order to bring about a more harmonious whole. Integration is when a person (and counselor) attempts to integrate their parts, personalities or alters into one overall identity. There are also blended approaches that contain aspects of both cooperation and integration, such as integrating only traumatic memories or focusing on both techniques.
I myself have been going through integration since June 2015, however, when I started integration I did not even know that I had Dissociative Identity Disorder. I had started the process of experiencing repressed memories, and my counselor began to push me towards “reintegration”. We began to do counseling techniques like Lifespan Integration and CIMBS therapy, which although they did help me, they were very retraumatizing as they are not meant for those with Dissociative Disorders. In fact, counselors are discouraged to use them on patients who are Dissociative.
My counselor who began the integration process did not know I was Dissociative, though, since my diagnosis came after I moved and started working with other ones. I was surprised to find, though, that even after my diagnosis, counselors still pushed these therapies on me. Even though I said no and complained about my reactions to them the counselor I had up until June 2018 continued to push these therapies onto me despite the fact that the retraumatization of them and speed of integration was triggering suicidal thoughts and feelings.
One of the problems that I had with these therapies, and with integration in general, is that my integration has happened way too quickly. Dissociative Disorders are characterized by Depersonalization, Derealization, memory loss, perceptual problems, and other cognitive difficulties. Basically, my sense of reality throughout my life was different due to my Dissociative symptoms. As I integrate, my symptoms change or lessen, which means that my reality changes. The therapies that were done pushed me through integration so fast that for a while it felt like my reality was changing on a daily basis. This resulted in feelings of shock, panic, anxiety, and all of the other things that you might expect if your sense of reality was constantly changing.
Another thing that has occurred due to integration is that I began to experience complex feelings that I hadn’t experienced since I was a kid. Before integration, I did experience emotions, sometimes even strongly, but they were the basic ones of fear, anger, happiness, gratitude, and sometimes panic. It had been years since I had fully felt embarrassment, frustration, shame, hopelessness, powerlessness, and many other complex emotions. So when these were catapulted at me during integration it was traumatic for me to have to deal with such unknown emotions so quickly.
I have not done integrative therapies since June, and although my brain still seems to be integrating, things are slowing way down for me. Due to this and to the critical thinking that I gained during integration, I am now able to practice self-care, am getting the correct diagnoses for my health conditions, I’m on the right medications, and am just doing better in general.
I am glad that I am more integrated today, but I just wish that integration would not have gone so fast. I was not equipped to handle that plus everything else that was going on in my life. Today I am glad that I have a larger range of emotions, that my brain is less foggy, that the world seems more real to me, and that I seem to be able to connect to others and myself in deeper ways. I also seem to be more in tune with my intuition and know what and who is safe/healthy for me and who isn’t. I don’t, however, feel like life is necessary easier after this amount of integration. I feel like it is different.
If you have a Dissociative Disorder, what methods do you prefer when it comes to managing the disorder? If you’ve done some integration, how do your experiences compare with mine? Comment below!
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned as there are a lot more topics coming soon!