The Electric Circus (T-E-C)

We were diagnosed with DDNOS (now known as OSDD) almost thirty years ago after a two-week mental hospital stay when some of us were suicidal. The body was 19 years old. That diagnosis was soon upgraded to full-on DID – Dissociative Identity Disorder. To some in the system, this was a huge shock. However, others had been aware of being a system for years and had even referred to the collective as “The Electric Circus” since the mid-80s!

(Why “The Electric Circus”? Sharon talks about it in this blog post.)

DID, also known as Multiple Personality Disorder, is very widely misunderstood. Of course, it doesn’t help that Hollywood likes to make movies where DID people are killers – but, as dull as it may seem, we aren’t murderers and don’t have superhuman powers. 

Our system was made in response to repeated trauma at a young age. This trauma came from multiple abusers who partook in various forms of abuse. In addition to a hellish home life, we dealt with intense gender dysphoria as early as pre-school. So, yup, we’re also transgender. (Came out at 20, had surgery at 22.)

We’re generally a very covert system in real life – if we don’t want you to know we have DID, you won’t unless you know us well. We’ve also been through many changes over the years, with alters fusing, going dormant, and changing roles. These are the leading players in the system as it exists today…

Meet the T-E-C-ies (pronounced techies because we’re nerds):

Saoirse (how to pronounce) (pronouns: she/her/they/them; age: late 40s) is our host, a term used in DID for the part who is out and about the most. Saoirse’s memories go back to pre-kindergarten but occur almost entirely in our parent’s print shop. Saoirse was made to work. She never feels like she’s done enough, always figures she’s about to be fired, and works insanely long hours if we let her. Until a few years ago, Saoirse did almost nothing but work, and Janet was the host outside of working hours. Now, Saoirse is learning to navigate day-to-day life. Work/life balance is a serious issue. 

Janet (pronouns: she/her; age: late 40s) is our previous host. She’s the recovering World of Warcraft addict and the part with the most inappropriate sense of humor. She had very little access to childhood memories and generally was our “Everything is OK” face to the world. She and Saoirse are sometimes co-conscious, and the two have actually thought they’ve fused before… but no. She’s the only member of the system besides Saoirse who can do our day job.

Sharon (pronouns: she/her; age: 19) is system Mom. While we love our biological mother a ton, she was withdrawn into her own world when we were growing up (maladaptive daydreaming). Bio-mom has made up for that many times in our adult life, but Sharon came along to fill the Mom needs when we were physically around the age of 9. She’s always been a teenager, even when we were 9. Initially, she was 13; then her age slid between 13 and 19 for a few years, and now she is pretty much set at 19. She’s really into sci-fi, anime, and giving Saoirse a hard time. She usually comes out if we’re in pain or a medical emergency.

Forest Wanderer (pronouns: whatever; ageless) is one of two non-humans in our system. Wanderer is a forest spirit. FW was the original caretaker of the child parts until Sharon came along. Wanderer knows all the secrets, or at least where to find the answers. They are our most mystical/spiritual part. They have the best communication in the system and relay messages between parts that can’t talk to each other directly. FW is the closest thing we have to a guardian angel.

The Bear is our other non-human part. To our knowledge, the Bear has only popped outside a couple of times and spends 99% of the time in the internal cave system, guarding alters who are “hibernating”. Those parts may not have popped out for years, and only FW & the Bear know who all is back there.

Susan (she/her; age 9) is an example of a part that was in hibernation for many years, although she woke back up about a year ago. She currently lives with the Bear because that’s where she feels safest. She’s the only active child alter that doesn’t live in Sharon’s house in the inner world. She holds the worst sexual abuse trauma and is very quiet and scared. We’re still working on “It’s 2023, you’re safe, the bad times are over” with her, as she’s stuck in time.

Carol Ann (she/her; age ~10) holds early memories of gender dysphoria and other abusive stuff. She likes to draw on the tablet PC that Saoirse fixed up for her and watch cartoons. She idolizes our biological mother. For decades, she’s been 6, but recently, she’s been trying to grow up a little with the help of FW, Sharon, and therapy.

Little Jimmy (he/him; age 6) is the child version of Janet – he puts on the “everything is OK” mask when needed. LJ loves Winnie the Pooh. If you put a Pooh video on, chances are high that LJ will pop up, as that’s a huge positive trigger for him. He was devastated when our biological father passed away last year. (Others celebrated it, as bio-father was one of our abusers.)

The Silent One (she/her, age: 5?). Tso lives in Sharon’s closet in the inner world. We don’t know a whole lot about her because she’s said like one word, ever. She’s scared of speaking or making any noise. She’s young enough that she doesn’t know how to read, and since she won’t talk internally either, communication with her is mainly in pictures. She’s like Susan in that she’s largely still stuck in trauma time. 

Finally, an honorable mention needs to be made for Watcher, who is more of a fragment or a function than a full-fledged alter. Watcher records events on mental “videotape” – just the facts, nothing more. FW is the only one with full access to the tapes, although occasionally, one of us will be given access to a video of us studying for a test or something similar. While we don’t have a photographic memory, Watcher is pretty damn close. (Yes, we have periods of amnesia. Yes, we also have an excellent memory sometimes. It’s an interesting combination.)