It doesn’t matter if its Monday or Friday, there’s no calendar yet made for us. Us, the one person… or the one body with many minds.
I live with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) or, as you might have learnt from one of those ridiculously sensationalist movies, multiple personalities. And, unless you spend a lot of time with me or see me every day, you would probably not know it.
Despite what you imagine about DID, I don’t change from nun to monster or from serial killer to child. My changes can be subtle and only perceptible to those who have been able to stick around long enough to know me. Sometimes the changes are evident because my large breasts become more exposed and my dresses are quite revealing, or my boots are too masculine and so is my demeanor.
Or you can tell which are the peace-loving, adventurer ones of us because they usually wear things on their hair (hats, flowers) and “free spirit” type clothing. Or simply because, when you say hello to me, I will have no idea who you are.
Sometimes my day doesn't start until 3pm; others, it just doesn't finish. These are the most trying times because I have been awake, without knowing, for the most part of 24 hours straight.
Sounds crazy — and this is what people enjoy calling us. How they can enjoy perpetuating ignorance and the comfort of not going a little bit beyond their limited understanding, I don't know. But I know I am not crazy. I am aware of my condition, I treat it and am slowly embracing it, because the truth is, lovers and friends, even family, will come and go more easily when you have DID - but this, my own crew, is here to stay.
But I’m not going to dwell on the solitude that living in an individualist society means, especially for someone like us. Not yet anyway. I simply wanted to drop by and take you for a wander into this world of being one, but multiple.
Do you know those times when you drive for a while, get to your destination and suddenly ask yourself where that travelling time went? Well, you have also dissociated, like everyone does. This is a capability we all possess, except that in my case (I feel so faux talking about a me, as a “singleton”) the skill you have to “come back,” is one that I no longer can control at will.
So, I drive and arrive at the destination, but besides not knowing where my time went, I also don’t know for sure that I actually drove the car; I have no memory of grabbing the keys, starting the engine and going. Sometimes, I can’t even recall getting out of bed, showering, etc. Even if my hair is dripping wet and I am decently attired, I don't have a memory of any of that sometimes, because it could have been *Sofia or *Martin who were in charge.
And that’s not all.
You get to the place without remembering leaving your bed. The wetness of your freshly-washed ponytail has permeated your top so you decide to change into something dry; you can’t stand the feeling of wet fabric against your skin because you have also become hyper sensitive to physical stimuli, since it is one of the only ways you have to keep “grounded” in reality.
You walk into a shop and order a coffee, just so you can use their bathroom to change into the spare clothes you now permanently keep in the car (oh yes – you now carry a spare set of almost everything wherever you go, just in case.)
The barista is cute, but the way he looks at you and then avoids your gaze tells you that something is not right and the first thought, in these cases, is that *Sofia was the one “fronting” and your cleavage is way too revealing.
So, you look down. And embellishing your chest; a masculine red tie. Luckily, you are wearing a shirt, a white men’s business shirt that is about two sizes too big and a pair of fitted black business pants. By then, you know the shoes match the outfit:
*Martin was the one to bring us here today… so you silently regret your long nails (that he has so kindly allow you to keep this time), your fake eyelashes, despite the fact that he likes to pull them off because he “isn't gay.” You regret to exist because your mere existence allowed all those bad things to happen to you, so much so that not even your mind could cope, and that’s why it split.
But then you remember the courses they've each taken to give you greater knowledge about the things that ignite your passion: Martin studied Justice through Harvard to keep you alive and to gain a deeper understanding about your philanthropic work with children who have experienced trauma. Sofia managed to get a book published: a book we wrote together!
They are here to allow me to keep existing because the impact of all those adverse experiences in my life told me otherwise; they’re my saviours and my company in a society that denies our existence by scrutinising my disorder and bully me, laugh at me and call me names. The choose to stigmatise me because they do not see it.
This is when you go to the shops, just to talk to the shop assistant who becomes your social interaction for the week. And when you reach a critical point, you have to run away to the other side of the world, where you were born and all your family (besides your kids) and friends live. You do this in order to avoid the disengaged and inhuman treatment in the hands of a public psych ward… again.
It would be so easy to accept visibility alone doesn't signify truth. It would be so easy to accept us and to ask questions but instead, you subject us to a merry-go-round of stigma and shame, and we can’t do anything but hide.
But this world is for you and I. And your blindness and prejudice are the only evil ones.
Marcela Del Sol is an Australian writer, philanthropist and social activist. Kaleidoscope is Marcela’s Del Sol’s first work of fiction; a collection of beautifully written reflections about the life and struggles of a woman co-existing with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) and Dissociative Identity Syndrome (DID). You can purchase her book here.