For many people, the month of October is filled with excitement and anticipation around Halloween. While the haunted houses and monsters are fun for lots of people, for some alters in a Dissociative Identity Disorder system, Halloween can be downright terrifying. But what can you do to support your headmate? October comes around every year so if you have an alter that is triggered by things surrounding Halloween, it’s important to learn how to stay safe. We’re here to help so let’s jump right in!
Table of Contents
WARNING AND DISCLAIMER
Because of the nature of D.I.D., it’s possible that something in this article could be triggering to your system. Please use caution and your best judgement when reading this article. Safety first!
Disclaimer: We are not doctors, therapists, or mental health professionals. We’re just a bunch of alters that are speaking from personal experience to help other systems live their best lives.
Check Your Safety Kit
The first step when preparing for any trigger is to make sure your safety kit is up to date and available for all of your alters. This article goes more in depth about how to create a safety kit but essentially, you want to have your system’s emergency plan ready in case anyone gets triggered. The safety kit should include some tools to make the plan more effective.
If you already have a safety kit, double check it to make sure that nothing needs to be replenished or tweaked. Do everything you can to make sure that your system’s safety kit is 100% ready to go in the event that someone needs to use it.
In addition to having the safety kit made, you want to make sure that all of your alters know how to use it. Make sure that any alters triggered by Halloween-related things know how to use it very well.
**Pro tip: Encourage your alters to practice with the safety kit by using a mixture of visualization and guided play. This will make it more effective and will help for all of your alters to feel more confident about any potential triggers.
Find Affected Alters
When trying to keep your system safe, it’s important to know which alter is likely to have an issue. To find which alters are potentially affected, we find that it’s best just to ask. Try something like “Hey! I’m trying to prep the system for this upcoming Halloween. We’re not looking to know about your trauma history; we are just looking for any potential trauma triggers so we can prepare in advance. Do you have any trauma triggers related to Halloween or this time of year?”
You and your system DO NOT need to talk about or look for trauma. You just need to know who could be affected around Halloween. Most of the time, they’ll let you know that they either don’t want to be around or that they don’t like the season. These are all fancy ways of them telling you that something about Halloween doesn’t sit well with them.
Go with your gut and plan to protect any alters that seem to have an issue with anything related to Halloween. Better safe than sorry!
Find Triggers Before They Happen
Finding a surprise trigger is no fun. If you KNOW for sure that you’re an alter that is not triggered by anything related to Halloween, an exercise that works well for our systems is to look at a list of potential triggers and to mark down how you feel. (Make sure any potentially triggered alters are safe first!)
The exercise is simple: with any affected alters safe inside the headspace, review potential triggers one at a time and if you feel anything at all, write down what you felt. Some common feelings are heart flutters, rapid breathing, feeling “frozen” or “stunned”, wanting to back up, and wanting to run. If you’re feeling something, your affected alter would definitely be feeling much more. You have just found a trigger for your system to be aware of. Some things to consider are:
- SIGHT: crisp mornings and nights, leaves falling, barren trees, scarecrows, pumpkins, monsters, masks, face paint, costumes, weapons, blood
**Pro tip: Since Halloween activities can last for the whole month of October, it’s a great idea to do these steps BEFORE Halloween stuff starts popping up. Go ahead and set up a reminder in your phone or planner to prepare around September.
Plan For Halloween Night
Now that your system knows who might be triggered and what the possible triggers are, you can all brainstorm ways to keep the affected alters safe. The best way the system can minimize the chance of triggers is for the fronting alters to be aware of triggers in advance. This article goes more in depth about how to prepare when your system knows a trigger is coming.
When it comes to Halloween night, every system’s triggers are going to be different so every system’s plan is going to look different. If your system is triggered by Halloween-related things, it’s important to have a solid place in effect for Halloween night. Some examples of how to minimize some Halloween triggers:
- SIGHT: close the curtains, check the house for any triggering visuals, have some entertainment ready to go (like a book or puzzle so you don’t have to see holiday-related advertisements)
Review The Plan
The overall goal is to stay safe and that means making sure everyone agrees with the plan. Once your system has a plan in place for Halloween night, double check with all of the alters to make sure they’re comfortable with the plan. If they see an issue, it’s better to find out sooner rather than later.
Once your system has a solid plan in place, write it down or add it to your phone. This way, everyone in the system will have easy access to the plan if they’re fronting.
**Pro tip: Sometimes, the best option is to AVOID, AVOID, AVOID. There is no shame in keeping your system safe. If that’s the best choice for your system, there are plenty of fun and safe activities that your alters can still participate in.
Now that your system knows how to stay safe this Halloween, what can you do to keep your system safe from other types of triggers? Check out this article on how to prepare for a trauma trigger to keep your system ready. This will help your system to feel more and more confident and secure! If you’d like to learn how to work with your dissociative symptoms, check out our course Intentional Dissociation!