New words, a couple of years later

I think the vocabulary we use is essential. I began my exit from the “mental health system” in February 2012, upon having an awakening which turned my attitude around 180 degrees in a flash. After that, of course, I struggled with issues of identity. You will see I have written about this extensively in the book I am currently working on.

So what should I call this System? Just the System? If I speak this aloud, no one hears that System is capitalized. I capitalize it to show that it is what you might call “Another World.” Another term I’ve heard is “Parallel Universe.” But that in itself isn’t descriptive enough.

If I say, “mental health ‘care,'” no one hears the quotation marks unless I use the awkward term, “quote-unquote.” So what to call this?

I’ve used various terminologies over the past 2-1/2 years. I notice some say, “Mental Death System.” I like the play on words here, but I don’t use this term very often.

I love the term, “p$ychiatry,” as often used by one of my beloved regular blog readers. This certainly makes its point when in written form, but out loud, how would it be pronounced so others can hear the $?

I recall my sudden realization upon figuring out that “Mental Health Service” was certainly not a service at all! It’s contradictory!

I noticed this first in the “services” provided by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, mostly for poor people who were “mental patients.” The DMH had farmed out their work to an organization called CBFS, and to other organizations. This CBFS consisted of paid people with no qualifications except the required reliable car and cell phone. Some organizations even give the person a car and cell. These folks were largely of no use to me. In fact, it was a nuisance due to their chronic unreliability. Most were grossly irresponsible. They were supposed to have bachelor’s degrees in something, but I’m sure many didn’t. They posed as “social workers.” The supervisors did have such degrees but not the ones that came to visit, or shall I say, impose on me.

My initial complaint was that my first CBFS worker knew nothing about eating disorders. She knew so little that she had the nerve to ask me annoying questions such as, “How would you suggest I motivate myself to go to the gym?” as if my role was to share my weight loss secrets. This was obnoxious and showed her gross ignorance.

When I first signed up for these “services,” on the urging of my abusive therapist, Maria Mellano, I assumed the CBFS people provided rides to appointments if I needed this in a pinch. This wasn’t true. I never needed the paratransit but occasionally I had a minor injury such as an ankle sprain that temporarily kept me from transporting myself on foot or by bus. I called my CBFS worker and she always refused to drive me anywhere, though she claimed she did this for people. Later, I found out that this wasn’t part of their “service.” So what the heck did they do?

They were supposed to find providers for patients. They did this by doing an online search. However, since I had my own computer and often did online searches myself, this CBFS “service” wasn’t necessary. CBFS sometimes called treatment places, but I was perfectly capable of making phone inquiries myself. I found providers myself and when I chose to do so, terminated these providers myself.

They did one thing. I got a ride to an ER once. This was ordered by my worker’s boss, who was threatening to section me. I know now that he wanted to silence me. He was irresponsible and lazy.  I threatened to report him to DMH. I’m not at all surprised that he decided I “needed” a hospital. I believe he was fired shortly after anyway.  On another occasion, I got a ride home from an ER from a guy that said not one word to me the entire ride home. Beyond this, they provided no service.

I dumped CBFS immediately after I was released from Mount Auburn in August 2013. They called and asked why. I said, “This is not a service. This is a non-service.”

I remember how good it felt to speak those words aloud over the phone to the CBFS people. I felt empowered. Based on the non-service concept, I have a new term for the Mental Health System as a whole. Mental Health Disservices.  For now, I rather like this invention. It can be spoken aloud and is rather clear.

That’s my thought for the day. I have writing to do!  Have a good one!

To Mariko Silver, President of Bennington College, from an alum

This is an open letter to Mariko Silver….

Dear President Silver,

I met you in Boston last March or April, at an alumni gathering. The journey into Boston had been a tough one for me via public transit, and I had trouble finding the correct location. So I arrived late, somewhat frazzled. I remember that all at once, as soon as I entered, I chastised myself for my shabby appearance. I could almost hear my late father’s voice telling me, “Why can’t you do something with your hair?” now nearly 40 years since my high school graduation.  I could feel my late grandmother tugging on my collar to straighten it. A flushed feeling rushed into my cheeks remembering the feeling I often had as a young person, that somehow, I was never good enough.

I immediately realized that my late entrance was causing disturbance, so I attempted to stand as quietly as I could even though I was still trying to keep myself in one piece. I remembered how I’d prompted myself for days before my arrival at the alumni gathering, reminding myself that it was possible that some rather important people would attend, so I had to act “okay.” I couldn’t slip into the lingo that I’d adopted as my own, over the years. I often joked with myself that this dialect was “trash talk.”

Language is a funny thing. I remember when I was a child being rather taken by Pygmalion, or, rather, My Fair Lady, the version I saw, that is, the musical. The basic concept was that the way we use language is a dead giveaway of our social caste. Henry Higgins told Eliza she’d never make it in life unless she spoke like a proper rich lady.

I promised myself I’d try as hard as I could not to allow any indication to be apparent that I am a member of the lowest of the lowest caste of USA society. I went to Bennington, after all. I wasn’t from a wealthy family but we weren’t poor, either. As a young girl, I had no idea what poverty really was. It flew over my head completely. It flies over most kids’ heads unless, of course, they were poor. I left home at 17 and attended a large state university before I came to Bennington as a tranfer.  I found out, to my shock, that most kids came from far less wealthy families that my own.

When I first came to Bennington in 1978, I was truly amazed. I was a music student whose primary interest was composition. In my previous university experience, composing one’s own music was highly discouraged. A composer never had the opportunity to hear her own works played. These performances were limited to the composer’s imagination, and stayed there.  I had boxes of music that never got played. But as soon as I arrived at Bennington, I knew it was no ordinary place. I recall my shock. “You mean we get to have our pieces played?” I was told that not only did student composers get performances, but this was standard, not some exception.

I dug right in. I loved learning and I loved the environment. The faculty were tops and each had a unique approach. I never felt like I was on an assembly line. I took well to self-directed study, and thrived.

I stayed at Bennington for a total of three years. I studied part-time for two years then full-time for a year. I ran into misfortune after that, and had to take time off one semester before graduation. That was 1981. I never returned.

Bennington is a college, meaning it’s an organization.  I feel that many organizations work in a similar fashion: There are the beloved elite, and then, there are those left behind. It cannot be helped. I was one of those who was forgotten.

I am grateful that the college recognizes non-graduates as alumni. Many colleges don’t do that.  I recall one evening a few years back when I received a call from Bennington. I heard a youthful voice on the phone, saying, “I’m from Bennington College! We’re looking for Julie Greene.” I laugh now, because I recall saying to myself, “Oh, wow, someone finally noticed me and recognized all my accomplishments! They must be calling to congratulate me! Maybe I’ll be featured in their alumni publication.”

Most likely, the caller had no clue how I felt, nor heard the disappointment in my voice when I found out the true reason for the call.  It saddens me so much that the only real contact I had with the college since I left was when I was called and asked for the one thing I couldn’t give: money.

I felt sad because I felt marginalized. I felt that I didn’t matter anymore to this college that had initially been so wonderful to me. I had been a shining star there, but suddenly, I was a fallen star instead.

In my opinion, any organization is only as strong as the lowest of their members. I think it’s wonderful that the college is planning to reach out more actively toward its alumni, and is realizing that we are indeed a valuable resource. I hope that this isn’t limited to seeing us as monetary source only. I think all alumni, whether they have money to give or not, share the common experience of having attended Bennington.

I believe that no matter how low a person gets, how destitute or downtrodden or hopeless, their life experience is theirs and can never be taken from them. Life experience is something to treasure. No matter where we have traveled, around the world or around a city block, we take in all we learn, sense, and feel deep in our hearts, and that, to me, is priceless.

After I left Benninton, I spent 18 years in and out of mental hospitals. It wasn’t until I turned 40 that I defied the doctors who were holding me back, wrote my first novel, and rather shortly after, returned to college. It took five years, but I earned my BFA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing in 2003 from Emerson College at the age of 45. I completed my MFA in Creative Writing at Goddard in 2009. I have now written seven books and am working on my eighth. Two are published.

I suppose my life so far can be seen as bittersweet, but this is true for anyone, is it not? I think my late boyfriend would be mighty proud of me now. He died in 2003. I can imagine my late father, who passed away when I was 39 years old, would feel pride and amazement, too. Both said to me shortly before their death that they knew I’d make something of myself. I wish my former college would realize just where I’ve been all this time.

After graduate school, I began to speak out against the status quo of mental health care. I made the statement that what was called “care” was inhumane, and to varying degrees, abusive.  I demanded change.  As a result, the doctors who were supposedly treating me reacted rather aggressively to stop me. I was shocked because I’ve always felt that when a person had the ability and ambition to advocate for herself and her fellows, it was surely a sign of improving health.

What I learned, though, was that the mental health system is also an organization. It’s an organization that uses force and coercion to sustain itself. Any insider who speaks out is immediately silenced. One silencing method is to further push the member down into the deep pit of slavery to the organization and its higher-ups. Another is to shove the person out, so long as the member is terrorized enough so that she is afraid to speak out again. Another option, believe it or not, is to kill the member, so long as there’s no public outcry. Who will care about a mental patient? We don’t matter because we’ve been left behind, forgotten.

I had no choice but to do something that perhaps appears drastic. I made elaborate plans in secret.  I left just about all my belongings behind, I packed a few suitcases, and obtained special paperwork for my little dog, Puzzle. I had only a few weeks to do this. On May 13, at 5:45 am, I left with Puzzle on an airplane to Miami. The next night, our plane left the USA, crossed the equator, and landed here in Uruguay. I am now free of the slavery of mental health care.

I never needed those doctors. I wish I had realized this when I left Bennington.

I am asking Bennington  College, or any college out there, to never forget those alums that have fallen into misfortune, who may not, right now, have a penny to give. I know I myself have much to give, but it’s not going to be monetary.

I have my own life experience, unique as it is. I started my eating disorder while busy with studies at Bennington, and managed to keep it secret. I thought it would only take a few months of mental health care to rid myself of that eating disorder. I was wrong. I am still affected by it, after over 30 years.

I wish I could reach out right now to the young people attending Bennington who are so much like I was: ambitious, energetic, talented, and driven to learn. I yearn to tell my story. I yearn to help others.

I have an intense desire to change the world. I can thank my parents and my wonderful instructors who have guided me though the years for that. They never discouraged me nor tried to silence me. Instead, I was encouraged and cheered on. I believe I can indeed make a footprint on the world.

I recall at the alumni gathering in Boston, which occurred only about a month or two before I left the USA, I saw this new young college president standing confidently and speaking to all of us. I was in awe. At the same time, I felt that the world inside this gathering was one that I could never match up to.

I hope I was mistaken. I am an alumni, too. I matter, whether rich or poor, in sickness or in health. I’m still here, and will be till death silences me.

Julie Greene, Class of 1981

 

 

Close to 10,000 words….taking a short break.

I love being engaged in a project. I’m into the thick of the third essay. I’m not sure if occasionally i can lump topics into one, or if I need to separate them. I’ve been doing that by feel so far. This essay uses a list and I find that most likely, I need to change the order of the list, break topics up, and combine others. I love having those choices.

The second essay was compare/contrast. I started meandering toward the end due to having only a vague idea of how I was going to end the thing.

Next, I’m going to lie down and snuggle with Puzzle. My plans for this aren’t vague nor sketchy. I’m gonna enjoy it. Hope you all are having a nice day.

Do I smell a caste system? I need to put my head in the clouds, my nose in the air….

Apparently, members of the upper castes are excused from very bad manners.  Ever notice that? They can do whatever they want and they’re worshiped for it. Discriminatory remarks, sloppiness, lateness, all excused.  Drug use is fashionable.  It’s called cocktails.  As is pushing them. It’s called writing a prescription.

Back in the USA, all I’d have to do is to call someone after 9pm and I’d be labeled an unwanted nuisance.  All I need is to switch castes, and I could have someone else fix the typos. I’d be excused.

I’d be excused from any rude remark I chose to make. How nice. I could say whatever stupid or tasteless remark I wanted, and I’d have people bowing down to me.

Had I said some of the stuff that’s been said recently to me by folks in the USA, I would have been hauled away immediately.

Oh no, I can be polite and sweet like most people. Still, I get no respect.  Why? I’m in the wrong caste.

People have been unbelievably rude to me recently, and this is supposedly excusable due to differences in social standing.  What does it matter? I’m disposable.  No money? No one’s got any use for you.

See ya later.

About to call it a day.

I worked hard today. I am so, so proud of myself. I CAN indeed focus on a long-term project. It seemed that for so long, I was unable to do that. I was writing plenty but couldn’t concentrate it all into one concise lump of writing. Now, I can.

Those shrinks back in the USA can go screw. Incapable, stupid, cannot think abstractly, incapable of meaningful relationships…. On and on.

Unemployable. Societal leech. Lazy.

Sinner in the eyes of God.

Drain on the system.

Filthy. Despicable. Useless. Worthless.

Dangerous.

Not even human.

No, I didn’t “overcome” anything. There was nothing to “overcome.” I only had to stop believing what they claimed about me. I threw off the yolk.  I didn’t overcome societal prejudice. What’s to personally overcome when it’s society that needs to change?  I walked out instead. I don’t need them.  I think that makes enough of a statement.

They tried so hard to ruin my life, render me incapable of writing, institutionalize me or drive me to suicide. Sorry, dudes, you didn’t succeed. I happen to be alive and kicking butt. I strive to smash down all locked doors. I hope to end torture at last.  Words do amazing things, because they shape how we think, individually and collectively.

Bipolar. Schizo-whatever. Needy. Dependent. Disabled. Disordered.

As a pal of mine says, “Success is the best revenge.”

I’ve been accepted into college again, about to sign up for my first course beginning January. Those shrinks can kiss my third college degree.

Almost 7400 words so far….

I am happy with my project so far. I am working on the second essay now. I should be finished with that chapter later today. I think there’s another bit I want to add to the first chapter, but I have plenty of time to do this. Nothing’s set in stone.

I find that paying attention to my project allows me to ignore the baloney crap I get from the USA, via online. The latest insult I am just going to ignore. I’m rather done with people’s demeaning attitudes and rude comments.

I was never good at PR anyway. You could hardly expect me to. After all, being stuck in the mental health system, I wasn’t expected to have any social skills at all. I missed out on a number of decades of real life.

I recall one “group” called “social skills” I had to attend at McLean. Guess what we were taught? To begin a conversation by saying hello, and to end one by saying goodbye. We had to role-play this.  That took up an entire 45 minute “group.” Everyone was so doped up they had no awareness of what an insult this group was. I was so disgusted that I walked out.

Then, guess what? I was told that since I walked out, the material presented in the group must be far too advanced for me, way too much for me to handle. I told them that I had no desire to “cope” with being treated like a child.  I chose to avoid subjecting myself to disrespect. I guess that remark flew right over them. They were too thickheaded. I guess they saw their patients as completely incapable. A few patients, in fact, bolted out of there just like i did and ended up okay. I have no clue about the rest.

It’s rather difficult to shed the “system.” I consider myself lucky. It doesn’t happen overnight, either. To do this, you must reject all the false notions they feed you. This takes a long time.

See you later, Julie and Puzzle

 

Not sure what to do….Online sucks

I get more bullying comments from people at this point than anything else. These are from strangers I assume. If these are folks I know, they don’t have the guts to identify who they are. Perhaps since their commentary is so immature they sure don’t want to own up to it.

I have also gotten nasty comments on Facebook and through e-mail. A friend of mine suggested that since I am rather active politically, this may be the cause. I tried to explain that social activism isn’t the same as being involved in politics. However, I see her point. Backstabbing does take place a lot in such circles. Plus people are involved in controversial issues, and this is bound to bring up disagreement.

I remember when I went to the Justina protests, people were far from loving and kind there. Except I did meet some wonderful people, some of whom became good friends and are friends to this day. There were others that seemed full of hate and bigotry. I tried to stay away from them. Why were those people there?  I guess wherever you go, there will be all types.  I felt good about going to the protests, though.  Maybe people were grumpy cuz it was cold.

As for Facebook, I’m just not cut out for that place. I dislike the format and dislike the lack of privacy. I am going to end my current account as soon as I can. I think it was a mistake for me to get back on there.

Now, the problems are continuing here on my blog. I have been receiving nasty comments here, more and more. Had this occurred years ago, I would have been discouraged and would have stopped blogging.

It’s like junior high all over. I dislike this situation intensely. I have looked into this trolling problem. I’m not the only one getting these trolls. I read that BP HIRED trolls, that is, the paid people to harass those that had put negative comments on their site, people who were skeptical of how BP handled the oil spill.

We already know that review sites will allow negative comments about restaurants, bars, various stores, etc. But there are no places to review a doctor. Not fairly. The site will edit out negative comments and will even state that only positive comments are allowed. Same goes for hospitals. Why is this?

I spoke with Kevin Hall at the CCHR about this. He noted the same thing, but said it was possible to put negative comments at other places on the Internet. I thought this was a good point, that if you had a terrible experience, you could post it, but not on traditional review sites. I do, here, though. Plenty. And this is legal.

Of course, those hospitals and practitioners could and probably would have had my blog court ordered to be taken down. However, the reason they haven’t done this is because everything I have said has been true. If I had lied about events, they would have taken action. However, since they haven’t, I guess they can only do undermining things at a very crude level.

They can no longer send the EMT’s to my door or try to criminalize me now that I am out of the USA. However, since I am aware that paid trolls exist, I am not eliminating the possibility that the multitude of trolls that have suddenly appeared weren’t hired, too. Although they could be random jerks. Others in antipsychiatry have also reported trolls.

Those of you in the Movement please be aware of these people. They are most likely harmless, but either way, their object is to make your life miserable. Don’t let immature people do this.

 

First day of Nano

I wrote over 3000 words. Now lying in bed. I am not doing well due to people in the USA being jerks. Wow am I glad I left.

USA gov’t cut my benefits. I knew I would lose state benefits but this month the federal, which just showed up, is short by over $100. Maybe a mistake.  Hope so. Gotta make calls on Monday.

Besides that, overall meanness from people in USA. Nitpicking. Dropped relationships. Friends that never return calls. I think many of them don’t want to bother with me anymore. Unless they want something from me. Is that all I am good for?  My family wrote me off long ago. This is the pits.

I thought I found new friend. But he dropped contact. I wanna cry. Or at least sleep.

I think I been screwed. Of course, I recall saying that last March or so.
Or is it just the way life is? If so, I am returning life to the store. Bad deal. Think I will get my money back? Then I can pay off the bills at least.