I no longer feel groggy, headachy, drugged, wobbly, and flu-like upon waking

The above problem I’ve been dealing with consistently for a year and a half.  It got to the point where my choices really sucked: be tired, or respond to fatigue by napping and then be permanently groggy and wobbly on my feet for the remainder of the day.

I am off Trileptal and no longer experience ataxia, which is what the wobbliness was. It is completely gone.

I have had bad headaches since the fall, probably due to many factors, including dehydration, poor nutrition, altered vital signs from Imipramine, agitation and tension from Imipramine, and of late, my thyroid being off.

I have had hypothyroidism for a long time and I don’t talk about it because I always thought it was a non-issue.  You get your blood tested, and if your thyroid is too low or too high, the doc adjusts the medication and if you felt bad, you’ll probably get some relief.

My thyroid was off this spring.  My new doctor said once the thyroid level is correct, I would see improvements all over, such as reduction in headaches, less trouble fighting off dehydration, and reduction in edema.

I wish the edema bit had come true.  Unfortunately, the edema is worse than ever.  I can make a noticeable dent when I press anywhere on my legs, not just on my ankes.

I think the thyroid fix was what really helped the recent headaches and flu-like feeling.  I also feel better in my overall mood.

Another thought: didn’t the headaches start to get a lot worse around the time I got my flu shot?  This was also when I started Imipramine.

I napped for a long time.  I just woke up and I don’t feel wicked sick.  That’s pretty much a first.

One big goal for this afternoon is to take care of those overdue library books….

Some exciting discoveries of my own about binge eating that I would like to share

As those of you who are regular readers know, I’m headed for some big traveling in a couple of days, so I don’t have all that much time to write to you today.  But I am going to make this time because some things have “clicked” with me about binge eating that seem to be worth sharing my readers and anyone who comes across this article.  This includes those who suffer binge eating and any eating disorder behavior.  This also includes people who have less awareness about binge eating and do not engage in this behavior.  I feel that those of you who are not experienced need to know so that you can better understand those who suffer. This will help all of us.

I need right away to make a disclaimer.  I do have expertise, but no higher education in the eating disorders field.  I am not a therapist, nutritionist, nurse, or any type of medical professional.  The statements I’m going to make, however, come from experience-based knowledge as one who suffers binge eating.  I also have experienced many failed attempts at “treatment” too numerous to list, including extensive therapy, nutrition counseling, 12-step programs, therapy and support groups, hospitalization, medications, prayer, exercise, and everything self-help I could possibly get my hands on.  I have also tried mental tricks done on my own such as willpower, writing down my food, meal planning, etc.  The only thing that has helped binge eating, for me has been a select few medications, none of which I can take anymore.  In addition to my having experienced binge eating and treatment (or non-treatment) for binge eating, I have done extensive reading on the subject.  This reading includes study of scientific research, and writings by others whom I trust, both professional and lay people.  I have studied You-tubes and message boards.  As a patient, I have encountered other patients over the years and have learned what worked for them.

Most of my ideas come from putting two and two together.  I can look at two studies or opinions side by side, and combined, they make a third statement that maybe these experts would have come upon themselves had they researched side-by-side.  I also have put together the theories I’ve read with my own experience.

Because I am a writer and specifically a memoirist, I have learned a lot about myself.  Memoir is study of the self.  If you don’t already know what makes you tick, then by the time you’re done writing a memoir, you will know quite a bit.

As far as “experts” go, of those who are “specialists,” I don’t really trust the opinions of anyone who has not experienced an eating disorder first hand.  I do respect the opinions of parents of minor children who have been through eating disorders, but I do also know that more often than not, the parent just doesn’t “get it.”  I have heard about the controversial book, The Secret Language of Eating Disorders by Peggy Claude-Pierre and have it on my reading list.  I have heard that it is an excellent book written by a parent who then went on to become an eating disorders treater and started her own very controversial center in Canada.  I weigh equally the ideas of those still suffering and those who have “recovered.”  Just because you are sick does not mean your ideas are untrue or worthless.  Hardly! This is why we have self-help groups and peer support. This is why group therapy is occasionally successful or at least a comfort to sufferers.

Medical science admits that very little is known about the cause of binge eating.  Binge eating is not the same as overeating.  You can be a binge eater and not have an overeating problem.  I am one such case.  Or you can have an overeating problem but not a binge eating problem or not a significant one.  Or you can have both at once.

The use of “compensatory behaviors,” according to current psychiatric literature, is what distinguishes between someone diagnosed with bulimia and someone with binge eating disorder, or BED for short.  The literature suggests that people with bulimia often throw up what they binged on.  There are other compensatory behaviors as well, such as the use of overexercising (I define this as exercise that overly strains the body to the point of injury or ill health), laxative abuse, diuretic abuse, and fasting.  Most people with binge eating disorder do “diet” between binges but this is often not extreme enough that I would count is as compensatory.  Each case is different so the whole idea of “diagnosis” can either harm or empower the patient.  Diagnosis places the patient into a “label” by boxing him or her into a classification which determines treatment protocol.  This is necessary for insurance purposes and should be left at that. But it isn’t. It changes how others look at you. Learning of an eating disorders diagnosis  can make a person feel devastated, but on the other hand, the person might react by saying, “Wow, I am not alone!  This is not my fault!”

Much of what I am going to be saying applies not to the occasional binge eater but for the person who has become incapacitated due to this and other ED behaviors, in other words, those with actual eating disorders.  At some point, you cross that line.  No one chooses to cross it.  You were just unlucky.

There are differences between people with eating disorders and people without eating disorders that in  fact existed maybe even from day #1.  Although many people talk about personality traits such as perfectionism, or trauma events that may have triggered the eating disorder that was waiting to hatch, I believe the root difference between an eating disordered individual and someone who does not have an eating disorder is physical.  I believe there is a genetic link.   You can take a person without this physical makeup and subject them to everything in the society we live in that we believe causes eating disorders, and this person won’t develop one.  Even going on an extremely restrictive reducing diet won’t cause an eating disorder in many cases.  But “the first diet” is often the trigger.  There are other physical things that may distinguish an eating disordered individual from one without an eating disorder.  There are theories about past viral infections, immune problems, characteristics of the digestive system, hormones, neurotransmitters, seizures, and even parasites.

People say “You binge because you are hungry” or, “You binge because you have been starving yourself,” but we all know this is extreme oversimplification.  Many people binge when they have been eating plenty.  People without eating disorders don’t binge when they are very hungry.  Instead, they just eat.

Shan Larter, an expert I really trust, states that binge eating often happens because of deficiency in a specific nutrient.  Bingeing is the body’s gut response.  This nutrient can be different for each person.  She recommends supplementation, but it’s not what you think. Not vitamin pills.  No Ensure.  Shan has created her own recipes made from actual food.  These smoothies are highly nutrient-dense.  I have tried these smoothies and I can actually feel the effect from drinking these very powerful shakes that are made of food and nothing else.   Go to eatingdisorderfreedomcoach.com for more information on Shan, her great ideas, and those famous smoothies.  It’s all free info.

There are other things that I think cause binge eating as well.  I noticed a long time ago that when I ate a large meal, I would binge later on, say a half hour or an hour later.  Some of this is the “I blew it” mentality that Shan and a number of other people I trust.  People who binge eat develop very strict rules in attempt to get the problem to stop.  So when a rule is broken, the eating disordered person says, “I blew it, so might as well go all the way.”

A non-eating-disordered individual isn’t fazed this way by a large meal.  They may say, “Oh geez, I really shouldn’t have eaten all that,” but they don’t punish themselves by then going out and eating even more.

I have a wild theory about large meals triggering binge eating.  I think there is a physical component, some chain reaction in the body triggered by a stomach feeling of being a little too full.  Perhaps it is the stretching of the stomach wall, or raised blood pressure, or the sudden sleepiness  that “normals” get after a big meal.  One or several physical changes listed here may trigger the binge response.

Many state that caffeine triggers bingeing.  Also it seems to be clear that artificial sweetener can also cause it as well.  Many people say that refined sugar or highly concentrated sweets cause binge eating.  Some say that refined grains, that is, “white” grains will trigger it.  Many state that “white flour,” specifically white wheat flour as opposed to purely unrefined wheat flour will trigger a binge. Many avoid wheat altogether.  Some say to stay away from carbonation. There are so many on this list such as water impurities, food additives, preservatives and coloring, plastics, air impurities, flouride toothpaste and other toiletry products, even shampoo, and so on.

You can laugh, but it’s very important to take this list seriously.  Your physical makeup may cause you to be more sensitive than the average person to something on this list.

So here I will use myself as an example.  I am not any more sensitive to refined sugar than the average person.  I stay away from it because consuming it in any more than very small amounts is doing myself a disservice.  Also true is that products that contain refined sugar happen to be refined foods.  Refined foods are expensive compared to “plain” food, so logic tells me not to buy refined products.  An obvious example is the TV dinner.  But over the years, I’ve noticed that eating specifically “sweets” does not cause a binge.  For the longest time,  I felt that I didn’t have a specific trigger food, that when things got bad, anything I put into my mouth would set me off.

However, I now have a new theory that I believe applies to me and might apply to others.  I have always had a problem with bread.  If I buy a loaf of bread, no matter how whole the grains are that it’s made of, and even if it has no sugar or artificial ingredients in it, the loaf of bread “disappears.”  I can’t keep it in the house.  Even bread that’s make of all rye flour or another flour I can’t keep around.  They are equally a problem.

So it’s not the “white.”  And it’s not the “wheat.”  It’s any bread…but not quite.

I have concluded that the culprit is bread that is yeasted.  Passover Matzah is not yeasted and I don’t react to it the same.  The same goes for the rare types of bread on the market that are yeast-free.   Some crackers are yeasted and some aren’t.   I don’t think I have trouble with all yeasts, just some.  I am going to be careful from now on.  I would say that this is my only real trigger food that I now know about.  It does something in my body to set off the binge response.

Of course, a therapist may say that binge eating is maladaptive coping behavior.  My guess is that “poor coping skills” as the number one reason for binge eating applies to very few people.  The whole idea of “coping skills” is kind of a myth that was invented by the mental health system and gets ground deep, deep into our heads if we hang around too long.  Coping skills are learned.  Unless you grew up in a very badly abusive environment with absolutely no decent role models, you will learn effective coping skills.  You will have to do so in order to survive so long as you have at least one good teacher who ends up in your life when you are at a young age.

Myself as example:  My parents weren’t good parents, but they weren’t the worst around.  My mom was controlling with food at the dinner table, true.  My parents like any other parents insisted that we clean our plates.  My dad, on the other hand, was a good role model.  Agreeably, he was a perfectionist, but he had this as a positive trait.  He was exacting.  He measured things.  He double-checked his work.  He worked slowly, never in haste, and he always made sure to do a decent job.  This is what made him who he was.  He needed these trait to survive as an only child with a doting, fussy mother.  He used these positive traits, as well as high intelligence, to excel in school.  He graduated top of his high school class.  He was an excellent scientist.  Two plus two equals four, period…that is, until you get to very, very higher math.  Rather than being obsessive about his perfectionism, I’d say he was insistent.  For instance, he was tone-deaf and knew it, but sang anyway.  If we were driving somewhere and we got lost, he never got upset. Instead, he’d take out the map and try to find a solution to the dilemma.  He never pushed his perfectionism on others.  I’d say in terms of school performance, he wanted us to do as well as we could but never put demands on us in terms of grades.

My dad was a very interesting person to talk to.  We had many great political discussions and other intellectually stimulating conversations.  We discussed Jewish holidays and traditions sometimes, or we’d talk about law in terms of morality and right and wrong.  He was even-tempered, but still made mistakes just like anyone else, and freely admitted this.  He valued outdoor exercise such as mountain-climbing and skiing.  Because he’d grown up nerdy, he didn’t know a thing about team sports or competitive sports.  Football, hockey, and basketball were not part of my childhood.  Baseball was, but only because we in Boston had our Red Sox.

So my dad was a good role model.  I learned to be polite and tried to be considerate of others.  I learned to share.  I learned “please” and “thank you,” which I believe are absolute essentials in our society.

I learned some bad stuff from other patients, such as smoking, which I did to avoid eating (no one knew this).  This is a bad coping skill but it’s not the reason I had an eating disorder.   I learned to “act out” while in hospitals and programs well after I developed my ED, because I saw other patients carrying on.  Their behavior was reinforced by staff, that is, authority figures, who would comfort these acting out patients and show compassion.  I can think of one instance in particular.  I saw a girl who kind of acted like a baby, and when she did, this one nurse whom I liked would go running up to this girl and coddle her like a mother.  She would spend hours with this patient trying to help her, listening to her and counseling her.  All the other patients were rather disgusted at this girl’s attention-seeking behavior and the fact that it got her what she wanted.  But soon enough, I started seeing some really bad behavior popping up.  People got disruptive, smashed things, and destroyed property.  Oh yeah, I did plenty of it myself.  Most of this “falling apart” behavior is behavior that most patients learn from hanging around the system.  Getting away from the system is one way to unlearn them.  If you stay away from hospitals and programs, you will learn how healthy, normal people handle themselves, and that they get somewhere in life because they are assertive.  They are achievers.  And they don’t fall apart on the weekend cuz their therapists aren’t around.  Most people who get paid on Friday are damn happy they can go enjoy their paychecks for  a couple of days of R&R.  They don’t say TGIF for nothing.

Sure, it’s good to learn “alternatives” to binge eating, or “distraction” skills.  For some, these work well.  But the inner physical need is still there and many of these people feel like they are in constant state of torturous battle.  For those who truly “recover” using solely this method, it takes years for life to stop having a constant struggle with eating issues.  Not only that, but ‘talk ” therapy alone for binge eating takes years and years to take effect.  They say cognitive therapy is a more effective and desirable kind of therapy because it is time-limited and much faster.   Or so it is on paper.

Then there is nutrition.  Most of this is done by Registered Dieticians, or RD’s.  The American Dietetic Association is funded by big food companies and huge farming institutions.  So it’s no wonder that they state so many falsehoods about what you need and what’s bad for you. The big food companies have actually sued the government for not puffing up the dairy industry by saying milk is essential.  That’s complete baloney.  They comply with the sugar industry.  The government subsidizes farmers to grow cheap crops such as corn and soy and the big food farmers spray and genetically alter their crops.  Corn is made very cheaply into high fructose corn syrup or fed to cattle.

The American Dietetic Association and its RD’s will tell you RD’s are the only ones you should listen to.  They work closely with government nutrition research and many of these RD’s, to me, appear to have learned by rote memorization.  Critical thinking is out.  Almost all of the ones I’ve met talk like robots.  So these people, who have been misinformed and influenced by big food business and pharmaceuticals, are teaching their patients to eat tons of sugar and not worry about additives unless  you have an alergy to them.

And so, that’s it…the ED treatment industry is a racket.  Not all RD’s are robots and not all are brainwashed.  Not all ED treatment centers are as bad as the others.

I decided to take matters into my own hands as far as treatment goes.  I’ve done extensive research and am taking a regimen of supplements, not a lot, though.

Not long into this I felt a sudden body shift.  The feeling of being weighted down by my body has improved.  I felt actual hunger yesterday morning for the first time in a long time.  So I knew something was up.  For the first time in months, I am able to eat without having it turn into a binge.  Decent, huh?

Sure, I cycle.  So does everyone.  I cycle every few days.  I have gone between being convinced I will die, often of suicide, and feeling really inspired and having moments of real epiphany.  Please don’t call this rapid cycling mood disorder.  It’s called changing  my mind.  It’s also called being off psych meds and for a change actually being able to motivate and inspire myself.

I have this great idea for my next book.  I have another great idea for furthering my education and am going to start looking for scholarship money. This I can hold onto for sure.  You’ll see.  Juliemadblogger is busting loose.

Interesting article

Here’s the article at eatingdisordersonline dot com:


I’m not surprised.

Eating at places like McDonald’s and other fast food restaurants may appear like an inexpensive way to eat out, but these meals are actually extremely expensive. They contain very little nutritional value and are loaded with poisons.

I have heard of a lot of people getting infections from eating at restaurants.  This can be due to poor cleanliness at the restaurant, or simply because there are a lot of people going in and out of there all day long spreading diseases.

I was at a restaurant in June once, but I only ordered black coffee.  Other than that, I have been to no restaurants in ages.  I do not buy a cup of coffee anywhere.  This is an incredible waste of money when you can much more easily make a better cup at home.  I drink coffee about once a week now, if that.

I have heard people say that Starbucks is fattening.  Huh?  You don’t have to buy those expensive drinks.  Just get a cup of plain coffee if you insist on spending money at Starbucks.  Your wallet will thank you, and no, I have never found Starbucks fattening.  Their pastries are very overpriced and I can’t afford them, never mind that I just can’t be bothered with the calories.  I used to eat that shit all the time, though.

I remember at one point when I was truly fat I just plain gave up on myself.  I was on the drug Seroquel and was doped up and wimpy.  I was badly discriminated against because of the weight gain and people stepped all over me, calling me fat outright.  Many times, I would walk into an athletic store and get ignored or questioned as to why I bothered.  When I bought a pair of running shoes, the salesperson said, “Whatever on earth are you going to use these for?”  You had to be there to know that this salesperson assumed I was buying these shoes to be stylish.  She figured no way could I possibly have any real use for them in sport.  It was pathetic. Needless to say, these were not my favorite pair of running shoes.  And if you want to know, I was too fat to run.  I tried many times and my body was too heavy to do it.  I could only run a very short block and my lungs would hurt.  My brother just freaking laughed at me and asked me what I was doing running in the first place.  But I remembered that I used to love running (when I was thinner) and eventually was able to lose weight and run again.  Yes, in that order.

Being fat completely absolutely sucked in every way imaginable.  The therapist I had at the time was no help whatsoever.  She was an eating disorders therapist and finally admitted, when we were all done, that “The Seroquel was a big mistake.”  I believe my weight was a huge reason why I dropped out of grad school in 2005.  My self-esteem was very low and I could not really achieve academically because I felt so lousy about myself, especially my weight.

This was when they told me in the hospital that I didn’t even belong in grad school, that I should go to a mental health day program, and that the answer had nothing to do with medication.  I would not take no for an answer.  I went to my psychiatrist and insisted, first of all, on getting off Seroquel.  She finally, finally agreed.  I immediately lost weight. Also, I asked for Topamax.  We’d tried it before but I wanted to try again.  I stopped binge eating, lost more weight, and was not depressed for a number of years.  The Topamax enabled me to go back to grad school.

Topamax poops out, though.  Some say it only works for about six months.  I’d say a year ago it stopped working for me.  In April or May I tapered off of it for that reason.  At Mass General, they wanted to stop it cold turkey.  Wow, after reading a few message boards, I found out that if you go off fast (generally this happens when insurance stops covering it) you end up gaining like 30 pounds.

Right now, I am trying an herbal supplement for binge eating.  I consulted no  one on this, just did a bit of research.  Actually, I did a lot of research.  Never mind what it is.  I’ll tell you if it works.  So far, I am just using a single herb, and I have just started.

If I get side effects or an allergic reaction or even if I drop dead from taking it, I honestly don’t care.  I just want to stop binge eating.  If chemicals such as psych meds or herbs are the only thing that will stop it in my 32 year history, then I am going that route.  I won’t take psych meds anymore so I am going with the herb.  You can argue that I don’t know what the heck is in it, but do YOU know what’s in your psych med and what it’s doing to your body?  Of course not.

You guys take care of yourselves.


I'm a miserable bitch that no one wants around

Like I said, just that.

People have said this so much about me that at this point, I think it is the truth.  I know it is the truth.

So this is what it has come to.  I turned into a bitch.  I turned into an anger machine.  I am just no good anymore.  Useless and worthless.

Now here’s something other people don’t know, and I will tell you right now: It all has to do with my eating.  That’s the key.

I am trying to get help for binge eating, really trying, desperate to stop.

So this is what happens.  When I am done bingeing, I mean, really, really done and can manage to stop, I stop eating entirely.  I don’t eat for days.  And you know something?  I’m not even hungry.  I think this is because my body is so overloaded with food that it lives on what’s stuffed into my stomach and intestines for days and days.

Now, when I say stuffed I mean stuffed.  This was plain to see in the ER in May when they said my intestines were so overloaded that I was headed for a blockage.  This is not from overeating.  I do not overeat.  Binge eating is an entirely different ball game.

People who overeat might say they have trouble not taking seconds, or find dessert irresistible.  They might have trouble leaving something on their plate and eat the whole plateful because they were trained to finish everything even if they are stuffed.  They might have junk food cravings or eat an extra slice or two of pizza.  Maybe they go to a party and graze off the buffet.  This is overeating, folks, and this is not in my repertoire.

Binge eating is entirely different.  I can be doing anything, anything at all, and then suddenly, boom!  I’m off.  This is done in secret.  I stuff everything I can find into my mouth all at once.  It makes no difference what it is.  It can be a loaf of bread or it can be beans or it can be a pound of butter by the pat.  It can be fruit or vegetables or candy.  It is not a response to hunger because I can be stuffed to begin with and end up bingeing.  I devour everything and stuff food (or what might even no be considered food) into my mouth until I am near bursting.  It won’t fit in anymore. Sometimes, I am so stuffed that the food won’t go down my throat cuz there’s no more room.

Now, folks, this has been going on for 32 years so I know what I’m talking about.  If you have never been through this then you simply don’t know the physical consequences of this behavior.

First of all, I can barely move after that.  I can’ t really walk around.  I don’t get how people claim that people who binge eat “compensate” by exercising.  How can I exercise?  I can’t even sit in a chair cuz I am in so much physical pain from being stuffed.  Sometimes, I pass out from the sudden rise in sugar in my body.  My acupuncturist says that my body is working so darned hard to digest what I’ve put into it that this is possibly one reason why I suddenly collapse in fatigue.  I can’t tell you how many times I have been in the middle of writing something, and then, I have no choice, I have to lie down or I will pass out.

So I lie down and let myself pass out.  I don’t know how many hours have passed. Sometimes, when I get up I am overwhelmed with thirst and drink a large quantity of water. Someday, this is going to cause stomach rupture.  I can feel that after I drink this water my stomach is stretched even worse than right after I was eating the food.  But I can’t stop drinking cuz I’m desperately thirsty. But other times I don’t have the thirst problem.  It probably depends on what I ate and if it had moisture in it.

So I remain in excruciating pain and have to lie down. This goes on and on.  I can be up all night in pain, groaning and holding my stomach in misery.  Then the next day, same thing, my stomach is still overloaded, especially if I binged late at night.  So I have to stay in all day, being so ill.

Yes, I have missed church, missed appointments, had to cancel all my plans because of this behavior.  It wipes out the whole next day.  And if I binge eat day after day, it can wipe out an entire week.  This has a cumulative effect and every second of every day I am physically a mess.  I can’t put on clothes because nothing fits around my stomach. And of course I don’t want anyone to see it!  My neighbors would be shocked!  What?  Pregnant?

So finally, eventually, I get the behavior to stop.  Then, I start to leave the house.  I am not eating at all and not hungry, and I know I can’t put anything into my mouth cuz it will turn into a binge.  After a few days, my confidence is much better and I actually smile at people and am pleasant.  I can feel on top of the world.  If I am losing weight, I feel even better, and might convince myself that the bingeing is done for good, or that it has decreased and is a little more bearable.

So by not eating, or simply by not bingeing,I tend to lose weight.  In the past, I have dropped 20 pounds in six days and then, yes, kept it off for months.  Now, because of my past history of starvation, I don’t lose like that anymore.  I can eat nothing and weigh the same the next day.  But I do lose.  I think at this point, the edema increases.  By virtue of finally, finally having an empty stomach, I can lose an incredible amount of weight.

So anyway, after this, each day gets better, each day that I starve and am further away from food.  I dress normally again.  I might even dress well and not be afraid if someone can see my waist.

Then, something tells me I’d better eat.  Like I suddenly feel like I’m going to faint.  I suspect it’s a sudden drop in blood sugar, cuz my blood pressure is fine (just another consequence of having taken Imipramine…I still have huge breasts and high blood pressure but only at times.  My pulse is down to normal range, around 70, finally).  So I promise myself I will eat, say, just some lettuce and nothing more, but I’m really fooling myself cuz as soon as I put the lettuce into my mouth, I end up eating the entire head of lettuce, and on and on.

So this is really why I need help.  This is why I am a bitch.  My freaking secret.  And when I tell people “I binged,” or, “I’ve been having a binge eating problem,” you bet they have no clue what I am talking about.  Well, now you know why my life isn’t worth living.

This is my life, folks.  For over a year, I have not eaten a normal meal except while in captivity.

The edema in my feet, ankles, legs…actually all over my body including my face and hands seems to be permanent at this point.  I sleep two and a half hours a night.  I am depressed and suicidal over the weight I have gained.  I have been suicidal for months.

And they say binge eating isn’t dangerous?  Take it from someone who has had this problem for 32 years.  No, I am not overweight, not according to the “charts.”  But this is going to freaking kill me.

Getting ready to go to London

Actually, I feel like this trip will be…well it will be what it will be.  The likelihood is high that it will be a disaster.  I really need treatment right now and it’s so damn hard to find.   So off I go to London, physically and mentally a wreck.

Some places do take Medicaid but not specifically from Massachusetts, they don’t contract with them.  My case manager knows, as I do, that these Medicaid people are nothing but clerks. They are uneducated.  I have phoned and this so-called case worker couldn’t even get into the computer to correct my address.  From what I have read, you have to speak with their supervisors.  I know this woman can’t access the computer, so obviously she can’t override a Medicaid refusal or create a “single-case exception” for me.

Who are the people who make these Medicaid decisions?  Are they educated about medicine?  Do they even have degrees?  Or are they secretaries, data entry people, and other kinds of clerks?  Are they lawyers, budget people, or politicians?

I don’t even want to think about all that stuff right now anyway.

I have an appointment with a new therapist as soon as I get back.  Maybe I can just hang onto that.  I’ll have someone to talk to, at least.  Lord knows I cry and cry and cry all the time and feel so damn alone in this.

I have no real close friends at this point, no intimacy in my life.  I used to have close friends but they are now gone or downsized. I do know a lot of people love me and care about me even though my family doesn’t.   But everyone keeps me at arm’s length.  Oh yeah, I recognize this.  I think someone calls to say “hello” maybe…not sure maybe once every other month.  It seems like I am always the one to initiate phone contact.  A lot of the time I call, leave a cheery message with my phone number, and the person doesn’t call back.

When was the last phone conversation?  I phoned someone to wish a happy birthday.  The person seemed complimented that I had remembered, but after a few minutes wasn’t even paying attention to the conversation.  I tried and tried to change the subject and inquire about what he was up to, asked about his life, his plans for the week, but it was no use, I couldn’t get the conversation going, and the person continued to indicate boredom, just no interest in being friends.

I don’t mind hearing “tap tap tap” of the keyboard while we are talking for a minute or so, but if it goes on for the entire conversation, then it’s obvious that the person doesn’t really want to be talking.  If this happens during every conversation, then hey, I get the hint.  Personally, I am unable to write an e-mail and carry on a conversation at the same time.  Just can’t multitask like that.  The exception is if we are discussing the e-mail that the person is writing.

Oh yes, and then there’s the TV, when the person shows no interest in talking and cares more about the TV program they’re watching.  The best thing to do is to reschedule the call for a time when their TV program isn’t on.

My brother calls about once a month.  The other one, the one that I think hates me, calls once every few months.  The one that calls more frequently has this tactic with me.  He calls while he’s nearing the end of making dinner.  I can hear pots and pans and sometimes even sizzling.  After about two minutes, he says his dinner is ready, and excuses himself.  I’ve noticed that every now and then, maybe twice a year, he calls when his wife and kid aren’t around and then we seem to have a longer conversation, like about ten minutes.

I have spoken about the other brother before.  I had a new thought about him.  He has stated that he hates our mother.  We used to have that connection, this understanding about how abusive she is and unhealthy to be around.

In February she developed a visible health problem, that is, she was suddenly unable to walk.  Somehow, my brother saw this as a reason to snap to it and go help her out.

Now, I suppose my illness is less visible (they are oblivious to weight loss) and therefore less real to him.  So when I phoned him from Mass General a year ago and told him I was hooked up to all sorts of medical machines, this somehow didn’t register with him.  He lived an hour away and did not see me once, and didn’t call for two months.

Then, again, in February I told him I might not even make it to the hospital alive.  He didn’t give a shit, just gave me a pat on the back, told me good luck, and wrote me off.  I heard from him again two months later but I don’t know why he bothered.  I guess that was sometime in April.  I haven’t heard from him since.

I hear he sees my mom two or three times a week.  She lives two towns over from me.  He supposedly hates her….What can I conclude about this?  I guess he despises me even more.

She has money and I don’t…does this have anything to do with it?  Is he suddenly paying attention to her to make sure she leaves him something in his will?  Probably.

I have a handful of nasty letters I plan to write before I leave town.  You may say it’s completely stupid, but how can I ruin what’s already gone to pot anyway?  It might actually give me a sense of satisfaction to tell my brother to go to hell.  I also plan to contact one or two people out of my past and tell them that what they did really hurt me.

One is C, someone I knew in 1982 and 1983.  This person has become a therapist.  Oh yes, it wasn’t hard to track her down.  I was kinda surprised cuz it wasn’t her major.  Oh, so understanding, such bullshit.  Maybe she doesn’t remember that she freaked out because of my mental illness and dumped me just like that, just when I needed a friend the most.  She was actually my best friend at the time.  Poof!  Out of my life.

I really think the only reason my abusive roommate kept on being my friend was so that she could have someone to verbally abuse and yell at and put down.  She really was crap.  She wanted me on meds just so that she could steal them from me.  I remember giving her a bottle of pills I no longer took.  I was on a benzo, and I noticed pills disappearing from the bottle.  Once, there was one capsule remaining.  It seemed suspicious.  I opened it and there was no powder in the capsule.  She was drunk all the time and destroyed a lot of my property in her drunken rages.  I think also she used me for the money, or, rather, my parents’ money.

Once, I was toying with the idea of spending half the week at home and half the week out of town at a rinky-dink halfway house, only I hadn’t yet found out how much the place sucked.  Well, the abusive roommate phoned me at the hospital and said she didn’t want me to go to the halfway house because then she couldn’t use my car.  I AM NOT KIDDING YOU!  After she hung up, I started crying and slammed the phone down.  The nurse started yelling at me for slamming the phone. I couldn’t talk to those staff people, so I told my psychologist (who came to the  hospital) and he said he would talk to the staff and explain that this roommate of mine is about as heartless as you can get.  I was so, so glad to be rid of her when she finally moved out!  And yet I sweet-talked and said how much I’d miss her, lying cuz I was afraid of incurring her wrath and setting off more abuse.  She and her husband were so happy when I went to Gould Farm and they had full use of my car.  They ruined my car, by the way.  I had to junk it after they were done with it, and my brother made me promise that I would never lend the new car to anyone or let anyone get their mitts on it.  Well, no, she is one person I am not sending a nasty e-mail to.  I wonder if she’s even figured out how to use a computer or write an e-mail, anyway. She wasn’t too bright.

Oh, I am just such an anger machine.  Just a bitch no one wants to hang out with.  I have no value as a person.  You can take this any way you want.


Eating disorders treatment? Think twice….

My new case manager and I have discussed getting into treatment that is either inpatient or residential.  I feel that I need this and she agrees.  If you are looking for eating disorders treatment at a “higher level of care” please be aware:

First of all, I had always thought that being on Medicaid and Medicare would make it impossible to get into residential care.  Actually, I’ve discovered that some places have very clever financial people who can get your state’s Medicaid office to make an single-case exception. 

No residential place takes Medicare that I know of.

I looked into inpatient and there seem to be a number of options at this level atmedical facilities. I am sure these are at  least on paper very short term. But if they know your insurance won’t cover much outpatient or mid-level care, they may push for you if you are motivated and need to stay longer.  I have yet to speak with these people in person.

Now, here’s the clincher.  These places are extremely restrictive.  I thought Walden was bad, but when I checked out this site:


I found out otherwise.  One place does not allow you one moment alone, period.  One reviewer said 30 minutes of phone calls are allowed each WEEK!  One place always opens your snail mail and reads it.  Even prisoners have more rights.

Just about every place censors your reading material.  Sure, I can understand that they don’t want you bringing diet books there or fashion magazines.  But most of these places require that you are only allowed their “approved” reading that is treatment-related, that is, they supply what you read.  I am wondering if they would censor religious texts as well.  I am sure most would allow the Christian Bible, but what about the sacred texts of other religions?  What about materials written in foreign languages?  How would they monitor that?  Would they automatically take away a text if they had doubts?  Walden allowed any book but it had to be “approved.”  Magazines were not allowed.

As for visiting hours, these places have either no hours at all or very limited, like an hour every other day.

Sure, they have equine therapy and fancy art equipment, even pools and rope-climbing therapy, but if you are not treated with dignity and respect, how can these things help?

The food at all these places certainly sounds healthier than Walden.  Mirasol in Arizona didn’t even serve sugar-laden Ensure.  Instead, they made their own supplements out of natural ingredients.  They did not serve things like commercial processed junk food (Nutri-grain bars, chips of all kinds, etc).  I was rather impressed, but then read that Mirasol has filed for bankruptcy.  Sad.  Mirasol sounded like the least restrictive place that I saw on the reviews.

Most of these places have much, much better quality food than Walden.  They have their own chefs and they serve a nice variety of healthy food.   Some places are not all that clean as far as keeping utensils clean and having cooking staff wear gloves.  It sounded like some places violated health regulations.

I know that McLean Hospital was about the filthiest place I’ve ever been. You had to wipe your feet off before putting on your socks because the floor was so gritty.   This was inpatient, mind you.  Also, others can vouch for me that the food was barely edible.  They regularly served greasy burgers, greasy macaroni and cheese, etc.  If you ever have to go to McLean, I’d only trust the Kosher food, which is fully packaged and prepared by a Kosher food company off-site.

There are places that allow laptop use and cell phone use if these do not have cameras.  The staff keep these items for you.  This is understandable due to theft, but I am wondering how many hours you are allowed to use these things per day/week.

I can see why there are so few places in Massachusetts, where we have patients’ rights laws to protect us.  In other states, no such laws exist.

For example, Massachusetts law states that a patient has the right to dress and do toileting activities in privacy.  This means that watching you shower, brush your hair or your teeth, and pee and poop is illegal.   Other states do not have this protection.  Massachusetts allows access to attorneys and clergy whenever you want (within reason).  Other states…who knows?

What if I am stuck at a so-called “Christian-based” facility and I choose not to say the Lord’s Prayer?  What if I feel uncomfortable in a group where God is repeatedly referred to as “he”?  What if I feel uncomfortable having others’ ideas of God pushed on me?  I don’t think anyone has a right to push God on anyone.  The religion I grew up with, Judaism, specifies that we are not to worship any human, dead or alive.  This includes Jesus, as a matter of fact, in Judaism, Jesus’ existence is not acknowledged.  My current religion, UU, does not recognize the Trinity or recognize Jesus as deity or anything more than human.  What if I feel that my own spiritual beliefs are a personal matter?

Some of these places are 12-step based, but I’m not sure how I feel about the 12 steps.  They seem very Christian to me.  Christ is not mentioned, but I don’t think the idea of God should be pushed on anyone.  Hindus, after all, believe in hundreds of gods, and this needs to be respected.  Many 12-step meetings end with the Lord’s Prayer, which mentions not only Christ but the so-called Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit.  I haven’t a clue what this Holy Spirit is supposed to be!  Some meetings did away with reference to a male god, but many still say “he.”  There is no one right way when it comes to religion.  I truly believe this.

My recommendation is that if you are considering any of these places, do not judge them by their websites, propoganda, or the “testimonials” they publish on their websites.  Speak to people who have been there, or read independent reviews written by patients.  Be like a detective.  Question everything.  Make a list of questions and ask the admissions person for answers.  Write down the answers and make sure you tell them you are making notes or recording the call, so there will be less chance of them bullshitting you or putting you off.  Know the rights that patients are granted by law in the state where you are going to be treated.

Again, here’s the review website: http://www.edtreatmentreview.com/

And here’s the link to MindFreedom International: http://www.mindfreedom.org.

I am definitely giving MindFreedom a call today.  I have a MindFreedom shield in place, meaning that this organization has it documented that I refuse involuntary treatment and I also refuse to have a feeding tube inserted involuntarily.  This means forced medications and forced ECT, etc.

I plan to ask which states have rights laws in place.  It has been impossible to find this out through Google searches.

I would suggest researching on your own and not relying on admissions people to give you a straight answer.  For instance, I called Walden Behavioral Care a couple of weeks ago and asked some rather basic questions such as whether they treat binge eating.  They said, “We are a general eating disorders unit and treat all eating disorders.”  But I insisted on knowing what they were doing to help people with this behavior.  I stated that they had no treatment for it while I was there, no groups on how to not binge eat.  All I got was two minutes of advice from a nutritionist that obviously knew little about it and had never had the problem herself. So the admissions guy hemmed and hawed and put me off.  Finally, on my insistence, he said he would investigate further.  I never heard back from him.  Another admissions person said they had a “new night group” for binge eating, but this could mean every day or it could mean once a week.  I had the impression that this group was held off-site, but could be wrong about this…in that case, they could deny you privileges to go to the one group that treats this behavior.

So…although I was rather okay with going to one of these places yesterday, and was encouraged and actually amazed that I would be able to go with out-of-state Medicaid, I am distraught over the REAL STORY of what these places are like.

July 4 happy birthday

They say today is our country’s birthday.  Makes no sense to me, really.  It seems like the entire continent has been around for billions of years.  Or maybe millions, I’m not sure.  Surely, people have lived here a very long time, well before Europeans showed up with African slaves.

I am born in this country of Eastern European and Jewish descent.  My grandparents were born in this country, but almost all of my great grandparents were immigrants.

I have never had a slave.  Don’t laugh.  Slavery exists.  It flourishes, not only in places we know about where children are sex slaves and military slaves, but right here in America.

It is happening behind closed doors.  It is happening in the happiest of families.  Or so they appear.

Have you heard of marital rape?  Have you heard of psychological torture?  Have you heard of bullying? And yes, I have been a slave myself.  Back in high school.  Now I have an eating disorder and a life I hate.

Racism and all forms of bigotry are happening all over, not just in places where you’d expect it such as the Deep South.  Have you ever been turned down from a job because of your weight?  Have you been denied medical care or received inferior care because of your past history, or because of your economic status, or because you have ever taken an antipsychotic drug?

So many people have died here in the Land of Plenty due to societal hatred and judging.  I’m sure everyone who is reading this has either seen it first hand, or read about someone, somewhere.

Anyway, July 1 was the anniversary of my eating disorder.  I abhor the practice of calling my eating disorder “Ed.”  Please, I stopped watching Captain Kangaroo and Mr.  Rogers a long, long time ago.  I do not need to play silly Ed games, or talk to Ed like he was a clown doll.  I do not need nutrition education bingo games, or any other kiddie stuff.

My eating disorder has been around 32 years.  You know something? I’d say the average age of the staff people at Walden was 26. At this point, the only people I trust are those with eating disorders themselves.  We are the ones with experience and the so-called “specialists” know so much less by comparison.

Being “normal weight,” for me, sucks like you wouldn’t believe.  It has sucked for months now.  No way is this worth it.  My body feels like I’m dragging every step.  I have never been so consistently suicidal, and it’s been months now.

A week ago, I prayed to God for forgiveness.  I had no one else to ask.  I would have gotten down on my knees but one of my knees has a bunch of screws in it.  Probably would have fallen right over cuz I was bawling so hard. The Kleenex I used to wipe my tears are still strewn all over the floor.

I so very much wish God would take me.  Catholics get Last Rites when they die.   I haven’t a clue what that entails.  I gave myself permission to die quite some time ago and I think that’s enough.

Happy birthday to the rest of you.  Have a nice July.

This Hunger Is Secret – news!

I am proud to say that sometime the week of the 9th, I’ll be “signing off” my paperback, and it will be in print shortly.  What is thrilling is that I am writing my “John Hancock” not here at home via e-mail, but in London, at my publisher’s office.  My publisher is Chipmunkapublishing.  The office itself is located in the Canary Wharf district. They have recently switched to a new building, but it is very close to the one I visited in November.  I think their old building was being remodeled or something and this was the reason for the move.

Not only that, but very soon a new version of the e-book will be substituted for the old version.  I believe this is a free download for those of you who already have the e-book, so long as you have a registered account with Chipmunkapublishing.  I also believe Amazon will supply the Kindle update for free.  Please, please don’t take my word for it, and wait till the substitution is made, in case I’m wrong about the free download.  I’ll let you know when all’s a-okay.

How is the new e-book different?  The main change is that all the glitches that appeared as a result of file conversion and passing from one computer to another (and between continents) have been fixed. The other major change is that my proofreader extraordinaire, Tiffany Maxwell, has rescued my punctuation and made it spotless.  She also honored my request to fix up the technical problem with the dashes, substituting the clumsy-looking hyphens that Chipmunka put in there and changing them to proper “m” dashes.  My publisher pointed out that the most important thing here was consistency.

I am now waiting for Will at Chipmunka to return the file I sent a while back.  There were some page number issues that needed addressing.  I’m sure the file will be in my hands very shortly, and we’ll be able to proceed.

While double-checking the new e-book file, I found spots in two chapters where the indented paragraphs were indented a speck too much.  Just to make sure, I went through the entire file and checked that there were no other places where this occurred.  There weren’t.  All other problems were ones that occurred in my own copy-and-paste action, for whatever reason, and were simple to fix.

The weird thing was that the chapter that consistently messed up formatting-wise was the first of my two “Family Therapy” chapters, which are the funniest chapters of the book, in my opinion.  Actually, I believe my wonderful stand-up comedy instructor, Bob Gautreau, would agree.  My very first stand-up act was based on these chapters!

Above all I would  like to say to writers out there, beware….If you do any editing to your Acknowledgements page, make sure you don’t accidentally delete someone’s name!  I did exactly that.  A while back, I found that the list was getting longer, and the page, therefore, had become cumbersome to read.  So I simplified the entire page.  This was when I made the accidental deletion.  I’m so glad I read it all over carefully, and found my mistake in time.

In only two hours, the sun will be rising in London, England.  Not long after, Jason, Will, and Andrew will be headed over to the Chipmunka offices.  They will find my e-mail.  Yes, the ball is rolling.  Hello, World.

Regarding the use of swear words in writing, speaking, and reading from my own works

When we use swear words in speech, there are certain do’s and don’t’s.  These have somewhat changed over the years, but I notice that despite the loosening of taboo, most people are cautious when using these words, and would agree with the statement, “It depends on the situation.”  I know a few people who choose not to use these words ever, and others who come out with the “F” word a number of times in each sentence they utter.

Toward the end of his life, Joe used the “F” word indiscriminately.  It wasn’t that he was angry, but rather that he’d adopted it as an adjective to use in a way that I use the word “wicked” in a sentence.  I believe he was hardly aware that he was doing it, and had no clue that someone might not like hearing the word.  People around us realized this, and lovingly forgave him.  They knew that when he came up with the “F” word, it was more often than not a sign that he was overwhelmed with positive emotion, or extremely impressed with something, such as, “That’s fucking amazing!”  I forgave him as well, even though I was occasionally embarrassed at places like restaurants where there were families seated nearby who may not want their kids to hear.

Which brings me to my next point: these words are still considered “adult language.”  So in many families, it is considered taboo to say these words in front of kids or to teach a child to use them.  We are warned of songs and movies that contain “adult language.”  In many situations, it’s the law that this disclaimer is stated in reviews, introductions, and  previews.  If “adult language” shows up in a movie, it may be given a rating that indicates it’s meant for older audiences.  If a movie is rated G, rest assured that you won’t find a single swear word in it.  But of course it’s rather naive to believe that a child won’t learn these words as his or her English vocabulary increases.

As a kid growing up in the sixties, I was a latecomer to this type of vocabulary.  To shelter a kid from “adult language” was the norm in those days.  Sure, my dad would come out with “damn” at times if he accidentally hit his finger while trying to hammer in a nail, so it wasn’t like I hadn’t heard the word.  It is weird how a kid mind works.   For whatever reason, if “shit” had ever been uttered in my presence, it didn’t register at all until I was taught the word by another kid, who told me it was a sin to say it and made me promise I wouldn’t taddle on her.  Eventually, we decided that some swear words were “dirtier” than others, so we ranked them.  “Damn” was barely a swear.  “Shit” was fairly bad.  “Fuck” was an absolute no-no.  We didn’t even think about “ass.”  Ass was a kind of farm work animal that was mentioned a zillion times in our very own  Bible, which of course among us Jews meant what the Christians refer to as the Old Testament, or, more specifically, the more holy part of the Bible, the Torah, or Five Books of Moses.  Yeah, there are asses all over the Torah.  I don’t recall hearing the word “asshole” until well into college.  These swear word compounds, such as “motherfucking” or “bullshit” weren’t used much back then, at least to my recollection, with the exception of “Goddammit.”

My dad said “damn” and “goddamn” quite a bit, but usually he’d mutter these under his breath and never used them in his “lectures” to us about poor grades or about the evils of faking an illness to stay home from school.  He’d swear to himself while fixing things if the fixes weren’t working out.  Occasionally, he’d get pissed and say, “Goddammit, Julie, can’t you see I’m busy?” or something like that.  My mom generally didn’t swear.

When I was in second grade…let’s see, I must have been just turning seven in the middle of the school year, in January…we went skiing and I had a bit of a tumble.  I had a minor ankle sprain.  I think I spent only a day on crutches, maybe two or three.  It didn’t hurt but it was a good way to get excused from stuff I didn’t really want to do, such as making my bed or cleaning my room.  My mom, remembering the advice of an aunt, had enrolled me in a music class, but I used the sprained ankle as excuse not to go.  (Actually, this kid Robbie Blake, who used to tease me horribly, attended this class and terrorized me with a clave drenched with his saliva.  Claves are generally used in pairs.  These are wood sticks you hit together that make a nice plunking sound upon impact.  I haven’t a clue if he had the other clave in his possession, but my main worry was the germ warfare.)  So I was delighted to use the sprain as the perfect excuse to get out of going to this music class.  My excuse worked brilliantly.  A few days without being tormented by Robbie was very nice.

It came  time for Show and Tell.  Do they still play this game in schools? I got up in front of Miss MacDonald’s class, my homeroom, and did my little song and dance about “damn music lessons.” I was clueless that this wasn’t said in class or anywhere at the school.  Miss MacDonald took me aside and lectured me on my inappropriate language.  I was so, so embarrassed and I rarely made any presentations for Show and Tell for quite some time.

I believe I was in junior high when my brothers made an amazing discovery: Philip Roth’sPortnoy’s Complaint. Yep, they had leafed through the pages and bookmarked (a real bookmark?  Huh?) the pages where there were zillions of swears.  We read this in secrecy, over and over to ourselves and each other, clueless as to what was going on in the book. Looking back, I am fairly certain that our absolute favorite passage was just someone’s rant.  There was a big problem that my brothers and I ran into when this paperback book ended up with its spine creased right at that page.  I think it was then that our parents found out.  I was embarrassed.  We weren’t punished, though. The book was right on the bookshelf and not hidden away somewhere. It wasn’t like we’d gone leafing through my mother’s underwear drawer.

The word “nigger” had long since change status, but was far from the swear word it is today.   My mom explained that the proper word was “negro,” and that “nigger” was bad because it was slang. We weren’t allowed to use slang, believe it or not.  The explanation as to what constituted slang was very confusing.  Slang was for low-lifes, my mom explained.  We are a proper Jewish family.

In our neighborhood, we kids joked that parents, upon hearing their kids swear, would put soap in the kids’ mouths. We kids debated at length whether this constituted morally appropriate punishment.  I heard rumor that there were a handful of parents that did, in fact, do the soap thing.  They were probably from the same families where having Dad take off his belt to dole out punishment was an everyday occurrence, but that’s pure speculation on my part.

I believe it was one of my brothers who sang the praises of the word “fuck.”  He pointed out that it was perhaps the most versatile word he knew.  What I know now is that when a word becomes that versatile and flexible in the way it is used, it automatically becomes meaningless.   After all, if one were to say “fuck you” to someone, what is one saying specifically?  Nothing harmful, really.  It does not constitute any kind of threat in the legal sense of in any other way.  It says nothing that is tangible, so how can it truly be an insult? Saying “fuck you” causes no bodily harm.  Bad vibes, yes, if you see human relation in terms of vibes.  One thing is clear, though, it is generally considered to be a rude thing to say.  One has to be careful when saying it in friendly manner or in jest, because surely it can be taken in a way that is not intended.

The last time I said the words “fuck you” to anyone, if I recall correctly, was while I was a patient at Walden Behavioral Care.  This was after I had gone to my room and burst into tears in utter frustration because once again, I’d tried to make a point while in a group and I’d been interrupted and told that what I was saying was “inappropriate.”  The staff absolutely loved using the word “inappropriate,” a word that is often used while correcting a child’s behavior.  Of course, I hadn’t even finished making my point.  My point was quite appropriate.  I was interrupted mid-sentence, in fact.  As a writer, I abhor censorship.  I was furious.  This was the one meeting I literally walked out of.

When you’re locked up and completely under control of these staff people in an eating disorders unit, that is, all bodily functions controlled and monitored by staff, all conversations monitored and eavesdropped on for “appropriateness,” you feel so, so vulnerable.  If you have never been to one of these places, you just don’t know.  The idea is that we are to completely give up all control over ourselves and bow down to these staff and their so-called research-backed “treatment.”  They make every attempt to brainwash us into thinking that we know nothing, we are totally wrong about the world, and they are always, always the right ones.   For some unfortunates, this brainwashing lasts a lifetime, and this is precisely how people are turned into chronic mental patients.  I’ve been there, trust me.

In my utter despair, I ran to my room, burst into tears, and let myself have a nice good cry.  I sobbed aloud.  A staff person came in after a while and, assuming wrongly I was approaching a state of mental instability instead of reaping the benefits of letting out my frustrations aloud, attempted to tactfully calm me, saying, “Julie, deep breaths….”  I was so furious, only because of her attitude, that is, her desire to censor my nice good cry in the name of keeping this unruly patient “under control,” that is, control of staff, that I blurted out that lovely two-word phrase, “Fuck you.”  The look of shock on her face was priceless.  I knew all along that the three actions I’d taken, that is, walking out after being censored, sobbing loudly, and then making the statement, “Fuck you,” were symbolic acts done as a matter of principle.

So in comes the covering weekend doc to see patients.  Let me tell you about weekend doctors: These are highly paid folks who see patients for about two minutes each, or not at all, and charge a zillion to their insurance.  At Walden, specifically on the eating disorders side, our weekend docs varied in quality of advice and prescribed “treatment” doled out.  Most were residents from nearby hospitals.  It is the law that while inpatient you have to be seen by a doctor every day, or at least I think it is, so this was all done as token so the hospital could say it had been done.  We were told by staff that the weekend docs really couldn’t do anything, anyway, except to prescribe something like an antacid or Tylenol, or, in rare cases, to respond to an emergency.  The weekend docs varied, like I said.  From my point of view, some were worthless, some were…shall I say, assholes?…and some were darned interesting to talk to.  Once, one of them took the time, quite a bit of time, actually, to carefully read my chart, but this, trust me, was a glaring exception, and this didn’t take place at Walden, hardly.  (Let me add that most doctors of every specialty in most hospitals do not read patient charts but lie and say they do.)

It was no surprise to me, after having made this “fuck you” statement, that I was assigned as first in line to see the weekend doc.  The staff, or, rather, most of the staff, probably figured I needed to be heavily medicated, that is, chemically forced to shut up and obey.  Meanwhile, I had done quite a bit of written analysis of the situation.  I considered myself well-prepared to see this doc.  And I hoped I wouldn’t have to deal with one that fell into the “asshole” classification.

I walked in.  The young doc I saw before me was a bearded guy, wearing, if I recall correctly, the classic hospital uniform often worn by nurses on medical floors.  They no longer wear white, neither males nor females, except for their lab coats.   This garb consists of loose button-down shirts or shirts that are snapped and have handy pockets, and drawstring or elastic waist pants that resemble the “johnny” pants often worn by patients.  Women might wear flowery tops, and nurses in pediatric wards might wear teddy bear tops or tops that have candy canes, confetti, and ice cream cones printed on them, or perhaps cutesie cartoon kittens and puppies.  You get the idea.  The guy had a pen in his hand and my chart already out there before him.

He grinned at me.  I grinned back.  Our eyes met.

Anyone who sets pen to paper is a writer, but I was the only patient there, to my knowledge, with graduate training in writing.  My training gave me incredible ability.  I was only then beginning to realize this power, to seize it and put it to good use.   So the fact that I had my notebook, with my writings inside, right in my hand while I sat there gave me all the confidence I needed.

The doc had already been primed by the staff, of course.  I knew they’d told him I was “out of control.”  I knew they’d hoped he would medicate me so I’d be less of a nuisance and less of a threat to them.  I was a threat, actually, because I challenged the lies they used to keep control over the entire patient population.

The person he saw before him was hardly out of control.  She was intelligent, well-educated, well-poised, witty, and articulate.  In fact my skills in these areas were emerging rather suddenly and were a delight to me.  With my written notes to back me, I told him in the most organized fashion I could, the story of what had happened.  I ended with the statement I made a bit ago regarding the absolute harmlessness of the phrase “fuck you.”  I pointed out that I had not hit anyone or caused bodily harm and I had not harmed myself.  Then I said, “You know, doc, I could have said something far, far more hurtful, but I didn’t.  I could have said, “You’re fat.”

Even before I said this, I had already won him over.  We launched into a lively, intelligent, and enjoyable discussion.  We laughed quite a bit.  He seemed curious about my writing, so I shared a bit about my history, how I earned my degree…stuff like that.  I asked him questions about his own life, how his studies were going, and I must say, of all the talks I had with doctors the entire time I’d been there, this was the most enjoyable and stimulating.  I skipped out of there, precious notebook in hand, grinning at the nurses, whom I guessed would soon hear of the outcome: no meds, no chemical restraints for me.  No sirree.  Mostly because of my well-thought-out analysis of the words, “fuck you.”

Yes, writing is empowering.  It’s the most empowering thing I’ve ever done.  But powerful writing cannot be overdone or it loses its power.  If you use too many exclamation points, they lose their power.  If you use all CAPS, you risk discrediting yourself. And the same goes for overuse of swear words.  Depending on your style, a swear word can be used to shock or amuse, or both.  You might have one of your characters swear, and the meaning, intensity, and perhaps shock value of the swear will vary depending on the character.  If the reader sees too much “fuck this” and “fuck that,” the word “fuck” fades into invisibility, losing all meaning and power.

I learned this the hard way while writing my chapter “Walking the Line” in my soon-to-be release-in-paperback memoir, This Hunger Is Secret: My Journeys Through Mental Illness and Wellness.  The voice of my character, that is, my voice, is a bit different in this chapter from the voice I wrote in in other chapters.  My awesome advisor at Goddard, Beatrix Gates, was quick to point out my overuse of swear words.  She made many suggestions as to how I could trim them out of the text, showing me line-by-line examples of how I might do this.  I immediately saw what she was saying and realized how my overuse of profanity weakened my writing.  In fact, all at once it was quite glaring and obvious to me.  So I began the enjoyable process of very careful editing.  I paid attention to rhythm and timing, and kept in mind the subtle humor I meant to convey as well.

Unfortunately, I did a reading of this piece far too soon, before I had done adequate trimming.  It was the only reading I did while at Goddard that I’d say completely flopped.  Not only that, but the glaring faults in my writing came clear to me while I was actually standing there, reading aloud to the audience.  I watched in dread, out of the corner of my eye, the faces in the audience fall, and fall, and fall, not just a couple of faces, but what seemed to me like every single face before me.

Oh shit.  Shit shit shit shit shit.  I let my audience down.  I disappointed them.  I suck as a writer. I am an amateur, a coward.  And so on.

Since then, I’ve been very careful when choosing what to read to an audience.  Whether the work contained swear words or not didn’t matter so much as whether the work was adequately polished.  I vowed that I would never, ever suck in front of an audience again.  I decided that if I were to present an unpolished work, that is, a draft, it had to be presented in a certain way otherwise my presentation would flop miserably.

Yes, I have read unpolished works in front of audiences since then. But I learned my lesson.  Remember the show “Candid Camera”?  This was unpolished work at its finest.  Before us, we didn’t see professional actors, but ordinary people with no training whatsoever who didn’t even know they were being filmed.  And yet the show was hilarious.  It was tastefully done, ironically, by lacking taste. The scenes were filmed as is, and then–hey, listen up, this is important–the film was clipped and edited and introduced with oh-just-so-perfect explanation, not too much and not too little, taking into account the concepts of suspense and anticipation. My guess that after all these decades, the show is still on air and still well-loved by young and old alike.

So I kept this in mind, quite a bit ago, when I read from my work, The It Notebook.  This work is in fact what ended up being what I might call a “focused journal.”  I’ve never altered any of it from its original, unpolished state.  And yet I felt the work had enough merit and was timely enough that I wanted to present it to a live audience.

I picked out excerpts for their emotional intensity.  I made sure that there was not only variety but stark contrast between the segments I chose.  I kept my my entire reading relatively brief.  I put all my heart, guts, and soul into my delivery.  What I was presenting was a window, a rare glimpse into a very painful part of my life that had only recently ended, almost too recently.  I stood there and wept while I read, not a lot, not in a way that interfered with my reading, not in a way that would make me appear helpless or out of control or someone to be pitied.  My tears, which were of course involuntary, represented my candidness and honesty and depth of sharing.  And you know something?  It worked.  It worked damn well.

This reading, done at the now-defunct Mouthful Reading Series, was in a way a closure for me on a chapter of my life, the chapter I think of as the time I spent with It.  This time period seems like so, so long ago now, like history I guess.  While I was going through it all,  I had no clue if I would spend years with It, or if It would go away fairly quickly.  In fact, the latter was the case.  The act of writingThe It Notebook was what It was all about.  The notebook had to be written because it was an intrinsic part of what I was going through.  Never mind that while It was happening in my head, there was little else I could do but write.

I wrote.  I empowered myself.  It was all just so cool, now that I think of it.  Looking back, I was beginning to find my Power long, long before it became clear to me that I was anything but powerless.  This Power lay within the act of writing.  It was always, always there, waiting me to grasp onto, and for the sake of survival, hold deeply within me, with full commitment, ever so close to my heart.