Further Progress on the Pastel Patchwork Dog Sweater

I am referring to the sweater I was making that I posted here:

http://juliemadblogger.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/progress-on-my-next-dog-sweater/

I have added the collar and rear trim.  Next, I have to do sleeves.  Then, the tedious chore of weaving in ends.  But here is what it looks like right now:

Sweater Progress 7

Sweater Progress 8

Ain’t she cute?

Jenni Schaefer at MEDA

Jenni Schaefer came to the Multi-service Eating Disorder Association today to speak and sign books, and I attended the meeting.  She is a strong, confident speaker.  She also sang a song, the text of which is printed in her book.  (Jenni is a professional singer and songwriter and a very good one, too.)  I had already purchased and started to read Life Without Ed, and at the meeting I purchased Goodbye Ed, Hello Me. Jenni signed both for me.  “Ed” is the acronym for “eating disorder,” and in the books, Jenni suggests that “Ed” is the voice of the ED, and is like a person, a partner that you can divorce and separate from.

I cried through much of the meeting.  I couldn’t stop myself.  I cried when she sang the song.  The truth is, my motivation is very low right now.  When I hear that someone is recovered, I think, “Good for them, but this is not for me.”  I don’t think I even want recovery.  It is too distant and unattainable.   My therapist has hope for me but I have no hope, only hope that I can hold out and keep them off my back, and not gain the weight they want me to gain, and NEVER be fat again.

My therapist agreed not to talk about food and eating and my weight for the session.  This, for some reason, made me sad and hopeless.  I wondered if she had given up.  I didn’t want to tell her I’ve fallen into a hole again and am restricting, not a lot, but enough so that if she read my food journal, she’d comment and be concerned.

My therapist seems to think I’m doing okay.  I’m not.  On the way home, I walked in front of cars, and didn’t care.  It wasn’t deliberate, just lack of common sense I guess.  I wasn’t looking.  I didn’t bother.  The fact that the behavior didn’t alarm me was the scary part.

Use of text messaging in treatment of ED’s

I have never binged and purged, but this fascinates me.

Mobile Therapy: Use of Text-Messaging in the Treatment of Bulimia Nervosa
Objective: To examine a text-messaging program for self-monitoring symptoms of bulimia nervosa (BN) within the context of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Method: Thirty-one women participated in 12 weekly group CBT sessions and a 12 week follow-up. Participants submitted a text message nightly indicating the number of binge eating and purging episodes and rating their urges to binge and purge. Automatic feedback messages were tailored to their self-reported symptoms. Results: Fully 87% of participants adhered to self-monitoring and reported good acceptability. The number of binge eating and purging episodes as well as symptoms of depression (BDI), eating disorder (EDI), and night eating (NES) decreased significantly from baseline to both post-treatment and follow-up. Discussion: Given the frequent use of mobile phones and text-messaging globally, this proof-of-principle study suggests their use may enhance self-monitoring and treatment for BN leading to improved attendance, adherence, engagement in treatment, and remission from the disorder. Int J Eat Disord. 2009 Aug 28.

I am reading at the Artsmith Salon Series February 15, 2010

I will be reading at the Artsmith Salon Series in Olga, Washington February 15, 2010.  The location is at Doe Bay Resort, at the Cafe.

http://www.doebay.com

Doe Bay is on Orcas Island.  You take the San Juan Islands Ferry to get there, from Anacortes if you’re coming from the mainland.

Thanks to Jennifer Brennock for organizing this.

November is National Novel Writing Month

I am going to be participating in National Novel Writing Month this year

http://www.nanowrimo.org

in which individual participants write 50,000-word novels over the span of the month of November.  That’s 1,667 words per day, which isn’t a lot when you consider how much polished writing I wrote for graduate school.  The novel I write for NaNoWriMo does not have to be polished.  It will not be great literature, but it will be the required 50,000 words, and I will do it.

My plan is not to write a novel at all, but a memoir about my 40-day, 40-night hitch-hiking trip across the country I did in 1979 with my dog, Hoofy.  At NaNoWriMo it is okay to be off the beaten path and write nonfiction, so long as it is started on November 1st and not earlier.

Therefore, I could not use my current memoir, After the Funeral, nor would I want to, for NaNoWriMo.  Why?  Because I don’t want ATF to be a rush job on the first try.  I simply don’t want to write it that way.  I already have over 20 pages of  ATF written, and these pages have been worked and reworked many times.

NaNoWriMo is just what I need right now to boost my self-esteem, and my self-esteem has been floundering ever since I started this recent term at the stand-up class.   I have been crying every day for over a week now.   This despair is seeping into all areas of my life.  Working out at the gym is really helping right now, though, but yesterday while I was working out, all I could think about was class, and my negativity affected my workout.  I simply did not push myself hard enough with my exercises.

I will periodically post updates on my progress with my memoir, perhaps daily.  I don’t know if I will write at the library or at home.  We will see what works best.  I think it will be nice to combine a trip to the library with a trip to the gym.  Exercise has always been a boost to my writing, and is a nice reward if I’ve had a good writing session.  According to the NaNoWriMo site, the second week is the toughest to get through.  Lucky for me, I have no Thanksgiving obligations (my family does not bother inviting me for Thanksgiving).

I wish my therapist would talk to me about real life situations, such as my stand-up class and this current project.  But she insists on wasting time talking about the ED.  My loss.

Wish me luck!

Stand-up, fall down–I WILL RISE!

I had another bad experience at stand-up class last night.  It wasn’t so much the class itself this time.  It is clear that I am progressing.  I actually got a few laughs, which didn’t happen last time, and Bob, our teacher, stated that I had improved considerably, so I was satisfied on that front.

What is happening that concerns me is basically a social thing: my classmates are the problem.  Of course I am taking a leap here, but I believe they see me as a loser.  When we are gathered before class, they disregard me and will not include me in their conversations.  They act as though I am not there.  They look through me and talk around me.

For instance, I was in the room with two of the fellows, who were conversing, and they started talking about getting together before class to try out ideas on each other.  I said, “Hey, I’d be interested in doing that!” and they looked at me like I was from Mars!  I don’t recall their response, but it was not a friendly one, and they abruptly changed the subject.

Another time I was in the hallway, and passed another student.  I was expecting a friendly nod and hello, and instead I got a hostile, nasty look.  I was shocked.

While I was performing, I looked up from my papers, and was shocked to see that two students were not even looking at me.  They were not paying full attention to my performance (stand-up comedy involves gestures and facial expressions that must be seen, as well as spoken words).

After class, the students and teacher were gathered outside, and I stood there, hoping someone would approach me and speak to me, and after everyone ignored me, I decided to approach a couple of students.  I did so, and after a very brief exchange, the two students hurried off into Harvard Square.  It was clear that they had no interest or desire to speak with me.

I have no allies in the class, no friends.  Perhaps there is one among them that is not like the others.  I have yet to make acquaintance with this person.  May he or she speak up soon.

Why is this happening?  Is it my age? I believe I am the oldest in the class, 51, and just about all the students are in their 20’s.   Is it that they know I have a mental illness?  Is it because my first performance flopped so badly? Is it because I don’t own a television set, and haven’t seen TV since 2004, and haven’t a clue what they’re talking about when they talk about TV?  A combination of the above?

I came home and cried.  This time, I know the fault is not mine.  I am NOT a loser.  I know if I keep on working at stand-up comedy, I will succeed, the other students be damned.  They will not stop me, and I will not drop the class and forfeit my education because of them.  I will keep trying, and I will keep taking the class again until I get it right.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed that next time, the milieu is friendlier.

Excerpt from my food journal that I wrote just now

I believe this “treatment” is defeating its purpose.  Now, what’s happening is that my life is so centered around my ED.  My life was centered around LIFE before.  Now it is centered around resisting these doctors who are trying to “treat” me.  They will soon learn that I am not going to gain weight no matter what they do.  I will not cooperate.  And so there is this fight going on.   They are forcing me to focus on this fight, and they have been forcing this situation on me ever since graduation.  I wish they would just stop.  They call this “treatment.”  I call it wasted effort, a waste.  Why don’t they just leave me alone?

If this goes on much longer, I will get angry and rebellious.  I might even start to lose weight again.  I’m not sure yet.  I haven’t decided.  There is a small margin to play with.  I can lose a little without being hospitalized, and I might go for it.  Of course, that might be stupid, because I might lose too much.  I’m not going to die.  I know I won’t die.  I am too alive for that.

At one point during my history as a mental patient, I said, “Julie will NOT be forced!”  I don’t know the context of this statement, but it stands out as something that is relevant right here now.  Maybe I was saying it when I was in a locked unit, telling the nurses I would not be forced to take medication, or that I would not be forced to go to my room at a certain time, or that I would not be forced to shower, or go to group.  Or maybe I was talking about being forced to go to a day program, or being “pink papered” into a hospital.  There is a lot of forcing going on in the mental health system.  There is more forcing going on in mental health than in any other kind of health care.

I always thought people who are filled with fear should be approached gently and kindly, NOT FORCED.

Stand-up, fall down, stand up

I had a bad night at stand-up comedy class Tuesday.  When it came time for me to present my little act, not one person laughed!  It turned out that what I had written wasn’t funny at all.  It was yet another act about being a mental patient, but this one fell flat.  The other one that I did last term worked out fine–people were “in stitches”–but this act, for some reason, failed.

Bob, our teacher, told me that it simply wasn’t funny, and that if I didn’t think it was funny to begin with, then it probably wasn’t, and that I shouldn’t include anything that isn’t funny.  He said that I should choose a topic other than therapy, that I should write about the world.  Anything but therapy.  He said this over and over.  He seemed a little angry at me, and maybe I was just interpreting his demeanor this way because I felt so downtrodden.

I am listening to the tape of my performance and the feedback I received as I am writing this.  I am supposed to write and perform comedy not about therapy, but about life.  What life?  What life do I have?

I could hardly stay straight for the remainder of the class.  I tried to make chit chat with the other students, but nobody seemed to want to have anything to do with me after my poor performance.  I got on the bus and called my friend Lori, and wept.  I cried for the entire bus ride home, and as I was walking home from the bus, and then when I came into my apartment I was still crying.  I called my brother and sobbed miserably.  I cried all night and into the next day.

I went to see Dr. P that day.  And the whole time I kept telling myself, “I don’t have a life to write humor about.  I don’t have a life.”  Everything going on in the office seemed so fake and contrived.  She wanted to talk about my weight, as usual.  Fake.  She wants me to eat more.  Fake.  She wanted to know when I was going to be weighed next.  Fake.

That said, here is what I wrote in my food journal yesterday:

Dr. P seems to care so much about my weight now.  It is just so important to her.  If I am indeed underweight, it is only by a pound or two, not that much.  Why the fuss?  WHERE WAS DR. P WHEN I WEIGHED NEARLY 200 POUNDS??? WHERE WAS DR. P WHEN I SPENT 3 MONTHS IN A WHEELCHAIR BECAUSE MY KNEE GAVE OUT FROM RAPID WEIGHT GAIN FROM SEROQUEL?  WHY DIDN’T DR. P CARE?  WHY DIDN’T DR. P TAKE ME OFF SEROQUEL WHEN SHE SAW IT WAS MAKING ME GAIN WEIGHT?  WHY DID SHE INSIST THAT I STAY ON IT, EVEN WANT ME BACK ON IT, AFTER IT WAS OBVIOUS THAT IT WAS THE CAUSE OF WEIGHT GAIN?  WHERE WAS DR. P WHEN I SPENT 3 HOURS A DAY OVEREXERCISING AT THE GYM AND DIDN’T LOSE A POUND, ON SEROQUEL?  WHERE WAS DR. P WHEN I COLLAPSED IN THE STEET EVERY TIME MY STOMACH WAS EMPTY–SHE CLAIMED THIS WAS A HOT FLASH–I SAY IT WAS THE BEGINNING OF DIABETES–FROM SEROQUEL–?  WHY DIDN’T DR. P CARE WHEN I HUFFED AND PUFFED DOWN HER HALLWAY BECAUSE I COULDN’T WALK FAST DUE TO BEING GROSSLY OVERWEIGHT?  WHY DIDN’T SHE CARE WHEN I GAINED FIFTY POUNDS IN SIX MONTHS?   WHY DIDN’T DR. P BAT AN EYELASH WHEN I SHOWED UP AT HER OFFICE USING A WALKER, UNABLE TO PUT ANY WEIGHT ON MY RIGHT LEG BECAUSE MY KNEE WAS SO BADLY AFFECTED BY WEIGHT GAIN? WHY DIDN’T DR. P CARE WHEN I GAINED WEIGHT–AND WHY DOES SHE INSIST ON FATTENING ME UP NOW?  I HAVE NO INTENTION ON GAINING WEIGHT.  NO WAY, DOC.  YOU WILL NEVER, NEVER MAKE ME FAT AGAIN.

And then I looked back on what happened the night before, all the shame and anger and embarrassment after class, walking down the sidewalk with fists in my pockets, and all the tears and snots and kleenex and staying up late and wanting to disappear into the bowels of Harvard Square, and realized: THIS IS MY REAL LIFE.  It very well may have begun just then.

Cold apartment saga — case reopened

Winter is coming, and I’m having trouble with my heat again.  Here’s the scoop:

Last winter I secured a doctor’s note (from my shrink) and got permission for my heat to be raised from 75 (73, actually) to 78 (really 76–there is a “two degree offset, according to the maintenance department).  The heat in these apartments are controlled by computer, and the computer has malfunctioned a number of times since my heat was raised last February, knocking the heat back down to 75 in one or sometimes both rooms.  Sometimes, the temperature gets as low as 72, which I cannot tolerate.  Remember, the thermostats are up at the height of my head.  Immediately below my apartment is the unheated garage.  My floor is mighty cold!  However, setting the temperature at 78 (76) solves the problem just fine.

I have called maintenance about this problem, both last year and this year, when it has occurred, and they say they know nothing about my special permission to have it set higher–up at 78.  I then have called the manager, whose response is that maintenance does indeed know, and refers me back to them.

Another problem is that the Housing Authority has delayed removal of the air conditioners from the windows.  It is mid-October, and temperatures in the Boston area get down to the thirties in the mornings now.  There is a half-inch gap under my AC where air moves in freely that I can’t plug up simply because I can’t get in there to reach it–I have tried with washcloths and a screwdriver and it doesn’t work.

I called maintenance this morning.  To my surprise, the head of maintenance, Brian, answered, instead of Debby, the usual person.  I explained my situation.  He said I was “just going to hang tight” regarding the AC.  He said, in regards to my heat, that he’d “look into it.”  This was not very reassuring.  I called Michael, the manager, and left a message explaining that I had thought Brian knew about my heat situation.  I also said that I hoped this computer problem would not repeat itself.  I said I was concerned about the four-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and other long, cold weekends coming up.  I also mentioned the AC problem.

Hopefully, I will not have another cold winter.  At the moment, I am wearing a winter hat (one that I made) and a fleece jacket and vest.  My hands and feet are icy cold.  I realize that if I had more body fat, I would not be so cold, but the point is, I’m cold and miserable, and the agreement with the Housing Authority is not being met, never mind common sense–one takes an AC out of the window when the heat comes on (September 15).  It is a matter of human decency.

To be updated soon!