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I'm in Shock, I can't believe it, I have no idea what's going on, it can't possibly be true — OMG help!

This is under construction while this notice is on the page.

Description: This is the index for the total newb. Maybe you're in and out of denial, or you just found out hours or days ago that you may have DID, or suddenly realized that not everyone has voices in their head and it's just you, or are reeling from some realization and — you just know you need help. You don't know what help. Just please HELP! — then start here.

One Thing at a Time

You're already overwhelmed. Take a moment to catch your breath and get back into the room you're in, or wherever your body is and manage your panic.

There's many ways people find out that they're plural or have DID. It's usually most troubling when someone else points it out, and a little easier if you figured it out for yourselves. But each person or entity in your body — what we call "headmates" (think roommates or shipmates) — is likely to have their own reaction to it.

Sometimes it's a relief. Some pieces have fallen into place. You're getting answers to why things are the way they are.

Sometimes it's actually exciting or comforting. When the world is out of control and you thought you were going through it all alone and no one else could possibly understand what you're going through and the gobsmacking shit life is handing you — you find out you're not alone after all! There's one or more others in there going through it with you. Comparing notes, seeing different sides of the same situation, or being compassionate with each other about the various reactions can actually be soothing at times.

But — chances are if you landed on this page you're scared shitless, and you have never felt more alone.

So breathe and come back to the room you're in or be with your body for a while. Hug a pillow or stuffed animal. Maybe put on some favorite music. Perhaps a comforting warm or cool beverage if that's available. Spend a few minutes with what's right in front of you, literally.

All the Questions!

Another issue that can happen when you first find out is you haven't sorted out who is who (or is that my thought or is that someone else). You can have a lot of "racing brain" issues and get headaches.

Slow it down by perhaps starting a journal or opening a text document of any sort and get the questions down somewhere and start to follow up on them one at a time at some point when you feel a little more calm.

However you usually do such things is likely to be fine. If you don't have a preference, electronic is nice as you can then start to sort the questions into groupings based around topics and rearrange them in some type of priority order.

Rather than going on a hunt for All the Answers right now — get the questions out of your head so you don't have everyone repeating them over and over to get attention.

Establishing Safety ("Am I going to be ok?")

Likely the top priority questions will be things like:

  • Is this OK? Is this safe?
    • Over 1.5% of the population has DID (thus is some type of plural) not counting all the other ways to be plural. So we are pretty sure it's OK.
    • It's safe to be plural. If you feel unsafe, if you hear unsafe thoughts or experience unsafe behavior or evidence of unsafe behavior please seek assistance. Neither DID nor plurality is inherently unsafe, but when there's a lot of shame, grief, guilt there also can be self-harm of various sorts.
  • Can we really live like this?
    • You already have. And people do live like this, even knowing they are plural or have DID people can go on and do all the things they would normally do. They may do it as a team or group.
  • Can I make it stop or go away?
    • A lot of people slip back into denial in various ways — and from all reports that doesn't go too well. Some folk take medications that suppress internal communication but that doesn't make it go away, it just means you can't come to agreements. Some folks can make denial work for a while. Often people who suppress their headmates have trouble later. There can be resentment and broken trust in excluding others.
  • Are all the things I've heard true?
    • No — there's a lot of myths and stigma about plurality and DID. The movies suck. There's a lot of mixing up of disorders and experiences, and historically we've been isolated and oppressed so it was difficult to make a lot of noise about misrepresentation, and that's something we're working on as a community.

Being safe is very important. There's a chance that you're in an unsafe situation — surrounded by toxic people, in a precarious financial position, your housing is threatened, etc. If so, you are likely experiencing general dissociative symptoms, as well as the reactions of those you share a body with to those situations.

Establishing as much safety as possible, and mitigating factors that cannot be resolved or eliminated is necessary. Please remember that there are hotlines, social service organizations, non-profits, charities, counselors, case workers, and more — already set up to help people who are in crisis or who need help to get out of a bad situation. This is a link that outlines what some of those resources are or how to find some of them. It doesn't account for every location in the world, but it may inspire some of the places to look for in your region or in your language.

Being safe includes being safe within yourselves, as well as from others. If you're not in actual crisis with real & present physical safety issues, but you're still highly agitated, frightened, or worse — what may be going on is that someone is experiencing what's called "emotional flashbacks" in your system, as well as other potential emotional regulation issues. Without good internal boundaries, these emotions may be experienced by many of you, causing symptoms of anxiety or flashbacks to get out of control.

If you are looking for self-help issues for emotional regulation see this self-help index New.

Establishing Belongingness ("Am I too weird to fit in anywhere?")

Even once folk are starting to get a little settled down and poking around at what's going on in their head, folk want to compare notes with others. There's a lot of questions that make the rounds again and again in support groups:

  • Am I the only person in the world who…?
    • Has only a few/so many in their head (just 2 or as many as hundreds or thousands)
    • Has so many genders in here (gender doesn't match the body, or a trans person who has someone who matches pre-transition assigned gender or gender-fluid headmates, or all the combinations thereof)
    • Has non-humans (cats, animals, dragons, monsters, elves, ghosts…)
    • Has children in their head
    • Has absorbed characters from role-playing games, books, movies, TV shows, stories they're writing, comic books, etc.
    • Has a copy or reflection of a real person in their head

If it helps the answers to all the above is no — you are not the only person with these experiences. There's more information on each of these things in the Multiplicity: The Missing Manual section of the site — but we don't want to overwhelm you right now. You are not at all alone in your experiences.

Plurality doesn't come in a cookie-cutter ensemble. Every plural or DID system evolves in its own way, and has unique features — and at the same time when taken as a whole community, there are plenty repeated patterns that we can generally say others have had similar experiences. You may have options A B & C another may have B D F G. But what everyone has in common is the experience of being many in one body.

Consider everyone has unique fingerprints, but they all consist of lines on fingers. There's an enormous/broad range of plural experiences. Each plural or DID system is unique within that range, and the commonality in the broad community is we all experience being many. DID is a subset of the larger plural community whose experiences revolve around being eligible for a clinical diagnosis due to dysfunction or distress — usually from adverse childhood experiences (trauma).

Next Steps ("I'm overwhelmed and I don't know what to do next.")

And there's the questions about what to do next from here:

  • Where do I get support?
  • Who can help me?
  • How do I find the right specialist?
  • I was diagnosed by this person but they say they can't help me so now what do I do?

Speaking in a very general way, most plurals who are seeking treatment or professional assistance need a trauma specialist, hopefully one with experience with treating DID &/or OSDD. Assuming your issue is distress and dysfunction, and someone diagnosed you and says they're not a good fit for treatment — ask them for referrals to trauma specialists.

If for any reason you cannot or will not seek a trauma specialist or therapist — lack of insurance or funding, you live in a place where there are no adequate therapists available, someone is going to prevent you, or you've been too hurt by therapists in the past to bring yourselves to a new therapist (and any other reason(s)) — there is also a lot of self-help work you can do, support groups online, a library of conference sessions to watch or transcripts to read, etc.

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