What you are about to read is a fictional account told from two different perspectives. My sister and I compiled this story from our interactions with one another to give you a brief experience of what it’s like to interact and live with DID.
From the Outside
By Kalei Swogger
Fog billows around the car as the breath of the engine mixes with cold air. She steps from the house, closing the door behind her. As she walks towards the car I see her head down, lips moving. She whispers to herself a lot. She opens the door and sits down. “Hey, kid.” She looks at me, blinks, and nods. Blinking. That’s always a sign. I know she is struggling to stay present and not let someone else take over. But I’m not entirely sure who I am talking to. I shift gears and we pull away from the house. Sometimes we have long conversations, but other times she is silent. “How was it?” I ask. “It was fine,” she responds. “What did your writing group talk about?”
I keep asking questions to hear about her ideas and intellectual thoughts. She’s always teaching me something, challenging me to focus on the road, follow her highly complex ideas, and formulate a response all at the same time. She is always a wonder to me.
I try to formulate a response without time to come up with something smart. “Oh, so you don’t actually know what that is?” Disappointment. It’s on her face. She was sitting on the edge of her seat, features animated, hands moving. She leans back now, stares ahead, becoming silent. This always happens. Our conversations are never enough to keep her engaged for very long. We sit in silence.
Sometimes she whispers, or laughs a little to herself. I’ve stopped asking her what’s so funny. She usually says, “Oh never mind.” This frustrates me because I want so badly to understand. Other times we have amazing conversations, like the night we went to Starbucks and talked for hours about her experiences and her goals, and reminisced about the past. I could tell she was tired when she began to disengage. When we got home, she went up to her room, with no goodbye. Her choice to engage even for a short period of time says more to me than the absence of “goodbye” or “I love you.” She is capable of communicating these things, but often in unconventional ways. When she struggles to be present, my choice to be present matters. Some part of her always hears. I want her to know that I love her. Always.