Sunday, October 1, 2017

Living with DID: Arien Smith

How is it already October? Am I the only one that views 2017 as another fly away year? Seriously, where did the time go? Not that I'm complaining because YAY OCTOBER! Halloween season is our favorite time of year, but we're excited to bring you another Featured System of the Month--October is Arien Smith!

We are again grateful to the countless at this point who've messaged our Twitter or emailed about wanting to share their DID stories. Without all of you wonderful systems this simply wouldn't be possible. We're looking forward to many more of our "Living with DID Talks" in the future and continuing this series to show people what those of us living with Dissociative Identity Disorder actually experience. We all share similar diagnoses but our lives can vary drastically as you've come to see over the last few months.

Let's get started, here is Arien Smith...

Name: Arien Smith (Arien told us that his birth name is shared with an abuser and so they go by Arien now)

System Name: They joke about their system name being, "The Company" because Arien is largely anti-capitalistic, but they don't really have a designated sys name.


Age/Body Age: 22yrs old
Parts Age Ranges: 5-30 years old
The System: There are 5 alters within Arien's system:
  1. Little Arien, 5-7 years old.
  2. Ava, mid 20's-30 years old. Ava uses the pronouns They/Them and holds more of the trauma and are more traumatized than the others by these experiences, according to Arien.
  3. Bael, in his 30's and a protector.
  4. Sion is 25yrs old. A Protector but a different type than Bael is.
  5. Arien is 19-25yrs old. Definitely the most tentative but now is speaking out more.
Diagnosis: Arien was only diagnosed January of this year, 2017. Which as you may know at this point, is definitely considered newly diagnosed. I myself [The We In Me] am several years in at this point and still would be considered early on in therapy.

Religion/Spirituality: All of the parts would define as spiritual, but not necessarily adhering to a designated religion.

Relationships, Work & School, Oh My!

Arien expressed to me that they currently are not in a relationship however, they would be upfront about their diagnosis before entering into a romantic relationship. Again no current relationship, but they do define as polyamorous. Which is not as uncommon within the DID Community as you may assume.

As far as their day to day lives go, yes Arien does work, but no his employer does not specifically know their diagnoses; that being said they collectively do not hide the switches in their work environment if they occur. They're aware of how fortunate they are. So, if little Arien, were to come out they would simply explain they need a break or a few minutes to collect their thoughts and then would return to work after Little Arien finishes his break; i.e. coloring or having a snack for example..

Which was something that I can say surprised us--myself and my parts-- because wow what a fortunate situation to be in! In regards to high school Arien has minimal memories of this, but he and Bael did attend college together.

Family/Relatives: They are not aware of the diagnosis.

Through discussing more of Arien and Co's life they shared that they are indeed able to maintain steady 9-5 employment during weekdays. Little Arien enjoys coloring and does need the occasional break during the week. They all eat regularly, Arien will cook meals in the evenings after the work day is through. They all have time to enjoy their weekends and free time.

When a financial decision is being made the group discusses this and determines if it is ok to do so. Which again, for being so early into their diagnosis is a truly wonderful thing for them all. The fact that they can maintain steady work, income, and a routine they are all working on together already is nothing short of amazing.

Arien went on to say that he is not unrealistic and can assume he knows only about 10% of his life. This is especially true since he's newly diagnosed and did not have prior knowledge of his alters until that time in January.

Accepting a diagnosis like Dissociative Identity Disorder can be a massive alteration to life, but finally having those answers can be liberating and bring about some seriously positive changes for the individual, as well as, the system as a whole.

"With communication, hindrances and my denial at the very beginning things were difficult." -Arien

Artwork Arien Shared with Us. 

What would you tell psychologists or doctors in general about DID?

Most doctors know of their diagnosis, but when they're in an Emergency Room and the doctor can clearly see the diagnosis listed there they never seem to acknowledge it...Arien wishes that they would simply ask, "who's out?" This would be a big help to their system especially since none of them identify with the birth name. Bael becomes especially agitated as he hates the birth name, none of them ever use it.

Arien's system is not alone in their avoidance of the birth name. Bael becoming agitated when people use it makes perfect sense to us and through this venture we've found countless systems for which this is true. I think their pointing out the trickiness for systems when going to any doctor, whether that be a routine appointment, ER, or psychologist it is definitely important for the medical AND mental health community to be more conscious of DID. It could make these already difficult and potentially triggering situations much easier for the patient and doctor(s) alike.

How about DID Myths?

As is true with most of us they hate the violent myths that are prevalent within society. Arien expressed they aren't violent, not at all. We aren't dangerous or malicious. People with DID are not "crazy" we, simple put, have to adjust our lives to the world around us and apply living in a different fashion than most.

"It's not like I'm standing in a room seeing 400 people..." -Arien

Final Thoughts

I am not hallucinating. This is my life and I struggled with accepting my diagnosis, but once I did things began to change for the better. Just owning the diagnosis can be such a helpful tool when working on living with DID and can be beneficial through therapy.

Too true. Realizing that these parts of oneself are there for a reason and accepting this diagnosis is where the journey to recovery begins. For my system, they tried very long and through--lets say difficult-- encounters they found doctors who helps, got us a psychologist who saw it and finally did diagnose the problems occurring, but that was the pre-recovery struggle. Now I'm in therapy. We are in therapy. We work together after I, myself, had accepted my diagnoses and are continuing to work together living a more unified life. Which does not mean *POOF* the various parts of me are magically gone, but now we work together.
"I don't have to be like everyone else." -Arien

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