I was going to talk about this yesterday but for various reasons, I didn’t. There have been a bunch of studies done on teen suicide, and from what I can tell, I guess they looked into what was going on with these kids, some of this by doing studies with kids that survived suicide attempts. Is it shocking that so many of these kids had eating disorders?
Over and over, I’ve heard mental health professionals talk about “impulsivity,” that bingeing and binge-purge behavior is impulsive, as is self-harm behavior such as making cuts in oneself with a razor blade for no practical purpose. They say that teens, or anyone, with these binge or binge/purge behaviors who attempt suicide, or who do commit suicide, are impulsive.
Dear Mental Health Idiots, how dare you make assumptions about what is going on in my head. How dare you try to fit me into a mold. The fact that I am a person with anorexia nervosa and am 54 years old…think about it…this fact alone breaks your freaking mold already. I break all your molds in so many ways, more ways than your accusing fingers can count.
You know something else? I am so, so strong, so much stronger than all your molds. And if I hadn’t been, I would have been crushed by the system, your mental health system, long, long ago.
I have proof that I have shattered your molds. Do you want to see this proof? Do you?
I am sitting here typing these words, and that is your proof. Look at the fucking odds of this happening. I must be a freak or something.
I am not alive BECAUSE of the mental health system. I cannot believe the years of mental health bullshit that I have survived and lived through somehow. I survived not only thirty-two years of starvation, two suicide attempts in the form of drug overdose, and binge eating, oh let me also add physical, verbal, and sexual violence from human beings and a couple of motor vehicle accidents…and thirty-one years of violent treatment in the system.
Wow, I’m alive. Shake off the dust. Now what?
Dear Mental Health Professionals, when you force someone into a mold and assume things about what is going on in their heads, you are already turning your backs.
One of these molds is the concept of “diagnosis.” Diagnosis exists for insurance purposes mostly. There are numbers corresponding to each specific diagnosis. The clinician writes down these numbers, which come straight out of the DSM-whatever, on a form and sends this form to the insurance company, to make sure he or she gets paid for “treating” you.
You are not a number. You are so, so much more.
Let me go on to say that if the clinician doesn’t know a thing about you, or hasn’t listened, or has slept through the session (I have had a couple who have done just that), he or she will pick a diagnosis in a strategic manner that ensures that he or she gets paid. He or she will find justification for doing whatever he or she damn pleases. This includes, for instance, coverage for more therapy sessions each year. Does this sound harmless? Well, strategic choice of DSM number can also justify whether to send this patient to a psychiatrist who will then prescribe psychiatric medications, and insurance covering this psychiatric visit. And yes, this number can justify locking you up, even against your will.
You know something? A lot of the time, this number is deliberately fudged. You know something else? You are not a number. You know something else? If I were to gather up my records from over thirty years of treatment, I’ll bet I have accumulated so many “wrong numbers” that if you were to pick up the phone and dial them all, the FCC would be after you in no time.
I am not a number. I break all the molds. I am that strong. Nobody fits into molds. There shouldn’t be molds. People who are professionals who are trying to help people with eating disorders should quit assuming ANYTHING about their patients. My suggestion is that you be a blank slate. Listen. And for gods sakes, stay awake.
I self-harmed in 1982. I had never heard of self-harm. I never heard the term self-harm until 1998, in fact. In 1982 I cut myself with a razor blade. I didn’t think anyone else did this. I thought I was the only one. I had no clue why I was doing it.
I have permanent marks on my arms because of this self-harm. Nowadays, when professionals see these, they assume all kinds of things about me. They hear “eating disorder” and jump to even more false conclusions.
When I finally ended up in the hospital in January 1983, no one even asked me why I had done self-harm. They sent me “upstairs.” I fired the shrink that put me in there (this is in my book) and hired this supposedly kind, compassionate psychologist/psychiatrist combination to take his place. They made their money (they were very rich) by faking compassion mostly. I fell for it. That part is not in my book. They didn’t know what the hell they were doing.
The truth is that therapists don’t want to talk about really painful stuff. Oh, they will tell you to let it all out. They will tell you that you need to “work on your issues.” But there are a lot of things that I think therapists can’t stand hearing. I think it’s too painful for them, or too far out there, or outside of their professional range. I stopped talking about my experience in a brainwashing cult years ago. Yes, I experienced being brainwashed, I mean, Google brainwashing techniques and you’ll see a host of stuff including sleep deprivation, isolation, abuse, and so on and so on…it has nothing to do at all with being gullible or easily swayed…anyway, I stopped talking about it with therapists because of the faces they made, like it was too unbearable for them and they didn’t want me to go on any further. I was told that my experience was irrelevant to my treatment and didn’t matter, or was in the past and that I should “let it go,” etc. My experience changed me and affects me to this day. It makes me who I am, that is, Julie Greene 2012. It’s in my book, and is described more fully in the book I wrote for Nano 2009 called Summer in November. Curiously enough, it was when I joined this cult that I began to believe in God. Now do you understand? I have not been the same since.
No, therapists get mighty uncomfortable hearing about what is really going on with us. No therapist wanted to hear about the abuse I went through in high school. They say they do, but really, they don’t. Most therapists I’ve had didn’t want to hear at all. They ask at the first session and that’s all, subject dropped, never mind that I am who I am right here right now because of this thing that happened to me that went on for four years of my life. Never mind that it is completely inexcusable that the school saw what was happening and made no attempt to interfere or offer any assistance. They even encouraged and praised my abuser. So I wrote about it. The term “bullying” is the closest I can get to describing what went on. And you know something? This isn’t “past tense.” Go onto Google and you’ll see that bullying is going on in every school everywhere in the world today, yes, in 2012 just as it was when I was in high school in the 1970s. Right under the teachers’ noses. Go look up bullying and suicide and you will see that kids that are bullied often end up committing suicide. My high school failed me miserably.
My last therapist, God bless her, she was an excellent therapist, but she got very, very squirmy when I talked about my abuser. I don’t think she was aware of how many times she changed the subject whenever I got to this. Therapists are human and not flawless. With most therapists, I never bothered to bring it up. I didn’t even say, “This is what made me different.” All those years 90% of them never knew this basic fact about me. What was the point? To be told that it is irrelevant? To be told, “Don’t dwell on the past”? To be told that my 50 minutes are up? Or worse, to be told that the abuse was all my fault?
Okay, if you are a mental health professional reading this right now you might be jumping to conclusions about people who have been abused. You might think: hmm…abused, eating disorder, cutting…I see the picture.
What picture? Are you squeezing me into yet another mold? Well, quit it. I am going to get graphic for a moment.
Imagine someone twenty-four years old. She knows she has an eating disorder now. After having this eating disorder for a year and keeping it secret, she finally went to get help. She spent three months in once-a-week therapy but only got worse. She was unable to continue with college. All this time, she didn’t know that there was such thing as eating disorders. She thought she was the only one. Apparently, the therapist never taught her any of this stuff, or basic terminology such as “restricting,” “anorexia nervosa,” or “binge eating.” It was not the therapist’s fault. It just turned out that way. She moved out of town and went into day treatment, where the program had no clue how to treat her eating disorder. There was very little knowledge. None of her therapy at this program addresses her eating disorder. Most of the time, she keeps her disorder secret from the other clients there. Actually, the therapists there only hear a fraction of what she experiences, day after day after day. She gets worse. After nine months of this, she relocates, hoping for a better life. She knows that the day treatment program was not the answer.
This is the scenario: She is twenty-four and has a temp job. She has the shittiest therapist on the planet. In my book, I made this therapist a woman, and called her Megan, but this is a composite character. It was actually a guy. I made him Megan because otherwise I would have had to go into a bunch of explanations about one therapist getting laid off and replaced by another, stuff not worth getting into, and it would have slowed down the narration and bored the reader. Truth is, it makes no difference who this therapist was because I was going to change the name anyway. A bad therapist is a bad therapist and this one was bad shit and that’s the whole point. Regarding my cutting…and I quote:
“You can do that as much as you want. So long as you don’t kill yourself.”
I began cutting around that time, after leaving the day treatment program, pretty much giving up on that actually, moving, and working the meaningless temp job. I remember the long drive home from work. Stopping at every store to buy binge food. Bingeing while driving. Weaving in the road. My vision blurring in and out of focus.
Once, I was stopped by a cop. He shined his flashlight around in my car. Food wrappers all over the place. Then he said, “Well, obviously you haven’t been drinking. We were looking for bottles, stuff like that. You can go. Drive carefully.”
Every night, I went to bed never knowing if I’d sleep or if I’d lay awake in digestive agony. It was on the nights of insomnia that I did the cutting. I think this went on over a period of a number of weeks. I did it with razor blades.
If you are a mental health professional, perhaps you are jumping to false conclusions about me right now. You are thinking, “impulsive” or “poor coping skills” or “cutting to relieve intense emotions,” or whatever mold you are trying to fit me into.
But I do not fit into your fucking mold. You know, just about every therapist changes the subject when I describe to him or her that I didn’t cut impulsively. I thought it through very carefully. I did not slash my arms in a swift, angry manner. I looked at the razor blade, first of all, and decided that there was a basic problem because it was double-edged. I put masking tape on one of the sides so that my right hand wouldn’t get cut in the process of cutting my left arm. What does this tell you? Think about it. If this were truly an impulsive act, would I have even stopped to consider this, and bothered with the masking tape?
I have never told any therapist about the masking tape. They stop me before I get halfway there. I make a general statement about impulsivity and cutting, which they almost always push aside. They wrongly assume that all cutting is the same, and that all people cut for the exact same reasons, and try to force me into a mold because of something that I did so long ago that no way am I at risk for doing it at present.
So here I am with the masking-taped razor blade, held by my right hand because I am right handed. Well, what now? I am going to think about it. Yes, hold the razor blade, look at it, look at my left arm, which is still uncut, and contemplate the situation. No, not standing there, angry and emotional and desperate and impulsive and needing release…hardly. I was lying in bed, worn out, alone, I’ve written in my journal and concluded that there are no answers, nobody fucking cares, nobody is listening, I am getting worse and worse, I have a shit therapist who sits there and smokes all session and doesn’t know a damn thing about me. Why? He put me into the Jewish American Princess mold the moment we met, said he got the picture within minutes and didn’t need to know anything else. Told me what my Jewish mommy was like and what my Jewish daddy was like even before I’d said a word about either of them. Yes, told me. It’s called Oppressive Therapy.
The therapist that I originally had, had attempted to refer me to the agency’s one and only psychiatrist, Dr. Scully. This is in my book. Dr. Scully insisted on delaying our appointment. This happened over and over. He had been called away. Mistake in scheduling. Et cetera. Then, finally, he said he didn’t want to see me until after I’d been given an assessment by the agency’s psychologist, that is, psychological testing. Weeks passed, and then I had this testing, grueling hours of inkblots, pictures that I was supposed to interpret, and some kind of personality test with yes or no questions if I remember correctly. Many of the questions used slang or informal terms that I was not familiar with, or I found the questions were ambiguously worded. I asked myself what would result if English were my second language, or if I knew very little English. This would affect the entire psychological test, not only that part that I was now filling out now in the room by myself. What a useless test. Then, refusing to tell me the results of the test, Dr. Scully said he refused to meet with me. I did not even speak with Dr. Scully at all, but heard this through my therapist that I had at the time. Soon after, this therapist that I had been seeing was laid off from the agency. Scully insisted that I see this new, shit therapist that performed Oppressive Therapy on me as I described in the previous paragraph. I began cutting soon after. Hmmm…
Well, back to the cutting itself and the masking taped-razor blade. Yes, I was desperate because I was stuck with a shit therapist who was not only giving me no assistance, but abusing me every time I came to his office. Every night bingeing, not only while driving home because I couldn’t hold on until I arrived at some defunct or dark, empty parking lot, shoving as much as I could into my mouth as fast as I could until there was no more room to fit anything in. Most of the food trash I dumped into whatever trash can I could find, but only if I could do it without anyone seeing me do this. It was a small town and who knows if anyone that knew me, maybe someone from way back in my past, saw me doing this shameful act. Hell, they could be an undercover cop, pick through the trash and see what I’d thrown out. I parked my car at my cold, cold half-duplex that I shared with my abusive roommate (another story altogether) and staggered inside, waiting for whatever my roommate had in store for me. Yelling at me for not keeping the apartment clean typically. Yeah, like I was so miserable in my body, stuffed full with junk food, barely able to stand up, sit up, walk around, certainly not bend over, now I was supposed to sweep the floor or clean the tub? So damn depressed…what the heck showed up on these psych tests anyway? And since when did she ever do any housecleaning? I was stuck with her, stuck with this therapist, no one cared. Well, she cared, but it was really weird. Long story that I explain clearly in my book that will come out in paperback very soon. I tried a support group but no one there had this type of eating disorder. This is not in my book. They were all overeaters and everyone was older than me. Overeating is very different from bingeing and fasting, and I had only recently become slightly overweight, before that normal weight, before that severely underweight. The overeaters had never heard of bulimia, in fact. I had been diagnosed with this but of course just about all people who suffer bulimia throw up, so it was nearly impossible to explain to the people who suffered overeating what bulimia was without being really awkward about it. This was a very caring group. But because by this time I had become very ill, I was having increasing difficulty with absolutely everything in life. They saw this, and reached out every way they could. It must have been very sad for them to see me sink lower and lower. It made me sad to see their sad faces. Maybe I was letting them down by being the way I was. Maybe I was a failure, called a Jewish American Princess who had fallen from her throne, failed to finish school and then was shunned by her college, Bennington College (wouldn’t that just figure it would be Bennington, as I was stereotyped “rich Bennington girl” by “townies,” my roommate, and probably that shit therapist), I fell from my throne and hit ground real hard, broken every bone in my body in fact. What was the use of going on? I was stuck with a therapist that didn’t even believe that I binged, and if he did, thought it was a trivial matter. He didn’t believe that I was depressed. He thought I everything I said was a lie. Actually, I didn’t say all that much while in his office. Rather, he talked about what I was like and why I was that way. I thought about killing myself. Maybe I would cut my wrist, and I would bleed to death. I had heard that if you cut yourself from elbow to wrist it would work, while a cut across the arm horizontally won’t work.
My exact reason for cutting was this: It was a contemplated, deliberate, planned-out practice run for actual suicide. I wanted to get warmed up to the feeling of cutting skin so that I would have courage when the time came to do this. Each time, I dug deeper. But I had to repeatedly dig in. I wasn’t able do do it in a single stroke. I never got to the point of having that kind of guts.
Yes, guts. Not impulse. Guts.
And no, I have not told any therapist any of this stuff because as soon as they ask me if I have ever cut and I say, “Yes,” they assume. They assume tons of stuff about me and even start to put a diagnosis onto me based on this one behavior that happened in 1983, and a tiny bit in 1997 but not much really. Not only that, they don’t even hear these dates and seem to forget that it’s been the 21st Century for how long now? When I start to explain why I cut in 1983, they cut me off because they already know enough about me thank you.
Do you hear me, World of Mental Health Professionals? Quit your molds. We are people. We are not diagnoses. Treat people, not categories. Quit assuming. Listen to the stories. Listen to the entire story. You may be surprised.
Psychotherapy appointments are generally 45 to 50 minutes. Psychotherapy is some form of talk therapy. Psychiatry appointments, that is, appointments where you are prescribed medication, are typically 15 to 20 minutes.
In this brief time, how can this pill doctor know anything, anything at all about you?
So many times, I have gone into Dr. P’s office and gotten a 20-minute lecture about my weight. That is, Dr. P looks on her computer and sees what Dr. K has punched in for my latest weight that she took at my appointment with her, and then Dr. P turns to me and gives me a grueling lecture. And that’s it. On the way home, my feelings are ambiguous. Maybe I feel really good cuz I’m skinny in her eyes. Maybe, on the other hand, I feel shitty cuz it was a wasted appointment and I had other things I wanted to talk about.
Sometimes, I’ve gone in there and don’t say much, but she says how well I’m doing, and I feel like shit inside really. I leave. On the train, I might feel decent, only cuz I wasn’t sectioned, or because she isn’t going to blab to my T that I should be sectioned. On the other hand, I feel shitty cuz I feel so misunderstood, misinterpreted…I don’t even give a shit. This happened a lot of times. This happened the last time I saw her. Psychiatry is useless. Maybe it’s useless. Twenty minutes, ten if she’s running late, you say hi, while you’re in there her beeper goes off a zillion times, she taps a few things you say into the computer verbatim just for the record, you’re out of there with prescriptions and that’s about it.
Well, dang, imagine being a teen and going through all this and it’s doubly shit. Teens are misunderstood to begin with. They have the schools, too. Have schools changed all that much? Bullying is still happening. The classrooms have more kids in them, that is, classroom size is bigger than ever and budgets are slashed and slashed and slashed again. Teachers are overworked and underpaid. How can they give individual attention to the kids if teacher-student ratio is so high? The kids need this. Many kids aren’t getting what they need from their parents. Their parents aren’t good listeners or they don’t give a damn or they have financial woes or they are drug abusers or kid abusers or they’re going through a divorce or the family situation is just plain warped.
The kids aren’t being listened to at home or at school. If no one lends an ear, are they going to speak at all? Probably not. Chances are, they will hold it all inside. That’s what I did. That’s what kids are doing right now and that’s why I DO need to speak up and tell my story. My story is happening NOW, in the classrooms and in the homes everywhere where kids exist.
Where is the mental health system in all this? Therapists, are you listening? Treatment centers for eating disorders, are you listening? Emergency rooms, are you listening? What happens when a starving kid shows up? Are you assuming? Putting the kids into molds? Listen again. Ask questions. What happened back in December when I showed up at Mount Auburn Hospital, starving? I stated clearly that I had the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa, and hadn’t eaten anything with calories in it for six days. Why did you say that I felt like fainting…ahem…because I was “anxious,” and sent me home with the diagnosis of an anxiety disorder? Yes, you asked me specific questions. I remember these questions. You asked me leading questions that pointed to an anxiety disorder. You tried to get me to answer all these questions so that I would fit into this mold. You were busy. I have Medicaid and Medicare, no money, maybe insurance whatever, maybe my useless DMH person (it was her boss that they talked to and neither knows anything about eating disorders) said something bizarre, who knows. Emergency rooms, do you hear me? Learn something about eating disorders. At least know what they are. Mount Auburn Hospital had no time for me and wanted me out of there. They weren’t educated about eating disorders. Even so, when a skinny 54-year-old woman shows up and states what her diagnosis is and then says she hasn’t eaten a thing for six days, hey, common sense, it’s freaking serious, you don’t have to be a doctor to know this.
(I don’t have a clue why I went there in the first place, because no way did I want to be hospitalized. On the other hand, when you are starving, you aren’t exactly thinking very clearly. Obviously they weren’t, either.)
Okay, I am complaining and not saying what WE can do about it. I am saying that I am going to change the world and haven’t done all that much yet, done a heck of a lot of hanging out and moping around, stayed in bed a few days, hung out at the library a bit, and lived with my eating disorder. What I have done is to vastly improve my life in many ways, take an entirely new approach, take my life into my own hands (self-reliance…yeah…was it Thoreau?)…I have goals that I want to achieve…I am working toward these goals…I am determined to help people with eating disorders, and no, I don’t have to be “recovered” to do this…there is no time…why should I wait for “recovery” when so many people are in need? Why do I need to say, “I have to wait till I’m recovered and I can’t help anyone until I help myself.” Because this is selfishness.
Today is what matters. Not some nebulous, vague Tomorrow. Tomorrow might never happen. I might die first. Get real. I might not even make it to fifty-five. Don’t tell me not to talk this way, cuz I’m only being realistic. Plenty of people die in their sleep for no reason at all. Plenty of things happen that don’t make sense to us. Plenty of things happen that we find “unfair.” Let me say right here and right now that in life, there is no “fair” and “unfair.” Say it is a hot summer day, and you are out in the middle of a hot parking lot, and suddenly you find yourself in the middle of a thunderous downpour. You don’t have an umbrella because the weather guy said zero percent chance, so you get drenched. Unfair? Oh, honestly! There is nothing unfair or immoral about it. How is rain at all wrong? Did nature goof? No, you goofed. You and I know full well that nobody, even the weather guys, even now in 2012, aren’t perfect. You took a chance. I do this sometimes, don’t bother with an umbrella. If you got wet, you got wet. It’s not the same as getting your wallet stolen. There’s no need to call the police or your lawyer or grief counseling.
I don’t see life as unfair, much as you do hear me bitch and moan and yell and scream. You know what I call this? It’s called speaking out. It’s called expressing yourself in writing. I think more people need to do this. I think more people with eating disorders need to speak out about what it’s like to live with an eating disorder. I think more people who have eating disorders need to come out of the closet and say, right here and now, say OUT LOUD, just say it:
I HAVE AN EATING DISORDER.
I HAVE ANOREXIA NERVOSA.
I HAVE BULIMIA.
I HAVE BINGE EATING DISORDER.
I CHEW AND SPIT.
I MAKE MYSELF THROW UP.
I EAT THE EXACT SAME THING EVERY DAY.
I CAN’T CONTROL MY EATING.
I OVEREXERCISE TO THE POINT OF EXHAUSTION TO LOSE WEIGHT.
I STARVE MYSELF.
I THINK ABOUT MY WEIGHT ALL DAY LONG IN SECRET.
I ABUSE LAXATIVES.
I ABUSE DIET PILLS.
MY EATING HAS TO BE PERFECT, OR I FALL APART
I FEEL COMPELLED TO EAT THINGS THAT PEOPLE DON’T CONSIDER TO BE HUMAN FOOD
I WANT TO LOSE WEIGHT MORE THAN I WANT TO REMAIN ALIVE
Say it out loud, or write it down and put this writing online so the world can see. Write books. Educate the world. I do it here in my blog and I am on the top of Google in many categories. Most of the people who read here are in the US, others are mostly from English-speaking countries cuz I write in English, some are from countries where they speak other languages but folks know English quite well as a second language or learn it early on in school. Still others are from countries where many do not know English.
We still don’t know the exact cause of eating disorders. Not really. It sounds like there have to be a bunch of puzzle pieces that fit together. If all the pieces are there, the puzzle gets made. There you are. But everyone is different, and therefore no two puzzles are alike.
Yeah, you know what I’m going to say, that my dog named Puzzle will need to get a walk soon. Life.
Okay, another thing we need to do, we, meaning, if you are an adult, or everyone, cuz if you are a kid you are headed there and I pray that you reach that point safely. Kids need an adult in their lives, like one adult that listens to them, one adult that cares. Like one cool teacher. Are you a cool teacher? Are you a cool teacher that cares about kids? Do you take a bit of time, maybe after school, and hang out with the kids, maybe talk to them a bit, open your heart to them and listen? Can you stop grading papers just for an hour a day after school and just sit with them, let them into your classroom or office?
Are you a cool coach? What about the kids on the team that don’t seem quite right? Are you concerned about their physical health? Are they taking drugs? What about their weight? Maybe working out too much or not eating right? Did you hear someone throwing up? Did you see a cut on someone’s arm? Just sit with them. Just be there. Any time they want to talk about it, you are there and you will listen.
There are many ways that we as adults can get involved with kids. I don’t see kids much in my daily life. Maybe you do. I know of the Big Brother Big Sister organization and I have heard good things about it. It is a two-year commitment if you want to do it. They do an intensive background check and I am sorry to say that they screen for mental illness, which really blows…anyway, I have not looked into it for myself and have never seen an application or been through an interview or know what questions they would ask me personally. I’ll bet they’d shoo me out the door in a minute or two.
But maybe it’s more important to me, right here right now, to reach out to kids in my daily life. Like tomorrow. I’ll be at church tomorrow and I’ll see kids at social hour. Not a lot of kids cuz we have a small church. Most families don’t have kids, or they have one or two, or they have grown kids that are out of the house and living far away, some with kids of their own. There are a couple of babies at church. During services, the kids go to religious education, and the babies stay in the nursery. The kids are wicked cute. They tend to run around a lot and do kid things. They stay at the service for about ten minutes, then they walk out and go to their own classes, and while they are walking out, we sing a song. The song is pretty. I usually cry during this song. I don’t know why. Maybe cuz I see that the kids are so loved. The ones that have just learned to walk hold their parents’ hands. They teeter. They waddle in their diapers. Some of the ones that are slightly older trot along merrily. Their hair sways with them as they pass through the door. I wipe my tears.
Maybe tomorrow I will quit my shyness around kids, and I’ll try to talk to one of them. I’m a bit awkward around kids, but I got more comfortable around teens after I was at Alcott. Or shall I say I got to loving teens and caring deeply about them. I’ll talk to one of them. No big deal. Maybe ask what they like to do, or if they have a pet.
Oh damn, I’m crying now.
It sucks being a teenager. Or it sucked for me. Please, reach out to those kids. It sucks having an eating disorder and it sucked for every single person in that ward no matter what their age was, young or old. This is no freaking game. It’s life and death.
Just listen. We need you. Reach out. Connect. We all need this. And it needs to start now.