Andrew Solomon’s article on our border control officials having denied entrance to a Canadian visitor who had once attempted suicide, and my experience

So here’s the link:

I probably told you my amusing experience about my two trips to England.

First time, I told them I was on disability here in the US.  I got grilled.  How much money did I have with me?  They wanted “proof” that I was really meeting with my publisher, the address of the publishing house and the itinerary of the seminar, even my receipt of payment for the seminar.  They wanted to see my return ticket, and they didn’t seem to understand what an e-ticket was. I finally showed them my number from Expedia and explained how that worked. They wanted to know how much was in my bank account and all sorts of financial information, how much my relatives could send me if I ran out of money, who I knew in the UK, and so on. They did not search me or my belongings. Finally, they let me go.

Getting back into the US was no prob.  A snap.

Then, the second time I went to the UK, again, I was meeting with my publisher, but I said I was a writer.  No way was I gonna say “disabled” again. They let me walk by.  As I passed, a guy asked, “Oh, what type of writing do you do?”

“I write memoir,” I said proudly.

“Have a nice time,” he said.

I waved back.

The rest of the story?  Later, friends, later.

Link: “Action Letter to Saks Institute Regarding March Conference on College and University Students with Mental Illness”

Here’s the link:

This is a long time coming, in my opinion.

Write on.

Figuring out how I am going to put together my next book, and taking a writing workshop

Guess that sums it up.  I thought up a fairly good idea today, putting together (finally!) for the first time, sort of a mental outline of how I’m going to at least start off the book and some kind of framework.  I like my idea a whole bunch.

I signed up for a class.  A one-day workshop that will take place in a couple of weeks. It’s only a few hours long and I think I’ll do fine.

Please, please, please, don’t let my body be sick that day!  It’s hit or miss….I was supposed to go to a writing group yesterday and I was so sick I couldn’t go. Felt like a total idiot because I had to cancel.  I had an unbearable headache and felt like I was on the verge of puking for hours on end.  For no reason.  No, no “stomach flu” and I hadn’t eaten anything shouldn’t have eaten.  Probably just the kidney disease acting up. That’s my life now.  I hope I’m not sick the day of the class, cuz it means money down the drain.

I don’t want to cancel AGAIN.  I’m tired of being a no-show.


I never promised you rose-colored glasses

1981.  I had recently moved back in with my parents, leaving my college quite suddenly.  I would soon turn 24 years old and had been on the verge of graduation.  Now, trouble.

It was late at night.  My mom and dad had no clue I was standing at the top of the stairs in the dark.

I heard them in the kitchen.  My dad said to my mom, “What is it, Erna?”

My mom said, “It’s Julie.  Her.”  I could picture her sour face.

I knew something was up.  My mom wasn’t one to share feelings often, even with my dad.

“What, Erna?  What?”

My mom lowered her voice, but I could still hear her.  “Alan, she gives me the creeps.”

I backed off from the stairs.  I wanted to hear no more.  I don’t think any more was said between my parents.  Silently, I stepped into the bathroom, and closed the door behind me so that the bright fluorescent light wouldn’t give me away.  There was the bathroom mirror as it always was, large and looming, covering the medicine cabinet.  It did what bathroom mirrors are supposed to do.  It never spoke like those in fairy tales. It reflected faces.

What I saw was my own face.  Did I expect anything different?

My dad had taught me some very fancy camera stuff when I was younger, about how you can put a plastic filter over a lens, causing a change in which types of light reach the film in the back of the camera, and which don’t.  The filters looked like little discs.  He had many filters and he explained to me about each one. He said that a good pair of sunglasses is like a camera lens filter, because good quality sunglasses protect you from certain types of rays that are harmful to parts of your eyes.

I thought about the therapy program I was going to.  It was called Day Treatment.  We had to go to many groups.  The program wasn’t helping me, but I kept going anyway because I felt sorry for the people there, and I had nothing better to do.  Someone had used the expression, “rose-colored glasses,” and I wondered about this.  It seemed like the idea of those medications they were giving the “clients” was to help them see the world differently.  Almost like providing a filter for them to see through, to filter out the bad stuff, to provide comfort.  Isn’t that what painkillers do?  They filter out pain zaps that come through the nerve tissues.  In theory, it all should have worked that way, but I know now that the “meds” were making everyone a whole lot sicker and causing permanent injury.  “Therapy” seemed like a dead-end street as well.  Even when I was only 23, I knew those therapists didn’t know what they were doing, and were causing more harm than good.

But why did my mom say I gave her the creeps?  I thought about what made me “client,” one of that community of folks at the day treatment center, someone who belonged there.  Yes, there was indeed a “look” about me now.  It was as if a filter was over me, a film, a layer of something I couldn’t peel off.  You couldn’t see it, but it was there, plain as could be.  They say mirrors don’t lie.

I never promised you rose-colored glasses, mom.  I am who I am, and I became one of them for three and a half decades.  Those doctors and therapists and hospitals ran my life and this, not any illness, is what ultimately split up our family.

I walked out of the mental health system, got rid of the doctors, therapists, and medication over the past couple of years, and I am free of “treatment” now.  I never needed any of it and it’s the best thing I could have done for myself.

I have thrown off that filter.  Peeled it off.  Tough thing, Mom.  Do I still give you the creeps after all this time?  I am who I am.  I can hear those plastic discs falling, shattering.  Let the chips fall where they may.

All I want is respect

My friend pointed out to me today that most “normals” have their own lives and really don’t give a shit about any of the stuff I talk about on here.

I wonder.  How many families are affected by “mental illness”? How many people out there are considering maybe going to therapy or trying medication?

Just about everyone I know has had a terrible experience in “mental health care.”  No, it wasn’t the illness that sucked half as much as 1) the poor quality of care (either incompetent or abusive), and 2) societal rejection due to stigma.

More than anything, I want respect.  To live a full adult life. To be trusted by others to take on responsibility.  To be recognized as intelligent, witty, talented, and well-educated.  To be allowed the opportunity to give to others.  Human companionship that involves daily spoken conversation.

Right now, I have absolutely none of that.  None, none, none.

What does it take to get the above?  I’m not asking for “services.”  Certainly not mental health services or therapy.  I’m not asking for anything that costs money on my part or for anyone else’s money. To pay someone for conversation?  That’s prostitution.

Should I take a class?  Maybe part-time work or something.  I had a headache for most of the day and woke up on the verge of puking.  No, I didn’t puke, I felt like I was about to puke for maybe five hours.  What will happen if I have to show up for work and feel like I’m physically too sick?  Maybe 75% of the time, I’m too sick to do anything.  I rarely have headaches but I had one today.

I’m signed up for a writing group tomorrow but who knows if I’ll be able to show.  I hope so.  It’s one I’ve never been to before.

Anyway, all I want is to be respected as a writer, I guess. I walk up to people and say, “I am a writer and I have a master’s degree,” and they shake their heads and assume I’m some nut talking about having taken a writing course in high school or only imagining that I have a degree.  “Surely, delusional.”  “Highly manic.”  Or, “Paranoid, out of her head, highly likely she isn’t published at all, couldn’t possibly have her master’s, not even capable of thinking straight.”  All based on assumption, things they have heard about me, gossip.

Cold apartment update 2013

I finally got my heat fixed a couple of days ago so that’s a relief.  Turned out my heat was barely working in the living room.  The heating elements that are in the ceiling were barely getting warm.  I’m guessing they were doing some “money saving” thing and my pointing out that this place was freezing got them deciding that maybe their money-saving idea wasn’t gonna fly.  Who knows.  I’m warm now.

Doctors and records-sharing

I have been advised to seek out a PCP who believes me. There are so many here in Boston.  I was advised to reject any that sends me to “therapy” or “psychiatry” or dismisses me as “crazy” or insists on double-checking every word I say because they assume I “lack insight” or am a “poor historian.”

My own written records, and my own memory, are more accurate than what’s in my medical records.  I’ve gone and looked in what was posted online by Dr. P during my last few months seeing her.  No, I didn’t see her text notes.  These I didn’t have online access to.  However, she had me listed as taking medications I wasn’t taking, such as daily Ibuprofen, and countless others, including psych meds I hadn’t taken for over a year.  I think I have only taken Ibuprofen daily for a week at most in 2011.  I do own a bottle of Ibuprofen and it expired ages ago.  I think I took a few pills of it for a toothache,  and a few pills for my hurting knee.

So no wonder, when you go to a shrink that has over 100 patients, each time you go, they ask, “Can you refresh my memory and tell me what medications you are taking?”  Because folks, they don’t bother updating their records!  They have no clue.  So when I showed up at Mount Auburn inpatient last summer, and they phoned Dr. P and asked her, “What was she on?” Dr. P looked at her computer, shrugged, and said, “Hey, doc, call her pharmacy!  Heck if I know!”

Update: My recent conversations with attorneys

I was finally able to have real conversations with not one but several lawyers yesterday.  I received both good and bad news.

I suppose the first bit of good news is that these telephone conversations actually took place, and that I wasn’t speaking to voicemail machines!  There was interaction, voice-to-voice.  Nowadays, voice-to-voice conversation with ANYONE is priceless.  I’m so tired of people thinking that e-mail, texting, exchanged  voicemails, and Facebook is “social interaction.”  It is, but it’s not half as productive, efficient, satisfying, effective, confidential, heartfelt, or accurate as real conversation.

So I need to pat myself on the back for insisting on OUT LOUD SPEECH.  I got that far.  I’m surprised that lawyers do in fact answer their own phones.   They’re not like most doctors, who don’t answer phones at all.  I don’t know a single one that has anything but voicemail, secretaries, and nurses, and my last PCP had no voicemail and no way to leave private messages.  I found that every lawyer I called I could speak to right away, directly.

Okay, so a couple I called I said about two words and they said, “No, we don’t take that kind of case,” without really hearing much beyond two or three summary words.  One was a rude secretary and it wasn’t my fault that I was mistakenly referred to their office.  I apologized and hung up.

A couple of the lawyers, several in fact, said that my case was too involved, and they only did simpler cases that only involved one doctor and one incident.  I can imagine the types of cases they might take on, such as a surgeon that amputates the wrong arm.   That’s rather cut and dry.  Or the example that a commenter gave on here: the dumbasses that took the wrong patient to ECT…a name mixup because both patients in the same room were named “Debby.”  So this lawyer I spoke to said he took on that kind of case, and not what I was presenting to him, which was too complicated.

So at this point, I knew what I was up against.  I knew what to say next time I got on the phone, that my case was complicated and that it would be lengthy and time-consuming for whoever was willing to tackle it.  Being turned down, in a way, only fueled me to push onward.

Finally, I had a wonderful call with one lawyer who didn’t cut me off.  In fact, he seemed fascinated.  Believe me folks, I had been becoming increasingly frustrated, but somehow, I did okay.  I was amazed that someone would truly take interest.  I told myself that this lawyer was NOT shaking his head and saying, “What a crazy lady.”  No, he was saying to himself, “What an amazing story.  This highly intelligent woman is telling the truth.”

I know he believed me.  I know in my heart that he did, and if one lawyer did, then there would be others.  Sure enough, not much later I finally got hold of the lawyer I had been trying to reach for about a month where she has “voicemail only, ” and shockeroo! she answered the phone herself!  What a fluke!  So we spoke for a bit.  Yes, there are indeed others.  Make that two lawyers that say, “Julie Greene IS NOT CRAZY.”

However, so far, most of these people are backlogged and they cannot take on a case as big as mine.  It’s going to involve tons of paperwork.  Thousands of pages.

I’ve gotten as much help as I can get from this one organization that assisted me.  At this point, one thing I can do is tackle it myself, piece by piece, incident by incident, and try to file individual reports on particular people and institutions one at a time as much as I can.  I’d have to obtain my records.  Because I am low income (very) the fee for photocopying should be waived, at least that’s what I read.

So I asked, “Should I write a book about all this?  Would that be the approach to take at this point?”  The problem is that I am so darned tired from low functioning kidneys that it’s hard to work on any project at all.

If I did write a book, I’d have to publicize it really well.  Do something sensational with it.  Make a splash.  I have no clue how.

I refuse to pray for all those docs and therapists in order to “make peace with myself.”  I wasn’t born a Christian so please don’t proselytize.

I only want to help others who are trapped.  I only want to prevent more abuse, and to embrace others trapped inside and welcome with all my heart those that are escaping the System.  You are not alone even though it sure feels that way.

Shutting up, for me,  is not an option.  Giving in is not an option. Turning the other cheek, no, that is not on the table either.  I will not back down.


Possible title: Three and a half decades of psychiatric misdiagnosis

…and how I left the System for good!

So that’s what I’m thinking.

For sure, this book needs to be written.  I need to gather up all my steam and write the darned thing.  I think it will surely help many people!

It was only by acknowledging that I should NEVER have entered the System in the first place and walking away from these abusers that I was able to get well!  I don’t have a mental illness, period!  Many people aren’t as sick as the shrinks claim they are, and are stuck in the System forever.  They are being told just how weak, needy and dependent they are.  It’s not forever!  Don’t give these quacks any more of your money! Quit letting them shove poison into your precious body.  It’s not worth it!  Get a life instead.  You don’t belong in “group,” you belong in school, at work, and raising good kids.

Love ya, Julie and Puzzle