Emma's Journey with Dissociative Identity Disorder



Emma Sunshaw and her system were diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) by a licensed therapist and psychiatrist following inpatient treatment for a significant fugue experience and related trauma issues. Prior to this experience, Emma had functioned well for nearly twenty years as a doctorate level clinician until both her parents passed away. The layers of this experience triggered a collapse of protective walls that had thus far sustained them internally, leading them to seek treatment.

However, finding appropriate and quality treatment was more difficult than expected. After several years and several tries, Emma and her system found an experienced therapist four hours from their home. There, they have two-hour weekly sessions.

While continuing to provide consultant work, writing, and presenting as a speaker, Emma (Dr. E) has retired from clinical work and does not maintain an office caseload at this time. She is not a medical doctor, nor is she providing any medical or therapeutic advice on this website or the podcasts. She will not appear in public, guest on YouTube videos, or answer personal questions.

That said, Emma and her system began this podcast when they began to study available research as a form of education to increase understanding. They also found many survivor videos online, but had little time to sit and watch them. They discovered few ongoing podcasts as a source of support, and most of what was available was episodic and general in content. Recognizing this need for an ongoing DID-related podcast, appropriate boundaries were negotiated and they began a new podcast as a way of educating themselves and others, expressing themselves with familiar technology already used as a system in the professional setting, and collaborating together on a project.

This podcast is not about broadcasting private details, disclosing abuse history, or working out therapeutic issues publicly. It is about documenting one journey, educating many, and finding our own voice. It is about somehow finding a way to bridge the gap between survivor and clinician. It is about advocacy, fighting stigma, and adding substance and quality and rawness to the online conversation regarding trauma in general, and Dissociative Identity Disorder specifically.

Check out our website for more information about DID and some of the lingo or other issues referenced on the website and in our podcast. Listen to our podcast, System Speak, for more of our personal story.

This podcast will not be a parade of internal characters, and most of the system will not be participating in the project. Those who are participating are sharing what they are learning about DID specifically, not disclosing their own stories or abuse histories. Here are some basic introductions to those who are participating in some way:

Emma is age 36. She was informed of the diagnosis of DID about six months after it was given most recently, which was decades after the initial diagnosis. She has little recall of anything prior to getting married ten years ago, including no memories from childhood or adolescence. She currently can hear some of the noise from inside, but our voices are not distinct to her. It is still startling to her when she sees us. She is aware DID is trauma-related, but is at the very beginning of the healing process. She is more content to simply be with her husband and (outside) children, reading together or watching them play.

Dr. E is our adult who goes to work. The name “Dr. E” is a reference to her PhD and what she is called at work. She is not a medical doctor, nor is she providing any medical or therapeutic advice on this website or the podcasts. She does sometimes share informational materials related to what she herself is learning.

The Wife, who has an actual name, but declines to disclose it at this time. She primarily takes care of taking the children to appointments, handling the housework, getting homework done with the children in the afternoons, and cooking for the family. She’s a busy bee, and there is often friction between her and Sasha. She is aware of the podcast and has consented to it, but does not want to participate at this time. We will update this page if that changes in the future. However, she is fairly active in our system and is frequently referenced by Sasha.

Sasha, the sassy one, is age 17. She is much more extroverted than Emma, and it was her idea to start the podcasts when all we could find were videos. We so very much appreciate the many systems who have done incredible work sharing about themselves and educating about DID, but due to our lifestyle we were in need of more podcasts that we could listen to on the go besides just videos to watch. That’s how System Speak started. And Sasha, in particular, is super excited about it. Sasha enjoys spending time with friends, going on adventures, and learning new things as long as it is fun and not boring. She resents The Wife, who works too hard, and Dr. E., who works too long and is “too boring”.

John, a protector of the Littles, age 12. He is pretty funny, says whatever is on his mind, and knows more than he lets on about what the other Littles have been through. He helps make sure the body eats, feels safe to sleep, and maintains contact with our T. He really likes snow, football, and snacks. That’s all we know about him, because he’s pretty slippery and good at causing distractions.