DID PTSD Dissociation vs Alter switching

that_1_girl

Confident
If you have alters or parts, how would you describe your switching amongst parts separately from PTSD specific dissociation? We had an intense experience in therapy today where we almost blacked out and one side of the body went totally numb, and we are trying to figure out if this was a part trying to take over the body or just a fear reaction due to triggering the PTSD. We had to do a lot of grounding, and we asked the gatekeeper part to bring further back anyone that was trying to come out. Me as the host is not ready to give up total control like that but I am seeking information to understand if that's what a "full switch" can be like.
I am brand new to this so take anything I say with a lot of grains of salt. I am currently tapering off a high dose of a typical antipsychotic (I was misdiagnosed as schizophrenic/schizoaffective/bipolar for 13 years, I don’t actually have any of those). I’m now 50% off that med. What I’m finding is that a lot of dissociative symptoms are coming out, which were the reason I was misdiagnosed in the first place. I have parts (OSDD-1b type most likely, though I’m not diagnosed with a dissociative disorder, and some of the parts experience DP/DR symptoms in addition.)
When I “switch” it is usually a younger part that comes forward and is in partial control while the adult “me” is kind of watching from behind a glass wall. I can see and hear what my body is saying and doing but I am not able to control it. I don’t usually lose time although sometimes I do. Usually I remember what other parts said and did, sometimes vividly but usually as if it was a dream or it happened to someone else (cause it did). There are a lot of child parts under 10. There is at least 1-2 teenager parts, and a few adults of different ages, and an “introject part” that acts and says things that one of my psychological abusers used to say and do, but after years of fighting “him” I recently found out that she’s actually a very scared, very hurt, very young little girl with a huge vocabulary, who is presenting as a big scary adult to protect me/“us”. I digress but I hope this is even a tiny bit helpful. This is all very new for me because the medication suppressed the parts almost completely but also halted my recovery.
 

Simply Simon

Sponsor
I was going to write a response about my experience with this when I re-examined the title and stopped.

Is it helpful or even “correct” to describe alter switching and dissociation as separate, really? I see them as the same symptom with different degrees and permutations. I have lost time while “switching”/there’s a takeover, and I have lost time doing what I dubbed “the wax statue,” where I’m physically frozen and totally ‘gone.’ I see them as different permutations of dissociation that is a severe enough degree to lose time and control, not separate.

I also would like to echo the recommendation of journaling. As a kid, I would compartmentalized myself into characters who would discuss things on the page with each other. Everyone had a voice. It was really helpful. It cut down on chatter during my daily activities.
 

StillPen

Confident
I am very new to this forum, too, and somewhat new to my diagnosis. I don't think I've had a partial switch as you describe, but if I can not switch when a part wants to be in front or when they are trying to talk to me internally but I cannot hear them, I get an excruciating headache. I was diagnosed 3/4 DID (whatever that means) and am considered co-concious. I suppose I could have been diagnosed DDNOS but do experience a little time loss. I switch all the time (3 to 4 times a half hour or more) and have no control over my switches yet. All of my parts are me at differnet ages. I describe my parts as being in the back, present with me, or completely in front. So, I can remember that I'm driving to the store, but 2 hours later couldn't tell you the roads I took to get there as another part was in front doing the driving and I was present but couldn't speak, use my body, etc. It causes my memory to be shot even when I'm in front.
Some speak of having a gatekeeper that allows parts in front or not. Has that gatekeeper always been there or did it develop over time?
 

HealingMama

Sponsor
I am brand new to this so take anything I say with a lot of grains of salt. I am currently tapering off a high dose of a typical antipsychotic (I was misdiagnosed as schizophrenic/schizoaffective/bipolar for 13 years, I don’t actually have any of those). I’m now 50% off that med. What I’m finding is that a lot of dissociative symptoms are coming out, which were the reason I was misdiagnosed in the first place. I have parts (OSDD-1b type most likely, though I’m not diagnosed with a dissociative disorder, and some of the parts experience DP/DR symptoms in addition.)
When I “switch” it is usually a younger part that comes forward and is in partial control while the adult “me” is kind of watching from behind a glass wall. I can see and hear what my body is saying and doing but I am not able to control it. I don’t usually lose time although sometimes I do. Usually I remember what other parts said and did, sometimes vividly but usually as if it was a dream or it happened to someone else (cause it did). There are a lot of child parts under 10. There is at least 1-2 teenager parts, and a few adults of different ages, and an “introject part” that acts and says things that one of my psychological abusers used to say and do, but after years of fighting “him” I recently found out that she’s actually a very scared, very hurt, very young little girl with a huge vocabulary, who is presenting as a big scary adult to protect me/“us”. I digress but I hope this is even a tiny bit helpful. This is all very new for me because the medication suppressed the parts almost completely but also halted my recovery.
Thank you for sharing and sorry I did not see your reply until now. I also experienced more switches before my current medication regimen. In my case I believe it is the anxiety meds suppressing some of it, or rather reducing the fear that was behind a lot of switching type of experiences.

Yes very helpful to hear how others who are aware of having parts are experiencing them.

I suspect I have a lot of switches I don't realize are that. The most obvious ones are switching to a fighter part, a young traumatized part that carries our shame, or a young attaching part that gets really needy and panicky about changes in attachment relationships.

My T considers the part of me that is overly intellectual and researches (and makes forum posts to ask questions LOL) a part as well. She did not echo my use of the word "host" for that part. I guess since I am not always in that mindset it makes sense.
 

HealingMama

Sponsor
I was going to write a response about my experience with this when I re-examined the title and stopped.

Is it helpful or even “correct” to describe alter switching and dissociation as separate, really? I see them as the same symptom with different degrees and permutations. I have lost time while “switching”/there’s a takeover, and I have lost time doing what I dubbed “the wax statue,” where I’m physically frozen and totally ‘gone.’ I see them as different permutations of dissociation that is a severe enough degree to lose time and control, not separate.

I also would like to echo the recommendation of journaling. As a kid, I would compartmentalized myself into characters who would discuss things on the page with each other. Everyone had a voice. It was really helpful. It cut down on chatter during my daily activities.
Thanks, and yeah both are forms of dissociation but one involves more autonomous action? Action systems? Vs avoidance? I mean many people who can switch tend to use it as a form of avoidance so there's that. I feel like the word is describing fairly different phenomena. Like a part inside that is on the other side of a dissociative barrier, who takes away emotions I'm experiencing or jumps in front of the part that knows how to do our work tasks... It's all a separating and a withdrawing from the world but in very different ways.

But you are helping me think about how they are really not as different. Thank you.
 

HealingMama

Sponsor
I am very new to this forum, too, and somewhat new to my diagnosis. I don't think I've had a partial switch as you describe, but if I can not switch when a part wants to be in front or when they are trying to talk to me internally but I cannot hear them, I get an excruciating headache. I was diagnosed 3/4 DID (whatever that means) and am considered co-concious. I suppose I could have been diagnosed DDNOS but do experience a little time loss. I switch all the time (3 to 4 times a half hour or more) and have no control over my switches yet. All of my parts are me at differnet ages. I describe my parts as being in the back, present with me, or completely in front. So, I can remember that I'm driving to the store, but 2 hours later couldn't tell you the roads I took to get there as another part was in front doing the driving and I was present but couldn't speak, use my body, etc. It causes my memory to be shot even when I'm in front.
Some speak of having a gatekeeper that allows parts in front or not. Has that gatekeeper always been there or did it develop over time?
Thanks for sharing your experience of parts. I have gotten headaches as well at times that may have been due to system issues. It never really occured to me to investigate that.

I have no idea about the gatekeeper question you are asking. It may be different for every system. I think mine has been there since I have had parts and I have just become more aware of it.
 

Defaultxlovee

Confident
If you have alters or parts, how would you describe your switching amongst parts separately from PTSD specific dissociation? We had an intense experience in therapy today where we almost blacked out and one side of the body went totally numb, and we are trying to figure out if this was a part trying to take over the body or just a fear reaction due to triggering the PTSD. We had to do a lot of grounding, and we asked the gatekeeper part to bring further back anyone that was trying to come out. Me as the host is not ready to give up total control like that but I am seeking information to understand if that's what a "full switch" can be like.
Not sure if this helps but I have ptsd only dissociation disorder. Well waiting for the confirming evidence but it's what the neurologist believes based on how it surfaced. But I was going numb couldn't walk. And then the latest was I had a seizure like response. It was explained to me as the body signaling the brain to shut off. Not like in epilepsy where (and I know very little about this so if anyone has it please correct me if I'm wrong) but the signal starts in the brain with epilepsy.

Hope you the best.
 

StillPen

Confident
@Defaultxlovee, please post here as you learn more. One thing that happens to me and started about 3 years ago is that my body and or legs jolt/jerk in the middle of the night, and sometimes during the day. My T thinks it may be happening during a switch or trauma seizures...don't know if that is a real thing. Interested to know what other DIDers experience.
 

that_1_girl

Confident
If you have alters or parts, how would you describe your switching amongst parts separately from PTSD specific dissociation? We had an intense experience in therapy today where we almost blacked out and one side of the body went totally numb, and we are trying to figure out if this was a part trying to take over the body or just a fear reaction due to triggering the PTSD. We had to do a lot of grounding, and we asked the gatekeeper part to bring further back anyone that was trying to come out. Me as the host is not ready to give up total control like that but I am seeking information to understand if that's what a "full switch" can be like.
Hmmm…I replied to this thread before but a LOT has changed since then. I have a few things to add.

Since I commented on this thread I have gone of 2 out of the 3 antipsychotic-class meds I was on—still on an FDA-approved, moderate antidepressant augmenter dose of an atypical antipsychotic called Rexulti, I don’t know the generic if you are in another country or even if it’s available outside the US. (This particular med acts on serotonin and dopamine.) So unfortunately I STILL don’t know my baseline but I’m a lot better off in terms of being on meds I (mostly) DO consent for take. I do NOT consent to take antipsychotics any longer than absolutely necessary, due to what they have done over 14.5 years, to my cognitive ability and the severity of my ADHD, which has not gotten any better since going (mostly) off them.

I have now been diagnosed with DID as definitively as possible--without actually (yet) taking an actual diagnostic questionnaire given by a professional, though I have taken a general self-screening questionnaire for all types of “normal” and “abnormal” dissociation in any kind of state of mental health from normal to many mental health disorders of all kinds. Seems that the less antipsychotics I'm on the more overt my "switches" have gotten and/or the more aware I've become of "switching"...I guess? I guess when I was on VERY high doses of antipsychotics, the switches were unconscious to me, although I did dissociate in a CPTSD-type way. I would go hide in the therapist's bathroom and be flooded by flashbacks that I had no clue where they were coming from for as long as I thought I could reasonably be in there, then come out very robotically and basically totally dissociated/disoriented, robotically write her a check, and then be driven home and sleep for maybe 1 hour (or so I've been told) and then be mostly if not totally unresponsive until at least dinnertime if not the rest of the night, unable to drive safely until the next morning. I do know that I would have no idea who my non-bio "safe parents" were for quite awhile once I slowly started to come back and then after some undetermined amount of time say "Mommy" or "Daddy" (probably a little was out but none of us--meaning me and my safe parents who would keep an eye on me until the end of the night--had any idea. I know now that I tend to call them "Mom" and "Dad" not little kid words.

(For the record, EMDR is NOT recommended for people on the DID/OSDD end of the dissociative spectrum, unless the therapist is trained in EMDR *and* DID/OSDD, because it can make your parts come out much faster and completely unexpectedly--but again I had literally *no* idea there were "other people" inside my head. There is also literally a part that is a robot and another that is a completely vacant human body, like "the lights are on, but nobody's home", who is called "Nobody". So maybe it was "Robot" or "Nobody" that would write the checks? Both are kind of "all the real humans are in the safe place and someone has to get shit done but no one will come out." But really I have no idea because DID was not on my radar at that point. Dissociation is even a brand new term for me.)

I do know that there is much less communication among my system than I said in my previous comment. To that end, I have an unknown number of littles and when one of them takes over, they can take full control of my body and sometimes I remember a bunch, sometimes I remember a few random-seeming details or a visual "screenshot", sometimes I only get the random details or "screenshot" if significantly prompted by safe people, and other times I literally know nothing about what supposedly happened and "lose time" and sometimes other parts (idk what type of part they are) refuse to believe my safe parents. I know Friday was my birthday and I had therapy and also agreed to work with the DID therapist who has agreed to work with me too, and I had to zoom with my biological parents on Saturday (because of my birthday), and birthdays, eating disorders, and talking to biological parents all do not ever go well and thus I remember about 15% of Friday morning, 5% of the rest of Friday, and 5% of Saturday. I'm back today and seem to have been "me" all day. So I guess "switching" and suddenly being a little feels like.......going away or (not realizing you went away) and then being told "you did xyz" or "[enter random known or unknown name here] did abc and they said they are x years old." Or...it can feel like, suddenly or gradually, just having no idea *whatsoever* what your name is or what your gender is or what your sexuality is or "who" is "fronting". In the beginning (I'm definitely in the beginning!) that last sentence is what switching between adult parts feels like most of the time, to me. Idk. Just my story.
 
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