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.
We hand in our tweezers and nail clippers. Make sure nothing else sharp is left on us. Our psychiatric nurse at the ward is a young lady with a pretty braid in the front of her hair, dangling around as she speaks with a multitude of head gestures. She wants to hear the same story but I tell her I’m too tired. After prying some things out of me she retreats to the nurses’ station. It is only hours after that we get our precious hospital bracelet and Beck Depression Inventories and other forms to fill out. What she doesn’t know is I would need ten BDIs, one for everyone. Maybe eight since the littles would just be confused at the idea of a weird form to fill out and even weirder questions to answer.
I tick in some boxes that make me look severely depressed. Lydia must be close to front.
I unpack Bunny’s teddybear and unicorn and feel her refreshing presence. The little 5-year-old treats things with such openness and curiosity that I cannot help but smile and let her come closer and closer to front. I know she’ll be upset to be alone in a big three-person hospital room but I am far too tired to take care of the body any longer. I step back in the garden and let her go forth, watching as she bundles herself up in pink hospital pajamas and her unicorn hoodie, giggling as she brushes her teeth with such vigor (need to kill all those germs). Finally as she settles in bed, I let my guard down, retreating up the stairs inside the Clock and to my room.
Ambulance photo available from Shutterstock
, L. (2018). What It’s Like to Be Inpatient with Dissociative Identity Disorder: Part 1. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 5, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-its-like-to-be-inpatient-with-dissociative-identity-disorder-part-1/