Staying Organized with Dissociative Identity Disorder
Sometimes life can be a bit chaotic when living with Dissociative Identity Disorder. You share a body with other people, and you probably experience amnesia and other dissociative symptoms on a regular basis. So, staying organized can be a bit of a challenge. This is why I have decided to compile a short list of helpful tools to stay organized and also keep the best amount of communication with your alters, even if amnesiac symptoms and dissociative barriers between alters are at a high level.
Some of the best ways that MY system find useful for keeping contact with alters and staying organized are:
Journaling is one of the best ways to keep in contact with your alters. Journals provide a safe place for alters to express themselves. This safe space can become somewhere where your alters turn to when they are feeling distressed and need to express how they feel, and can thus encourage hidden alters to start coming forward. And it’s also just a great way for alters to help each other keep up to date on what happened during the day when a particular alter was out and how they were feeling throughout the day. This can be a physical notebook or binder or it could also be a digital notebook on a phone or computer. As long as all of the alters have access to it, anything can be used as a system journal!
The way that we set up our own personal journal is to keep it organized by date. We try to write in it daily keeping note of what happened during the day, what we did. We also log how we felt about a particular event that happened, and then occasionally we will end it off with a question or two, asking how the others (who may or may not been present at the time) how THEY felt about what happened or if there is any input/advice they think would be helpful for us as a collective. Things such as goals for the future can also be added. We also have a seperate section for our therapy sessions to keep log of the progress and also advice that we received to help us keep moving forward so that anyone who was not present during therapy can overlook what was discussed.
Our therapist had recommended that we DON'T read back through old entries of our journal, as it can sometimes be triggering. However, I think this is sometimes impractical for systems since a lot of the things written in a journal need to be expressed to each other as a collective and it's not always possible for alters to always be able to communicate these things internally, when it is sometimes necessary for the others to know about them. However, if a particular journal entry contains a lot of triggering material, after a few days, consider tossing it out with the permission of the alter who wrote it. We want to move forward in healing, and sometimes holding onto these emotions from the past can be damaging over time. It’s important to recognize and especially validate these emotions (and be sure to let the alter know you’ve validated their emotions), but then eventually it will be time to let them go. But definitely figure out what works best for you and your system mates, as it may very from person to person.
Planners are probably one of the best ways to keep a system organized with daily events, both future and past! Planners are already organized by date and can be used for small notes to communicate between the system.
We have two planners. We specifically chose planners that have enough space to write a few notes on EACH DAY. So that it’s a little easier for us to write a little bit of a description to help other system members understand what each entry means. We keep the planners on our nightstand so that everyone can easily find it (and especially since we all visit our bed multiple times a day, haha). We have one planner for future events and one for past events.
Our future planner we use to keep note of plans that anyone in the system has made, such as outings with friends, appointments, work schedules, etc. occasionally listed with a time or address if needed. We also use it to remind everyone to pay bills on time! We write down a small note on each day that a bill is due to remind us to pay it on time.
Our past planner is used to write down small notes about important events that happened during the day that we think the others need to know. This could include things like chores that have been done or partially done that need to be finished, groceries that were picked up, any completed task that was done, any commitments that we have made with other people that the others should know about, and other such things that help keep the others in-the-loop, that would leave them at a bit of a surprise if they didn’t otherwise know about it.
This method has been really effective for us (as long as all the alters commit to writing in it when needed), and i really hope it works out for other systems too!
Sticky notes, for us, are just small reminders or messages that can help each member of our system have some communication. For example, if there is a particular alter that always forgets to do something, you can place a sticky note on a spot that that alter passes by frequently to remind them. They can also be used as a small reminder for groceries. In this case, we put a sticky note of what items we need, and place it on the front door, so that whoever leaves the house next can be aware of what we need, and they can also remove the note from the door and take it with them as they leave! We also will occasionally use sticky notes to communicate whether the dishwasher is clean or not (which can be handy if you also have roommates, etc), and what laundry has already been done and what needs to be done next by placing one on the laundry room door, in case there is a switch in the middle of doing the chore.
I think sticky notes are otherwise self-explanatory. You can really use them for whatever you want! Our therapist will even sometimes write notes for us on sticky notes so we can place them in frequently visited parts of our home to remind us to do some of the things our therapist recommends. You could ask your therapist to do the same if you think it would be helpful for your system.
Daylio is a great app and is probably one of our favorites! Daylio is an app that is meant to be used as a mood and activity log. This is great for systems for obvious reasons!
You can add as many activities as you like, so we kind of cheated a bit and added our alters’ names for some of the “activities”. What this does is allows you to track when alters were out during what times of the day with little icons, what they did at that time and how they were feeling (assuming the alters log when they are out), with just a few taps. They also provide a section for notes for every entry as well but its optional.
Daylio keeps track of all of the activities in a monthly chart as well so you can also look back and see how often each alter comes out every month, and which activities/moods are commonly associated with them. Which again, is fantastic for systems!
You can set push notification reminders for entries to remind alters to log each day, or even several times a day.
We use this all the time to help us keep track of nearly everything! And it’s particularly great with being something portable that can be logged at any time, any where.
Upword is primarily a note app. We personally feel like this app in particular is superior to a lot of other note apps for the amount of organization and other tools it has in its utility belt.
One of these tools is the ability to create folders (and folders within folders). Each folder can have a color added to it (which many of our alters love, haha). They can also be easily moved around. Not just above and below other folders, but folders can easily be moved into or out of other folders. This makes it great for reorganization in case a particular organization method becomes a bit too messy after awhile. It also has a search function in case you end up losing a note among the different folders, so it’s really hard to actually lose anything among the near-limitless folders.
We have three main folders at the top of the others on the main page. One listed as our “bulletin” and another listed as “extras”, and a final one listed as “reminders”; below those three folders we have a separate folders for EACH of our alters that they can organize and use however they like for their own personal use.
Our bulletin folder is used for important information we think all of the system members should know about, such as our budget, coping skills, etc. We also use it to keep record of confirmation codes for bills that we have paid, how much the bill was, what for, and when we paid it. Our extras folder is also a shared folder we use for less important things and is mostly reserved for fun ideas or things we think is helpful for the system; it’s much like a little private blog for each of us to share.
The great thing about this app too, that i briefly already mentioned, is that you can create reminders that are attached to the notes you make! We have made a folder for these reminders to keep them all in one place but you can attach them to ANY note. We have personally set this up for appointment and bill pay reminders and also weekly (or monthly) chore reminders! We create a list of chores in one of the notes and than attach a reminder of when, and how often, we would like those chores to be done. This is a great tool, for obvious reasons, for alters to remind each other when things need to be done. We personally create several different notes for different days of the week so that we can spread out our chores instead of doing them all on one day. But do whatever works for your system!
All in all, this app is pretty amazing and we use it all the time! It has so many different tools that can be used and many of them are PERFECT for systems. Another app that we use occasionally that is fairly similar is SomNote. The only reason we don't like this one as much is because you can only create folders on one page (you cannot put folders inside folders). So this has less use in that regard but it does have the option to attach images to notes which is something i don’t think is an option in UpWord. Some of my alters personally use this one as a spiritual notebook and a dream log, but you could can use this one however you like! I thought I’d mention it, just in case, since the ability to attach pictures could be helpful for some. We just don’t think it has as much use for us as a collective alter notebook, personally.
Well! I hope these are all helpful. These are some of the ways that we found work best for us to keep organized as a system, and we hope that it is helpful for others, too. If you have any other suggestions to add, please contact us at m.me/Phanspastic and we will be sure to add it!
*This article is brought to you by Casper from the Phanspastic System.