Emma's Journey with Dissociative Identity Disorder




Trigger Warning: Content on this website and in the podcasts is assumed to be trauma and/or dissociative related due to the nature of what is being shared here in general. Content descriptors are generally given in each episode. Please use appropriate self-care and your own safety plan while exploring this website and during your listening experience. Natural pauses due to dissociation have not been edited out of the podcast, and have been left for authenticity. While some professional material may be referenced for educational purposes, Emma and her system are not your therapist nor offering professional advice. Any informational material shared or referenced is simply part of our own learning process, and not guaranteed to be the latest research or best method for you. Please contact your therapist or nearest emergency room in case of any emergency. This website does not provide any medical, mental health, or social support services. 


We share emails as the closing remarks in response to the structural dissociation discussion.


We share about the therapist challenging us with the question: what is safe? We share our friend’s answer and discuss what we learned. We share different alters’ ideas about when we feel safe. An argument between Kassi and JohnMark is shared. Some experiences are mentioned in passing only, including foster care and the death of parents, but neither are discussed at length. The episode closes with a cello piece by Em (piano baseline by the husband).


Sasha talks about how hard therapy can be, even when it’s good. We talk about the workbook chapter that discussed Triggers, and share an example for the workbook homework. Due to the nature of the chapter content, there is reference to flashbacks and memory work and triggers. While no abuse memories are disclosed, there is reference to foster care and reference to a house fire and reference to church and the death of parents and the abuse dynamic.


Emma shares about a difficult session in therapy. She faces her past, that DID developed because of trauma. She talks about learning to get to know the others, rather than just information about them. There are ducks and geese in the background, and she is interrupted by a tornado siren (we are safe).


We share about a difficult morning of parenting, and what it’s like to have so many with so much trauma in one house. The husband teaches the children about trauma and triggers, and processes with them the morning our family experienced. We talk about the difference between big feelings and actually being in danger. Some examples of domestic violence and abuse are mentioned in context of the discussion, as well as some discussion about the police and foster care.


Dr. E and Sasha read emails in response to the recent episodes about structural dissociation. Listeners share what was helpful for them with other trauma disorders besides DID. We also share the support received after our recent struggles with difficult therapy sessions.


Sasha checks the post office box and shares the unboxing. Then she works with Dr. E to process an email from our friend in response to the recent discussion about structural dissociation theory. Links mentioned in the podcast are available on the blog.


The Stronghold System joins us as a guest to discuss the structural dissociation theory. They clarify the components that were borrowed for the model, rather than invented in this model, and gives credit to the original authors of ANP and EP classification, "parts" terminology, and the continuum of integration (rather than it being a continuum of dissociation). They discuss culture and community, and what can be learned from the disability, autism, and LGBT communities. Trigger warning for mention of abuse (no disclosures) and discussion of integration (in context of treatment options, including functional multiplicity). These issues are discussed further in the next episode.


Dr. E reviews the theory of structural dissociation to explain the commonly discussed aspects. Then she explains an article released last week by the Stronghold System, which called out the theory for ableism. She discusses why this matters, and why clinicians need to understand the perspective even if they disagree with it. She shares that the next episode following will be an interview with the Stronghold System about this article. Please also see the follow-up episode after that, "Clinical Response".


Dr. E comes full circle in chatting with Kathy Steele. Kathy shares how she learned about dissociation and how that led to the Coping Skills workbook. She explains the structural theory of dissociation. Dr. E discussed her experiences of wrestling with some of these ideas, as well as some of the unfolding community and cultural implications for survivors and clinicians alike.


Sasha answers emails! She discusses emotional flashbacks and internal communication. She discusses opening up about DID, the coming out process, and friendship.


Dr. E speaks with Christine Forner, the current president of the ISSTD. Christine shares her own trauma journey to healing, and opens up about what that was like professionally. She explains her clinical perspective of trauma and dissociation and what healing looks like from her own perspective. She discusses her goals for her presidency, as well as upcoming ISSTD projects related to survivors and updated treatment guidelines. Domestic violence and trafficking and other “genres” of abuse are referenced, but nothing is disclosed or discussed in detail.


We give an update since the last episode, understanding that Now Time is still safe and our friends are still there even though we came home from our good weekend. We talk about some of the triggers in leaving, and recognize there is grief from the system as a whole realizing the parents are really dead. We process briefly what we are doing to care for ourselves and for our outside children, including rescuing a climber who went too high.


I miss my friends. Leaving feels like foster care. Our parents are dead. I have big feelings of it.


We explain how going back to school was a hard week of transition for the outside children. We share the story of going back to the place where we grew up, and how we navigated some of those triggers. We share about a women’s conference we attended to learn about friendship. Trigger warning for reference to God and some discussion about abuse by church leaders, but no specific abuse disclosures are made or discussed.


Rachel Lewis-Marlow is a somatically integrative psychotherapist and shares with us about the importance of connecting to our bodies. She explains about the different ways different systems are organized, and different ways facilitating change. She explains how this “language of sensation and movement” applies to preverbal and nonverbal memory work, to eating disorders specifically, as well as to dissociation. She defines embodiment, so as to define dissociation as disembodiment.


Emma shares about being back in therapy since school started. She explains what it is like learning the feelings of when she is about to switch or when there is a trigger. She shares what the therapist taught about how she can learn over time to function without DID, but why that doesn’t make anyone go away. She shares about her progress with decreased anxiety, as well as what she is learning about friendship.


Neil Brick from SMART News is a guest, and explains about resources for ritual abuse survivors. While no abuse disclosures or graphic details are given, there is a heavy trigger warning for this episode due to the nature of the content itself. He explains what ritual abuse is, and discussed the different forms and environment in which it occurs. He shares about an upcoming conference for which survivors can get free registration. His website is HERE and you can find out more about the ritual abuse conference HERE.