Regarding Systems, Alts, and Identities

C/W: This post is about alternate personalities, aka alters, and systems, which are groups of alternate personalities. People who have them have had serious trauma. The term “fronting” means being aware and having control.

Author Sumiko Saulson (an African American nonbinary person with orange hair) holding a star shaped Mixy Award in hir hands



I made a major life decision recently. I decided to talk to my new therapist and my psychiatrist about my system. My old therapist knew about the system. I have had one since I went to LA Heim in 2016. Maybe it’s more accurate to say I have been aware of having one since then. I have had these symptoms since then. I am somewhat afraid to talk about them because people are really prejudiced against the mentally ill in general. People are also specifically prejudiced against people who have systems.

You should view this as a type of coming out post. More and more people are coming out about having systems. Now this is important to note: neither genderfluidity nor being nonbinary are the same thing as dissociative identities. However, many people who have alternative identities also are non-binary and or gender fluid. As a result, a lot of people under the trans gender umbrella are aware of systems. Systems are what you call groups of personalities. Some people also have subsystems, which are groups of systems that generally act as one or front as one.

Not everyone who has a system has disassociative identity disorder. I do not have it. I do have post-traumatic stress disorder as well as bipolar disorder. PTSD is another condition commonly associated with having a system. I am always aware of what is going on. That is why I am not diagnosed with dissociative personality disorder. I don’t have any blackouts. I am always aware of what is going on. Confronting is when two personalities are running the body at once.
There was a period of time back in 2004 when I had missing time. Other than that I haven’t had missing time ever. It is possible that back in 2004 I was switching identities and I didn’t know what was going on or had blank time because of that. I kept thinking that someone was stealing my cigarettes. I ended up smoking three packs a day because I could not remember buying or smoking the cigarettes. I have never been that disorganized before or since.

I know that this sounds scary. If it is scary to hear about, let me tell you, it was a lot scarier when it first started to happen. Back in the early 2016, I started to have automatic writing. My hand started to write things without my awareness. It was other personalities writing things to me. In late 2015, other voices started to talk out of my face. I was looking in the mirror and another person started to talk out of my face. It was a hostile voice and I was terrified. I had a suicide attempt immediately after.

It is super scary to talk about these things. I know the other people are aware of me talking to myself. My medications control the symptoms but not entirely. I can go for 2 or 3 days without talking to myself in front of people now. But when I am home by myself, my system has conversations with itself. It’s like I have these roommates, but they are in my body.

Over the past year with the pandemic I have had to spend a lot of time alone in my house. It has given me time to try out a new Med, which didn’t work right oh, and to go back on my old meds. I am not sure how well I am going to function when I go back to being social. It is always a struggle, trying to decide whether or not to go out and be around people knowing I talk to myself.

I had to practice radical self-acceptance in order to stop having suicidal ideation. I had to decide that I was going to be okay with me whoever and however I am. That meant I had to tell myself that I could stay alive even though I was constantly embarrassed and upset because people kept making fun of me.

It is dangerous when you can’t control talking to yourself. I had some kid start video taping me with this cell phone. I asked him to stop and he laughed at me. I took out my phone so I can record him recording me, and he threatened to grab my phone and break my phone and hurt me. That happened three or four years ago.

Sometimes I would have an uncontrollable urge to walk around. Sometimes I would be at my family’s house, and I would be trying to control talking to myself, and I couldn’t control it and I would have an urge to walk outside so I could control where I was talking to myself and not do it in front of my family. I had hella cars pulling over trying to pick me up and see if I was a sex worker because they thought I was on drugs. I have had so many cars pull over and try to pick me up, in the tenderloin, in Vallejo, and in Oakland. It is really scary.

I feel that I have been very fortunate, lucky, and blessed to have people in my life who love me. I have been lucky to have people who accept me for who I am. My girlfriend Princess Chris Hughes. Darcy is the first person who introduced me to the term system. I didn’t know where the system was. Unfortunately oh, we were in the car with my good friend Serena, who has since passed away. Serena was afraid of people with systems and said that they’re dishonest. I am not dishonest but I do go back in the closet for two more years because I was afraid of how people would react.

A lot of my horror stories are inspired by different things that I have hallucinated, and experiences that I have had as a system. The people in my system have names, and only about five of them talk to me regularly these days. A lot of them are named after characters in my book, although in the case of Dooky, the character is actually named after Dooky. The Dooky subsystem is a bunch of littles who love stuffed animals. They usually talk in baby voices. Dooky is also really good at driving cars.

Flynn is thoughtful and soft-spoken. Baby is a sweet but catty femme. Anders is a paranoid conspiracy theorist. He says he would rather write than talk, and he hopes you liked “Solitude” because he helped me write it. Pooky likes to make sure I get good self-care… We do self-care together. They cofront with me most of the time so you don’t really know they’re there.

Now that I have gotten this off my chest, you can let me know if you have any questions.

~ by Sumiko Saulson on May 15, 2021.

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