How the Internet saved my life

The came to my rescue when I got online access in 1997 and made connections through e-mail correspondence.  I think the fact that this happened to me was a big part of my sudden recovery (for want of a better word) at the beginning of 1998.  I still believe that making these connections saved my life and saved me from ending up in the state hospital.  And let me also add that it was my choice.  I asked my mom if she’d help me get a computer.  I insisted that we do this right away.  She didn’t see the sense in it and wanted to put it off, saying I already had a computer so what did I want a new one for, but I wanted one that had a modem and an operating system like Windows even though I had no clue what these things were.  I had heard of this thing called AOL, too, which stood for America Online but I didn’t even know that.  I knew I had no friends, no support, no one who believed in me or cared about me.  Day treatment or clubhouses weren’t the answer.  I couldn’t relate to these people.  I didn’t want to sit around with people who smoked and stared into space.  I wanted real conversation, something meaningful, and no way was I getting anything close to that at the “programs” I’d tried.  I knew that long ago, postal correspondence was a huge part of my life.  What would e-mail correspondence be like?  I hardly knew what e-mail was and I didn’t know what it looked like.

So I insisted.  I went home with all the cords and machinery and ignored my neighbors’ stares and gossip and all their behind-my-back comments that I could of course hear about where I’d gotten the money for this fancy thing, and their talk about how I was Jewish and “came from money.”  I told myself I was doing this to save my life.  I just knew.  I hooked up the computer all by myself.  I found an AOL floppy I’d received in the mail.  I’d only known the big floppies, the ones about five inches, but this smaller floppy, that wasn’t really floppy, fit in the machine okay.  I installed AOL and heard a guy talking to me saying, “Welcome!  You’ve got mail!”  For months, and for the next few years that I used AOL, I would be comforted by that voice telling me that someone cared about me.  It didn’t take long.  Maybe within five hours, I was corresponding with people.  I’d put in an ad asking for “e-mail pals.”  All I said was my age.  Actually, there were hundreds of e-mails in my box, and they kept coming.

Only a fraction of these e-mails were spam.  Some wanted to date me, and I explained that that this was not my intent.  This was never a problem, and no one harassed me in any way.  Actually, there were a handful of times where “I do not want to date” turned into an interesting dialogue that gave way to a meaningful friendship.  Most of the people who wrote to me were people who were curious and thought they’d see who I was and if I was for real.

I was real, and learning very quickly that despite what the doctors claimed, I was indeed capable of effectively communicating with others.  I was capable of being supportive to others.  I could have real friends and be a friend.  My friends didn’t have to be limited to other chronics who went to programs and spent all their lives in and out of hospitals.  I didn’t need a “structured program” to help me have a social life and be supervised all day long and feel dead inside.  I wasn’t the loser the doctors said I was.

I guess some of the times that really helped me were when I would get contacted by a young person, often by a teen, who had randomly come across my “pen-pals wanted” ad and e-mailed me and something told them that they could trust me and open up to me.  These kids were in a bad place in their lives.  They were lonely and misunderstood and had nowhere to turn.  It’s hard being a teen in the first place.  They were suicidal, some of them.  Some were depressed.  All of them were desperate and didn’t know what to do.

Who was I?  I mean really, what could I say to these kids?  The doctors had told me I was worthless and sick and needy.  But these doctors hadn’t listened to a word I said anyway.  If I wrote something, they didn’t read it, assuming it was just psychotic garbage, and told me to “summarize” and tell them what I’d written in a sentence or two.  I’d just sit there feeling like my writing attempts were useless, even though it was a decent way to communicate, and feel disgusted.  I’d shrug and hang my head.  They’d say, “So you have nothing to say for yourself, eh?”  They’d shoo me out of the office, papers in hand.  I realized now that these doctors didn’t even know what I had to offer the world.  They were clueless.

I reminded myself of this, and wrote back to each one of the teens.  It’s so damn hard to be misunderstood, not listened to, told that you don’t matter and that your feelings aren’t important.  I knew, and have known in many times of my life what it’s like to feel desperate and that there’s no one you can trust and nowhere to turn.  Boy do I ever.  I sure did feel that way when I was their age.

I was a suicidal teen once.  It wasn’t because I was crazy.  It wasn’t because something was really badly wrong with me, and even if there was, what I needed most, and didn’t get, was for someone to listen and care.  There was nowhere to turn.  Why was I so desperate?  It was because I was in a shitty situation and saw no way out.  I was in a trap and didn’t think anyone would believe me if I told them the truth.  The last people I could go to were my parents.  My parents were half the problem anyway.

Suicide was an option.  I had other options.  Running away was another.  In many ways, perhaps running away would have been a better choice, but I had no clue how to do this.  I didn’t know about shelters and didn’t know how to find out about them, and shelters were hard to find anyway back then unless you were on drugs.  Drugs were the teen problem and if you weren’t on drugs you went unnoticed.  If you had bad grades you got called into the guidance counselors’ offices and get a lecture and then shooed out the door, and as you walked out, they’d tell you you’ll never get into college if you don’t shape up.

So it was suicide or running away, or my third option, the one I ended up doing, sticking it out.  Trust me, every day was miserable and no one knew, but I did stick it out.  I lived a life of lies.  I did this not because I was dishonest or had bad morals or was mentally sick.  I was being bullied.  You do what you have to do to survive.  Some people go through the trash and collect returnable bottles.  Some find half-eaten McDonald’s sandwiches in the trash and devour them.  I had my secrets.

It would have been better if I’d had some teacher I could talk to.  Just someone.  But the kids who found me, if only for a few e-mails, had the Internet, something I didn’t have when I was a teen, and it was vital to them that they had this venue.  I felt that they needed someone who could listen.  I knew that my high school had been blind to my situation as had been my family.  I knew what that was like, and I knew that being a caring person who listened was far more important than being a person with a bunch of degrees who was being paid to sit there and might not believe you anyway.  So I listened.

I didn’t bullshit or anything.  No cliches about what a great world this is.  In truth, it wasn’t a particularly good world for any of us right then.  I couldn’t promise anything, only to say that way back when I was a teen, I chose the third option.  It was like I was sitting by their side and holding their hand in cyberspace.  Some of them cried and that was okay.  I cried, too.

I had a lot of friends through correspondence, and got my life together.  No one could believe that this person who was a hopeless case was actually capable of living a productive life and that this didn’t mean going to a “program” and living around other people labeled “chronic.”  Using my computer and writing skills that I honed while writing e-mails, I wrote my first novel.  I went on to college, something else that blew away the doctors.  They thought that because I couldn’t stay in a group for the entire 45 minutes, I was incapable of sitting in a classroom.  The groups had been boring and meaningless to me.  I was insulted so I walked out half the time, tired of being treated like a child.  But I found the classroom fascinating.  I had walked away from being the loser they thought I was and stepped into a new and exciting world.

I still correspond with people, but not many.  E-mail isn’t very popular these days.  It’s been replaced by Facebook and “social networking” I guess.  Maybe those venues are more effective and faster at getting the news out about various social causes, and Facebook doesn’t end up in your spam folder.  There have been some instances where social networking has been the vital step in mass communication.

As a memoirist, I can look back at my experience in 1997, how getting on the Internet saved me, and then brought me out of the land of the dead, so to speak, and write about it and make meaning of it and shape the experience into something, whatever I want.  I started off this article with a different title, actually, wanting to talk about something entirely different, but then got side-tracked and moved by writing about what happened to me, so I went with that topic and deleted the other stuff I’d started off with.   That’s something I do when I blog sometimes.  I start off with one thing, and then just let myself go wherever I want.  It’s always a learning experience.

I get very little feedback, but I know there are a lot of people out there reading what I write.  I haven’t a clue why people stop by.  I guess they come for many reasons.

It was very nice having the experience of writing this.  And it’s very nice that I’m not sitting in an office being told to “summarize” what I’ve written in a sentence or two, isn’t it?

Later, alligators.

Fence

What I am doing now…It’s like reaching into being dead, and then quickly pulling my foot out.

No one is partway dead.  You are dead or you are alive.

Some might say I should just walk away from these issues.  But I only find myself back in the same place again and again.

It is senseless not to face it and deal with it.

It means using words freely, and thinking freely and uncensored.   Oppression is no assistance or use to me.

Pain and suffering can cause me strife, or I can use these for fuel.

Sometimes, there’s nothing left to burn.

 

 

Sitting around on the fence

I guess one of my biggest hurdles is that I’m acting as if I keep changing my mind whether I want to live or die.  Fences aren’t good places to sit because if you stick around too long, your butt is going to get very sore.  I’d better make up my mind soon, and stick to what I decide.

Abusive therapist

You put your trust in these people.
They mess with your head.
They have the power to call the police on you and put you in the hospital at their whim.
When you try to tell anyone about the abuse, no one believes you
Because after all, you are the sick one.
You don’t even want to believe it yourself.
You don’t want to admit you stayed in this situation and didn’t leave.
Came to this person, week after week, asking for help.
This person said, “You need me.  I am the only one.”
No one believes you because she has the degrees and training and reputation.
She seems so nice and talks smart with fancy clinical words.

If this has happened to you, you are not alone.
I am sitting here Sunday, April 29, 2012 so totally fucked up.
I always thought she was the best therapist I ever had.
See, that was just how brainwashed I was.
I quit her because I finally saw the bullshit.
If this has not happened to you
Maybe if you did some reading about domestic violence and rape
You might get some ideas about the dynamics going on here.
Everyone assumes she is right and I am wrong because of our roles.

“Everyone” means my other treatment providers
Every hospital I’ve been in
And many well-meaning friends.
Because behind all that compassion, that supposed dedication
Is a lot of control and ego and her own issues.
These people should not be doing therapy.  Period.

I’ll be back in a sec.  Just trust me on this.

Hoodies

I didn’t know they were called hoodies.  But I guess if you’re going to give them a word, “hoodie” is as good a word as any.  Now, they have a new meaning.

Of course, I don’t follow the news, so I just found out why a lot, lot, lot of people decided to wear hoodies recently and what this meant.

I’ve generally preferred a wool hat over a hood.  Hats enable me to have more peripheral vision.  On the other hand, I can hide inside a hood.

What does it mean when a community is “gated”?  What is a gate?  Are our gates open or closed?  What lies beyond?

Perhaps we have gates around our hearts and our homes.  Perhaps our gates cover us and comfort us while we sleep.

Hey, the sun is preparing to rise in the sky.  Open the curtains.  See the light.

My life

I don’t really know what to do.  Actually, I swore myself to secrecy on certain things.   Some of this because if I talk about it’ll make this blog into something I don’t want it to be.

I truly do want to get better, and I wish this for others.

I have talked about stuff on here more than I have told my therapists.  Well, duh.  I can say something and maybe you believe me and maybe you don’t.  God help me whatever I tell those idiots in their offices they claim I lie to them, so what’s the use.

So I’m going to tell you guys the truth, lay it on the table.

Do I back up?  How do I explain this?

I think I said something about, like, going to see my T and sort of making peace with her.  Well, I can’t.  No, not can’t, just don’t think it’s the greatest idea, doesn’t seem like something that would be very productive, you know?

A number of things might happen, none of them good.

Of course, I can wake up and it’ll suddenly be mid-January, and I can wear my bulky down coat and hide the weight I’ve gained.  But isn’t that, like, obvious?  And isn’t that more or less admitting defeat?  Even if she doesn’t see the weight gain, she will know I’m ashamed of…something.

Okay, so it’s not going to be January.  I walk in there wearing a medium jacket.  Of course, I’ve spent hours that morning trying on clothes, over and over, trying to find something that hides the weight gain, something that fits, something that hides that I’m hiding the weight gain, and something that isn’t in the laundry.  Then after I’m done figuring out what I’m going to wear, there’s the whole project of trying on one jacket after another after another and wearing the one that I think I can keep on and keep zipped up, or the one that I can keep casually unzipped, but camouflages what’s underneath, so that it doesn’t look like I’m deliberately hiding something.

I go through this every fucking day.  I rarely allow myself to be seen at all.  Ever.  Trust me, when I do appear in public, it’s when my weight is down.  Not when I THINK my weight is down or when the scale says my weight is down, but when I am actually smaller.

I keep telling myself that it’s going to have to be this way until I can take the weight off.  Just hide.

Seems like I can talk myself out of a lot of things.  I talked myself out of depression.  Like, I’m not depressed.  I’m in a state of complete despair.  There’s a difference.  I’m so distraught over my weight that I feel my life is hell right now.  It has been this way for god knows how long.  I just haven’t talked about it.  I kept telling myself it was temporary.

Well, not.  I might get a handle on it for a few days, so I feel okay, and I go out, spend time outdoors, get my errands done.  Then I gain weight (I don’t need the scale to tell me this), and I’m stuck indoors for days.  Miserable.  My clothes make me miserable, so when I get inside with Puzzle, I take them off, just sit around in a shirt.  I want the world to just fucking leave me alone.

So I get to the point, and I’ve been there a number of times already, that I just want to off myself, as they say.  I get this way all the fucking time now.  Just can’t stand it anymore.  It’s stupid.  It’s not like this sudden impulse loss of control thing.  I think about it.  Like I’m trapped.  No way out.  Fucking cornered.

What will happen if I show up at my T’s office?  I’m not going there asking for help.   That’s not the reason.  I want to make peace with her.  So I show up.  Or say I’ve binged and can’t show up.  Can’t ride the bus comfortably with my belly overloaded.  Or if I can get myself there, I’m constantly belching and farting.  Of course, no one sees me in that condition.  No one.  I don’t appear.  I am alone and stay that way for a long, long time.  Private hell that no one sees and, sadly, no one believes, either.  So I cancel the appointment and reschedule, if she lets me.

Then say this doesn’t happen.  Say I show up and can’t hide the misery I feel.  Say I blurt out something.  Slammer time.

Or say I’ve managed to get a handle on it for a few days.  I walk in there with all my idealism and coverup that masks how I really feel inside.  Say we do have a peaceable conversation.  Say she does buy the lies.

Then what?  I’ll see it.  I’ll see her look.  She’ll see the weight gain.  The little nod of approval.  I’m fucking healthy?

oh my god.

How bullshit.

Any remark, any smirk, any turn of phrase or slip of tongue, and I’m going to be devastated.  I can’t risk it.

Fucking cornered.

Yeah, I spend hours trying to figure this one out on my own.  Can’t figure out how to stop bingeing.  Last night, I was looking into self-hypnosis CD’s and MP3 files I might be able to download.  Like hell those work.  I tried that when I was twenty-two years old, only back then, it was weight loss tapes because there was no such thing as eating disorders.  I think the word was “overeating.”  Nonetheless, the tape didn’t work.  It consisted of a set of instructions on how to eat, and then “subliminal messages” that were supposedly embedded in music.  Get this: you could hear the subliminal guy talking when the music got quiet.  What a joke.  Then I had this tape of this lady talking, and at one point on the tape she makes this really bad, bad grammar error.  When you’re in a trance?  And she’s selling this thing for money?  Neither worked.  I have no money now, anyway, didn’t buy anything, just looked.

But no, it’s worse.  It’s bad.  I’m desperate.  I can’t tell you half the stuff cuz a lot of it is so over the top.

I purged a while back.  I finally found a way to do it that worked.  I can’t begin to tell you what it was like for me.  You can talk to bulimics about what it’s like for them to throw up.  Not the same, not at all.  I’m talking about thirty-two years of waiting for this glorious triumph.  At last.  At last.  I don’t have to suffer with it anymore.  All that suffering in silence and secrecy and desperation is finally over.  I don’t have to hold onto it anymore.  At last.

I knew that what I’d done had to be done.  Gaining more weight meant death.  I was doing this to survive.  Sometimes, you have to do weird stuff like that.

I told myself I’d do it again if I had to, in order to survive.  It’s come down to that.  If I can’t control the bingeing, I’m going to resort to this thing.

I felt decent for a while.  I didn’t go out, but felt okay, like I’d resolved something.  Kind of like peaceful.  But the next time I binged, I used the same method, and it didn’t work.  It didn’t fucking work.  It’s not reliable, and I can’t count on it.

I hesitated to mention all this, just because I don’t want to be too weird about behaviors.  Just think of a desperate woman who is dying to do anything to throw up, and you’ve got the picture.

I suppose if there is a god, and if this god dares to have hands, it’s in god’s hands now.

 

 

"Bad grammar, hideous colors"

Hey,

Someone sent in a comment saying my site had “hideous colors and that my posts used bad grammar.”  Unfortunately, Askimet (the filter) alerted me that this was a spam comment.  Sometimes, Askimet messes up, so I double-checked on this, and yes, it was a spammer.  I can’t allow their posts to show up here and infiltrate my site.  There are actually very few that have even bothered to post comments here, so deleting them has never been an issue.  I just go through  them  and x them out every now and then.

It’s really unfortunate.  I very much looked forward to putting this one through as legit, and allowing it to post.  I wanted to respond to it by saying, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

Hmm…would this be a copyright violation? Naw, it’s just one line, commonly known.  Might even be in the public domain.  Hell if I know.

You can stretch this.  Like posting links to sites that tend to allow posters to violate copyright law, not that I had any clue, but the article in the link itself is original?  Very sticky business.  You just have to pick this one apart and pick it apart and decide if linking to a domain is sustaining it by providing more hits.  I guess it depends on whether the hits bring in money to sustain the domain.

I was “policed.”  It was done automatically by computer.  I have thoughts on this one.  Not that I need therapy and pills to correct these passionate notions or thoughts deemed “wrong” because I am a little kooky in the head.

Kookiness gets policed, sectioned twelved, put on “checks.”  Weekly weight checks.  Protest marchers get rounded up.  I’ve been rounded up all my life and sent to the back of the class for speaking out.  It was kinda nice, though, because you can hide that book you’re secretly reading behind some mimeographed worksheets, and no one will know.

I do always have this fear that someday I’ll wake up and my site will disappear off the map.  I do back it up.  Contrary to popular belief, I’m not dumb.

Julie Greene is back: Never fear, I am always here

My blog disappeared.  Wow.  I received an e-mail from a friend letting me know and asking me if I was okay.  It was a good thing cuz I was able to straighten out the whole thing very quickly and get back to my same  ole online presence loud and clear and big-mouthed as ever.  It was an automatic computer thingy that wordpress dot com does that I don’t want to mull over.  Well, I do.  But I want to let you know that I’m back.

I do not shut up.

I made up my mind quite some time back that if I see something that is flat out wrong, along the lines of social injustice, I’m not going to waste time getting therapized as a way to fix the social injustice.

You do not make applesauce by putting a chicken in the oven.  Cuz no matter how well you spice the chicken, you will never, ever end up with applesauce.

(Oh, by the way, mention of specific foods  is “triggering” to people, or so I’ve been told.  I’m not going to delete my metaphor.  Deal with your entriggerment any healthy or unhealthy way you want.  I haven’t actually stuck chicken and applesauce on a table and demanded that you eat it, have I?)

If I, personally, take a pill to dull my passion about this social injustice.

If I am going to sit in a group and talk about it, it’s not going to be a group that teaches me to cope with passion.  It’s not going to be a group that teaches me to correct my thinking patterns.  My thinking patterns are wonderful.  My thinking is what makes me who I am.  If I write something that isn’t fresh and special, if it says nothing new, there’s no reason to put it out there or expect that anyone will consider reading or listening.  This goes for all writers.  Treasure your uniqueness and let it take you to a place where no one has ever, ever been.  Tread unbroken ground.  This is the revolution.

If I am to be part of a group of human beings, we will make change.  We will plan, and act.  We will compare ideas.  We will consider possibilities and dreams and hopes.

We will rethink our own backyards and cultivate them a new way.  This is the beginning of change.

I have a personal stake in this.  Of course, I didn’t need to say that, because it is redundant.  This is change.  The personal and the political are inseparable.  I knew it all along, well before I stumbled into my eating disorder, and then, year after year, walked the path of the downtrodden, the misunderstood, the invisible.

I am blessed because of this mission.  So few have this opportunity.  I have the strength, the ability, the courage, the gift, the driven nature within me, and the dire necessity to do this.  Is it my duty?  I don’t see life that way.  Maybe it’s because I’ve never been a parent.  I do this because it’s my only option, my only way out.  To survive I must continue to strive toward change.

I made a sister site.  It’s in the workings, barely started.

Here’s the link:

adreamforus.wordpress.com  The one post I made describes what the site will be about.  I love you folks so much.