I have been meaning to write here for days but for whatever reason haven’t done so. I’ve been spending time writing in pencil lately. I worked on a couple of stories and I’m ambivalent about both. They are both memoir stories. One happened to me a long, long time ago, and the other happened less than a week ago. In brief:
The first is about a creepy experience with an aunt who spent time in a concentration camp. I haven’t a clue which one or where, or any of the details. They did talk about it…sort of. Maybe I just didn’t want to hear, not because it was too painful, but because it happened before I was born and I had no interest in history. I thought history was irrelevant to modern times and didn’t see myself as having any influence on the larger goings-on in the world, anyway. It was all parent stuff, even when I was an older kid. Parents read newspapers and I was a lowly high school student, just a puppet in society, kicked around, teased, bullied, enslaved…oh, I could use all kinds of words that meant I had no control, nothing, a non-life…all I wanted was to be free…move out and have a life of my own. What I didn’t realize was that it was inevitable that I, too, would very soon become an adult myself.
So this aunt took me aside. That was as far as I got. She was damn creepy. Anyway, if I had continued with the story, she took me to this creepy part of the mansion where my bossy, domineering grandma lived (my mom’s mom), and gave me a lecture, saying that of the three kids in my family, I was the one who most obviously “looked the most Jewish,” and therefore it was my obligation, as Jew, to carry on the Jewish tradition. This, and guilt-tripping because I had not done this, had quit Hebrew school, had not chosen to travel to Israel and live on a Kibbutz, or study at a…forget what it’s called but it’s a Jewish school thingy that is very intense, hold on a sec. Yeshiva. That’s it. It’s not a seminary, but kind of very religious school. And she guilt-tripped me because my parents hadn’t brought me up Jewish enough, like it was my fault…my dad had blown it by not sending us kids to a Jewish day school…our friends were not Jewish…we had mingled with non-Jews…on and on and on…even comparing me to the other cousins. Then she started talking about the concept of Jewish suffering. That got me going, that is, I started crying, but she didn’t see. Maybe she had bad eyesight…yeah, I guess that was what it was. I fled out of there as fast as I could. I rushed down the stairs, dying for fresh, cool air. Then (I was going to fudge this part of the story a bit) I saw one of the younger cousins, drunk on all four glasses of wine (this takes place at the Passover Seder) puking in the front bushes. I guess the story ends there, but I can’t recall exactly cuz of course I never got around to writing that far.
The other story is about my brother, Ned, that is, who showed up at my apartment on Saturday. I felt good about the visit at the time that I was writing the story, but now I feel shitty about it. I did some thinking. He was in town for a while. Sort of. He came up to see my mom, then he went skiing for a bunch of days, then he came back. When he called, the first thing he did was to indicate surprise that I was out of the hospital. Well, heck. The least he could have done was to come visit. He damn well knew what hospital I was in. I had told him clearly the name of the hospital, the location, and the name of the unit, and he had written it down. This was about a week into my stay. I had also given him the number to the nurses’ station in case he hadn’t been able to reach me on the patient phones. He didn’t even call the hospital while he was in town to find out visiting hours. I also found out my brother Phil spent an extensive time in town a few weeks ago and made no attempt to contact me. I have not heard a word from him since the sixth or seventh of February! He figuratively dumped me off at the hospital, and left me there to rot, saying, again figuratively, “That’s taken care of,” and wiped his hands clean of me. That’s how I see it.
Dang. I had tried. On Saturday and Sunday, when I had started writing this story, I felt that my attitude toward my brothers had turned around. I thought that the doors I had knocked on repeatedly for maybe twenty years, doors that never, never opened for me, would maybe open for me if I presented to them a person free of the mental health system at last. Like I was going to do this chameleon act and be this changed person, no longer institutionalized. Then maybe they’d love me.
I had mixed feelings about this story anyway. It was too rushed. Way, way too rushed. The thought was nice. But it was fiction. Fiction is a lie and an exaggeration. That is fiction in a nutshell.
I feel crappy today. Wicked crappy. Mentally, I’m fine. I’m not depressed at all. But I think I’m dehydrated. I can’t beat this. I drink plenty of fluids. In the past, I have had, say…I am clueless as to the exact amount, but at least a half gallon…definitely more than a half gallon of fluids at night, and in the morning, ended up with a blood test indicating dehydration. This, of course, was not in my recent hospitalization. They never allowed me that much water. I am drinking fine now, reasonable amounts, spacing it throughout the day. I carry a water bottle with me most of the time, and fill it up periodically whenever I can. Sometimes, I forget the bottle, though.
I don’t know what it is. I have no appetite. I kept looking in the fridge, and then looking in the cabinet, back and forth. This isn’t my ED keeping me away right now. I’m fairly sure of it. I have no appetite even for my black coffee, which has no calories.
Change of subject. I wrote a reading list and have this list written up at the library’s site with the call numbers, etc. I put a few of these books in as requests. One of these is by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk who has written a lot of books that have been translated into many languages. I believe he won the Nobel Peace Prize quite some time ago. Another book I found in the catalog, and this one I have on my list. A third has ended up missing within the library system and is not obtainable in any system I’ve searched around here. Coincidentally, I found it on Amazon and at the same time, managed to pay under$5 for it including shipping. I read the reviews to make sure it was something I was seeking.
Another writer that piqued my curiosity is Stanton Peele. He has an unconventional view of addiction. I was unable to quite ascertain what exactly was meant by “unconventional,” but my best guess was that maybe he believes the American media is paying too much attention too addiction and society is placing too much blame for its ills on this ailment, focusing self-help on curing addiction. We shall see. I googled him and went roundabout, ending up at a site that protested forced attendance at spiritually-based addiction meetings, stating that these meetings, in some areas in the country, always used the Lord’s Prayer and were consistently attended entirely by Christians. This forced attendance that this site mentioned happens when a person is on parole for breaking the law and has an alcohol or drug problem. The parole officer, apparently, checks up on the parolee to make sure that this attendance requirement is being met. The folks at the site stated that it was illegal to push Christianity or a specific religion, or even belief in a Higher Power (actually, this Higher Power is soon after specified as God) on a person, that this was against the First Amendment.
Hmmm. While I feel that the folks at this site are absolutely right, that the law should not require that the meetings or treatment HAS to be one of these groups, and leave as the only option groups that are all spiritually based, I don’t think the only options should be groups that are non-spiritual. Hardly.
If you can prove that standing on your head will cure 90% of cocaine addicts, I mean really prove that this will work, tell those law guys, show them the statistics, and convince them that the parolees should do this in order to better themselves. If they are convinced by your presentation, then perhaps this will be a new requirement for those capable of standing on their heads.
When I was a kid, I did headstands all the time to impress people. Right now, the last thing I want to do is to stand on my head cuz I feel so lousy. I am so glad, also, that I never did cocaine. This saves me the headstand cure, should it ever be discovered that it does indeed work.
Oy, I want to keep on talking to you but I want to lie down. I will keep going and then stop when I can’t go any further. I feel great after stopping therapy. It was the right thing to do. I feel freed up, no longer scared that I’m going to end up in the state hospital. So mostly, I am relieved. Just like my whole self is sighing, “Phew!” What’s weird is that I feel like I’m getting out of the house more and that I’m more active all of a sudden. I don’t know. Energized and motivated, focused on self-improvement and self-everything. I’m in charge now.
I went to see the acupuncturist yesterday and it was a fabulous experience. This approach is like nothing else I have ever experienced. First of all, my number one beef with “traditional,” and might I add “Western” medical method of treating eating disorders, that is, the one and only option (“team” approach, “step-down”, etc, and all that these entail) is that the practitioners of this “traditional Western” eating disorders treatment, or perhaps I ought to broaden this and say ALL mental health treatment in the Western world, treats the patient with disrespect, sometimes subtly, but often very blatantly. It is clear that Eastern practitioners and the whole Eastern treatment philosophy has a different take on what treatment is. You don’t glean this from any website, and you won’t learn half of what someone with an eating disorder can get out of acupuncture treatment. Let me say first off that it would be different for each person. Why? Duh. I’m not a height and weight, nor are you. I am Julie Greene and I have certain things going on in my body, mind, and spirit. I described what these things were. The acupuncturist pointed out a few other things, and you know something? I didn’t even know these things were going on with me, and she’s absolutely right. Not only that, I told her some stuff that I’ve been trying to convince medical people for months now, and not only did she believe me, but she said that all put together, these things make a very, very clear and believable picture. We were entirely straight with each other. She is referring me to the school where she used to teach, where I can get inexpensive or possibly free care. She explained thoroughly how treatment plans work, what takes place in an acupuncture session, and what to expect. She even told me which supervisor to ask for at the acupuncture school, and told me that she would speak to that supervisor, whom of course she knows, and send over her notes. As far as seeing an improvement, she said that the patients she has treated with eating disorders have seen marked improvement, but in my case I will probably see less improvement since my case is so advanced, however, she feels that it will certainly be worth my while to follow through with this. I agree!
Okay, let’s see…what else. I have decided that since I am so absolutely disgusted that I was unable, after a long, long search, to find any “group” for people with eating disorders that would accept me, or that wasn’t ridiculously expensive, I will start my own! This, of course, will be therapist-free! So this will not be a “therapy” group. I am kind of sick of the word “group.” It is so mental health cliche. So it will be called a “gathering.” I will find a meeting space, one that is accessible with accessible bathrooms, and I will check the space out myself to make sure that yes, accessible means accessible. Renting the space…maybe asking for donations from members…whatever they can afford. I haven’t decided if this is “drop-in” or if you have to “join,” but for certain this gathering will be welcoming, that is, anyone can be there regardless of where they are at ED-wise, male or female, welcoming to anyone of any race or religion or economic status or sexual orientation or how they choose to identify themselves sexually, or body shape or size or what or how they eat and there is no requirement that they be in any sort of “treatment” while they are attending this group or be at some minimum weight or minimum medical condition…how can we not serve those most in need? People choose to refuse medical treatment for many reasons, and often, are refused medical treatment, turned away due to non-insurance, or kicked out of residential treatment for stupid reasons, or homeless, or suddenly jobless. You can’t assume anything.
What we would talk about and what we wouldn’t talk about in this gathering…hmm…I guess it would be a really positive thing to say what works for you, and the positive things you are doing to help yourself. And also what you tried and didn’t work. Books you read that impressed you that you would recommend. No pro-_n_ talk or pro-mi_ talk. How, specifically, would this be defined? This would have to be laid out. Maybe we could have writing time and reading what we wrote.
Maybe, as an offshoot of this gathering, an eating disorders writing group. As a culmination, or perhaps ongoing project, we would do a public reading of our works, or joint writing project, or mixed media project, slide show with artwork and readings possibly. So unlike going to those eating disorder conferences and hearing “recovery stories,” from people who had no choice but to do “traditional” treatment, you’d hear writings and possibly all types of art of all types from people at all stages of their eating disorder, and this would be in many genres, not necessarily autobiography.
Me personally? I want to be “out there” as much as possible. Let’s face it, I know more about eating disorders than most medical professionals do. I don’t know a thing about what it feels like to self-induce vomit because I’ve never done it, but I sure know body dysmorphia first-hand. A lot of eating disorders specialists don’t know eating disorders. Training means nothing unless you “get it.” Like the feeling I had when I thought the diet cola I’d bought wasn’t really diet. This was in February, not long before I went into the hospital. I thought I’d been tricked by the generic cola company and that they had mislabeled the bottle, and that they had switched them. I searched on the Internet to see if there had been a cola recall. I was terrified. So I told them this when I went into the hospital. Dang! They wanted me to take a freaking antipsychotic. I was wise enough to tell the admitting shrink that no, I don’t need your pills, thank you. My brain is starved and I haven’t been thinking clearly for months, can’t you see? No pill will FEED the brain. I have had more first-hand experience with eating disorders than many medical professionals have even been in the medical profession. Not only that, I’ve had round-the-clock experience.
So I feel perfectly confident, competent, and qualified to write about eating disorders and read in front of an audience about my first-hand experience. I know a lot of places around here where I can arrange a reading. I am lucky to live in an urban area where there are so many opportunities and venues and nonprofits and interesting 0rganizations to explore.
Okay, what else…the acupuncture school called me back, and I have an appointment in a week!
Mass General suddenly called me yesterday. They found my running shoes and clothes! After all this time! They were lost last July, that is, taken from me in the psych emergency room and never returned to me. I was told that I was reimbursed. I pursued this, as I mentioned before, and was given the runaround of course…pass the buck…so I was disgusted, meanwhile had had to replace them, having nothing else to wear, and saved the receipts, but to no avail. I had lost out, in the hole not only $117, but the cost of the flip-flops I’d had to purchase in the gift shop just to get home on the subway, having nothing to put on my feet for the journey. I’m going to be picking up this stuff tomorrow. They have it at the medical floor I was on.
Okay, I’m going to get going. I can’t think of much more to talk about. I’m surprised that I stayed up this long. I have this pile of laundry on the floor. The least I can do is to pick it up and put it in the laundry bag. I’m surprised that Puzzle isn’t lying all over the pile of laundry. You’d think that Puzzle would settle herself among my filthy, stinky socks and have the time of her life.