DID Awareness Day

DID Awareness Day Webinar 2023: What does healing look like?

On 6 March ISSTD was proud to join with An Infinite Mind, System Speak, Beauty After Bruises and Blue Knot Foundation to hold the third annual DID Awareness Day Webinar. This webinar is targeted towards people living with DID, and their family and friends. The theme for this year was ‘What does healing look like?’

Each of the panelists introduced themselves and spoke about their own experience of healing and what it was like for them. Lexi from Beauty After Bruises felt that, for her, healing was about having more compassion for her child parts and achieving safety. She added that the process also involved “learning about who I was as a whole person and what my role was in the world. I began to like myself.”

Jaime from An Infinite Mind spoke about the fact that healing is not a linear process. She added that “You have to realise you can have dips, but still be going forward …. At times it was frustrating, and it felt like I was going nowhere …. But then you get to the end you realise you have gone somewhere …. But I also think that healing is an ongoing event”.

The second part of the webinar was spent answering questions from participants, which came in at a great rate, indicating very positive audience engagement. The chat feature and the questions showed that, among those attending, it was a common experience to be looking for a therapist and to be anxious about therapy. The very first question was about what to expect in therapy.

Each panellist spoke in a very open and moving way about their therapy. All of them felt it was a confusing and difficult process at first, but it ultimately became much easier and led to healing. Emma from System Speak, who was also acting as a moderator for the webinar, said that she spent the first part of her therapy “feeling confused and trying to figure out what was going on. Am I crazy?”

Cathy from Blue Knot Foundation, added, “For me therapy was terrifying [at first] … I had grown up thinking you can never trust anyone … It took me a long time to learn to trust my therapist… …. Then it began to be a process of beginning to learn about all parts of myself…. But over time I came to some sense of meaning… of those parts being more connected…. And accepting their function …. I had to work on reclaiming the fun … the positive things, positive relationships ….”

Lexi added that she worked hard to achieve safety and stability in therapy and initially, during the trauma processing part of therapy, she felt like it was a step backwards, that it was distressing, and it took time for her to adjust to that phase. She then spoke of “moving to the next phase of building a positive life” which was healing and rewarding, making the hard work worthwhile.

Jaime spoke of being worried about therapy and if it would destabilize her and negatively impact on her success and her career: “It was very scary… I wanted to pack up the parachute and say ‘I want to get back on the plane and forget this’ … but once you have unpacked parts they don’t want to be put away …. Once I accepted my parts and stopped fighting the diagnosis that’s when I moved into a faster trajectory of healing”.

Participants were also interested in hearing about the qualities of a therapist that were helpful and associated with healing. Cathy spoke about the benefits of having a good bond with her long-term therapist. “She was there for me for the long haul, walking beside me…she responded to me …. She was highly relational …. And always there for me….it just completely changed the script I had had in my head since childhood.” As a gentle cautionary tale for therapists she added, “There were times when she tried to prod me for faster progress and it always backfired…. But mostly she just held me at my own pace.”

Lexi normalised the challenges of finding the right therapist for oneself and said she “cycled through a lot of therapists who didn’t feel safe” and commented that it was important to feel safe and to have a therapist that had good boundaries.

Emma added, “I appreciated therapists who had tools, but realised that they were just tools, and the real healing is in the relationship …. It is also important for me that the therapist has safe boundaries. …. Boundaries help me feel safe.’’

The questions came fast and many other issues were explored including how to build trust in others and how to cope with denial of dissociation and the impact this had on therapy. It was not possible to answer all questions within the time frame but the panellists have collated all the questions and prepared a detailed hand out with written answers. This is accessible to all who registered and those who later on sign up to get a recording.

ISSTD is very fortunate to partner with these wonderful survivor organisations and look forward to other work with them for future DID Awareness Day events. The webinar will is available currently as a recording to those who were registered for the event, along with the handout of Q&A’s. If you or your clients are interested the webinar will be available April 30th to the public and the link will be made available at that time.