Surviving vs Thriving with Dissociative Identity Disorder

June 28, 2018 Becca Hargis

Surviving vs thriving with dissociative identity disorder isn't hard to grasp, but it can be difficult to believe you can thrive with DID. Learn how to do it at HealthyPlace.

Surviving vs thriving: What you're doing to cope with dissociative identity disorder (DID) depends on your state of mind. Do you call yourself a survivor or a thriver? One dictionary defines the word "survive" as continuing to live or to simply exist.1 Another dictionary defines "survive" as to live through a dangerous situation.2  For those of us with dissociative identity disorder, surviving comes naturally. Developing DID was our only means of survival as children. As adults, could there be more for us than just surviving DID? Are we just going to live with DID, endure and get by with its many complications? Is surviving all there is to life? Could we actually learn to thrive with DID, to prosper, flourish, and succeed? What is the difference in surviving and thriving with dissociative identity disorder?

What It Means to Survive

Survival is innate. It is rarely a conscious decision we make. We do what we have to in order to continue on with our life. For most of us, the abuse is in the past, and our dissociative identity disorder is a living relic of our innate ability to survive horrific circumstances. But is surviving all we want for ourselves? Is there not more to life than just getting by, limping along in pain, settling for what our disorders "allow" us to do, and escaping with the bare minimum to continue existing?

Granted, dissociative identity disorder can be very debilitating and disabling, but if we choose to do more than to survive, if we choose to fight the tendencies to allow DID control and define us, we can discover that life is so much more than existing. Do we see DID for what it is, a survival tactic, or do we see it as a way of life? Is surviving trauma all we want for ourselves? What if we could be more and have more?

What It Means To Thrive

What does it mean to thrive and how do we get there? To thrive means to flourish and grow, to rise above, and to progress and prosper. It allows us to have a purpose. It means choosing to be positive regardless of the circumstances or situations in with which we deal.  

Much of a being a thriver relates to choice. It doesn't mean there will not be setbacks or stressors in life, it won't take away flashbacks and panic attacks, but it is how we choose to respond to those situations that determine if we thrive or just survive.

We have choices now we didn't have when we were being traumatized. We are not helpless little beings who need rescuing. We can rescue ourselves now.  

I imagine some might think this is unrealistically simple, that DID is far more complicated than simply putting on a smiley face and become a thriver. I understand, and I share in your experiences; but what being a thriver is about is starting to change the way we see the world, DID, and ourselves. Not at the same time, but little by little.

How to Go from Survivor to Thriver

What do we have to do to start to thrive?  

  • Choose your thinking.  
  • Start to look at life in the long-term
  • Make plans to do anything you think might bring you joy.
  • Look for ways to be happy. Smell a flower. Bake some cookies.
  • Look for ways to help others.
  • Take risks. Do what scares you.
  • Reframe the way you view trauma and DID in your life. While you may still contend with its effects, it does not control you.
  • Realize you have choices now that you did not have before, and act on them.
  • Find some exercise you enjoy.
  • Join a club or a group who share the same thriving philosophy as you.
  • Take a self-defense class.  
  • Show yourself love, compassion, and forgiveness, if needed.
  • Take back your power. Use your voice. Share your story.  

Yes, you can thrive. Make the commitment to start believing in yourself. Take action and get to work. Put in the time and you will receive the results. Be compassionate with yourself along this journey. It's a process to heal and recover. Do not settle for surviving; choose your thinking and start thriving.


  1. Accessed June 26, 2018.
  2. Accessed June 26, 2018.

APA Reference
Hargis, B. (2018, June 28). Surviving vs Thriving with Dissociative Identity Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 24 from

Author: Becca Hargis

Becca is a mental health advocate who is passionate about ending the stigma against mental illness. She is currently writing a book on her experiences with dissociative identity disorder. You can connect with her on her personal blog, TwitterFacebook and on Instagram.

July, 11 2018 at 9:37 pm

Hi, I was diagnosed in 2006 or 2007, and am still greatful for the D.I.D. I could not tollerate the trauma, and abuse when I was a little girl. So I became conditioned and sort of institutionalized to the dissociative world I never could escpe. Now I am a 37 year old woman whose disabled, and struggling to find a job. But, I've decided to integrate. I cannot tollerate medicines due to my traumatic brain injury. And my past nuerophyschiatrist released me, I am free of drugs, and harmful behavoir. I've learned to walk, talk, and feed myself again. I have a new lease on mylife. I am integrating. Thanks for your articles. I just really have no experience with this. If you could steer me in a useful direction, by way of suggesting a web-site, helpful book I'd appreciate it.

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