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Flying With Dissociative Identity Disorder

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Flying isn’t easy for me. I have dissociative identity disorder (DID) from childhood abuse so the loss of control, close contact with people (for hours), new situations, and TSA agents looking me over, all combine to create a trigger-rich environment.

Since DID is about having multiple parts inside, I have to monitor these triggers on lots of levels. If things go really wrong, fearful child parts, rebellious teen parts and
aggressive protector parts can take over, making a total mess of routine airline travel.

Even when things are going well, I have to be alert (but not tense – breathe, breathe) the whole time. It’s exhausting. But the alternative is having a scared 6-year-old part run away from the airport (Chicago), a teenage part refuse to get on the plane until a missing playlist is reconstructed (DFW) or a protector square off with someone who’s standing too close (Denver). Being far from home and comforting things doesn’t help.

Neither do security procedures. Each time I approach security, I wait in fear that a TSA agent will feel the need to pat me down. Can I keep the kid parts from flashing on the abuse? Can I keep the teen parts from making snarky comments about what looks to them like bullying? Can I keep the protector parts from slugging someone and sending us to jail?

Recently, the TSA announced their new procedures “…may involve an officer making more intimate contact than before.” More intimate? To me and thousands of other sexual abuse survivors, the regular pat-down is almost more than we can handle. I appreciate security keeping us safe and, generally, TSA is pretty professional. But now there’s another thing to worry about at the airport.

If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

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Thinkstock photo via John Rowley

Originally published: April 25, 2017
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