TW: very serious singlet questions (since I know some people have trouble reading those), alcohol, and mention of unwanted sexual advances
Someone I love really dearly had a multiple personality episode last night with only me there. He was really drunk ( and never drinks ) could that be what induced it ? Or was he just really drunk? It was legit one of the scariest thing I ever have witnessed in my life, but now I’m almost…
Hello, there. Since I was online waiting for something, I luckily happened to run across this. I, myself, am the host of a DID system, and I just want to start out my answer by saying that I’m sorry this was such a tough experience for you—it can be very hard to watch someone you love go through something like this, especially if it’s so uncontrolled, and you have no idea how to help them. Just remember, your feelings are very valid, of course. I was also like to make a note now that if you ever feel you are in any actual danger, do treat the situation accordingly—since you said that this unknown alter attempted to make out with you. If you feel unsafe or that you might be sexually assaulted, call someone you know, or find a way to neutralize the situation by placing yourself in a more public area or leaving. I guarantee your friend will not hold it against you for removing yourself from a situation that made you uncomfortable, if one of his alters is doing something that bad.
That said, I would also like to reassure you not to be too afraid. While the condition can be difficult to deal with, as any mental health concern can, it in and of itself is not inherently dangerous, and usually is more harmful to the person who has it rather than to those around them. However, DID is actually very livable, if one can learn how, and even issues such as alters who are violent or otherwise damaging can be resolved with time and understanding.
DID is a coping mechanism the brain creates when young to combat severe, often repetitive trauma (to put it shortly), and thus it exists for a reason. Your friend’s brain will likely always operate this way, but it is not a damning condition, or a death sentence, or anything of the like. Your friend is not “crazy,” really, he simply has an atypical brain/psyche, and especially if he hasn’t been able to deal with it for long or is just now learning about it, it can seem very shocking and be difficult to get a handle on.
As a person with a system, I can say that often times being drunk, for many others as well as myself, can exacerbate the condition and make it easier for alters to come out. Remember, this isn’t actually a new thing—if your friend really does have DID as it seems he does (although he really should see a professional about it, to be sure), then he has been living with this for most of his life, and has always had it, even before you—or he!—knew about it. He likely hides it much better most of the time/it hides itself better, but there is a good chance the alcohol made the facade slip.
My advice on dealing with it is to first, reassure your friend you aren’t going anywhere. If he remembers anything at all about what happened, he is probably very afraid of what you’re going to think. And if he doesn’t remember (dissociative amnesia is common in cases of multiple personalities), you owe it to him to tell him what happened. While you should be honest about the fact that it scared you, do make sure he knows that you care about him and want to help.
Secondly, there are two things you can do right away that will help him immensely: educate yourself, and, moreover, listen to him. Ask him about his experiences and listen to what he has to say. Furthering your knowledge on the subject, too, can also help, and if you need resources I know that I, myself, and some others here in the dissociative identity disorder tag can provide some very helpful links. If your friend has not seen any professionals (or cannot, for any reason), then do your best to support him how he asks. Try to encourage him that, yes, this is something that can get better over time and that he can live with rather comfortably, and there are other people out there who have gone through it, too. Don’t talk about it with anyone else the two of you know, as this can actually hurt your friend’s situation in ways you might not expect (either because of stigma or because trauma the DID was caused by often involves abuse).
In the event that anything like this happens again—say, this or another alter comes out and confronts you, your friend seems like he is fighting with the condition, or he seems confused and uncertain of what is happening or who or where he is—there are a few steps you can take to help your friend come back down from the episode:
- Ask who you’re speaking to, and remember that alters, for all intents and purposes, are their own, individual people. Treat the situation as if you are talking to someone you don’t know who happens to look just like your friend. Like a twin. Ask them for their name, and address them directly. You’re likely to get a much better response this way, rather than repeatedly asking for your friend back, or not taking each alter seriously as an individual. Respect can go a long way.
- Once you know who you’re speaking to, ask them if they know where they are, who you are, and anything else, such as what day it is. If they say they don’t know, calmly inform them of these things. If they do know, try asking if there’s a reason they are aware of that they have come out, as often times alters will be dragged “forward” due to a trigger or some other circumstance that makes them or your friend feel unsafe.
- If the alter says they don’t know why they’re there, or seems a little hostile to the question, try asking them some more neutral questions. Ask them to tell you about themself, or ask them how they’re feeling… Get them talking about something that they can focus on. Ask them how you can help them—they may know of something that you could do for them that would help. (Note: also, don’t touch them even if you want to hug them, unless you ask if you can and they say it’s okay… alters often have very different feelings and levels of comfort on various subjects, and tolerance to touch is often a big problem in that regard)
- If they can’t focus on conversation, or aren’t sure how they’re feeling or how you can help, then the very next thing that you can do is try to help them “ground” themselves. “Grounding” is a technique of bringing oneself out of a dissociated state—that is, a state of confusion or altered perception that comes with dissociative disorders. Ask the alter if they can name and describe five things that they can see around them, and three things that they can hear. Ask them to describe to you how something feels, such as an article of clothing they might be wearing that they can easily touch. Focusing on the senses and other concrete things can help them get a grasp on reality and themselves.
- Whenever the alter seems sufficiently lucid or calm, and seems to have grounded themself fairly well, then ask if your friend is listening, or if they can step back and let him return, or otherwise communicate with him. If they seem unwilling to do so, or don’t feel safe enough yet, continue talking with them until there is another switch, then begin the process again. A lot of the time, all you can do is wait, unfortunately. But your attention and help holding their focus can often do wonders, even if it doesn’t feel like you’re doing much helping at the time.
Anyway, those are the basics of what advice I can offer, when it comes to helping your friend. When it comes to helping YOU, what I can say is that the best thing to do is to write down your thoughts and feelings on the subject privately, and then DON’T avoid talking about it. Things will work out best for both your friend and his system, and your friendship, if you talk to him about the subject. Ask him if there’s anything you need to know, what alters he’s aware of and if you’ve met them, and what you need to know in order to help or tell them apart. Just the fact that you were willing to ask questions about this at all is a good sign! You’re willing to learn, and sometimes that can be hard to find. It can be fascinating, yes, but more than that it is a difficult subject if what you actually want to do is learn for the sake of the person you care about.
I can’t say what will happen, of course; every system and situation, and what’s right for them is different—this is a tailor-made disorder. And if your friend has not been tested or through therapy, it may indeed be something else—without knowing them or anything about them, I can’t say, and neither can anyone else. However, from what you describe, it sounds like there is definitely something more going on than just your friend being very drunk, and if you want to help him, the best thing to do is to not panic and just keep doing what you’re doing. I wish both you and him (and all his others) all the best, and hope things can begin looking up from here.
If you need anything else, have other questions or concerns, would like more information that I might be able to dig up, or just need to vent your feelings, please feel free to ask us absolutely anything. Also: if anyone else in the community has any other comments or anything to add (I always feel like I’ve overlooked or forgotten something), then please feel free to do so.(Does anybody still have that powerpoint on helping/the resources masterlist link? I’ve misplaced both somehow. :S) I hope this information itself has been somewhat helpful! I’ll try and keep this post updated if anything very important gets posted.