How do you want to spend your first night in a new country when you’re travelling by yourself? I’ll tell you how you don’t want to spend it. You don’t want to spend it sharing a room with someone who positively definitely actually literally has multiple personality disorder (or dissociative identity disorder as it’s apparently now called).
Look, just to get it out of the way, this is a mental disorder, and anyone suffering from it deserves our every sympathy and all the help they can possibly get. I feel bad for this guy really, but whether he forgot to take his meds or escaped from a ward, he was terrifying. I mean, this was the creepiest night of my entire life.
It started innocently enough. There was an empty bed in the four-person dorm when I arrived jet-lagged in Auckland. I met the other two occupants and had a chat with James, a Canadian guy who’s also just arrived in New Zealand on a working holiday visa. I was in and out of the room and when I came back to it at about 6pm, the lights had already been turned off and the curtains closed. The empty bed had been filled by a sleeping man, and he and I were the only two people in the room. We were on the top floor of seven, at the back of the hostel, and it was very quiet.
I tentatively made my way to my bed where I sat doing research on the Internet in the dark. The man’s phone went off and he answered it. It was his mother. He explained that he was tired of being a dad and was taking a night off. His mother sounded upset but he hung up on her fairly quickly.
And then he continued to speak. To himself. He had two different voices, each with a completely different personality. One sounded cocky and slightly manic, a confident, well-spoken voice that I thought at first might be coming from a radio. The second voice was quiet and stuttering, whimpering as it received orders from the first. It turns out Lord of the Rings was probably just a documentary on New Zealand: this was Gollum writ large, and the films didn’t exaggerate the condition in the slightest.
A lot of the time the man muttered under his breath, and it was difficult to make out the conversation. But now and then, it was all too clear. Passive Personality blamed himself for the breakdown of his marriage. Dominant Personality disagreed: his wife was a whore, a bitch, and deserved everything she got. She slept around, and this had given DP an idea. The two of them hatched a plan.
They would conspire to impregnate their wife with insect sperm, and then she would give birth to a giant insect.
At this point, I went down to reception, told the woman that the guy was insane, and asked to move room. They were fully booked, so I stayed downstairs on the laptop, and only went back to my room when I was ready to go to bed, hoping desperately that the man would be asleep.
No luck. He was still in bed when I returned, and still arguing with himself. Now he stank of alcohol, and he ignored me. Shortly, he phoned someone and asked them to take him for KFC. He returned an hour later as I had almost fallen asleep, and the smell of alcohol was even stronger. My two roommates were now in their beds, and I hoped we would all just sleep.
Still no luck. Throughout the night he continued to talk. I stared at the ceiling, and slept fitfully. Whenever I awoke, he was still talking. I was woken once by DP cackling evilly and again when PP was crying. At one point, DP seemed to be teaching PP how to make chloroform. At 6am, I googled when sunrise was in Auckland – it seemed that only daylight coming through the curtains would be a reasonable indicator that I wasn’t going to die.
Morning came at long last. I met my roommate James in the kitchen. He asked how my night was and I looked at him with wide eyes. We laughed about it, mostly in relief that we hadn’t been stabbed to death. The guy moved out and we haven’t seen him since.
A few days later, while I was re-telling this story about a time I definitely met a man with multiple personality disorder, it occurred to me that I might have been wrong. Maybe he didn’t have it at all. Maybe he didn’t exist, and maybe it’s all in my head.
Anyway, that was my first night in New Zealand.
New Zealand Snapshots