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If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: it’s important to have a support system. But what if you have Dissociative Identity Disorder? How do you create a support system if you’re multiple? While it can be tricky for anyone to develop a new support system, we’re going to go over some tips for a system with DID to help them add new members to their support system. Let’s hop right in!

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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.

What Is A Support System?

For the sake of this article, a support system is a collection of individuals that are able to assist your headspace in becoming the best version of yourselves possible. It’s not an official club or anything; it’s just people that you and your headmates feel safe reaching out to when you need help. Some individuals may help in one area but not in another and some individuals are for hire. Sounds vague, right? That’s because what is supportive for my system may not be all that supportive for your system. While there are some things that all supportive individuals have in common, ultimately, what helps your system is unique to your system.

**Pro tip: While reading this article, it’s important to keep in mind that everyone is their own person and that they are allowed to do what they want with their life. We know how easy it is to look at a person and think “They should be more supportive because they’re my X.” No one owes you anything. They’re all people with their own problems trying to live their best lives. Keeping that in mind will make it easier to let everyone live their own lives without growing bitter about what they’re not giving you.

**Pro tip: It’s vital to understand that, since everyone is living their own lives, that they will likely need something from your system as well. If you’re unable to meet any of their needs, it’s isn’t all that fair to expect for them to endlessly give to you without giving something in return. In the event that your system just truly has nothing left in the tank to give to someone else, consider starting your support system with people you hire. There will be less damage for everyone that way.

Are They Safe?

First things first: what does it mean to be supportive? While “supportive” will look differently for every person, at the bare minimum, they need to do no harm. Now, everyone is human so they’re not going to be perfect all of the time. So how can you know if they’re doing no harm? At the bare minimum, they do not:

  • Physically harm you. AT ALL.

  • Ignore or demean your sexual boundaries

  • Curse at you, yell at you, etc

  • Intentionally emotionally harm you, trick you, alienate you or otherwise cause emotional damage

So in a nutshell, they’re not abusing your system. NOT EVEN A LITTLE. While this is easier said than done, it is super important to make sure individuals in your system’s support system are safe.

**Pro tip: Here’s the crappy thing about evaluating your support system: Many systems have been extremely mistreated and likely don’t have an example of a healthy supportive person in their life. Some alters may make excuses for harmful behaviors and other alters may see abuse when there is none. It can get confusing fast! The list above is the bare minimum. If anyone is doing things from that list, they are not being supportive. Eliminating or minimizing these types of situations will take you far.

**Pro tip: If you’re unsure if you’re being abused, please consider reaching out the National Domestic Violence Hotline. (Phone number is 1-800-799-7233 if your browser may be searched). They’ll be able to give you the right resources from there.

Special Support Needed

Being part of a DID system means that you’ll need some additional things from your support system. The absolute most important thing is that (if you’ve told them) they believe in your DID. Can they still be loving and helpful if they don’t believe in your diagnosis? Sure. But if they don’t believe in your DID, they can’t give you the unique support you and your system needs. You don’t need to write them off but your system does need to be aware that they won’t likely be able to support you in the way that your system needs.

**Pro tip: Check out this article for more info about traits a supportive professional should have.

**Pro tip: If you’re looking to hire a professional to support your system, a quicker way to find someone that will likely believe in your diagnosis is to look for someone that is “trauma informed”. Ex Dietitian specializing in trauma, fitness trainer with trauma experience, etc.

In addition to believing in your DID, your support system will ideally be understanding of some common DID-related circumstances. Possible things like needing to:

  • Step away to handle a trigger

  • Reschedule because of a trigger or issues with switching

  • Limit touching or have increased space

  • Not eat, eat differently, or bring your own meals

  • Schedule things and/or needing lots of details before committing

  • Have extra time to decide before committing to something

  • Avoid crowded areas, bright places, loud environments, etc

While not everyone will be ok with these things, most kind and loving individuals won’t blink an eye at these needs. Only your system knows how important each of these things are to your system. What is a deal breaker for my system may be a non-issue for yours. Evaluate your system’s needs and decide as a team what traits your support team must be understanding of. This will make it much easier to know if someone is a good fit for your system.

**Pro tip: People aren’t mind readers. Often times, people want to be encouraging and issues can be resolved with just a quick conversation. It’s entirely possible that an individual doesn’t realize your system’s unique needs. Give a conversation a try to see if that clears up issues.

Finding Your Needs

Now that you know what your system’s unique needs are, take a look at your current situation. Spend a few minutes writing down the name of everyone in the system’s life. These can be individuals from your personal or professional life; friends, family, therapists, and things like that. If your system interacts with them, write it down. After you’ve jotted down everyone you can think of, cross out the ones that are unsupportive (see the list of harmful things above).

While keeping your system’s needs in mind, ask yourself the following:

  • What needs are being met well?

  • What needs could use some work?

  • Could any of the system’s needs be reliably met by an individual on my list?

  • Would my system benefit from getting any of these needs met elsewhere?

  • What is our most pressing need?

  • How can we effectively get that need met?

Find Support

Now it’s time to take a deeper look at the unique needs of your system to decide what additional support needs you have. By looking at what your system needs, you’ll have better success at finding the right support. Here are some common examples:

  • Need help focusing on physical fitness? Consider joining an athletics group, a gym, or getting a workout buddy.

  • Is religion important for your system? Consider joining a church, a prayer circle, or getting a religious mentor.

  • Want help being a better parent? Consider joining a parent group, a library parent circle, or PTA.

  • Need help with your career? Consider joining a business oriented book club, a related association, or SCORE business mentoring program.

**Pro tip: Want to know something pretty amazing? If your system improves in one area, it will begin to improve in other areas automatically. Start where ever your system can and things will still move in a positive direction. Progress is progress!

Consider Starting With Professionals

For many systems, meeting new people and trusting them is incredibly difficult. If that’s the position you find yourself in, focus on expanding your paid support system. People like doctors, therapists, fitness trainers, and things like that. With these individuals, it’s not professional for emotions to get involved; they are exchanging their services for your money. Nothing more, nothing less. Because of this, there is much less room for emotional pain on your part. Once you have a solid relationship or two like this, it will be easier to expand into other fields of your life.

**Pro tip: For systems that struggle with trusting people, that’s totally understandable. Many systems have been mistreated by people that should have been trustworthy. While it’s important to be smart, it’s also important to realize that not everyone is your abuser. These knee-jerk reactions can take time to heal but it can be done. When you see yourself shutting down or going into defensive behavior, really ask yourself if something bad is happening or if you’re afraid that something bad will happen. Just being aware or your reaction will go along way.

It May Take A Few Tries

Remember how we talked about everyone is living their own life? That’s a fancy way of saying that not everyone is going to be able to be a part of your support system. And that’s ok! It may take a few tries to find someone to add into your support system. The pain of rejection can be intense for some alters but finding the right person for your support system is worth it. Take your time curating your support system and you’ll find that everyone’s life will benefit.

What Next?

Now that your system knows how to build a support system, what resources do you need to start picking great people? Check out this article about red flags to watch out for when picking a therapist. Also check out this article about why it’s important that a DID therapist speak with all of your alters in therapy. Both of these articles will keep your system on the right track!