Switching is an involuntary or voluntary process off the brain, in which one alter retreats back into the a innerworld and a different alter takes over the body. This process is unique to each system and can take seconds or much longer to finish. When someone switches between alters, it can be very hard to tell when someone has switched, as switches aren’t always noticeable.
The DSM-V says that 90% of DID is covert and the likelihood of someone not in the system noticing the switch is relatively small.
If someone recently got diagnosed with DID, or becomes aware of being Plural, it can take a lot longer to facilitate a switch then when one knows and trusts its system and the functions it has.
Some people with DID find it easier to switch between alters they have familiarized themselves with. As stated above, switches can happen involuntary or voluntary. It can be quite a scary thing when a switch happens involuntary. System rules about how a switch should be facilitated can help. Feel free to share in the comment section of our FB group how your system facilitates switches.
Switching can be very tiring and can take a lot out of a system depending up the amount of switching and who is switching in and out. When an alter is avoiding switching, the body can develop a headache that can only be relieved once the alter has allowed the switch to happen or a significant amount of time has passed. Hence its important to reserve time for others who want to have time outside. This also seems to be the key to avoid involuntary switching as much as possible.
When some alters come back out for the first time, after dormancy, there can be a lot of confusion as to where they are and what has happened since they were gone. It is always good to keep safety reminders in an easily accessible area, in case this does happen. An example can be found in the picture of this post. There are also info cards available that you or another alter can hand out to people around you when needed, that explains DID and gives you a place to write the number of your therapist or support person. You can order the cards via https://dissociativeliving.org/cards
Some people with DID experience rapid switching from time to time. Most often this refers to a time period in which a stressed and often triggered system keeps switching from alter to alter. No one seems to be able to keep control of the body for a longer period of time. These rapid switching spells can be extremely tiring and intense.
The last thing we want to mention is that alters with the gatekeeper role could also block a switch from happening. Negotiating with them, establishing system responsibility and gaining trust are the keywords to prevent (or fix) such a situation.
To really engage and learn from each other we invite you to join
our Power to the Plurals Facebook group.
This is also where you can find The Stronghold System (Sarah Clark) and TheMyriad System (Ashton Parker) personal experience with the topic we discuss. We hope for active interaction between members of the group.