Sunday, 17 February 2013

All of Me by Kim Noble

Title: All of Me
Author: Kim Noble
Publisher: Piatkus
Released: October 6th 2011
Pages: 369 (Paperback)
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US

When Kim Noble was younger than five years old, her personality splintered and fractured. She was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), which causes unbearable pain.

Now her body plays host to more than 20 different personalities, or 'alters'. There are women and men, adults and children; there is a scared little boy who speaks only Latin, an elective mute, a gay man and an anorexic teenager.

All Of Me tells of Kim’s terrifying battles to understand her own mind, of her desperate struggle against all odds to win back her 13-year-old daughter, and of her courage in trying to make sense of her life. It is by turns shocking, inspiring, sometimes funny, and deeply moving.

There isn't a way to say this without sounding weird, but mental health is my element - it interests me to no end, and books surrounding its various topics always manage to make it to my TBR list. Ever since I discovered that some people close to me suffered from Dissociative Identity Disorder, I wanted to learn more about it, and a friend suggested that I check out All of Me by Kim Noble, a book written by a DID sufferer who is at the extreme end of the scale.

For those who don't know what it is, DID is the official name for multiple personality disorder. Usually occurring when a child is frequently abused during their childhood, the mind fractures into separate personalities, protecting itself from the harsh realities of the abuse. It is more easily understood if you think about it as there is only one body, but different minds go through stages of dominating it. Each new personality is as real as you and me - for example, the woman who wrote this book is not actually Kim Noble - Kim is merely the name for the body, but she doesn't really exist anymore. The woman who wrote this is called Patricia, the most dominant personality in Kim's body. The majority of this is her memories of life ever since she was young - the earliest memory being probably one of the first times she was "out" after being created.

I'd never measure up one mental disorder against another, as they are all horrible to suffer from. However, I must admit that DID seems terrifying. Imagine what it would be like to find out that there were other people sharing your body? That you just switch out, and a different person comes and takes your place? And that, perhaps worst of all, to the rest of the world you don't actually exist? Imagine being told that. It's hard to believe, but it's true. The mind works in complicated ways.

I'm inspired by Patricia's story - impressed by Kim's body's story as a whole. From the beginning, I knew she had DID - but to read along as Patricia was accused time and time again for things she didn't do, and to watch at her desperate attempts at getting people to believe her. It was heartbreaking really - but fascinating. For example, the body gave birth to a girl called Aimee, but Patricia was oblivious to it throughout the pregnancy and for four months afterwards. How can you not realize that you have a growing bump on your stomach? Easy - the body protects the personalities from realizing anything that could harm them further. Certain personalities were aware of the pregnancy - Bonny and Dawn especially - but the others were oblivious. Just like Ken, the gay man, doesn't realize that he is in a woman's body; to him, he has no female features, just likes men.

Now I'm sure you will be wondering, well, with all those different personalities, is it safe to bring up a child? Actually, yes, it is, and I genuinely believe that.Yes, there are some personalities who would not be able to look after Aimee - for example, Judy, a fifteen year old herself. However, the body seems to realize when it or the ones it cares about are in potential danger, and it does everything it can to stop it. For example, one personality repeatedly attempted suicide - but immediately after whatever was done, another personality kicked in and got the help the body needed to survive. As I said earlier, the mind is a curious thing.

Overall, I adored this book. It was a bit repetitive, but then again, I suppose Patricia felt like parts of her life were just on an endless repeat - of her telling people that she didn't do something, but never being believed. Although this has taken me about two weeks to read due to the quite depressing content, it was actually a smooth read. Patricia's language just flowed along, and I found myself wanting to know more about these different personalities within Kim's body. I think that if you like books about mental health and are interested in learning more about them, then this definitely should be added to your TBR list. Kim Noble and all her different personalities are brave and inspiring - more people need to hear her story.
Rating: 4/5

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