As Web MD explains, periods of amnesia or “lost time” are fairly common for people with dissociative identity disorder (DID). Sometimes an alter takes control of the body and the host or other alters may be unaware of what’s going on. As you might imagine, this can lead to all kinds of problems. One alter schedules an appointment but other alters don’t know they are supposed to show up for it. One alter plans to show up for work on time but another alter comes out and decides to stay home and play. The host wakes up one day and realizes several days have passed and she has no idea what took place.
Developing coconsciousness with alters helps prevent these kinds of problems, but there are some other simple things you can do to help with time management. Here are a few of the things I’ve found to be helpful for me.
Get a Calendar
A calendar is a simple but invaluable tool for someone with DID. Encourage all alters to write appointments and special plans on the calendar. I find it helpful to keep my calendar near my phone and to make notes on the calendar about anything important I need to know about any appointment. For instance, if I have an appointment with my doctor on a certain day, I might also note on the calendar what the appointment is for and write down anything I need to take with me to the appointment, like a list of all my medications.
Of course, having a calendar only helps if I know what day it is today! I use my computer a lot and it always gives me the current date and time. Crossing off days on the calendar can also help you keep track.
Make a Schedule
Making a schedule can help a lot. It can be challenging to get all alters to stick to a schedule, but it’s a start. I’ve found that planning times for other alters to be out and do things they like to do helps cut down on the number of times someone else takes over and causes me to miss important appointments or do other things I need to do. You may also be able to negotiate with other alters as you make a schedule. For instance, if you like to go to bed early but another alter likes to stay up all night, perhaps you can work out a compromise for a bedtime to which everyone can agree. Negotiating these things ahead of time and writing them on your schedule generally works better than arguing about them at night when you’re tired and want to sleep!
If something has to happen at a certain time, it may help to set an alarm. If necessary, you can make a note stating what is supposed to happen when the alarm goes off. Regardless of which alter is out when the alarm goes off, he or she will see the note and know it’s time to get ready to go to therapy. Setting alarms while cooking helps, too; if you switch, whichever alter is out will be alerted to the fact that food is ready before it burns.
Keep a Journal
Keeping a journal can help you keep track of time and what happens when other alters are out. I try to always note the day of the week, the date and the time when making entries in my journal. I encourage other alters to use the journal, too, kind of like a log book I can refer back to in order to see who was out and what they did. Some alters have been more cooperative about doing that than others, but it’s one more tool that can cut down on the confusion and hassles caused by losing time.
Web MD. http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/dissociative-identity-disorder-multiple-personality-disorder. Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder).
Alderman, Tracy and Karen Marshall. Amongst Ourselves: A Self-Help Guide to Living with Dissociative Identity Disorder. 1998.