What It’s Like to Be Inpatient with Dissociative Identity Disorder: Part 1
I’m sitting in an ambulance. The blonde paramedic gazes at me in the blue light, asking me if it is all right that the proper lights are off. I suppose something in my face alarms her enough to gasp: “Is it too dark?” I reassure her with a shake of my head that no, it isn’t too dark.
I feel childlike in my Adventure Time leggings and sweatshirt/tunic. I never noticed the white lines on ambulance windows were full of glitter. One of the littles hops up to front in a gush of joy. Glitter, of all things, glitter! I swallow a glomp of air and push her back in the garden with the rest.
L peeks through the slit below the door of the Limbo Room somewhere deep inside. Emergency rooms, ambulances and psychiatric ward workers have always looked at us weirdly. The paramedic tap-taps on a Panasonic Toughbook. “Your care worker said you have these personalities?” she says, the question mark imminent in the air around her.
Yes, I think to myself before even considering saying it out loud, my head moving in what could be called a nod. “I have Dissociative Identity Disorder,” I say out of habit. I should have used a plural pronoun.
It is the first time being admitted since this past February when my dissociation had me walking into busy roads without looking. This time is different, though. This time it is even more confusing to the paramedics and the psychiatric nurses. The paramedic waits patiently as I try to remember which day of the week it is. L would know. L was here on Wednesday, that’s several days ago. “Saturday,” I blurt out slowly. What month, what year? I find the right answer somewhere in L’s frontal lobe. “November, 2015.”
The waiting room is full, as per usual. Nosebleeds, broken ankles. Normal problems. The psychiatric nurse sees me after 45 minutes. A young fellow, agitated and somehow a bit amused. I try to tell everything but it is difficult. “Do you remember [this]?” No, no I don’t remember doing that, that was another alter. “Why do you think L is gone for good this time?” I just have the feeling. I tell the guy that I’m the replacement. That I’m the one to take charge in case L is gone for good. His face is full of confusion.
In the waiting room again. The nurse called the doc. A foreigner, for a change. Not that I mind. I like the little lisp in their voice as they utter their sentences. The doc wants to hear the same story. I look at the nurse by the computer, apparently with enough agony on my face to make him state my dilemma. I add in a few details and listen to the doctor’s remarks with a tight pull in my stomach each time he sounds less and less convinced.
Finally we get to it: suicidality. I explain the monsters that are Dawn and Claudia, the cuts that have been made, the writing in blood in my journal, the knife brought to work with us. This piques the doctor’s interest. “Oh yes, if that is the case then we should take you in for a few days, as a crisis admission.” The ward I know well. I’ve been here several times. I wouldn’t call it a second home, but I would call it safe grounds.