My friend says she wants to talk to Vivianne and when she says this, I feel a little twinge of happiness, as if I am wanted. And it’s nice to feel that way.

Later, someone does want to talk and I let her. It’s difficult to let her. I am afraid to let go. While it happens—or doesn’t happen, because I am fighting it—I can feel a sense of intense anger inside. I want to break things, or the part wants to break things, and so I am afraid of what will happen if I let go of control. In the end, I do though. It is easier, I find, to just let it. Fighting the switch is so exhausting and so confusing, it is simpler to let go when I can.

But when I switch, the part isn’t angry. She has a temper, but she isn’t angry all the time. She just wanted out.

The person who comes out seems unable to remember anything, and being in her mind is like being in a white room with nothing in it. I know things, and I am in the background, and she could know things from me, but the things I know are still not things she knows.

She wants to scream. “Who is Nata?” she asks my friend, because that is the name she wants to scream. The last thing she seems to remember is being covered in blood.

It is Vivianne who comes out, but she feels no connection to this name. It seems to be my name for her, but not her name for herself. She tells my friend at last that maybe her name is Veroushka. She is not very sure about this.

Later, the next morning, I try to help her with this. It distresses her not to know. Without a name, she is not sure of her own existence, and she feels invisible and unreal.

It is Vera. You can call her Veroushka, but Vera is a proper name, a real name, and she is immensely relieved to have one, like it means the world has carved out space for her.

Vera says she thinks she is dead. If she isn’t dead, then she will make herself dead. The blankness inside her seems to be about the horror of the death she saw—the death that she cannot quite remember, but that she saw. She doesn’t know why she wants to die precisely, just that it seems quieter. There is a sense of wanting to get away from all the noise of life, and to have some kind of peace at last.

The thing about switching is that it is not mostly as terrible as I think it will be. Charlie, whose grief frightens me, is mostly calm once he feels heard. It is the pressure to forget that makes the pain unbearable for him and for me. As well, what I get from entering into his mind is that he is incredibly caring and kind. If I switch into him, that caring seems to be a part of his being, and it feels good to be him. I can like that part of myself.

Annoushka feels like trash, but if she can talk about that feeling, it is not so terrible either. It is terrible because she is so confused by everything. Everything in her head is in pieces, like she never had a chance to put anything together or to make sense of anything. If I switch, she can put things together in a way that she can’t when I am doing the sense-making.

Being Vera is a little the same way. She is suicidal, but not impulsive. She can talk about wanting to die, and it’s not terrible. It is, in a way, just a feeling, like any other. Like being happy or grumpy or tired.

The hard part, it seems, is being both at once. If those feelings intrude into me, then I have to manage too many at once. I have to manage, for example, both feeling suicidal and my own reaction to feeling suicidal. In switching, I can narrow it down to one set of feelings at a time, and it becomes easier to deal with them, to make sense of them, to calm them and make them better.