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Forums » Smalltalk » AMA: System (Dissociative Identity Disorder)

Hi y’all. I don’t normally talk about this so I’m kind of going out on a limb here.

I’m Strawberry, I’m a 3 person system. Diagnosed for about six months or so, I also am autistic, have CPTSD, among other mental illnesses that I’m not gonna rattle off one after another.

Dissociative Identity Disorder is more often than not a response to trauma in order to categorize memories/behaviors, and especially to avoid them. As such various personalities or “alters” will exist serving various roles. It is specifically having two or more distinct personalities. These alters can have their own histories, behaviors, speech patterns, ages and sexes/genders.

The first, excluding an old one, is Argo- approximately 40 or so years old, he’s very antisocial, withdrawn but generally kind. Argo is considered the “caretaker” of the three of us and will often front when my mental or physical health is in decline, or responsibilities are being neglected.

Shun is the newer one, who incorporated a much much older alter of mine. He has no age, no determined gender or appearance, and is not fond of sharing these details if he actually does. Shun is considered the “trauma holder”, but also protects and often fronts in moments of extreme stress and especially anger.


I can’t promise you’ll catch us during a switch- or that either will even want to talk if there is a switch, but I invite you to ask whatever is on your mind.

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Hello. :)

Did all of your others come at once, or separate?

How did they gain their names? Did they choose? Was it a consensus?

Do you all like the same activities, or do you need to organize time for each other?

How do you all handle "Privacy"? Are you aware of the others' thoughts? Do you choose to ignore them? Do you ever have conflicts about stray thoughts the others might disapprove of?

Is decision-making for you a democratic vote or do you designate one of you as the "leader" for most things?

Are each of you more or less active at different times or day or do you mostly maintain the same schedule?

Is switching something that 'just happens' or is it something you can control?

How did you come to learn this about yourselves?
Though I'm somewhat aware of the concept, I have often wondered how alters end up with their self-concepts and especially their own memories (and whether the memories are things that have actually happened to the... I guess body shared by the system, or if memories are invented for them somewhere along the line). I imagine it might well be one of those things that varies between folks, but do you know (or have a theory) how that might have worked in your case?

And I'm also suddenly curious... do your alters ever take part in your RPs, or do they tend to only show up as needed, for the circumstances you specified?
I have done extensive research on DID myself, as I have a story with a character that has DID, but at the same time, it's kind of hard for me to be sure if I'm writing it and representing it well. So I guess my question would be if you were ever willing to help make a character? I would give you credit where it is due unless you don't wish your name to be out there.
strawberry_champion Topic Starter

Aardbei wrote:
Hello. :)

Did all of your others come at once, or separate?

How did they gain their names? Did they choose? Was it a consensus?

Do you all like the same activities, or do you need to organize time for each other?

How do you all handle "Privacy"? Are you aware of the others' thoughts? Do you choose to ignore them? Do you ever have conflicts about stray thoughts the others might disapprove of?

Is decision-making for you a democratic vote or do you designate one of you as the "leader" for most things?

Are each of you more or less active at different times or day or do you mostly maintain the same schedule?

Is switching something that 'just happens' or is it something you can control?

How did you come to learn this about yourselves?

1. Separately for me. The first one had been around since I was perhaps 16? I didn’t understand it entirely nor did I have a therapist then so it’s not like I could talk. Argo and Shun both showed up around the same time, when I was 19- but with no therapist still, I didn’t understand it. I just considered it a cool funky coping mechanism to the ridiculous stress I had that I could just turn myself off and things still got done. When I finally began to understand what was happening, Shun had gone dormant- for a while it was just me and Argo, then I hit an incredibly difficult time and Shun arrived again.

2. Argo actually let me pick a name for him- sort of like a nickname. He has his own name that he doesn’t want me sharing, but he has very fond emotions I guess? For the name I chose.
Shun refused any names I suggested him- including King. Tried to insist he wanted my name instead, then he chose Sparda, and while he was watching a show, he heard the name Shun and picked it as his own. He’ll change it in a few months again.

3. Definitely not, so it’s shuffling of activities. Argo’s biggest hobby is cooking, which is thankfully something we share, but he also enjoys cleaning, hiking and as I’ve found out recently, RPG games (but nothing Multiplayer) and Brooklyn Nine Nine. Shun doesn’t like video games, but he likes watching anime, a lot of adrenaline involved things? And actually, social activities- bars, parties, you name it. Argo’s cripplingly antisocial and I have horrific anxiety so it clashes hard with Shun’s constant urge to go out and have fun.

4. Privacy is interesting. Sometimes I’m good at ignoring others thoughts. Argo can and often shuts everyone but himself out, and Shun can’t but he’ll just tell you to shut up and move on with his life. Depending on the situation I can still be aware, mostly if I’m in a space where I don’t mind it. And with Shun, there’s often issues with him having thoughts that make Argo get upset, but all that results is some bickering before Shun backs off.

5. Occasionally both. Argo usually pulls the overruling if it happens- usually out of understanding when something needs to get done. Things about physical appearance- aside from how everyone wants to dress whenever they’re fronting, are usually left to me, given I’m the host. But most smaller decisions, we try to make together.

6. Wish we had a schedule, it’d make things easier! We operate sort of on whims. Argo tries to front only when needed- either to take care of things or help me, but given the current season, he’ll be around more in evenings and late evenings. Shun if anything, tends to front during the daytimes more often- more activity and people at work, and he doesn’t get bored. I just exist and see where it takes me.

7. Most of the time, it just happens. Occasionally, I can bring it on, but it usually doesn’t happen unless it’s an incredibly high stress situation- if I’m having a breakdown and need help or relief, I usually pester Argo until he fronts and he’s very good at just calming down. Switching back to me isn’t something either of them often do- probably they don’t know how, but who knows. It’s usually moments of heightened emotion that bring them out, triggers or depression.

8. A LOT of conversation with a therapist. I’ve actually had two separate friends with DID, and that was the first moment where I began to realize it sounded very familiar. As I spoke about it with my therapist, we started getting into Argo and Shun as people. Shun’s never fronted during therapy- doesn’t like it and considers it for weak people, but Argo’s comfortable with her and enjoys her work, so he’s been there occasionally. She still wants to meet Shun but I don’t think that will ever happen.
strawberry_champion Topic Starter

Zelphyr wrote:
Though I'm somewhat aware of the concept, I have often wondered how alters end up with their self-concepts and especially their own memories (and whether the memories are things that have actually happened to the... I guess body shared by the system, or if memories are invented for them somewhere along the line). I imagine it might well be one of those things that varies between folks, but do you know (or have a theory) how that might have worked in your case?

And I'm also suddenly curious... do your alters ever take part in your RPs, or do they tend to only show up as needed, for the circumstances you specified?


Honestly, I don’t. Aside from the shared element of growing up someplace it snowed (though Argo lived somewhere it snowed year round), we actually don’t have overlapping memories. Shun doesn’t have any memories- he’s a weird one, but it’s not uncommon apparently.

Part of me wonders if it’s just part of the categorizing as well- boxing off chunks of the self and letting them go has to cause some kind of shift in the sense of self, not to mention just leaving them to do whatever. I have a feeling it may be to further isolate the trauma/memories from the self. The mind is an interesting place. But neither of them like thinking of themselves as just ‘symptoms’ I guess? So I’ll leave it at that. They’re uncomfortable.


As for RPs, Argo definitely doesn’t. Shun however, loves it, which is funny because he considers it dorky as well. King Sparda Atlos is actually his own character- before he changed his name to Shun, it was Sparda, and he wanted a character who was a powerful King type, loved by all- fed his ego a bit too much. He doesn’t often front just to RP, but he definitely becomes more present in thoughts while I write, offering his opinions and desires in.

They do front outside of those moments though- especially during this season, given Argo adores winter/Christmas. It doesn’t snow where I live now, which always bums him out, but he just sings Christmas songs laying by the tree a lot. He was tall himself so he enjoys laying in spaces he may not have been able to fit in, but can now given my “compact size” as he puts it.
strawberry_champion Topic Starter

AliRevellian wrote:
I have done extensive research on DID myself, as I have a story with a character that has DID, but at the same time, it's kind of hard for me to be sure if I'm writing it and representing it well. So I guess my question would be if you were ever willing to help make a character? I would give you credit where it is due unless you don't wish your name to be out there.


Absolutely! There’s a lot of weird misconceptions about DID if you do surface level things (looking at the movie Split, for example), but given your extensive research, it’s safe to say you’re not making the same mistakes. So, if you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out!
Thank you for the insight! :)

Since you can 'hear' each other, is there anything you enjoy doing together?

When they go dormant, do you feel... different at all? Do you feel like something is missing from you? Or do they 'merge' with you? Do they take a piece of you with them when they go?

Do any of you ever get confused about the body you inhabit? Do you see yourselves in the mirror, in whole or in part, or feel you should be taller or shorter? Is it ever disorienting?
strawberry_champion Topic Starter

Aardbei wrote:
Thank you for the insight! :)

Since you can 'hear' each other, is there anything you enjoy doing together?

When they go dormant, do you feel... different at all? Do you feel like something is missing from you? Or do they 'merge' with you? Do they take a piece of you with them when they go?

Do any of you ever get confused about the body you inhabit? Do you see yourselves in the mirror, in whole or in part, or feel you should be taller or shorter? Is it ever disorienting?


No problem! I woke up and was surprised people even wanted to ask stuff.

1. Baking probably? First the answer was “Frankly no” given how Shun and Argo get, but we definitely like baking? And going outside (but without anyone else). It’s nice to go to the park and just sit around and see things.

2. It feels odd. Sort of miss them sometimes. Like you mentioned, it’s like having a piece of yourself missing. God forbid any merging happen- Shun has a lot of traumatic memories I push away, and the day that happens will not be fun, but it’s more like it’s just gone from my brain. All that’s there is the awareness something is missing.

3. ABSOLUTELY. It’s on my account that I’m actually a transgender man- works out given both my alters are male and male presenting. But Argo often forgets and it’s very difficult for him to stay aware of the fact that the body looks different than he expects. Shun could care less- he doesn’t have an appearance as far as he tells us so he just enjoys looking like something.

The height thing is mostly an Argo problem as well- he was around 6’0”, while I’m only 5’2”. One of the first signs I’m going to switch is I start to feel really funky about my height and “proximity to the floor” as well as my reach.
Baking sounds nice... Been teaching myself to bake, actually.

Have you ever tried RPing with each other? Either for fun, or as a means of tackling one of your harder trauma topics? (I'm sorry if the question is too personal.)

Also, since you mentioned meeting other people with similar things, were their alters also formed from trauma responses? Or something else?
strawberry_champion Topic Starter

Aardbei wrote:
Baking sounds nice... Been teaching myself to bake, actually.

Have you ever tried RPing with each other? Either for fun, or as a means of tackling one of your harder trauma topics? (I'm sorry if the question is too personal.)

Also, since you mentioned meeting other people with similar things, were their alters also formed from trauma responses? Or something else?

Baking is good, this is the time of year to get into it!

As for RPing, not really. Shun and I write together for Sparda, but he finds the whole concept dorky and beneath him. Argo doesn’t really like it at all- something about it makes him uncomfortable, so it’s never been touched.

As for my friends, yea. I don’t have the right to talk about their experiences, but from what they’ve told me, yes.

Digging into therapy notes for this but trauma is of course, a vague concept. From abuse in all its forms, to attachment issues with parents/guardians, to war or disasters, trauma brings on DID as a way to help the host continue to function. The alters also come with what they call amnesiac barriers on memories- I can’t remember parts of my life at all. It’s better for me that way. The one time I had my first alter give memories back, due to pressure from a partner, It was absolutely soul crushing. I cried for days, missed work and fell into a very dark place. Now I’m always aware of what happened, but Shun and Argo hold onto the details of the memories and I don’t have to think too hard on it.
That sounds terrible. I'm glad you all seem to have found a way to deal with it that works for now.

Does your therapist consider reintegration a long-term goal? Do you know (of) anyone who has had splits like this, that eventually came back together? Or is it expected to be a life-long thing?

Does your doctor consider it more healthy to see your alters as symptoms of a problem, or as actual people with the needs of people?
strawberry_champion Topic Starter

Long term goal, sure. The eventual goal is to merge everything into one person, but the work of getting into those traumatic memories takes time. I’ve only been in therapy for about a year, and that first chunk was solely focused on other issues.


I’m just gonna pass on the second question though- I mentioned in another answer to someone else that it makes the two of them very uncomfortable to think of themselves as “symptoms”. I couldn’t begin to answer the question without making them either upset or angry.
Thanks for all of your time and insight. I found it very enlightening.
When another is fronting are you aware of what they're doing? What does it feel like not being in control of the body? Or is it more like you're a committee and one is just the current spokesperson? Do you ever lose time or are you always aware of what's happening regardless of who's fronting at the time? (I mean this differently to the locking away past trauma parts, that's a whole different sort of lost time and something I recognise in myself. I don't have DID, but I do have trauma and as a result there's huge chunks of time I genuinely cannot recollect. It can be quite scary sometimes to realise you don't remember. What I mean is more, when one is fronting are you still aware of what they're doing during that time?)

You mentioned you can hear them, do they have distinct audible voices or is more just an instinctive "that's not MY voice" and learning to recognise the others in how they feel?

I don't want to be offensive but i'm really curious about the perspective from inside your head, because a lot of information is about how DID manifests externally, to outsiders perspectives you know?

Do any of you have distinct skills or interests that differ from the others? You mentioned writing and one finding that super dorky, but do either of the other two have any interests you're not so keen on?

thank you for sharing.
strawberry_champion Topic Starter

The awareness can shuffle. There are times when I completely black out- the same goes for the others. One of the first times Argo fronted while I was at work, he completely fell apart. I have no recollection of the story outside of his memory, but he basically had a panic attack and collapsed in the storage room at work because he was so overwhelmed in a place he knew nothing about. I lose time regularly, though not always. It’s not distressing- Argo and Shun are both responsible and I know they wouldn’t put us in any danger or disrespect boundaries everyone had set. It’s more of a pleasant surprise- imagine waking up in the morning and the entire bathroom and your bedroom are clean. Groceries bought, errands done, it’s relieving when I shut down that one of them is willing to help me survive. Hell, sometimes Shun maintains my relationships- texting friends or family vaguely so I don’t upset anyone for going ghost. Their awareness also shuffles- Shun mostly, while Argo becomes less aware while in public UNLESS he’s been fronting since he left the house.

Sometimes they have voices- but it’s definitely more of knowing it isn’t MY voice, and their feelings. Although sometimes as I switch, I can tell I’m switching because the way I speak out loud changes. Shun curses heavily, his speech pattern is a little more- relaxed? Not sure how to describe it, while Argo doesn’t talk loud, sometimes monotone but with some funky pronunciation/accent.

You’re totally fine! I opened us up to these questions, but if anything becomes offensive I won’t hesitate to say so- or one of them will express discomfort and urge to silence. Frankly a lot of mental health focuses on those outside- I have another disorder that is SO hard to find references for coping as a person with the disorder. It’s all written by doctors to family on how to cope with their family member with the disorder.

As for skills, it’s difficult to say. Because of Argo’s anxiety and my own PTSD, we don’t get a lot of experiences or chances to see what we do and don’t know.
Argo Is very well experienced in hunting and skinning animals- he lived alone for a while someplace far north, him and his husky Loki, so he was very self sufficient. We haven’t had a chance to test this- I’m wary on guns personally, and I don’t live anywhere we could hunt.
I can draw and paint while neither of them is very good at it, as well as dyeing hair- Argo’s been getting better but both of the times he’s bleached our hair it’s been a multi hour, multi round process as he fixes his mistakes. I know how to drive while Argo doesn’t understand or like cars. I can make coffee (was a barista), Argo doesn’t like espresso machines and would rather not try.
Meanwhile he’s fantastic at cutting hair- been great leaning on him for haircuts during this covid season.

Shun however, doesn’t really talk about his hobbies or skills. I mentioned it before but he’s the one among us with no memories, no appearance- not even a name he’s willing to share. He’s great at having an ego though, and enough confidence to spare the rest of us some. So I’m not really sure what skills he has.

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