Alters Not Co-operating

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I was discharged from the Clinic last Friday which was fantastic. It was just awesome to be going home to my own house and bed. I had a session with my psychiatrist before I left and my ‘Mother alter’ came out and boy was she angry. She was incensed at the plan that if I self-harmed in the next two months I would be admitted to the Public Psychiatric Hospital and not the Clinic. The reason for this was as a deterrent to self-harm as I hate the Public System. It is an awful place to be.

When he asked her if she would guarantee that she would not self-harm Erin she would not give her promise. She said she needed to be punished and that was her role. He asked if the ‘seventeen-year-old alter’ who also self-harms could listen and not be involved in self-harming either. She listened but I knew she wouldn’t take it on board. As much as the alters hate the Public System as much as I do, they consider punishment more important. It seems so wrong that the alters blame me for what happened to me as a child when I was abused and want to punish me for it. To go through it once was bad enough but to be reliving it again through flashbacks and through the alters is living hell.

Thankfully we are up in Sydney for the weekend staying with my son and seeing my other children so I have a reprieve. She never harms me when I am staying with him. He is her favourite. She dotes on him and would do nothing to upset him. We go home tomorrow so the battle begins. I just hope I am able to implement the coping strategies that they taught me in the Clinic. Grounding Techniques:

Grounding is a particular type of coping strategy that is designed to “ground” you in, or immediately connect you with, the present moment. Grounding is often used as a way of coping with flashbacks or dissociation when you have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Because of its focus on being present in the moment, grounding can be considered a variant of mindfulness. It can also be a method of distraction to get you out of your head and away from upsetting thoughts, memories, or feelings.

How It Works

Grounding techniques often use the five senses—sound, touch, smell, taste, and sight—to immediately connect you with the here and now. For example, singing a song, rubbing lotion on your hands, or sucking on some sour candy are all grounding techniques that produce sensations that are difficult to ignore or distract you from what’s going on in your mind. This helps you directly and instantaneously connect with the present moment. At the same time, grounding reduces the likelihood that you will slip into a flashback or dissociation.

Grounding is highly personal. What may work for one person may trigger anxiety or flashbacks in another. You may need to do some trial and error before you figure out what grounding techniques work best for you. Pay attention to the coping mechanisms you’ve already developed to help you get through flashbacks and anxiety and see if you can build on them and/or use them as grounding techniques.

Grounding Techniques

To connect with the here and now, do something (or several things) that will bring all your attention to the present moment. Be sure to keep your eyes open while you’re grounding yourself so you’re aware of everything that’s going on around you. If you notice that you’re slipping into a flashback or a dissociative state, try some of these grounding techniques.

Sound

  • Turn up the radio or blast your favorite song.
  • Talk out loud about what you see, hear, or what you’re thinking or doing.
  • Call a loved one.
  • Put on some nature sounds such as birds chirping or waves crashing.
  • Read out loud, whether it’s a favorite children’s book, a blog article, or the latest novel.

Touch

  • Hold an ice cube and let it melt in your hand.
  • Put your hands under running water.
  • Take a hot or cool shower.
  • Grab an article of clothing, a blanket, or a towel and knead it in your hands or hold it to your cheek. Concentrate on what it feels like.
  • Rub your hand lightly over the carpet or a piece of furniture, noting the texture.
  • Pop some bubble wrap.
  • Massage your temples.
  • If you have a dog or cat, cuddle and pet him or her.
  • Drink a hot or cold beverage.

Smell

  • Sniff strong peppermint, which also has the benefit of having a soothing effect.
  • Light a scented candle or melt scented wax.
  • Get some essential oils that remind you of good times (freshly cut grass, rain, clean laundry, or sugar cookies, for example) and smell one.

Taste

  • Bite into a lemon or lime.
  • Suck on a mint or chew peppermint or cinnamon gum.
  • Take a bite of a pepper or some hot salsa.
  • Let a piece of chocolate melt in your mouth, noticing how it tastes and feels as you roll it around with your tongue.

Sight

  • Take a mental inventory of everything around you, such as all the colors and patterns you see, the sounds you hear, and the scents you smell. Saying this out loud is helpful too.
  • Count all the pieces of furniture around you.
  • Put on your favorite movie or TV show.
  • Play a distracting game on your tablet, computer, or smartphone.
  • Complete a crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search, or other puzzle.
  • Read a book or magazine.

Other

  • Write in a journal about how you’re feeling or keep a list of prompts handy that you can use to decide what to write about.
  • Write a letter or card to someone you care about.
  • Dance.
  • Stretch your arms, neck, and legs.
  • Go for a walk or run.
  • Take 10 slow, deep breaths.
  • Go to another room or area for a change of scenery.

Grounding Can Be Done Anywhere

The nice thing about using grounding as a coping technique is that many of these techniques can be done in any environment. You might be home alone or out in public, but once you feel that flashback or dissociation coming on, you can use grounding to move your focus back to the present.

Working on grounding takes dedication and it becomes easier over time. If these particular grounding techniques don’t work for you, try something else. For example, some people find that a rubber band on their wrist is useful to snap them back to the moment. The ultimate goal is to live in the now and focus on the present when the past starts coming up.

 

Using my Therapy dog to bring me back to the present and talking to my partner more warning him off when I am about to dissociate. I just do not get much warning of when I am switching to an alter so that makes strategy implementation difficult. It’s great if the dog is around because he senses it and starts to paw and lick me and that brings me back and alerts my husband. I just have to keep the dog with me at all times I guess.

Just came back from the Park where we all had a lovely lunch together on a beautiful sunny Monday. Going out for dinner tonight. Have to be grateful for the small things.

2 comments

    • Hi Angela thanks for your kind words. Glad you found the grounding techniques useful. All the best Erin

I would love to hear from you so please leave a comment. All feedback is much appreciated. Thank you. Erin