Blurry can be an abstract concept for someone who does not have DID/OSDD and may be a little difficult to understand. Blurry describes a "feeling" or internal state of a System. Being blurry is not always a stressful or upsetting incident, this is more dependent on the individual and situation. We will try to explain our experience with "feeling blurry," things we have noticed that cause it and techniques to ground after.
What is Blurring
BetterTogether created a wonderful infographic that we think illustrates this state. In most situations each Part experiences the others as "separate" from themself. This is normal and part of how the child's mind copes with intense abuse. This allows each Part to develop their own personality traits, names, likes, etc. A System becomes "blurry" when one or more of the Parts become confused or unable to differentiate from each other. Blurring does not necessarily mean high stress or dissociating and unresponsive. When blurring a System may be full lucid and able to perform most or all normal tasks. From an external perspective there may not be much if any change. There may not be any major personality or posture changes, though we often notice the blurring Parts posture and expressions often show.
Blurring and Memories
Memories can also be heavily affected by a System blurring. While in this state they may not have access to all their normal memories. Feelings, thoughts and reactions to memories can also become confusing when blurring. Because multiple Parts are remembering the event, each Parts emotions and thoughts are recalled as well. This can create an emotional dissonance if the Parts feel differently about the recalled event. As an example, one Part may remember a person as a caring parent whereas another may remember a person as their abuser. When these two emotions (love and fear) clash in the memory it creates an emotional dissonance.
Passive Influence vs Blurry
An important note is that 'being blurry' is different than the Passive Influence we have mentioned in previous articles. With Passive Influence a Part can cause another Part to feel or desire something temporarily. This most often occurs (in our experience) while fronting. A Part that is at the front will feel a food that a Part inside is really wanting. While Passive Influence can sometimes be covert and happen without the affect Part noticing it is not blurring. Passive Influence maintains the clear self separation and identification.
Co-Con vs Blurry
Blurring is also not the same thing as Co-Consciousness/Co-Front'ing. Co-Consciousness (Co-Con) happens when one or more Parts are in control of the front, working together in most cases. When co-con'ing the fronting Parts are clearly able to discern themselves and their separate identities. Many times Parts will even converse while fronting and discuss what they are working on and even joke around! When blurring Parts have far more difficulty telling who is fronting, even if it is only one Part.
Blurring or Fusion?
Fusion is the process of two Parts permanently becoming one new Part. Fusion is not always permanent as extreme stress or re-experiencing/re-igniting a trauma can cause a Fusion to split. The primary difference between these two states is intent and length. Fusion is intended and meant to be permanent. Blurring is accidental and temporary.
What causes Blurring?
There can be many reasons a System starts to blur. These are our specific experiences and seem to be a fairly normal representation within our DID/OSDD friend group. Most often that we have experienced is high stress and rapid switching. High stress events for long periods seems to cause a kind of exhaustion that leads to blurring. Rapid Switching is when a System experiences multiple switches (Parts moving/leaving the front) in fast succession. This can also cause heavy identity confusion as each Part moves in and out of the front.
Another less common reason we have blurred is too many Parts being in the front at once. For us, 1-2 Parts at the front is optimal. We have noticed we have specific pairs that work best together and tend to co-front together too. 3-4 Parts at the front is still workable. At 3-4 Parts it begins to feel more like trying to work in a crowded loud room. At 5+ Parts we notice we begin to blur. We start to have difficulty telling where needs are coming from and have extreme difficulty focusing.
Lastly a System may have specific triggers that cause blurring. While we have never experienced this personally, we have heard and seen accounts of trusted diagnosed people experiencing this. Generally these triggers are described as more Part specific rather than being a System-wide trigger.
How to UnBlur
As with most "How should I cope with [stressful DID/OSDD] thing?" the answer is Grounding. Grounding Exercises can help reduce dissociation and connect at least one Part back to the body. Any type of grounding exercises will work, but The Ring System has a video about identity Based Grounding that can be especially helpful for blurring. In our experience positive triggers and identity based grounding can majorly help with blurring. If grounding does not work immediately or the first time, it is important to continue trying. Try not to think of these exercises/triggers as a binary "I did the exercise and it didn't work." It may reduce some, but just not entirely. We recommend attempting to ground for at least 30-40 minutes in a quiet area, if possible, before deciding it is not working.
There are times when these techniques may not work. It has certainly happened to us. When this happens the only solution is just to wait it out. Removing as much stress as possible is highly recommended. We have also noticed weighted blankets help. Continue grounding and positive triggers and eventually the System will return to normal.