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We don’t know about you, but I know that for most people, there are periods of the year that are extra stressful.  When you have Dissociative Identity Disorder, there is likely going to be a time of year when triggers are more heavy or events overlap. Rather than be surprised by these intense time periods, your system can find them in advance so your headspace can be prepared! We’ll go over how your system can find stressful time periods so there will be no surprises. Let’s get started!

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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.

Luckily, doing this is fairly straightforward!  Print off a yearly calendar (whole year on one page) and grab some colored pencils.  We’re going to color-code this calendar so your whole system can know what to expect with a glance. The great news is that your system only has to spend 10-15 minutes on this one a year and you’ll be set for months and months to come.

Pink: General Family Events

With your pink colored pencil, circle any dates that are holidays, anniversaries, and birthdays that your system will actively need to participate in. If any of these holidays require a few days of preparation, underline the corresponding dates, too. For example, we would circle December 24th and 25th but we’d underline the whole week.

Dark Blue: Physical Health

Next, with dark blue, circle any dates that are doctor appointments, therapy, or that kind of thing. If you need a few days to prepare for or recover from your appointment, underline those days, too.  If there are certain times of year where your body is especially frail, underline the month. 

For example, our body can’t handle the heat so the hot months are difficult for us.  We also struggle with the cold and the rainy months.  (Can you tell that fall is our favorite season?)  Underline anything that your system needs to.

Purple: Immediate Family Obligations

With purple, circle any dates that have to do with family obligations for people living in your household.  We have a daughter in school so we circled the dates that her school is closed, dates we have to meet with her teachers, and planned events at her school.  We also went through and circled dates where our husband will be gone, taxed with work, emotionally vulnerable himself and things like that. Your family members affect you too so look to see what potential issues you can spot in advance.

Orange: Housework

With orange, circle any dates that coordinate with extra household work, known home maintenance, and that kind of thing.  For example, if you spring clean, circle that period of time.  If you know your apartment will be inspected, circle that date. If your house is being renovated, circle that (cause boy can that be stressful!). Circle and underline as many days as you think your system needs.

Green: Work

For the color green, go through and circle any dates that are difficult at your job.  Things like rush periods, budget meetings, Christmas, and anything else that adds stress to your job.  If you don’t have formal employment, circle anything that adds stress with your charity or passion project.

Light Blue: Mental Health

Lastly, in light blue, circle any dates that you know are triggering for your system.  If you know the dates of your alter’s birth traumas, circle those.  But circle or underline any kind of trauma that is tied to a date or time of the year. For example, if your system has a trigger related to fireworks, circle or underline all of the days that tend to have fireworks.

Double Check

After you’ve finished this, ask your alters if there is anything they’d like to add.  This calendar is a combination of everyone’s experiences so make sure to let all of your alters add as they see fit. This will reduce the chance of your system being caught off guard. No fun!

Finding The Rough Patches

Next, we need to find your system’s rough patches.  To find the rough patches, I find that it’s easier if you kind of squint while looking at the calendar. Try not to be discouraged if there are several.  You and your system work hard and, together, you guys can get through anything on this paper!

We find that it’s helpful to bookend the rough patches with some down time and extra self care. For us, the magical formula seems to be that rest needs to be 25% to 33% of the stressful period. So if we anticipate having a really intense four weeks, we would try to rest for one week before and one week after. Your mileage may vary so play around with it!

**Pro tip: Now you have a convenient visual of everything coming up in the year!  Take a quick second to really appreciate just how hard you and your system work all year long.  You’re doing an incredible job and I mean that!  Life can be stressful for a lot of people but you’re doing all of that with alters, triggers, and traumas.  You and your system deserve a big high five for being so amazing.

Brainstorm How To Smooth It Out

With your rough patches figured out, it’s time to see what can be done to smooth them out.  This is a great opportunity for your system to have a team meeting to talk about everything together. Your alters may think of something amazing that you would have never considered! Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Ask certain alters to front more than normal
  • Learn a new skill to make this time easier
  • Work with a therapist specifically on this rough patch
  • Schedule with a babysitter to get yourself some downtime
  • Plan extra downtime or self care activities

Whatever your system decides to do, by knowing about things in advance, your system will be able to feel more prepared and empowered when the rough patch comes. You can do this!

What Next?

Now that your system knows how to identify triggering time periods ofr your headspace, where can you go from here? Click here to learn how to make a safety kit that works for your whole system and click here to learn how to survive multiple triggers in one day. Click here to prepare for a trauma trigger and click here to learn what to do when you can’t get therapy for your DID. To learn how to work with your dissociative symptoms, check out our course Intentional Dissociation!