I thought I’d write up a list of instructions for family members should they find out their black sheep, or not-so-black sheep, has been captured by the psychs and labeled with some dreadful disease such as “bipolar,” “schiz,” and the like.
1. Your family member is now a bonafide sicko. She’s not real anymore. She’s a monster.
2. You cannot trust her anymore. She’s a liar and delusional and violent, just like the doctors said. Don’t believe her when she says the doctors are wrong. She’ll kill all of us if she could.
3. Rely on the police, they’re here to help.
4. The doctors will do their best, but really, there’s not much hope the old kid will ever be back.
5. Push her away and set strict limits. Tough love, or no love at all is the best policy.
6. Limit communication with your mentally ill family member. If you must communicate, keep all conversation brief. Boundaries are so, so important. Tell her you love her every now and then so she’ll never know the difference.
7. Everything shitty that is done to her from hereon in, tell her it’s “treatment” even though what they do to her makes you cringe.
8. If she’s in lockup and tells you of horrors in the place, just assume she must be delusional and paranoid. Don’t believe her even if she begs and begs to come home. Never defy the doctors and never question.
9. Cut her off completely if necessary. Do it slyly, without fanfare. No real disownership paperwork so you won’t incriminate yourself.
10. So, now, she’s dead. Your hands are clean, bro, clean. You can breathe a sigh of relief. No more obligations. You only get richer. The mess is over. Make sure to let others know just how sorry you are. You are indeed a sorry asshole.
* * *
Wow, that was fun to write. See ya later, alligators.
There was a little girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good, she was very very good.
And when she was bad, she was HORRID.
Well, I hope you didn’t think I was talking about “bipolar,” did you? Naw. I’m talking about naughtiness. Rebellion. Creativity. Refusal to conform to the status quo.
The status quo is boring, ain’t it? Okay, so you really like complying? Let’s all wear those uniforms right now and all be alike. Cuz after all, USA healthcare/Hitler might come and nab the ones that stand out and actually speak their minds.
So….the Good Child studied Dick and Jane.
The Rebel read whatever the hell she wanted and only skimmed to Dick and Jane, but still, graduated at the top of the class.
The Good Child did all her homework perfectly and handed it in on time.
The Rebel Child said, screw this, and handed it in a week early so she could play baseball and enjoy herself outdoors.
The Good Child always does her best.
The Rebel Child does even better. At whatever the hell she wants.
The Good Child believes what she’s told and does not question.
The Rebel Child questions so much that she drives everyone nuts.
The Good Child keeps everything neat and clean.
The Rebel Child hires herself out to clean and gets some pocket dough, but her own home is messy. She enjoys shopping with the money she earns.
The Good Child complies.
The Rebel Child fights back.
Good Child and Rebel Child both end up in prison. Then what? Do they escape? Yeah, I think that’s what I will do to this fiction. I’ll have them become fellow escapees. So Good Child and Rebel Child escape the prison together.
They endure many hardships in the wilderness. In fact, they wander 40 years in the desert, led by a guy named Moses. Moses was the one who got them out, after all, by saying, “LET MY PEOPLE GO!”
Moses gets rather old and dies before reaching the Promised Land. The two girls continue onward. Without a leader? Yep. Oh, I suppose they got camels, right? Rebel Girl does fine on the camel, but Good Girl can’t do it.
She’s been good all her life. Camelback riding, well, that’s too dirty for her. Oh dear, the ole coping skills don’t quite apply here!
Rebel Girl crosses the finish line. The crowd erupts in a joyful cheer.
Freedom is a precious thing. The finish line….oh, run Rebel, run.
We have seen these doctors and hospitals choose the wrong patient to abuse, have we not? They picked wrong when they picked Justina. Maybe these institutions need abuse policy books, as follows:
Don’t abuse patients unless you are sure they won’t be able to get effective legal assistance.
Don’t kill patients. You can do anything but that.
As soon as the patient starts to complain or to contact legal assistance (outside of in-house “human rights” offices which only shuts up the patients) see to it that their phone and internet is either monitored or cut off. Even if you have to stretch things and say you are doing it for some bogus “safety” reason.
Cut phone wires if you have to, or deliberately see to it that the phones don’t work well, that they are placed in extremely public places, and call “Group” to get patients off the phone when you have to.
If you see patients discussing empowerment, break up the discussion immediately, especially if the patients are recognizing that your facility is unlawful in some way. You really don’t want this stuff leaking out, do you? Tell the patients it’s bad for their treatment or will exacerbate their symptoms. They will surely fall for that line.
Always back up other practitioners, and see to it that the patient is completely discredited. Tell the patient that talking about patient rights is a disease, called “paranoia.” Convince all the compliant patients that this disease exists, so the patient who is more aware of the wrongs in the system finds herself completely lacking support in the patient “milieu.”
We, the medical establishment, have already declared that it’s fine to hide side effects from patients or to make a bogus comparison between diabetes and bipolar. We figure patients arn’t worthy of our being honest and respectful. After all, compliance is far more important. They are dangerous beasts , are they not? To subdue them is far more important than respect and decency! Our little fibs are fine. By the time the consequences happen, they’ll be so fucked up, or dead, or institutionalized, that what will it matter?
So long as we don’t get sued, we are sinless gods, and even a lawsuit is a slap on the wrist for most of us.
Roll, on, brothers, pass the basket, and let’s enjoy our riches and power.
I figure I’ve spoken enough on here about weight change, but a picture is worth a thousand words. And after all, I’ve been told so many times how I lie and exaggerate…so lately, I’ve been photographing stuff just to PROVE I’m not lying. It’s so sad that psych patients have to go to such lengths because their word is so often doubted, even if they are highly reliable, honest, and have excellent memories.
So….As I have told you in the past, the drug Seroquel made me gain an awful lot of weight and I was terribly unhappy with my body. Some of the photos of me at close to 200 pounds I am really not in the mood to put up here…they are “mirror” poses and I just can’t stand looking at them. I am wearing this horrible t-shirt I threw out I was so disgusted….and I could wear nothing but polyester pants. Wow I hated those clothes! I hated the way I felt in my body.
Now, I know what you are thinking. Body loathing is wrong. Well, quit that. I have the right to think whatever I want, and this is MY HISTORY. This is the past, and that’s my real story. That’s how I felt. I can’t change the past, and so I am reporting to you what went on in my head back then. Self-loathing.
I did have reason to be unhappy with weight gain, as it wasn’t safe FOR ME. I am 5’1″ tall. Even before I reached 150, I huffed and puffed while trying to walk even a quarter mile at any reasonable pace. At 197, which was my highest weight, one knee gave out entirely. I was too heavy to use crutches. I tried using a walker and couldn’t do that. So….I was “in a wheelchair,” as it is said…for three months.
The year was 2005 when I reached 197. I hated my body so much and I hated going to therapy, too. Certainly, therapy was doing me no good! I used to see Dr. Louise Ryder, supposed “eating disorders therapist.” Dang. She used to work at CEDC…but why? I didn’t see, even from the time I first met her, that she knew anything at all about ED. Here was the extent of her “advice”:
“One day at a time.”
“Accept your body.”
Oh, I guess she said…”This too shall pass” one helluva lot.
I think you can get that kind of advice from self-help books (or nowadays, off Facebook) quite fine, can’t you? If she’d been an effective therapist, she’d have said something like this:
“Julie, we need to get to the root of this weight gain. I’m going to call Dr. Pearson right away and see if you really need that Seroquel. You seem to be on a ridiculously high dose.”
But no…she only wanted me to cooperate and comply. Of course, I was totally compliant and it never occurred to me to question Dr. Pearson. Never! I never missed a dose nor missed an appointment. Oh, I missed plenty when my knee gave out.
After I got off Seroquel (by the way, the “withdrawal” wasn’t so bad as I was OVERJOYED to get the shit out of my body!) my weight dropped. Here I am at 175, and trust me, I DESPISE this photo…I hated the way I looked and felt that I was too fat!
Anyway, I have other photos. By 2008 I had lost a lot of weight. I had to work at it.
Here I am, just messing around with the camera:
I was 50 years old. I had been raped recently. But for whatever reason, for a few months, the memory was suppressed at the time. I think this was around the time I fired my therapist, Goldie Eder. I was sure something was terribly wrong, as she spent our entire sessions yapping on and on about her nieces and we never spoke about anything going on with me. She’s one of the two therapists I’ve had (out of over 20) who regularly fell asleep during sessions. I had to wake her up. She’d apologize, and promise to stop falling asleep, but she always fell asleep again. A couple of times, she said I was boring her. I guess she should have been listening when I told her I had been raped, eh?
Naw, you can’t see it in a photograph…so quit trying!
My weight kept on dropping. My feelings were mixed. I had hated being fat so, so much. I knew I wasn’t eating enough. But did I really give a shit? Anything beat being overweight! I’d been discriminated against so much when I was overweight. Now, people were leaving me alone, which seemed better…or was it?
My therapist started in on me…I liked her a lot, in fact, cuz she was open minded. Dr. P disliked my therapist’s open minded approach. I won’t tell you the name of my therapist…but Dr. Pearson would badmouth this therapist RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME…I often asked myself about what went on whenever they spoke. I’ll bet Dr. Pearson treated my therapist rotten. I can only imagine their conversation…Oh, I think the writer in me will speculate:
Dr. P: “I think we need to forced Julie into the hospital.”
N: “But Julie is suggesting an alternative and I think we need to listen to her suggestions. She has lived with this long enough and is a responsible adult. I see this because she’s amazingly prompt and is so courteous to everyone here at the clinic. She’s keeping up with her studies. I think what she is saying is important and we need to listen better.”Dr. P: “N, you are NOT a specialist. Therefore, you don’t know what you are talking about. We need to take over and get Julie on the scale, and NOT in her clothes. In a gown and force her not to drink ANY water all day! She needs more monitoring, more force…You are too lenient.”
N: “Okay, I am not a specialist in ED. Neither of us is a specialist in Julie. Know who is? Julie is. We need to honor her wishes.”
Dr. P: (swearing to herself, covers the phone) “I wish Julie had a different therapist. Someone controlling and manipulative will do great.” (uncovers phone) “Yes, N, well…when is Julie coming to see you next? Before graduation?”
N: “Er, let me see where she is on my calendar. Yes, our regular appointment is before she leaves for graduation.”
Dr. P: “Give her an ultimatum that will REALLY scare her! Tell her she can’t graduate! Oh, we need to take over her body! Run her life! She’s clearly incompetent!”
N: (after they’ve hung up) “Gee, what a bitch…..I feel oppressed in this situation. I feel cornered and in a tough situation. I cannot go against Dr. Pearson, but at the same time, I trust Julie and feel she’s certainly insightful and clever…Plus I’ve got the clinic administration to deal with. I wonder how much Julie senses of this. I try to hide my real feelings, and I wonder if this is the correct approach, or if I should just relax and be myself.”
Here I am at my graduation, with my advisor, Darrah Cloud. I was wicked proud that I had earned my MFA!
After Goddard, my life went downhill, sorry to say. I was coerced into “eating disorders care.” I’d never been in “eating disorders care” before because it didn’t exist back when I entered the mental health system. This was supposed to be the Great Cure but wow, was I ever sorely disappointed! Had they learned ANYTHING at all in 30 years? Apparently, I had lived with my own ED for 30 years and because of my own individual experience, I knew far more than these supposed “experts” I was meeting! You can usually tell by the dumb questions they ask! Oh, they have surveys and standard paperwork they have everyone fill out. I was so disillusioned…
N lost her job. It’s so horrifying what happened next. I figured no therapist could do me actual harm but that if I had a bad one, I’d put up with her and then find another ASAP. That’s not true, and I had to learn this lesson the hard way. I fell into the clutches of Maria Mellano.
From day one, she was manipulative and controlling. I truly believe that she had a deep psychological need to control young vulnerable people and run their lives. She jerked me around badly. I was so, so hurt after a while, but know what form that took on? Lemme tell you the truth about really bad abuse….
You actually worship the abuser because the abuser is so, so manipulative and can do no wrong that he/she justifies all her wrongdoing and you are always apologizing…for some fictitious thing she has claimed you have done. You beg this abuser for forgiveness.
You develop terror toward her.
You often think of killing yourself after you leave her office. Only to get the hell away. Sure, there’s the Red Line train station right there. Another body, another day. But you think real hard about the train operator. Somewhere, you heard that if a train operator is operating a train and a person jumps in front, that operator ends up with PTSD, and this can ruin his life. Did you really want to do that?
Oh, then, the accusations…..jeez. When you can’t do a darned thing right. And the threats and her use of “police force” if I was caught on a broken down bus and didn’t make it there on time. Sure, I’d call her to let her know, but what if her voicemail was full.
“Oh, Julie, it’s NEVER full.” Which was complete BS. Her word against mine, not much you can do. I was accused of lying over over when I wasn’t lying.
Then, it was 2011. Guess that’s when I really couldn’t take her abuse and BS any longer. My weight dropped to a very bad danger point. Because I still trusted her, I told her I was gonna die. I told her my pulse was too slow. So? I would show you the photo I have, but I’m not wearing enough clothes! Sorry! Well, I am…I think a jogging bra is enough, don’t you? It’s just that I feel kinda modest, know what I mean?
So…anyway….You guys know about the abuse at MGH. And the whole ordeal….Really, in all my years on psych units I had never before experienced such horrors as I did there. I had been on units over 50 times. This wasn’t just “not liking the care.” This was patient abuse like I had never known before.
Let me tell you something. Shitty medical care is everywhere. Sure, there are lousy dentists, lazy orthopedists who would rather give you pills than do an exam or give you a referral to PT. You CAN see someone else. You just walk out and go to a different one, and in so doing, you are sending a clear message to that doctor that he or she sucks. And we all know about rude secretaries. But abuse…well, there’s a difference!
I was completely stripped of everything that I had in me that was human at that place. No, I wasn’t psychotic and this stuff really happened. I couldn’t leave. I was trapped. I couldn’t call out or use the phone for one second in privacy. All calls were done with the nurse standing right there, listening on, and if she didn’t like what I was saying, she’d grab the phone from me and hang it up.
The meanest nurse in the place was named Sheridan. Or I should say the mean one I had. At one point, after Sheridan had decided she didn’t “like” my phone conversation where I was telling my friend I felt I was being poorly treated, she yanked me into a room and started yelling at me for what I’d said over the phone.
I told her this was a private conversation…She cut me off. I wanted to say that what went on between me and my friends was none of her business. I could say what I wanted to them, and I had the right to feel any way I wanted about what was being done to me. I had the right to tell my friends the truth about what was happening there.
Apparently, Sheridan felt that the TRUTH shouldn’t get leaked out. She shoved a paper and pen at me.
“It’s a three day. Sign it now.”
A three-day is a special paper. If you sign it, you have to appear before a judge. Judges are moody of course (ask any lawyer) and when your three days are up, the judge decides….You leave, or you are COMMITTED! For ten days, or up to SIX MONTHS!
Now, how illogical is that? But that’s the dumb law, as it stands. Why was I being forced to sign something?
I never signed it. Actually, what happened was their error most likely. Maybe the medical student blew it. Or someone just pulled some strings for me…either way, I doubt the medical student had any clue (or, shall I say, insight) into what was going on with me. They told me my “commitment” was up and I was free to go. Thank god! I was so thirsty! I left that place and thank god I could drink as much liquids as my body needed!
Guess what they were doing? Restricting my fluids to four cups a day. That’s roughly a liter. Now, I asked over and over what the MEDICAL reasons were for this, and they said, “This is protocol.” Apparently, this is the case, as every single other patient in their prison who has ED has reported this arbitrary water restriction.
If you ask anyone, they’ll tell you, “Well, it’s Mass General, the great Mass General must surely know what they are doing.”
I told them over and over I had taken lithium in the past and for whatever reason, I required more water than other people.
This was confirmed a year later. After about 25 years….I have had faulty kidneys since age 26 or 27 and no one was even paying attention. In fact, I am very good at drinking the right amount for MY BODY. Know how much I really need?
Here in South America, it’s winter right now. I have to purchase water because our tap water tastes really lousy…so I purchase a six liter bottle of water…daily. Yep. I drink six liters of water a day. Not six cups, six liters. That’s during winter. Summer…and if I am exercising…that will be up to double the current amount.
You can imagine how it was for me at MGH, begging for water like I was a beggar woman, and being told over and over how manipulative I was and what a liar I was. Oh, they insisted they had to watch my every move in the bathroom for fear that I would drink out of the shower or toilet. I didn’t shower cuz they were cruel to me! I wasn’t gonna take off my clothes in front of them!
I got out. So shaken. This was the first time I had ever had really bad PTSD FROM a psychiatric experience…yet I was already experiencing trauma from abuse from Maria Mellano and her constant threats and bullying. I had to go to so many appointments! This was hell!
Then, I got on Imipramine for binge eating. THIS IS WHERE MY NEXT BOOK BEGINS. Ten days later, guess what happened? I got the black box warning thing, that “agitation” you get. The thing that makes people SO CRAZY that they end up committing suicide within a short time. Yes, I did report it to Dr. Pearson, who claimed it was paranoia….nope. I told her about increased heart rate and pulse. She said to ignore it. The fast pulse and high blood pressure were witnessed at the ER that winter… I pointed out to the nurse that this fast pulse was a side effect of Imipramine and she said, “No, it’s anxiety.” You can’t argue when you are seen as a mental patient! She knew nothing of Imipramine and she was the one who asked ME how to spell it and what it was!
I have another photo, but again, I don’t have that much clothes on in the photo.
Oh, I got off Imipramine the following February 2012, but that “black box warning” thing continued and I was going through withdrawal…geez. I couldn’t get my pulse or blood pressure down. And my breasts were still enlarged from high prolactin. This came from Imipramine as well.
Here I am the next fall, 2012. This is after that whole suicide fiasco:
I seem happy, but I was just dressed up for church. A bunch of shit came down. Some lousy stuff happened late fall. I was really beginning to see through Dr. Pearson as the money-hungry drug pusher she is. Oh, sweet talking, but….
I tried to find another therapist. I went through two, then ended up with that David Alpert who was an abuser. As I’ve told you, he was a liar, a faker, and his asking me out on a date, his discussion of random acts of sexual abuse (that was just plain weird) his telling me about his ex-girlfriend, his constantly calling me “Honey,” was just plain flat out abuse. I walked out of my last session and told myself I had no clue what to do…knowing Dr. Pearson wouldn’t even believe me! She’d think I was delusional, so there was no point! I was starting to hate her.
So, I was starting to keep track of my weight, I mean really seriously. I was still trying to get so-called “treatment” but….It all seemed hopeless. I tried so hard to reach out, cry out and say, Please, will someone just LOVE ME? I wished that black box warning feeling would go away. I knew it was from the drug…but dang, it was there and there and there. I couldn’t get it out. Like I wanted to but I just had to wait it out.
I found some photos in my files tonight. This one was taken July 19, 2013. At this time, I went to THREE therapists at my so-called “health plan.” Geez…one yelled at me in her office, the second turned me down saying he knew nothing of eating disorders, and the third asked me where I lived and who I lived with, then said to “talk to my social worker, see you in a month.” I left then thought, “Wait, I don’t have a social worker! I told that therapist this, was she not listening!” Then I fell down right near the bus, so exhausted.
I have a couple more still photos of me around that time. In one, I’m only in bra and panties, so forget it. Here’s one taken August 6, 2013, less than a week before I went into full code from acute renal failure:
I think I am still alive. I have a few sad pictures of me over the past year…I am crying and stuff, really couldn’t stop after what was done to me in the hospital, the accusations, etc. I felt ruined by those doctors, by the shrink who insisted that I be force drugged, and by Dr. Pearson, who never even called me to…maybe at least apologize for not listening. Perhaps when I was raped was when she really began to turn her back on me. If she had some other agenda, some pressing issue I never knew about, well, fine, but I almost died a bunch of times from her denial and…I guess negligence.
If a patient of yours is being abused, you are supposed to do something to help that patient. It’s professionally required of every doctor to do so. It’s abusive to instead try to convince that patient it never happened and tell her she’s sick and wrong!
With everything stacked against me (I’ll spare you the gory details but there were a few) I am now FREE of psych abuse! I walked out!
Here I am in Miami:
That night, Puzzle and I flew to South America, and we are here now. Safe and free.
It’s been cold here the past few days (it’s winter here in August, Agosto) but sometimes I go to the beach, a few minutes walk away. Here is Puzzle running on the beach a few weeks ago:
I will be back soon! I ain’t dead yet! Me and Puzzle are right here!
I had to think hard on this one. I’ve been trying to gather ideas. I know I want to write a book that will be of interest to others. Something they will pick up and read.
Ten Kindle sales of This Hunger Is Secret in its first year out is pathetic. It’s a decent book, but no one even bothers! I’m not sure how to deal with this….
I do know that as a writer…I don’t want to “sell out.” What do I mean by this?
I’ve seen this in the past. I’m speaking specifically of folks who have been chronic mental patients who write books. How do they get promoted? Well?
Parents…if they are young. Fine, but what approach do these parents take? Do the parents “sell” the child as a NAMI poster child?
A NEDA recovery child? Cuz I’ve seen that done, too. Didn’t we see that Thom guy “sell” that gal who wrote the “Ed” books? The Nashville singer….I’m stuck on her name right now. Or, rather, she was a great marketing tool for him. She’s sweet and VERY pretty. She sells his therapy very well. He sells her books. What a money-making team. She’s famous and she gets loads of speaking engagements just for having personified an eating disorder and reducing us to kindergarten kids. Sorry, Jenni, I felt insulted while reading your books. I guess they are nice for kids, though.
Or, a drug company sponsors the book. Sure, a Lilly scholar.
“I was so sick, but now, I work for THEM.” Gee. What a sellout.
A therapist of mine suggested I try to get published with Gurze books. But who funds Gurze? Well, they are a nonprofit (supposedly) business, so they couldn’t rely on profit to sustain themselves…meaning they rely on contributions…from where and whom and…well, you wonder. I know my own publisher receives funding from the UK government. Not that I am fond of governments…but that’s what nonprofits generally do when they establish themselves as doing good for the community. So if the government is convinced that the nonprofit is worthy, they fund it…supposedly this is how it works. Gurze is in California…ties with NEDA…hmm. Very strong ties that weren’t there at first.
For whatever reason, I fear NEDA is doing painfully similar things to what NAMI does, so I am quite suspect. I wouldn’t want to write a book and then be a NAMI poster child. I wouldn’t want to be a NEDA poster child, either.
I don’t want to be a poster child for a drug or particular cure or to sell out by accepting funding that will align me with an organization…especially one that imprisons people or engages in forced or coerced care, or encourages such “care.”
Some people are scared to buy my book, This Hunger Is Secret because they are scared it will be a “painful” book. This is a bunch of baloney. It’s a book like any other. It’s writing. Literature. Pain is a medical issue, or if someone has a personal gripe with me, this person should approach me directly.
This Hunger Is Secret is a beautifully written book. It contains a lot of scenes and dialogue and description and the book is deeply spiritual.
I am aware that my book, This Hunger Is Secret uses the term, Mental Illness in the title. I am a believer in history and This Hunger Is Secret is a piece of my beloved history. I highly cherish my life and my memories. For decades, I used the term mentally ill to describe myself, and just because I now find this terminology offensive or other may be offended, doesn’t erase the fact that this history exists. This book is NOT antipsychiatry. It is a just a book. It’s an account. That’s all. It’s memoir, and it’s not “painful,” for chrissake.
I am now, since well after the book came out, OUT of the mental health system. I see no reason to change the manuscript to suit anyone’s whim, including my own. At one point, I added a dedication page right before the paperback version came out. This was the additional dedication page. Know who I dedicated it to?
The Alcott patients. That’s right. Go look. The Alcott Unit is at Walden Behavioral Care. I love you all so much that it’s right in there.
And at the bottom, my instructions,
“Never, ever shut up.”
I want to make something very clear. I was rather determined to get that page in there. I traveled to London in the summer of 2012. Maybe you know this and maybe you don’t. I was there roughly a week. I met with my publisher. I was determined to get the paperback signed and off to the presses before…..
Yeah, I wanna tell you one thing. This was a Friday in July. I was there at the Chipmunka offices in London, at Canary Wharf, with Jason and his two top brass. They told me, “Well, we don’t really have time, maybe you should return to the USA and we can do the signature via e-mail.”
But I knew better. There wasn’t going to be a “return to the USA,” was there? I didn’t know what to say at that moment, how to convince them I needed to do this signing NOW. I had to. Otherwise, it would simply not be done.
This was Friday. My plan was to kill myself later, probably within hours, or by noon or so the next day I’d take the pills I had. I felt like a jerk. Being pushy saying I really wanted to get this signature done in person….And dishonest, too. I usually slap myself for being too honest. Now, hiding the Big Truth….it seemed so fake. I hated myself because my publisher was so kind, really, to do this for me.
I signed those papers. The back cover ended up not having the blurb on it that I had intended, but that’s okay. The fact that it wasn’t the right one reflects my rush to get this done. For sure, had I not been rushed, I would have noticed. It hardly matters. I am me. I was REALLY NERVOUS!
I went back to the hotel. I didn’t kill myself.
How I ended up at Alcott…it was all a joke and the staff provided precisely nothing, no care, no answers to anything. The other patients were great. I begged those staff for help, though…I was sorely disappointed. I found that the other patients seemed to know more about ED than that staff, but the staff discouraged us from speaking directly about our eating disorders with each other. The whole imprisonment there was so ineffective for me.
Still, the whole time I was there, not one person knew about my planned and failed “suicide” in London. I did try to tell people but the staff made excuses not to talk to me, or walked out of the room saying they had a meeting or their pager went off or they were so, so bored with me…one even nodded off! The groups were places where we were treated like children. There were just no answers at this “great” eating disorders hospital. The answers had to lie elsewhere…..
So I managed to get out of Alcott. It was my last day. I knew the paperback would soon come out. At least that. I wanted the patients to know how much I cared. So I decided to reveal that my dedication page was for them, for US.
I had no clue what would happen to me after I left Alcott. I didn’t have intent to harm myself, but then again, I had no clue if my eating disorder would wipe me off the map, either. So, I went into my Last Supper, which, in fact, was lunch at Alcott.
They were playing their usual lunchtime game: Trivial Pursuit.
I read to them my dedication page. I stood and read this page in front of everyone. But they didn’t stop their Trivia and listen. I tried to finish…The staff were rushing me out, telling me, “Are you done yet?” They weren’t even listening, far too bored.
I left what might have been my dying words, my instructions to the kids at Alcott,
“Never, ever shut up.”
Two years have passed. My little dog, Puzzle, is here with me. I have with me in South America a copy of my paperback. I brought with me the signs I carried to protests and to the NEDA walk where I stood outside as a nonparticipant. On these signs is that same slogan. I brought little else.
Dang….All adding up. The plumber went to the right address, wrong town. Guess who got accused? Yeah, I was told I must have stepped out and not been home when he had come. I told my landlady I had been home the entire day. Not only that, dying to go to the bathroom! He came today with no advance notice , fixed the toilet but not the leaky shower. My landlady ran the shower for one second and claimed there wasn’t a problem with it.
I am exhausted after all this. I have so many privacy concerns with this woman. One night I turned on a light, stood outside my apartment, and yeah, I think if she wanted to, at night she sure could see me inside my apartment from her area. Unbeknownst to her, I put additional materials over the door. I removed them well before she entered the patio. I am so tired.
We spend so much time online nowadays that we tend to forget this. It’s a lesson I learned back in 1997.
You have to realize that back then, most people didn’t have computers. We used corded phones and most communication happened face-to-face or over a corded phone. Dating meant just that, and “online dating…” Geez, that sure didn’t mean you turned on your computer. I have no clue how that term would have translated back before 2000.
I had obtained an old, used, Win95 machine, complete with monitor, keyboard, speakers, etc. I got a printer, too, but also, I had my old printer and another one. I remember I traded them back and forth and the paper went flying all over my office space in the back corner of my fifth floor apartment.
Oh, the luxury….
Joe thought I was absolutely nuts. He had no clue why I wanted a computer. Same with my mom, but I insisted. I told my mom that having a computer was gonna change my life. I had to put up with my mom kinda embarrassing me cuz we had to go to a bunch of stores trying to buy the setup. I remember rushing her out of one store, quickly telling her, “I don’t like the looks of this place,” just because I sensed that an awkward situation was headed our way. The salesman seemed…I dunno. Like he was determined to sell me something, determined to make my mom spend lots and lots of money not really caring if he was selling quality equipment or not, and I would end up feeling embarrassed, ripped off, and sorry for my mom. Who knows what I’d end up with, too.
We found a hole-in-the-wall place but the salesguy seemed more honest. Not that this meant I’d end up with “better” equipment or a “better” deal, but…this was an easier and less awkward situation seeing as I had to deal with this via my mom. Unlike the other guy, he wasn’t determined to sell me something just so he could squeeze money out of my mom. At the time, my computer knowledge was so limited!
You gotta realize that I had no idea what “online” meant. I had never before seen e-mail. I didn’t know what e-mail was. I had never seen the screen of “online.” I had hardly ever before seen a color computer screen! I had had lots of computer experience(for a girl) but this was in old programs and the computers were monochrome. A full-color screen? Wow! And even sound to go with it and it is used with this new thing, a mouse. How can that be, and how would I ever, ever learn to use that darned mouse? Aren’t they flimsy, too flimsy to really work? Naw, that technology would never, ever catch on. Those mice will go out of style in a few years, won’t they? They’re so cheap-looking!
So I was there with my mom. My mom is even shorter than me. She used to embarrass me ALL the time…Well, what’ya expect? I’m her daughter. When I was a teen, I was always embarrassed anyway cuz that’s the nature of being a teenage daughter. We look alike and do you know how it feels to have so many people say, “You look just like your mother!” all your life? When I was overweight, they’d say how much better shape she was in….Wow, I remember when complete strangers said that and I felt like smacking them! I lost tons and tons of weight and ended up with anorexia. That happened a bunch of times in my life. I went out with my mother and got this line, “You two must be sisters!” Oh geez. Or, “The mother looks younger.” Lovely comments from complete strangers and they don’t even know how hurtful it is. I hated going to restaurants…The waitresses invariably came up with the worst insults. Or they’d say my mom was a “cute little old lady,” which I felt was terribly patronizing to her.
I wouldn’t have gone to the computer stores with her…except she insisted….and I needed that “check.” After that whole embarrassment, I tried to avoid the “mom in stores” deal cuz it was too, too embarrassing and it made me look, well…dependent. I wasn’t, except for the darned money. In fact, she’d often come up with some remark about, “Did you take your meds today?” right in public, not even realizing people could hear. I was determined to get this embarrassment to stop because I wanted privacy, discretion, and independence. I was 39 years old and I sure didn’t want to be Miss Tag Along. Not to anyone.
Life has changed. I’m not a dependent mental patient anymore. I’m much, much happier, too. Oh, I suppose there is Miss Tag Along. Puzzle.
Anyway, finally, I got that computer home. And it was mine. I turned it on. Back in those days you could sign up for AOL within minutes cuz everyone was being sent trial disks in the mail….either CD’s or little floppies. I had a bunch.
“You’ve got mail!” I did. This was December, 1997. My life was about to change. I was about to have new friends. A lot, lot, lot of new friends. I was about to learn some valuable lessons, too.
#1. I had wanted to kill myself, but I don’t have to now. I don’t want to anymore.
#2. I am capable of being a friend and having relationships. The doctors were wrong all along.
#3. I am a good person. I am capable of communicating with others. The doctors were so, so wrong.
#4. There are billions of people on the planet, not just people in my town. I can communicate with them using my computer.
#5. Writing is a useful skill and I have exceptional talent in it. The doctors were wrong when they said I had no talent and no ability.
#6. I needed to be careful, too. I should never assume that “online” is the same as “in person,” nor should anyone assume this about me. You can get hurt with online relationships and people aren’t who they say they are most of the time.
Over the years, I’ve had to remind myself many times of all the above. Of course, computers and now, social media has caught on. I started my website in 2002 and then my blog in 2005.
I’ve learned that a person has an “online presence” and NO ONE SHOULD JUDGE a person by their “online presence.” This is a huge mistake. I’ve lost many friends who compare what I say in my blog to what I say over the phone, and they defriend, because they cannot fathom the inconsistency.
Have you ever heard of “stage presence”? Or persona? That’s right. Persona is that mask. We all wear it when we get online. Your handle.
Is there anything wrong with having a persona? No. You HAVE to have a mask. It’s not lying, nor dishonesty…Writers HAVE to have a mask when they write, or genre they use, or voice…per se. You aren’t naked up there on stage.
One day, still in 1997, a person online told me that online people are NOT my friends and that I shouldn’t trust online friends. That they weren’t real.
Was this true? I wondered about this. No, this wasn’t meant literally, and I didn’t take it as such. However, another thing had happened….And it was, indeed, real. Something that changed me.
I was still suicidal when it happened. I had gone through a rather rough time I’d say. I’d gotten away from McLean thank god, but I was rather shaken over it all.
To summarize, McLean Hospital had done a number on me. I’d been there as inpatient and also at a place there that’s been torn down now, called Hall Mercer, one of their “budget” Medicare programs. It was one of the worst places I’ve ever been, or had been so far, and I have been to worse places since. They had no clue what they were doing there, and they had no clue what to do with me! “Listening” was the last thing anyone knew how to do there, trust me!
I remember…wow, it was bad…So-called “care” is getting worse and worse for low income people. McLean does well for patients who have money but patients who don’t get the dungeon. Anyway, the shock doc got shock happy there. I was screwed up from the shock, couldn’t think straight for a long time. They made it ten times worse for me over there and it was a blessing to get the hell out. They didn’t acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, I was a person inside. Someone worthwhile.
As far as “diagnosis….” Get this: I was trying to tell them something was wrong, so they sent me to John Gunderson. Don’t ever go to that creep. No matter what’s wrong, anyone who shows up in his presence will get nailed with Borderline. Anyone. I’ve learned this over the years from other people who have gone to him. He has far, far too much power.
For the next year, I got stuck in bogus treatment. McLean refused to listen. They insisted that any “symptoms” I reported were faked, including my eating disorder. I know it’s possible to lie about eating habits, or to stuff a pillow under your clothes like most mall Santas, but how can a person fake that they are drastically underweight? There was no photoshop back in those days! They insisted I was “faking psychosis,” which constituted BPD. But no, I was trying to tell them I couldn’t put my thoughts together and I had no clue why, and would they please help me. My requests that they quit misinterpreting came across as “neediness,” so again, the misdiagnosis of BPD was reiterated, over and over. No wonder I became suicidal…of course, more fuel for “their” fire…I was slated for the state hospital but they couldn’t get the paperwork through fast enough so I was booted out. Guess they didn’t want me dead, either. It was a blessing.
I was at home one day…or night. I met a young teen and I was messaging with her. She said she wanted to kill herself. She told me why. I told her I had wanted to do the same thing myself…but then I didn’t do it. I told her when I was a teen, particularly sixteen years old, I wanted to kill myself…but held off. We messaged for quite a while. I didn’t tell her to “Go to a hospital.” The thought didn’t cross my mind. Why a fucking hospital? How would that solve anything? Being a FRIEND would do a lot of good for this kid, so I did just that.
After that, I felt good. The doctors had told me how useless I was, how stupid I was, how incapable I was, how I’d never make it in life. They’d told me I wasn’t capable of human relationships or of communicating. But who was it that wasn’t listening at all? People like Gunderson, sure. He was diagnosis happy and had caused a LOT of trouble for me, had he not? I could have died at McLean.
I heard from the girl every now and then after that. She seemed like she’d gotten over the hump. I felt like I myself had gotten over a rather large hurdle. I didn’t have to believe what was said about me all the time. I could believe in my own truth.
I’ve learned that there’s such thing as dishonesty and fake friends, too. You do indeed have to be careful online. You have to be careful in person, too. People do fake that they like you. There are folks that will lead you on, and that’s part of life. There are all sorts of people on this planet, and they all have motives. Be picky and choosy.
A person changes and you cannot assume that the way they were a year ago is the way they are today. Or that if they are in a good mood or a bad mood one day, they are that way every day. Same with online presence. You cannot assume that their online presence is anything like what it’s like when you speak to them in person.
I really hate when people throw diagnoses at me based on my online persona, which is all they ever see of me. That’s the same as diagnosing an actor based on the character he portrays. Get real.
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Unless you been through Katrina, or a flood or serious mold in your home, you, might think I got “issues”” with water. Oh no, please, no more shrinks! I need dry land! What is the one thing that`s gonna help most when you see that water coming in?
1. Zyprexa, PRN , immediately.
2. Put a paper bag over your head.
3. Process it in group
4. Weigh and measure the water. Remember, too much will throw off your electrolytes.
5. Remind yourself that this couldn”t be true. We are only allowed positive thinking.
6. This flood is only your Eating Disorder talking. Dont listen to it.
7. You got a problem? Go tell staff.
How about none of the above? The following are your best friends….
those plastic bags that people say are sin
a blow dryer
Dry clothing and dry towels
disinfectant including ethyl alcohol
Something to keep bugs away
Clean water to drink
clean, unbreakable dishes
blankets, sleeping bag
food…root veggies are best, such as carrots, beets, potatoes, boniata, onion….
Your dog is your best friend.
Wish me luck.