Tips to Help Sad/Upset System Kids

 Create a safe inner space for them

When we first found Lucy she was in a dark shadowy place in our brain, and she wasn’t very aware of James, Kate, or Forest. She felt scared a lot of the time, and when she wasn’t scared she was bored because she had nothing to do. The adults in the system tried to deal with that by getting her comfort objects on the outside- like stuffed animals or blankets. In therapy Alex (my therapist) suggested I try to build her a better place to live on the inside instead of trying to give her a better life on the outside, when she didn’t front too often.

We had never intentionally tried to change my headspace before, and wasn’t sure if it would work. We decided to ask Lucy what her ideal home would be and to do a drawing of it for her, to help her visualize herself there. Lucy asked for a treehouse, a yard with a swing set, and a cat, and we added a dollhouse, sand box, and princess bed for her to enjoy. We made a rule that in this world it wouldn’t ever be night time, and that it was in a place no one else (except J+K+F) could enter. And when we painted it we just focused on making it seem like a happy, entertaining place for a kid to be.

Give them a pet (even if it’s just in the headspace)

 Like I said in my point above, Lucy asked for a cat. This stemmed from her (frequently) wishing for an outside world cat, but we can’t have a pet right now, so we compromised. Animals are good attachments for little ones to have because it can be hard to find friends. Also good is just letting them spend time with animals in any capacity- friend/family’s pets, shelters, etc.

Buy them comfort objects and toys

Even though I mentioned in my first point that buying things didn’t always help Lucy, it did make her feel loved and help her have a good time on the outside, so depending on your situation you might want to do both.

Anyway, Lucy really likes stuffed animals so we have bought her a few, and holding onto them really helps her cope in times when she is sad or stressed. But sometimes, especially if you have multiple kids + they all want their own toys, it can get kind of pricy so I make my own! We use old clothes and buttons and sew her homemade stuffed animals. So far she has 3 ones we made her: a baby dinosaur, a Cyclops/troll-like creature (named Pink Thing), and a dog named smokey.

Other things you could get them include:

-their own pajamas (Lucy has a big soft blue T shirt she uses as a nightgown that is just hers)

-A fluffy blanket for them to hold

-Games or books suited to their age

-Coloring books (really cheap at dollar stores) or just colored pencils and paper for drawing

-Or just listen to kids music they like for free

Additional sub point: Make sure you actually give them time to play with the stuff you buy them  I remember one time, while I was in therapy, Alex, asked me what sorts of things I had done to help Lucy feel better. I told her that I had bought her a stuffed bear that she calls Honeybear. Alex asked me where I kept the bear, and I replied that she usually sat right by me on the bed. In my brain I was thinking that I had done a lot for Lucy, but then Alex asked me if I actually gave her time with it- If I slept with the bear, or played with it on a regular basis. And I realized that I had actually only let Lucy out a handful of times to actually hold the bear and play with her, and that just buying it was not the important part. So it seems kind of obvious- but if you need it spelled out for you like I did- It’s the play time with the objects that will help your little one.

Let them participate in therapy

I don’t think this would be helpful to everyone, but Lucy really adores our therapist and enjoys going to therapy. When she goes to see Alex an adult is always there at the beginning and the end to make sure it’s safe, and then they just play together and bond. We don’t do this very often because we need out therapy time for other things usually, but Alex has read stories to Lucy and they color together. Just having this stable relationship helps Lucy. And it’s my thinking that if Lucy ever needs/ wants to talk about something she will already have a safe person she trusts to go to.

Meet the System

Hey guys! I’m James (he/him), the host and a protector. I’ve been the host since the body was about 14, but more and more I share the responsibility with Kate. Speaking of Kate, she is one of my best friends, and was the only alter I always knew about (as an imaginary friend, not an alter, but still). I am 18, which matches the body’s age too. I’m an artist, and I went to an arts boarding school up until I graduated last year. I handle a lot of the systems daily responsibilities with the help of Kate.

Hello! My name is Kate (she/her), and like James said, we are best friends. I hold a lot of trauma for the system, but in general I am a pretty cheerful person, and I love being around people. Because I am a trauma holder I used to spend almost all my time inside, but more and more I’ve gotten to come out and heal, which had been very nice.  I love my friends and watching Netflix and caring for my houseplants.

My name is Forest (she/her), and I am the original/first piece. That being said, I don’t come out much at all. When I was young I decided to go inside for a very long time and did not speak to James and Kate at all. But sometimes I will say a few things to them now, and even more occasionally (although starting to happen more!) I actually front on my own. I love to read and climb trees. I love to be in nature and prefer a quiet and calm environment. 

The next alter is Eliza, but I (James) will write her post for her, as she is only 4! She is our system’s little and she is adorable and very bubbly. She has a really happy disposition and is very curious and outgoing. Her hobbies include coloring, playing with her stuffed animals, and we are teaching her how to read and write a bit!! (these skills get really hard to do when she is out). Every week she asks that I buy her gingersnaps from the supermarket because they are her favorite food. 

Our Story So Far (How we found out we have DID)

So our next post will be an introduction to the alters, but for now James (The host), will tell you a bit about how we found out we had DID + our life before that.

I was diagnosed with DID just 6 months ago, and it’s been a roller coaster! My journey with mental health started 2 years ago, when I started to get very depressed and suicidal. I was a junior in high school when this was happening, and I went to an arts boarding school far away from my family, so no one really noticed how quickly I was deteriorating. By the time I was a senior I realized how bad things were and started going to therapy. I saw that therapist- Flo- for that whole school year. Flo didn’t help much, and things were still getting worse. And on top of that, what Flo and I had identified as just depressive psychosis was getting more and more strange + neither of us knew what was going on.

At this point I had managed to graduate high school but my functionality was at an all time low, and I knew something needed to happen, but I had no idea what. I was so confused about what was happening to me I thought I was going crazy. I didn’t have the energy to find and make the needed changes, but I have a brilliant girlfriend who told me I needed to find someone more experienced than Flo and get more intensive help.

So when I graduated, I chose a city where I could walk everywhere I needed, that wasn’t too expensive (as I didn’t have too much in savings, and at that point was very unable to work), and where I could start seeing a psychiatrist and a therapist within the month. My girlfriend helped me move into this cheap apartment, and this move basically started my 100% commitment to getting better.

Really soon after I moved I met my therapist, Alex, and started seeing her 3 times a week. At first she also didn’t understand, but unlike Flo, she listened to me when I said I knew something different than just depression was going on. She is a really brilliant therapist and within the first month and a half of seeing me she broached the subject of me possibly having DID. At first I didn’t want to think it was true, or even a possibility, but to appease her I did a little research into DID. I found out that I had so many misconceptions about what DID even was, and that I had ruled it out before even knowing what it really looked like to have it.

I went back to therapy after my research, still unsure, but much more open to the idea that I could have alters and not already know (my previous assumption). She gave me the book Coping with trauma-related dissociation skills training for patients and therapists, by Kathy Steele, Onno van der Hart, and Suzette Boon (which btw- you can purchase here to get it in ebook for for only 6$, because as a textbook I bought it for 50$). I took this book home and read it all in one sitting. It was kind of eerie how sometimes I felt like the book was specifically describing me, because I related so much to their descriptions. In the few weeks after reading that book, Alex and I researched together and confirmed my diagnosis.

It has been 3 months since then, and the main change in my life has been a much greater sense of clarity. Things that were such a mess, with different alters coming out, me not understanding why I was doing certain things, dissociating and not recognizing that thats what it was, or having strong emotions that seemed to make no sense to me and not even belong to me. Things like that just added so much chaos I couldn’t even accurately identify which problems to solve, but in acknowledging the first few alters I have met, and asking them their problems and pain, so much more of my own life makes sense.

So now, from where I stand on the other side of this huge diagnosis, I am ready to finally be productive in my attempts to heal. I want to let all of my parts feel safe and accepted, and thats the journey i’m on right now.