Visualisation is a way of using your imagination to create internal scenes and environments that help you stay safe and contain difficult feelings and thoughts. For example:
- you might find that imagining you are wearing protective clothing helps you feel more relaxed in stressful situations
- it might help to imagine a place that feels safe to you (and your different identity states). When you feel anxious or threatened, you can imagine going to this place for peace and safety.
If you experience different identity states, you might be able to imagine a place where they can all meet together and talk. Your therapist might help you to do this too.
Try grounding techniques
Grounding techniques can keep you connected to the present and help you avoid feelings, memories, flashbacks or intrusive thoughts that you don't feel able to cope with yet. You could try:
- breathing slowly
- listening to sounds around you
- walking barefoot
- wrapping yourself in a blanket and feeling it around you
- touching something or sniffing something with a strong smell
Focus on the sensations you are feeling right now. You might find it helpful to keep a box of things with different textures and smells (for example perfume, a blanket and some smooth stones) ready for when you need it.
First Person Plural have more tips for grounding and dealing with flashbacks on their website.
It’s strange because it took me a long time to realise I didn’t need to dissociate to keep myself safe.
Think about practical strategies
Dissociation can make day to day life difficult. Practical strategies could help you cope, such as:
- wearing a watch with the time and date
- keeping a list of friends and family and their contact details
- writing notes to yourself in the house or on a whiteboard
Make a personal crisis plan
A personal crisis plan is a document you make when you are well. It explains what you would like to happen if you are not well enough to make decisions about your treatment or other aspects of your life. Sometimes it is called an 'advance statement'. We've got lots more information about making crisis plans here.
PODs produce DID Emergency Information cards which you can order for free from their website.
Talk to other people with similar experiences
- Try peer support. Unfortunately, there are not many peer support groups specifically for people with complex dissociative disorders, but you can contact First Person Plural for more information, and see our pages on peer support.
- Read other people's experiences. If you don't want to talk, you may still find it helpful to read about other people's experiences. This can give you new perspectives and help you give you ideas about new ways of dealing with dissociation. You can read others experiences on online forums or find some on PODs website.