Real Life With Dissociative Identity Disorder: Interview The A System

An interview with a diagnosed DID system to learn about their life! (closed captioned with transcript available here below the video)


 

The A System is an influencer, TikToker, and an advocate for mental health awareness. We sat down with them to discuss life with DID, the ups and downs of being a public figure, and what it is like being an entrepreneur in the mental health space.


Thank you to Art and The A System for sitting down with us and sharing their experiences!


Follow them here: https://linktr.ee/ASystemAndSpouse


For more content by Tas Thoughts go here: https://linktr.ee/tasthoughts




Transcript Starts Here


(silence)


>>Tas

Thank you so much for sitting down with us today. For our audience, we'll go ahead and we're going to introduce The A System. So if you could tell us your your name, a little bit about the size of your system, if you'd like to share and what your dissociative diagnosis is, is it DID or OSDD or...


>>Art (The A System)

My name is Art, I'm from the a system. I'm 18. I'm one of the female alters, I am also the gatekeeper for front of house. Our system name is The A System because all of our all, all of the alters start with the letter A except for the host, Chris. Our system size currently is 29. We had a new one joined in the last few months. So it is up to 29.


>>Tas

29 great. And so as is your diagnosis, dissociative identity disorder, or is it..


>>Art (The A System)

yes, we do have a diagnosis of DID dissociative identity disorder.


>>Tas

Okay And you know, just to talk about that a little bit for our audience that might not know what that is, how would you explain DID to someone who is first hearing about this disorder,


>>Art (The A System)

a lot of people that we've had to talk to you because we've been a lot of people first experience with somebody with DID that is open about it. We always help people dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder, but it is not a personality disorder, it's a dissociative disorder. It's basically, whenever whenever trauma happens at a very, very young age, and the person has the ability to dissociate, the brain can go Okay, this traumatic experience is not happening to me, and create an altar to deal with the traumatic experience. So the host doesn't have to have those memories and have that trauma. And that's how it starts. And once once the brain is figured out, it can do it one time, it continues to do it throughout the rest of the life.


>>Tas

And with that, so just to kind of touch on this a little bit, because DID is a trauma disorder. Yes. So would you agree that in order to have the DID there has to have been some sort of trauma that happened?


>>Art (The A System)

I do believe there has to be trauma. As far as we know, in science right now there has to be trauma from a very early age, I believe the age is nine and under. That severe trauma has to happen before that. That age that keeps the the brain and the the person from becoming one whole person and having different alters and that has to be trauma at a very, very early age.


>>Tas

Right, because of the way the personality forms in the brain works in the past, as far as developmentally goes. So it's like before that age, yes, gotcha. So being a DID system, what type of work do you do? What's your job? What what do you what is your day look like?


>>Art (The A System)

I'm at the moment doing this. Talking about DID making content. I guess we are considered content creators, because that's what we do for a living. We make online content about DID to show people there. A realistic look at DID and what it's like living with a day to day. Before that, we did a lot of restaurant work, and we were Restaurant Management. We've been line cook. We've worked as an associate preschool teacher, we worked at a pet store, we worked in sales, we had a lot of different jobs. But now we are making content online.


>>Tas

That's great. I love pet stores. As soon as I heard that. I'm like, Oh, that's the best. Did you enjoy the pet working at with animals?


>>Art (The A System) I personally loved it. I thought it was great.


>>Tas Yeah, it's wonderful. So what is your philosophy? Since you are doing your platform is educating people about DID? What is your philosophy on the best way to educate the world about what dissociative identity disorder is?


>>Art (The A System)

See we're still working on that. Because our goal, we didn't set out to educate people on DID. That wasn't our goal. I'm the one who started the tick tock channel that now has 1.2 million followers. I'm the one who actually started it. And I just did it so I can make friends that have DID. I wanted to meet other systems and it seemed like a cool way to meet other systems. And then a lot of people showed up and it got overwhelming. Like, the amount of support that we have now is amazing. And I've got to meet those people. The two people that I really wanted to meet. I'm in a group chat with now which is really cool.


>>Tas

Oh, that's great. When did you start?


>>Art (The A System)

March, we've only been since March


>>Tas

Wow March, that's explosive followers


>>Art (The A System)

Went from zero to 100. instantly.


>>Tas

Oh, wow, that's great. Well, and it's so important to have that type of reach. Because even though that wasn't your goal setting now, it's such a good side effect, I guess to say, of starting that that project.


>>Art (The A System)

Yeah, I think the education part comes with stuff like this, um, our wife, Sam, does interviews at universities, does lectures at universities, we're planning on doing more outreach things in the future to educate the general public about DID. But really, we just want to show what it's like to live with it, and that you don't have to be miserable all the time. If the system can work together, and the system can be happy together, that good things can happen.


>>Tas

Exactly. And you know, one of the things about DID it's such a stigmatized diagnosis, and a lot of that is because there isn't accurate information. There's so much misinformation available to the public. And so, while you're opening up and showing what your life is, like, as a system, what barriers have you faced by being that transparent? Has there been any obstacles that that's created for you?


>>Art (The A System)

Um, in our personal life? No. Because we were, we'd known about the system way before we started Tick Tock. It wasn't like, we started Tick tock, and then we discovered the system. Most of us most of actually, me, Alex, April, Ashley, and Andrew all knew that we weren't Chris. Chris found out about us. Couple years ago, a year and a half ago, and then we started in March. But the other biggest obstacles that we've had to face is definitely the the hate, the online hate is and the fake claiming that is something that I don't know, we were prepared for mentally. And we didn't see it coming.


>>Tas

Could you explain what fake claiming is?


>>Art (The A System)

Fake claiming is going to a system and saying you're not real. This is why you're not real. I don't believe you. It's it's called fake claiming a system. And it is one of the most hurtful things you can do to a system is say you're not real. Because we are real people, we're real individual people. Yes, we're alters who do not identify with the body. But we're real people.


>>Tas

That is, that is something that is really damaging for systems and the DID community as a whole. It's part of that ablest type of society we live in, and people aren't very open minded, which causes a lot of distress to an already traumatized system. Its just..


>>Art (The A System)

I really, I really think that people will just number one, they don't understand what's going on, they don't understand DID, they haven't researched it, they haven't looked into it. And or they've seen one system, and expect every system to look like that whatever system is set up differently, every system is completely unique. You're never gonna find two systems that are the same.


>>Tas

That is such a great point. I think a lot of times we run into people that feel there's a blueprint. This is what a system looks like. And it really leads to a lot of stereotypes and generalizations. And it's hard to interact when people think Well, hey, you don't do this. And that's what this system does. So what that means you're not real. And it's a lot of that misinformation, is why it's so important that people like you are actually out there sharing and being transparent in that it's really an important step. And it's one of those things with it being so stigmatized. Is there any specific stigma that you feel is the most harmful to the DID community.


>>Art (The A System)

We've told when we worked in a restaurant we were aware of the DID and we told our co workers and our management staff we were open we're like this is what we have. This is what's going on. This is this is what's up and we were 100% open. We are no longer a hidden system. We are a public system, we are never going to hide again. One of the biggest stigmas that we got asked is which one's the evil altar. Everybody thinks there's a bad one everybody thinks there's some evil altar that's gonna hurt them. And it's one of I feel bad because Asher is usually the person that told everyone he might he's really close to the front right now. But he is Hold on. Hold on.


Asher (The A System)

Hold on.


>>Tas

No rush


>>Asher (The A System) I was that's going to be we're a trigger sensitive system. She was talking about when I used to work. Hold on, let me get this adjusted. Okay. Why is this light so bright?


>>Tas

Oh, I've been having that problem. I'm learning with mine. I can't get it right on my at all.


>>Asher (The A System)

It's fine. I know. I've told probably 20 to 30 people in real life about the DID. I mean, millions of people know now, but I've called probably 20 or 30 people, and probably half of them say Oh, like Split or is there evil alter? Are you gonna hurt me or which one's the murderer? That's that's usually the reaction I got.


>>Tas

You know, that is actually that's reaction that we've had as well. And it's like you said, entertainment movies. That's what people see. And it perpetuates this idea. Just a little bit for audience to kind of explain where that idea comes from. In a system. There can be an altar that can be known as a persecutor or possibly even an avenger. That is a trauma holder, and may have a difficult time.


>>Tas

Hi


>> Art (The A System)

Hi, it's art. I'm sorry.


>>Tas

No, no, you're fine. No worries, no worries. And persecutors are not evil. first of all they're not evil. They are just somebody that has experienced a lot of trauma. And they deserve respect and kindness.


>>Art (The A System)

The best thing I've heard is a persecutor altar is a protector that got hurt too bad.


>>Tas

I love that. That's a great way to put it


>>Art (The A System)

That's the best way I've heard it. I've heard of put persecutors are just protectors, I got hurt too bad. We do have persecutors in our system. Alex is very open about he used to be a persecutor. But now he's primary protector. Just because you're a persecutor does not mean that you cannot change your role.


>>Tas

Exactly. In, in systems, one thing that we've when we interact with other systems, there's always different roles and ways that people describe the roles. So like, for us, we have like protectors, and we've caretakers, and we have social people like me that that did the interactions. Is there anything in particular as far as roles that you'd like to share with audience that's like what, why are roles important?


>>Art (The A System)

Roles are between systems system to system I don't think roles and titles are extremely important. But they are important when talking to singlets or somebody that doesn't have DID. It's it's to explain what you are created to do or what your job is in the inner world or how you function in the system. But you're just system to system their roles aren't that important. We're just people different roles different roles and our system is Chris is that classifies himself as the host. He's the one who identifies with the body and the ages with the body and everything like that. Just because he is he does that does not make him like the original or the real one that does that's not how that works. Primary protector is Alex. April is what is called a trauma holder and a sexual protector. I'm a gatekeeper. I help with the switches although I don't always do my job well. I don't always do my job. Well. There's three gatekeepers in our system and one has to take over from me sometimes because I can't manage it. But and then Asher is what's called an emotional protector. When things get too rough, it's emotional protector. Alice is an inner world caregiver. Andrew is a physical protector. We have a couple of littles but I don't go into that I don't we don't share their names but they are littles are child altars.There are mediums which are like 12 to 16 year olds, we do have a couple of those as well. That's all the rolesI can think of off the top of my head and who runs them.


>>Tas

Yeah, it's really interesting because I think a lot it can vary from system to system and I think that's one of the things that makes it So important for people that don't have DID to understand like, every system is different. And but every, every system is valid. So no matter what people assign the roles for the people in their system, or maybe they don't want to share what their roles are with you, that's one thing I think is important for audience to know, is not every system is this open. So don't assume that they want to answer questions. And that is one of the things too, with the level of transparency that you have. Is there anything in addition to that, what do you feel is most important to help break the stigma that surrounds the DID.


>>Art (The A System)

just showing people our day to day life, just showing them that you can live that you can be a parent, that you can be a spouse, and you can hold a job, which we did for many, many years, that you can function happily as a system, it's called functionable. multiplicity it's, there's two in goals in in DID therapy, there's integration where everyone becomes one whole, which we don't agree with, or there's functionable. multiplicity is when you work together, all the altars work together to form a happy life. And that's what we are trying to do. And we just want to show people that it's possible. And just because you're in a system, and you're not going to have all the time out in the world, you're gonna have to share time with other people, you have to share a body with other people, but you can still be happy and enjoy the time you have.


>>Tas

Exactly. That's so important. And thank you for bringing that up. Because one of the things that we wanted to talk with you about is navigating family as a system. So one of the things that we hear a lot from people that don't understand the DID, or even some people that are systems themselves that struggle with this is being able to find stable relationship, stable connections with people. So what is something that you have found is useful and navigating your everyday life as someone that is working family? Or what what does that look like for you?


>>Art (The A System)

Now it's working together and communicating. We work on communication daily, we have notebooks we talk in our internal communication. When we are upfront, when more than one altar is in the front room, our internal communication is very good. And that's something that a lot of systems have. We have very, very, very good communication. And I'm always in the front room, I hardly ever leave the front room. So when one alter wants to tell another alter, something they'll usually tell me. And working on that communication is something that you need to do daily. And it's super, super important. Because once the system can communicate with itself, it can work together better. Before diagnosis, it was like we were working around Chris. And now we are working with Chris and with each other more


>>Tas

than that, yeah, that's so important. That's something we really resonate with. We're actually in the process of working on that ourselves. Because we don't have that. And and you're right. It's something that's really important and helpful to be able,


>>Art (The A System)

one of the tricks we'll do is I'll put on like, let's say I'm upfront, and I want to talk to Asher. I will put Asher's music on and see if I can start it with the music tried to trigger him closer to the front and try to start a dialogue and then take the headphones out. So he doesn't switch in. But and then just create that dialogue. That's just one of the things we do we do a lot of little things like that to try to help our communication. That's why we function the way we do.


>>Tas

That is that is so great. And thank you for mentioning that because music is something for us. That's a huge trigger music is a really positive, I should clarify. It's a really positive, positive trigger. And that's great to know, I have never got to that. So thank you.


>>Art (The A System)

That's one of the first things that we learned was music positive triggers. It was one of the first things that we recognized as a system to help. Help triggers happen. Help switches happen. Help switches happen more smoothly. We all have our own Spotify playlist.


>>Tas

That's great. That's great. Yeah, we have amazon music, and we have new playlists as well. Yeah. I for some reason cannot function on Spotify for the life of us. I don't know why. Spotify confuses us and we're like, Okay, well,


>>Art (The A System)

Spotify don't use it enough. I don't get to listen to my music.


>>Tas

Oh, um, what's the What else would you say is helpful? So for any systems out there that may be watching this? Do you have any advice?


>>Art (The A System)

Any advice just work on communication and also seek a therapist, um, self diagnosis. If you've done your research, it's if you've done your research and you know your life experience, and this seems most close to your life experience of diagnosis is not invalid. But please seek a professional opinion. Try to find a therapist that deals with dissociation, try to find a therapist that deals with PTSD, you're going to have the best luck with them understanding DID we got incredibly lucky. We matched online with one of with one of the top experts about DID in the state of Texas. She is a what she does is she actually goes to court to say whether people have DID or not. She like is a court expert witness on DID. And that's who our therapist is. And that's who basically told Chris, he had the DID and kind of outed us. We were not we didn't want to be outed. But she kind of outed us.


>>Tas

Do you think that was a good thing? looking looking back at the moment, it wasn't a positive but has it become one?


>>Art (The A System)

I the first couple months were hard. Because there was only about six of us that knew there was some of us that knew we were not Chris in the very beginning. And it was so hard. And just trying to work with him. And we would switch all the time, we would switch a lot more back then. And then it then other alters that we weren't aware of started claiming their spot in the life to like, Hi, I'm here to I'm here to and we went from for the first couple of weeks. It was just Chris, me art. April and Alex. And then Andrew and Ashley showed up basically on the same day, they both revealed themselves, but we already knew about them. We knew they were there. We just thought they were like doormat. And then that was the first couple months then about a three month mark. About 15/3 month about 15. We found about 15 alters. Because we started working on our timeline, it's you go in a Word document and you put if you remember, if you have a memory, at this age, write it down. And that's when we realized we're missing ages 7to 11. we're gone. Nobody knows where those memories are.


>>Tas

Yeah, and that that's something that is challenging, I think a lot of times is is finding those gaps. I know for us, we have we really struggle with a lot of amnesia problems. And so there are like, there's gaps like that, where there's just no idea what happened during those gaps. And it's great that you mentioned the timeline, because that's something that we've also done in therapy that's helpful, just like start filling in like who was where when


>>Art (The A System)

we need to need to work on our time when we haven't worked in awhile


>>Tas

It's a lot. You know, one of the things we found working on it, it's kind of exhausting.


>>Art (The A System)

It's kind of exhausting. And there's on our timeline, there's trauma, scrolling through that trauma a bunch in can trigger PTSD.


>>Tas

Oh, 100%. And a lot of that, too. I think one of the one of the best advice that we got from a therapist was, it's not a rush. So when you can work on it, work on it. But don't, don't triggers trigger yourself just because you feel like you have to do this exercise and get the timeline done. And yeah, that's definitely one of the best things. One of the best things we did. Yeah. So one of the things that I wanted to dive into a little bit more, is working as a public figure since you are online.


>>Art (The A System)

Somehow


>>Tas

Well, from March to now, and you said you're at 1.2 million.


>>Art (The A System)

One, we're at 1.2 million. Sam Chris's wife, the system spouse is about 1.4 million. Our backup account at 150, our YouTubes at 50,000.


>>Tas

Just so much growth, so quick, but it's great. And it's great to see the transparency and one of the things that we are actually dying to know what made you choose to be your own boss What made you choose to dive into once it started taking off. So initially, it was more of like the social part. But now that you see the growth, what makes you want to continue it.


>>Art (The A System)

It's fun. I'm sorry about making Tik Tock means it's just fun, and I enjoy doing it. Um, YouTube's a little bit harder. But what made us Um, there's opportunities for, for creative for like content creators. And we were very lucky to be fortunate enough to have a large, large enough audience that we can do this full time we are in the creator fund. And we were only working part time, because of the DID, we were only able to work part time. So replacing our income. We were able to do that through social media work and getting paid through ads. But once we had that, like, Let's run with this, let's see what we can do. And it's, it's been a journey.


>>Tas

And since it's, it's taken off so quickly, and you're able to do it full time, what is the biggest obstacle that you have seen come up as you're doing it?


>>Art (The A System)

We're not good alone. We're not good without a boss. And none of us want to really take charge we, the front five of me are April, Alex, Asher and Chris, we vote on everything we run the life together. But none of us really want to take charge.


>>Tas

So the like the project management side of it,


>>Art (The A System)

project management, remembering it's a lot more than people think it's a lot harder than people think. And to do it successfully, you, you have to be we we work more now than we did when we had a job.


>>Tas

Oh, wow


>>Art (The A System)

We put more hours in now than when we had a job.


>>Tas

So it's really fulltime


>>Art (The A System)

Its work


>>Tas

And one of the things that being a public figure and working on these platforms, you're doing your own editing, you're doing the filming all the time, or what else does that look like? What else? What's the day look like when you're working on it?


>>Art (The A System)

Researching sounds to use. coming up with new ideas for YouTube. Shooting YouTube videos takes a long time editing takes a long time. Getting all the equipment right when we do Twitch, we usually if we twitch for two hours, we did two hours of setup for Twitch. And our live streams our live streams do take a lot out of us. We live stream probably 20 hours a week.


>>Tas

Oh wow. So on average, how many hours do you think equals every week? Just doing


>>Art (The A System)

at least 40


>>Tas

Oh, wow. That's a lot. How many hours? Do you live stream for at a time?


>>Art (The A System)

Sometimes two hours. And but we've gone up to eight hours straight.


>>Tas

Oh wow


>> Art (The A System)

And we have coming up in September 11th and 12th. We're doing two days of 12 hour live streams. We're doing 24 hours over a weekend.


>>Tas

(inaudible) That's intense. And so with being well, really you're inviting people into your life by when you're doing that. And one of the things that is a common theme, I think for a lot of creators is hate comments and negativity. How do you manage that? And do you get a lot of that happening?


>>Art (The A System)

Oh, 1000s and 1000s of hate comments like 1000s we're bored with it. We've got it so much that at this point, we're bored. And it's it just it stopped affecting us. Like a couple months ago, it just stopped affecting us.


>>Tas

And for people that are doing the same thing or they're they're working on social media, it's and and they're having that negative reaction towards their content as a system. What kind of advice do you have? So it doesn't bother you now, but how did you navigate it? before that?


>>Art (The A System)

We had to delete Reddit. Because of the hate we were getting from there, we had to delete a couple apps that we were getting hate from. We had to stop reading our filtered comments. Because we do filter out words like fake and stuff like that from our comments section. We had to stop reading those. We had to stop doing like a lot of things that have stopped looking at our comments section for a long time and just make content that made us happy and awesome. And if you see somebody being rude just block them. Eventually you've blocked them all.


>>Tas

That is such a good way the other day of we were on a social media and we got a very like harassing bullying type comment and we saw the first three words. And we knew where it was going, we didn't read the rest, we just was like, block, delete done.


>> Art (The A System)

Block and delete. It's the best advice I can give you just block and delete.


>>Tas

Couldn't agree more. And one of the things that we like to say to people is you're in control of what you consume visually. And you have that choice. I think sometimes people we've noticed felt powerless a little bit when people are leaving comments. And one of the comments, or one of the things someone had said to us once was they don't want to be rude by deleting a comment. And the one thing that we always say is, but if it's bad for you, it's impacting your mental health, it's making your life harder, and they're being rude. You don't owe them anything. It's, it's typing on a screen. And it doesn't. I mean, what what do you think on that, you,


>>Art (The A System)

You create your own platform, you create your own content, if you're creating your content, and you don't want certain words or certain things in your comments, delete them, create the community that you want. Create the community that you want. And once you once you've created your community, just don't let people in that are going to be rude. But also, if you're a system and you're thinking about going public understand you will get hate. There's no doubt about it, you will get hate 100% of the time. You know, like I guarantee you will get hate if you go public as a system online. But just just realize it's coming and just understand that it goes away. People get bored.


>>Tas

Do you find that when people realize it doesn't bother you anymore that they stop?


>>Art (The A System)

Yeah, often that it stopped bothering us and we stopped getting as much.


>>Tas

So having such a rigorous schedule, and it being this full time job. If there other systems out there that want to be a self employed started their own business as a content creator, what advice would you give them?


>>Art (The A System)

Um, time management, understand that it's gonna take time. It's not all fun and games. Understand research has many YouTube videos as you can on how to make content. Get a ring light. Get the get that don't cheap out on your equipment, because it'll bring like we had so much of our early equipment just broke. Like just get some nice equipment so it doesn't break.


>>Tas

We hear ring light a lot. What does that mean? Oh, really? Yeah.


>>Art (The A System)

Hold on


>>Tas

okay, so what makes that so good?


>>Art (The A System)

It's the proper lighting. And that's why you can see me so well. Okay, that's why I'm, that's why I'm clear, proper lighting,


>>Tas

Okay adding that to our shopping list.


>>Art (The A System)

Very, very important. Like the problem. It is very important when shooting videos.


>>Tas

Oh, yes. 100%.


>>Art (The A System)

Also, I see so many creators, smaller creators out there, please clean your camera on your phone. Just clean your camera off. It's so smudgy.


>>Tas

hadn't thought about that before? Is there anything in particular that you should use to clean it? What mean? Like


>>Art (The A System)

We use our shirt? We just use our shirt, which you probably shouldn't do. But just clean your camera off.


>>Tas

Do you when you are live streaming? Are you ever on mobile and having to carry it around with you all everywhere?


>>Art (The A system)

Sometimes?


>>Tas

How do you navigate that?


>> Art (The A System)

You just hold it out here and we're just used to it.


>>Tas

Does your arm gets tired?


>>Art (The A system) No, but sometimes we're usually not mobile for that long.


>> Tas

So I'm one of the things that people really need to know. Where can they find your content?


>>Art (The A System)

OnTikTok it's The A System and System Spouse for one both of those backup account is Asher the Alter it was Asher's account, but we took it over YouTube TheASystemSpouse and Instagram is TheASystemSpouse and so is Twitch The ASystemSpouse. And we also have a Patreon which is popping our Patreon is a lot of fun. We do a lot of cool things. We're sending out stickers right now Sam's in the other room sending out stickers. It's Patreon. But that's where you can find us. Those are our socials.


>>Tas

Awesome. They're going to be linked in the description. And is there anything that you'd like to do is like say as the send off to the audience and thank you So much for coming on and sharing your thoughts and your experiences with us.


>>Art (The A System)

To all the systems out there you are valid you're seen and you're respected to every fictive out there we see you You are a valid alter type. I know you get a lot of hate to every every altar out there just you are valid, you are real, and we see you


>>Tas

thank you so much.



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