Labeled with Multiple Personality and Dissociative Identity disorders, author Bates writes about the 18 personalities living in her head.
Bates collectively refers to her personalities as “The Long Black Train.” The train includes: Maverick, alternating between 1 and 5 years old, who is tasked with keeping “Nora” alive; Baby, Kitty, The Little Ones, Lily, Awww, Rant, Fishy and Worm all have their specific jobs; and, it’s up to Time Keeper to keep Maverick informed and the train on the rails. Bates writes her story with clear intent and purpose. Her prose is not meant to enhance, but simply to reveal the unadorned truth of her ongoing struggle with mental illness. Bates understands that it’s not easy for friends and loved ones to deal with her condition, that they invariably perpetuate the problem with their incessant query of whether she has taken her meds whenever the slightest shift in emotion is detected. In relaying her plight, Bates makes it clear that she isn’t going to accept her fate without a fight. However, it’s that acceptance that allows her to better deal with the issues at hand and enables her to appreciate each victory—such as keeping the voices at bay long enough to have a meaningful conversation with a stranger or completing important tasks. Even with no real linear direction, Bates’ conveyance of the chaos in her head creates its own random flow that falls into an agreeable rhythm of order. The author has put great effort into working on herself, trying to control Rant’s explosive anger and deal with Kat’s self-deprecation, The Little Ones’ deathly fears and Maverick’s lack of drive. Trying to reunite a mind that has fractured into 18 parts is not easy, and Bates rightfully savors her triumphs and accepts setbacks with grace. Showing strength and determination that is often found lacking in “normals,” Bates’ voice is clear and strong, and her message carries weight.
Part memoir, part journal, part plan-in-progress, Bates has no time for self-pity, preferring instead to celebrate all that she is grateful for.