I did this for You-Tube, adding a bit of an intro.
Again and again, I have proven those “experts” wrong. I will prove them wrong again. Go to any psych ward and look around. What do you see? You see the faces of folks who got there by accident. Folks who have been misunderstood. There’s nothing wrong with anyone there. These are people that the world needs to take time to listen to. We mental folk have a few things to say to humanity.
It’s Halloween. Why don’t we all escape, eh? Let the world know we exist.
I don’t have a title yet. I’m not a poet, but I’m thinking of writing the whole thing in verse anyway. Why not?
Just cuz it’s in verse doesn’t mean it’s poetry. If it’s in verse, it’s in verse, that’s all. Why? Cuz I feel like it.
I got a wicked good idea for a starting chapter. So I might…uh, start with that. And then run with it. I suppose that’s the way life works. We start someplace. We run.
Okay, it happens every year, every fall. I get to asking myself, “Okay, Julie, you’ve got a birthday coming up in January, but will you really make it that far?” So I play a stupid game with myself. I tease myself. Am I the only one who does this? Of course not. There’s nothing sick or wrong about it. It’s quite healthy and good to think about your own mortality now and then.
Let’s face it, if you are over 50, maybe it’s about time you DID face your own mortality, and if you haven’t, why not? If you are a smoker then you damn well better start thinking. Life doesn’t last long anyway no matter who you are and no matter how “healthy” you think your “lifestyle” is. You can go to the gym a zillion times a week, you can do no drugs and wear a seat belt 100% of the time, you can have the best health insurance, you can have a nice, well-kept yard and you can keep on changing those batteries in every smoke detector in your house, and still drop dead tomorrow.
Do you think money changes anything? Statistically, poor people don’t live as long. However, when that meteor comes crashing down, try to protect yourself with your dollar bills, your plastic credit cards, and your bank statement. It won’t work.
So, my game. Will I make it to 56? I can’t imagine 56. Maybe I’ll drop dead. Maybe I’ll be alive.
All I can think of is that my birthday always sucks. It sucks because I haven’t got a family to celebrate with, and every year, on my birthday, I am reminded like a slap in the face of that loss.
I guess my 50th sucked worse than any birthday on earth. Crying all day by myself. That was my 50th birthday. Now who spends their 50th birthday alone all day crying?
After that, I told myself no birthday could top that. Nothing could be worse. Only 53 was damn awful, too. Can’t forget that one. I was incarcerated on a nut ward and get this: the staff decided to “forget” my birthday cuz they knew I had anorexia and they couldn’t decide how to deal with the “cake” problem. So, not a word, nothing. Completely forgotten. No song, no cards, nothing.
A patient, a really nice one, got disgusted. She went to staff and complained, asked why they had totally ignored my birthday. They told her outright. “Julie would not have eaten the cake if we had gotten her one, so we decided to skip it.” The patient was shocked, but told me anyway. I’m glad she was honest with me rather than keeping the truth from me.
But maybe it’s better to be alive on my birthday and maybe it’s enough just to be thankful for that, in a very private way by myself. I’m here and lucky. It didn’t have to be this way.
If no one likes that, tough. If they don’t want to celebrate, then surely, they are missing the point. It’s incredible that I’m here and I sure appreciate it even if no one else on earth does.
I suppose there are folks that do indeed care about me on this planet. There are some, I suppose, that hold back, that have a very, very strange way of saying that they care. Well, so be it. I’ll never even find out. So what’s the point? Guess I’ll die and never even know. That’s fucking sad.
I hadn’t planned to do Nano this year. But the urge is coming upon me quite suddenly as November looms. It’s an option, anyway. I’ve done no specific planning for this, but much thinking.
There are so, so many books I want to write, so many ideas I have stored away. I have loads of writing energy. The actual task of writing will be a cinch. Narrowing down my topic is the main challenge over the next few days…if, in fact, I’m going to do this.
See, I think it was a couple of weeks ago that I phoned an organization and told them what happened at Mount Auburn. They told me to send it to them in writing, that is, write down what happened to me and mail it to them. I asked myself just how effective this was going to be. Why do I ask this? Because it’s not just Mount Auburn, it’s health care in general. It’s become a joke.
Yep, I’ve spoken to others. I’m not the only one. Not everyone agrees with me but many do. Let me give you some examples, but I won’t be specific here.
For instance, there are many who, like me, are also terrified to go to a doctor or enter a hospital for fear of abuse. They are terrified that they will come out in worse shape than when they went in. I’m talking about five or ten people with whom I have spoken or written to directly. Never mind those that I have read about. You can find these cases all over the Internet. Some are no longer alive and are out of my past. These are people that desperately wanted to get better just like everyone else. Trust me, everyone wants happiness, and everyone wants to be loved, and everyone wants kindness in their lives, and to be listened to, and to have their basic needs met. These weren’t people “who didn’t want recovery” or “had a bad attitude.” I guess it only looks like you’ve got a bad attitude after you’ve been abused far too many times. Abuse begets abuse.
I had a few conversations and interactions over the past few days that have had an impact on me. Most of these were brief but significant. Most were affirming.
Yes, this abuse exists.
No, I’m not the only one that has experienced abuse in health care. There are others. We are a growing group of concerned individuals.
To a person who has experienced the trauma of abuse the number one thing you can do to help that person is to be AFFIRMING. I truly believe this. You know what this means? I will tell you right now. Or I will eventually. No, I have no special skills or knowledge in this field and I’m not a therapist, but I have been through abuse myself, and I do know what sucks and what doesn’t suck about how people treated me afterward, and continue to treat me. Oh, I suppose I should put this in my book….
And I will.
Guess I need a title or something, eh?
The book I was writing, or trying to write in July was called How to get well and get out of the mental health system.
Or something like that. Guess what? I’m out. And I’m doing just fine.
I hardly ever speak to anyone anymore, so having a phone conversation today was one of those rare treats. The fact that people avoid speaking to me is because they are scared of me, not knowing where I am coming from. They only assume stuff, and they assume wrong, but they’d rather believe what they hear rather than get to know what makes me tick.
I don’t know why or how, but an huge block of people in my life have been weirdly silent lately, totally not speaking to me and avoiding me, locals that is. It’s like there’s this void, this silence, this emptiness. I think I know the cause. It’s so plain and obvious that at this point, I can only conclude that there must have been some joint decision to stay away from me. I can only be sad about it and try not to let it bug me.
I don’t want to call myself a social loser, cuz that’s not what I am. I remember having two very different experiences at the two different Goddard campuses. Oh, you could argue West Coast laid-backness, but that had nothing to do with it. The fact that I was bullied at the Plainfield, Vermont campus and considered a loser, and at the Port Townsend campus, here was a place where I suddenly had real friends and was accepted as a human being and was amazed out of my mind….All this was due to randomness. Due to being at the right place at the right time. Or dead wrong place. In July 2004 I ended up walked into my dorm room at Goddard in Plainfield and met my wonderful roommate. I can’t believe she is so stubborn as to still be my friend and still stick around, that’s incredible and she is talented and kind. Again, random luck. I always had great roommates at the Port Townsend campus and we’d have readings together and share our victories and struggles for the entire nine days we were together. And let each other into the house when we were locked out…..No, I’m not a loser. I have lots of fun. I forget my keys just as much as anyone else.
So this building where I live. From day one, they disliked me here for absolutely no reason. Never spoke to me, just decided, “No, we don’t like her.” There was no reason for it. Just random. I remember walking past them and I heard them say they didn’t like me and they didn’t like Puzzle and they never, ever asked me my name nor were they ever friendly. Hardly anyone introduced themselves by name. Hardly anyone will step into the elevator with me. They will tell me to get onto the elevator, then they will allow me to get onto it and then wait for the next one so they can get into a different elevator car. Do I have a disease? Will I attack them? Will I swear at them? Embarrass them? Guess so. Naw, that’s not it. They don’t even know why they don’t want to get near me. It’s the not knowing that’s the problem. What you don’t know scares you. They were told to STAY AWAY from me due to rumor, due to ignorance.
I suppose what you don’t know is a very, very scary, hyped up, out-of-proportion mystery. I am not that monster people think I am. In a few nights, though, we can all dress up our dogs and our kids and I can dress Puzzle all funny-looking. Happy Halloween!
I am so happy to be TV-free. I am also radio-free. I haven’t owned either for ages, nor have I watched a full-length movie. I do watch You-Tubes, but I don’t watch lengthy ones. I check the length beforehand, and anything over ten minutes, or even five, better be darned good or I won’t bother. I am never “glued to the screen” or anything like that. I can’t stand the TV-like ads on weather dot com, so I don’t go to that site often.
One thing I dislike about running at the gym is that I don’t feel all that safe running on the treadmill with my eyes closed. If I keep them open, I am unable to avoid seeing those TV screens. They stare me down.
Let me tell you, I am shocked at what I see. Of course, I so rarely see TV that it seems strange to me, unusual, kooky, bizarre. I ask myself why it is the way it is. I ask myself why it defies logic. Does what I see represent the society that I live in, or are these images that flash out of these boxes up on the wall the things that cause people to do what they do? Or both? Is this why society is so sick?
So this is what I see: I see violence, a lot of violence. I’d say just about all of it is violence against women. I’d say there is a lot of display of power and force through violence. Is this how we are supposed to solve our problems? Is this self-expression? Is violence some kind of answer? Does it solve anything? It seems like there is violence and then there’s some kind of kiss and make up. Okay, just sayin’. Do you hear me loud and clear or do I have to spell this out? No, I’m not talking about soap operas exclusively, I’m talking about every single commercial and every single regular show.
Okay, now about the daytime commercials. I always keep my fingers crossed that I won’t happen upon some commercial for some pill that we can all pop that will “fix” all our problems, especially one that will pay off the drug company CEO’s kids’ college bills in a jiffy and allow him and his cronies to retire early. I don’t like lies. Nor do I want my treadmill run at the gym to be accompanied by such gibberish.
But I do see other sorts of nonsense commercials, ones that truly make me wonder, “Who watches this crap? Do those companies really think people buy into this?” So for instance, the Rice Krispies commercial: “Buy this and feed this to your kid cuz it’s made of REAL RICE! It’s good for your kid!” And on and on.
Well, I think to myself, “I think it’s been years since I’ve purchased packaged cereal or eaten it except in captivity. I mean, Rice Krispies? Especially for those reasons. What kind of sense does that make? That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard, unless you are dying to hear that noise they make.
So here are ten (betcha I can think of that many, right off the top of my head) reasons why not to buy Rice Krispies:
1) First of all, if you want rice, buy rice! There’s more rice in rice than there is in Rice Krispies, and it’s far cheaper.
2) Rice Krispies are full of additives and plain rice has no additives.
3) Rice Krispies is packaged. You are paying extra for all that packaging.
4) That pretty picture on the package is advertising and the price you are paying for the Rice Krispies is paying for the ad. You get no nutrition from that pretty picture.
5) You will have to recycle that big box and it will take up loads of space in your recycling bin, or you will feel quite guilty if you toss it in the trash and pollute the environment. The plastic wrapper inside the box that packs in the Rice Krispies will be around forever. No, you aren’t getting nutrition from that plastic. You are paying for it and so are your children and your children’s children.
6) You might say, “Well, Rice Krispies are fortified with vitamins. Plain rice isn’t. Well, you can add so many different things to plain rice. You can add lentils, or vegetables, or fruit, or seasonings, or even powdered vitamins such as what I give Puzzle or a protein supplement if you’d like. Or seeds or nuts. Or meat or eggs. You can grind up dry rice into a flour and make your own Cream of Rice cereal, cook it and then add milk, or cook it with milk. So in that sense, you can do your own fortification.
7) Given the above, I would say that with Rice Krispies, you sure can’t do the variety of things you can do with plain rice. Sure, you can make Rice Krispie junk food squares, but beyond that, there are most likely hundreds times more recipes that contain “rice” than contain “Rice Krispies.” Rice is a better staple to have around the house. Since when do you see cookbooks called “Wok Cooking with Rice Krispies the Oriental Way,” or whatever, like we used to find in the 1970’s. I think something like that would snap, krackle, and pop out of print very quickly.
8) Speaking of snap, krackle, and pop, Rice Krispies get soggy. Even if you cook rice, it doesn’t get soggy. If dry rice sits in your pantry and is stored properly, it won’t go stale for a long time. A box Rice Krispies has a freshness date on it for a reason, dummy. Does that stuff contain preservatives? If so, yuck. If not, trust me, they will certainly get gross much faster anyway.
9) Is this really what you want to teach your kids? To eat this crap and that it’s healthy? Gluten free? Oh please. Just go TV free and stop watching those dumb ads.
10) Have I convinced you yet? Are you the one running on the treadmill next to me, glued to the set? Are you going to buy into this, and go traipsing to the grocery store on your way home from the gym and pick up a colorful box of Rice Krispies and give a bowl to Junior? I doubt he’ll be running on the treadmill in 30 years. Naw, he’ll be home watching a big screen TV with a beer in one hand, cigarette in the other.
So all the Juniors of the world and parents of Juniors….I want to ask you something, so if you can hear me above the deafening snap, crackle and pop of Rice Krispies and fake canned laughter, and you haven’t yet been blinded by the constant flickering light of the Big Screen (do you ever turn it off?)…
Have you ever, ever heard me complain of boredom? I’ll bet you haven’t. Cuz I don’t. I am never, ever bored. TV teaches you to rely on their dumb programming for entertainment. Your mind gets lazy. You forget how to make your own amusement. Keeping your mind active is a built-in ability and we are born with this. However, constant TV watching will supply us with this entertainment.
It’s like the thyroid supplement I take. Actually, my little dog Puzzle takes the same supplement. Let me have fun for a moment and make an analogy and I will make this medical analogy work. For both my dog and myself, our thyroid glands weren’t working well enough to sustain us. So an expert decided in both cases to make a certain switch. This is the switch: Both Puzzle and I now rely on synthetic thyroid hormone supplementation rather than using our own glands to produce this hormone. I have been taking thyroid supplementation for decades. Puzzle has been taking thyroid supplementation for a bunch of months and has been stable on her thyroid medication now for a while. Now this wasn’t something I was an expert at and there was no way that I could have made the decision on my own with the limited knowledge I have of the endocrine system, or had at the time, or ever will have. I think this all happened when I was 29 or so and I do recall a doctor who was a thyroid specialist feeling my neck over and over and running tests.
Now in my case and in Puzzle’s case, and in the case of anyone who takes thyroid supplementation for underactive thyroid, this is what occurs. This isn’t what happens with all medications and all conditions, but in the case of thyroid, yes, the thyroid get so, so lazy once it sees that you are taking the medication, that it shuts down completely and you must now take this synthetic thyroid supplement for the rest of your life.
You might ask why bother with the pill, then? Well, as I said, it’s a decision that my vet made because it was evident that no way was Puzzle’s thyroid gland capable of doing what it was supposed to be doing. So this was the best option.
Is TV YOUR best option? Well, this analogy works and doesn’t, or, rather, it’s a bit flawed. TV dependence isn’t necessarily permanent, even though most people think it is. They get very panicky without their favorite shows. They even record a show if they are going to miss it. Or they are in terrible suspense wanting to know what went on and what they missed in certain episodes if they were away from their precious sets or if there was a power outage, or, horrors! out camping, among nature and the wild creatures. Whom did the Bachelor pick? Oh dear!
Wow, the suspense is going to kill me.
Now, in rushes boredom. I told you, I am never bored. I don’t have my synthetic entertainment Big Screen to supplement me. I haven’t grown dependent on it. So my ability to keep my mind active has remained intact. It has never shut down. I am as active a daydreamer as a little kid. I talk to myself all the time. My mind plays. I have conversations with myself just like a kid. I write using my conversations. If you watch TV all the time, you indeed will lose this ability. Your mind will say, “Feed me! I’m so bored!”
Do you really want to be fed crap commercials and violence? Do you want to be fed what others want you to think? Or would you rather be an independent thinker, free of the baloney? Think about it. Trash your TV. Or, rather, take it to your local recycling center, sell it, or give it away. You will save a lot of money. You might save because you are no longer paying that expensive cable TV bill. You are no longer being duped by ads for the dumbest products I’ve ever seen. You will no longer have to worry about what your kids are watching. Once you get over the withdrawal period, guess what? You will find yourself no longer bored. In fact, your mind will be working better and you will now be able to pat yourself on the back and say with pride, “I am TV-free! I quit the habit.”
Well, just like me and Puzzle. Free.
I want to talk about the importance of listening and being heard. And having a voice of your own. It’s something we all need.
So I was a kid who grew up not having that. I got squelched. So did a lot of kids. You grow up and make up for it, hopefully. You find your own. Hopefully, it works out. You find good people and you find your way. Most do.
However, I ran into bad luck. That’s all. It wasn’t that fault of the people around me, nor was it my fault. Just a bunch of unlucky coincidences that piled up.
I told you that I was in a brainwashing cult. Now, what was good about the cult is that the cult was full of a bunch of people that I thought were good. I thought they were well intentioned. They seemed to care. I think for the most part, they indeed did care, it’s just that they were sleep-deprived. They were exhausted. They were beaten down. Taking orders, too. Not that I knew this. So a lot of what they were saying to me was said out of habit or rote. Even, “I love you,” had been said to so many newcomers that it was old hat to them. So I thought they were truly listening to me and truly cared and had the biggest hearts in the world, but really, their aim was to recruit me and rope me in as a permanent member on all costs. Also they wanted me to write checks that would pay for my stay, wanting to know how much was in my bank account at home. I learned later that many people’s bank accounts ended up emptied out and college funds got lost in this manner.
So think of it this way: a kid who hadn’t been listened to in a long time was finally listened to, falls in love with these folks, gives them a ton of money, decides this is The Way, then suddenly wakes up to the fact that these people are complete fakes. False gods.
Now, can’t you see this is what happens to many folks in the mental health system when they go to a quack doctor? The clear sign of a quack, in many instances, is that the quack bills himself/herself as the One and Only. You end up horribly dependent on the One and Only and then, boom! you find out this is a false god. Flat on your face. Same with some miracle cure or bogus treatment center you thought was going to be The Answer to Everything, The Cure. Well, there ain’t no magic in this world. There goes the money and off goes the doctor to some island or other corner of the country where he already has a license, trust me, under a different name, if he even has a license, if anything “happens” to you. Sorry, Charlie, there is no real tuna.
So you know what happens if you are right inside the inner workings of a psych unit and you try to communicate to the other patients, “Hey, buddy! You with the tube in your nose! Those groups are kinda brainwashing, don’t you think? Is ‘two glasses of milk each day’ really all that healthy? Or is the dairy industry just paying the American government to insist on it in our diets so they’ll stay rich and continue to make millions?”
So, boom! here comes staff: “You need to break it up! No more talking! No more conversation in the hall! Get to group!” So here, I get caught…as I was passing those notes.
And I would try…but sometimes, you just have to butt out of others’ business. Sometimes you see things you wish you didn’t. I’ve opened my trap when I wished I hadn’t, and there were times that I wish I’d reached out more.
The brainwashing done by the mental health system is far beyond what people are fully aware of. It isn’t until you remove yourself from the System (I do capitalize it because it’s so darned powerful, and it’s a concept, too) that you become aware of just how brainwashed you were. It has affected your word choices. Actually, it’s super important to undo that word choice thing.
Now, I don’t mean what they talk about in WRAP about undoing the use of “clinical” terminology. Naw, the word choice problem that needs undoing goes far beyond that. WRAP itself is clinical, in my opinion.
WRAP assumes there’s something wrong with you. No, you are talented and incredible and wonderful. You need to be listened to.
Medical words have their place and that’s why we have medical dictionaries for parts of the body and such. The Greeks and Chinese and Native Americans and Egyptians and early people all over the world named the body in many languages. These words are useful so let’s go ahead and use them. Vein. Thirsty. Kneecap. I broke my right leg. The exact name of the bone I broke is the right femoral medial condile. Now, that, in my opinion, is fairly specific useful information, perhaps if I am going through a security gate and the screws that were originally put in there to hold the bone together set off the alarm. If you know your ass from your elbow, you know that right femoral medial condile means those screws aren’t there to hold my head on. I don’t have screws for that yet. My head is screwed on fine. It’s the world that’s screwed up.
So, what I am saying is that folks run around talking about “coping.” Or being “mindful.” It’s getting disgustingly trendy, all this therapy talk. Truth is, it’s baloney.
We need love and kindness. Mindfulness and coping and “being present” may or may not get you anywhere, except you’ll certainly get slapped with a bill from the therapist.
Okay, I will end here and go on to Part Three in a bit. I need to do a few things, that’s why, so I need a break. I’ve already interrupted myself a few times too many.
Let’s put it this way: When you are in the wilderness, which of these will burn better and sustain a longer fire, keeping you warmer longer?
1) A huge pile of utility bills, credit card statements, cell phone bills, late payment due bills, harassing letters from credit companies, gas bills, college loan bills, and so on, or
2) The tiny number of dollar bills that may be in your wallet, if you even have any, or
3) Your bra, or
4) The American flag, or
No fair peeking at the answer sheet! You have 90 minutes to ponder this one. After that, you will freeze your butt off. Well, lotta folks gonna like that idea, cuz I do hear complaining, “My butt’s too big, I wanna chop it off!” So you want surgery?
Go ahead, tell me to shut up. I won’t.
My name is Julie Greene. I think enough has been written about the cult experience, that is, what happened to indoctrinees (is that a word? I just made it up….) while inside the cult, but what happened after they left?
I can only speak for myself. I was in shock. I hadn’t even known those very kind innocent-hearted people had been the Moonies. They were very kind, that is, until the last day or maybe 36 hours when it all suddenly turned sour on me. The tables had turned and things got quite nasty. Who were the bad guys now? Who are the good guys? In that last day and a half, when in my mind it clicked in me (this is in my memoir) we are being brainwashed and I need to GET OUT NOW and I need to alert as many other newcomers as possible that they, too, need to GET OUT….
Well, I got caught at that. Caught trying to secretly communicate the message, WE ARE BEING BRAINWASHED. WATCH OUT. I probably passed a note to someone I only thought was a newcomer but in fact wasn’t. Or the note ended up in the wrong hands. That’s why I got kicked out of the Moonies.
Oh, such intrigue, what a wonderful catch-me-if-you-can story it all was in the mind of a 21-year-old kid who happened to be on her this major Vision Quest anyway, that had already transformed her life. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
My panicked parents, meanwhile, had been on the verge of coming out to get me. Some horror embarrassment Julie Rescue Show that would have been, complete with my mom’s arm flings and sing-song show off drama. Eeks! No way did I want their interference and nosiness. This is my life, Mom and Dad. Butt out. So at the last minute, they called off their horses and canceled all the police work. We connected over the phone afterward, and that’s when they told me.
I said, “Naw, Mom and Dad, that was the Moonies?”
My parents said that yes, as soon as I had stated to them that the town I had been in (but was no longer) was called Boonville, California, they had phoned the Boonville police from Massachusetts and the police there said that there was some crazy Moonie encampment there. “And you better get you daughter out of there,” apparently the Boonville police had told my parents. I’m sure they had received many such panic-stricken calls from all over the world with unimaginable long-distance crackling on the line.
If I recall correctly, after I left, I immediately stayed with a poet and her second husband and her son who was a few years younger than me. I was quite taken by her poetry. I recently acquired a book of old poems she wrote. Her name is Joyce Carol Thomas. I found her and her husband to be quite interesting to converse with. Of course, the writer in me was in the making.
I then visited a friend of a friend whose cat was named Moon.
Oh, the cow jumps over the moon all day.
Then, I went to see my cousins in LA. Their names are Jane and David, a married couple. David was a wannabe movie producer or writer, I can’t recall which nor did I know the difference, as I was not, and am not, a movie watcher. I honestly don’t know if they are still married. I kinda think they aren’t, but don’t hold me to this. I went roller-skating and saw a fortune-teller on the beach.
I’ve left out the rides that took me from place to place. These, I’m sure, left an impression on me. But right now I can’t recall them.
I flew home after visiting my cousins, on an airplane, under the moon I guess. I’m not as great a flyer as a cow.
So I got home and asked myself, “How many days was I on the road?” I counted: 40 days and 40 nights. I counted again to be sure. Yep. Gee, Julie, you are fucking brilliant.
So I have said nothing so far about God, but I was of course deeply and secretly religious. I’d say many are, after having been in a cult, whether they believed in God before they were in the cult or not. I hadn’t.
To this day, I owe it to the Moonies that I acquired this ability, this understanding, this concept, that there possibly could be God, that is, not a god, but God. The brainwashing is gone but I still have that ability, and I’m grateful that I have retained this. Just that it’s possible. That’s enough for me.
All the Hebrew school and Torah study in the world never did that. Love can only give you a concept of God.
With apologies to my mom and dad.
I will continue with Part Two to this entry in the next entry, just to break it up a bit.