A list of all the calls I made trying to get “help” till I learned there wasn’t any out there

1) To therapists

I made literally maybe 300 calls total to individual therapists in 2012 alone, after I fired Maria. One of my former therapists said to call Maria and see if she could refer me to anyone. I did call her, and she was rude to me and said she knew no one. I sure had no intentions of going back to her manipulation and control. But where could I go? There seemed to be none around.

I called MEDA, and quickly realized that they don’t serve poor people. Seriously. Nor men. Only those that are rich enough to attend their gala dinners, their rich fundraisers, big money. Not me. Not anyone in the Welfare system. They had no listings of therapists who took both Medicare and Medicaid.  I also tried the “groups” they recommended only to find you had to have a therapist to join, not only that, the cost was insane!

I remember I also tried the national number, NEDA. They, too, had no listings. Oh, they did. A three hour drive away. Or Connecticut. Finally, I phoned again and said, “Do you have any concept of the geography around here? I know these states are small but Connecticut is not next door. Nor is the far western end of Massachusetts.” That’s like sending someone in Houston to Oklahoma City. I guess they had no concept of what life in poverty is like.

I called all the listings I could muster up that I found in Psychology Today. Absolutely none said “Yes.” I tried the local community mental health centers.  Edinburg had only three therapists altogether. They had lost their funding. The one they offered I had met with once and it was clear she was lazy, knew nothing about ED, and didn’t give a shit so long as she got paid. I think the only reason she accepted me was cuz she’d heard I tend not to miss an appointment. Many of these agencies are fee-for-service, not salaried, meaning it’s to a therapist’s financial advantage to have clients who show up.

I called a social worker number, but they had no listings for people who were poor like me. At least the lady talked to me. I had so little conversation in my life so talking to her for a few minutes on the phone was a relief to me.

I tried all the local hospitals, or most of them. Called their outpatient clinics. No. No no no. Every time. I found a place in Brookline that finally accepted me after “losing” my name on the waiting list. I called and they were apologetic and got me in right away. But the woman, though well intentioned, clearly knew nothing about ED. She tried, though. I’ll give her credit for professionalism. But it was like pulling teeth trying to explain to her what life was really like for me. She wasn’t at all disrespectful, though. The commute there was an awful nightmare and after three sessions, I realized I was wasting my time and quit.

I tried another community center, this one close to my home. I couldn’t believe that therapist. She told me flat out she knew nothing of ED. So why the heck was I going? It was a waste of time, because really, all she did was to repeat back to me everything I said. Finally, I got tired of that baloney and quit.

At one point, I saw some publicity about a therapist who practiced not far from my home. I could walk there on a nice day even though it was a bit far. Immediately, I knew this woman was dishonest. She claimed she was a therapist but had no training, no degree, but apparently pulls the wool over enough people’s eyes to get by as “therapist.” I wouldn’t have minded seeing her but what guarantee did I have that she’d be ethical? If I was gonna see a non-professional, at least they should be upfront that they aren’t a therapist.

Then, I found someone whom another therapist referred me to, telling me he was a miracle worker. I thought, “Good, now I can get out of this situation at Riverside.” I was so glad he accepted me. I refused to tell him much over the phone and told myself at least I had an appointment.

I never once questioned what was right standing there in front of me. Why did this man call me “Honey” from the very start? He was lewd, abrasive, and hardly professional. I am not going to go into details but after three sessions with this perv I was awfully glad I got away.  Don’t go to him, his name is David Alpert.

He was smart, though. It’s just that his “other” intentions weren’t so great. He’d have been decent if only he cleaned up his act. And he shouldn’t have lied, claiming he was an “energy therapist” cux what he did with me sure wasn’t energy therapy! I was embarrassed seeing him, was embarrassed, really, about his sloppiness, his slovenly appearance, his rudeness, and inappropriately treating me like a sex object.  After he got done with me I felt suicidal but not for long.

Dr. Pearson should have reported him. No, she didn’t even believe me and yelled at me for firing too many therapists. Seriously. That was criminal neglect on her part.

2) Residential treatment

Oh wow what a joke. I called everywhere and no one took my insurance. Care/caid sure was the pits. Many of these places were, oh, posh I guess. Then, I decided I’d call each and every one and offer them $40 a day. They were cracking up and many never called back. Mostly, they charge $500 to $1,0oo a day. None offered scholarships.  I’d heard of Project Heal but their wait list was closed.

3) Inpatient at Walden

I had no desire to go back to Walden cuz I disagreed with the way they did “treatment” and also because they didn’t treat binge eating there. If you said you suffered from binge eating and sincerely asked for help, you got ignored and were force fed no matter what. They blamed me, of course. They all do that if you happen to disagree with them. No matter if I was underweight or not, binge eating was ignored and not treated. No way was I going back there if they refused to acknowledge the serious danger of binge eating. They do treat it in a separate “program” they have but my insurance didn’t pay for any of that. The inpatient staff were shockingly ignorant of binge eating. I was amazed. Why had they been hired if they had no knowledge of what I suffered from? I’d get these blank, stupid stares. “I don’t know,” was the reply frequently. I’d get a more helpful response from a fellow sufferer than I ever got from staff.

I was stuck, really. But what I didn’t realize then, and I know now, is that treatment had harmed me already so much, why did I want to go back to them? Why was I STILL expecting help from those therapists when they clearly had no answers and mostly were rude and disrespectful?

Guess what I hear all the time with those kids. You mention a particular hospital or treatment center and guess what the reaction is. “I love that place.” Well? Isn’t that the problem?

Quit loving your hospitals and know what happens? You get better. That’s right, stop going to them cuz all the want is to take your insurance money and keep you sick. If you “love” a hospital you’ll get sick just to get admitted. It’s so sad to see the ole revolving door. In, out, in, out. Do you really think that’s getting somewhere? They’ll lie plenty, but behind your back, you wouldn’t believe what those assholes say.h

There’s no love there. Absolutely none. It took me three decades to learn that, three decades stolen from my life.

All I want to do is to help others get free from the treatment trap. All I want is to see others succeed and tell the fuckers off. Please, let your success be your revenge. They’ll hate it plenty but I will rejoice in your freedom.

 

List of the year in numbers, Q & A 2014, and why I left the USA

Here’s my list, folks:

In 2014, I….

How many friends did you lose in 2014?

Let’s see. It’s hard to count them all. Some deliberately slipped away, hoping I wouldn’t notice. I do know of one person who due to tech glitch thought I didn’t want to be her friend anymore. Luckily, that got cleared up and I explained no way was that deliberate on my part.
I’ve counted four friends lost. And no, five. Okay, thought of one other. Oh no, two more. Eight? Probably far more than that.

How many jobs did you apply for but get turned down in 2014?

I applied for one job but got turned down due to not having a good internet connection. Fair enough. I have a very good internet connection now, but they never contacted me. I didn’t apply for very many jobs, knowing I am unemployable due to having no work history. I need to lie next time. Sadly, that’s the only way to get by.

How many housing situations did you get turned down from in 2014?

Oh my god so many. I tried my darndest. I applied to a lot of places. I remember the letters pouring in. “We aren’t putting any more people on our waiting list.” Or turned away at the door from low income housing cuz my income was TOO low. I finally got an application in to a place in Boston. Inner city. I was told the wait was two to three years when I applied, but a year later when I called to see where I was on the list, they said seven years.

Then there was the gal in Kansas City who seemed so nice and told me I could come live with her, stay a week, then by then I’d have found a place. This whole thing was so sinister and I never should have trusted her. I was starting to look into how I’d get Puzzle and me to Kansas City. Then she said she was going to be near my home in Massachusetts soon, so she’d bring me back. This was a complete stranger, someone in the Movement.

But…Just cuz they are in the movement doesn’t mean they are well-intentioned. What happened was that she did a nasty Facebook trick to get me to open up about the extent of my eating disorder. She introduced me to a pal of hers who had had an ED. We messaged privately, but this was still a three-way conversation. I didn’t even know what would happen. I opened up to the gal who had ED, grateful for some opportunity to communicate because I had so little. Then, the Kansas City gal said she was going to read this messaging to learn about ED.

I never heard from her again. She dropped contact immediately. No ride to Kansas City. Not one word, completely dropped contact.  Okay, discrimination, right? I’ll never know cuz I never heard from her again. I didn’t want to speak to her after that and I felt that what she’d done was awfully cruel. I didn’t want to tell anyone. I felt ashamed.

I tried at random calling housing places all over the country. None were within my price range. I ended up telling them I’d contact them when I was getting ready to move. I was too embarrassed to say I had so little money. I remember pleading on Facebook for ideas, where to go, where on earth could I turn? That was so humiliating.

Must have been a few months ago I saw friends on Facebook offering housing to their friends. I didn’t get any offers like that. I felt so rejected. People knew I was in dire straits. I knew most couldn’t take a person in, even for a very short time. But I had like 300 friends. I felt like Oliver Twist. No place to go. It felt horrible. Wow, I was really cornered until I came here.

How many groups or clubs kicked you out in 2014?

Oh, church. They made it look like they weren’t kicking me out, but they were. They’ll deny, but that’s what happened. Why? Because after I was abused in a hospital they decided that taking legal action against the hospital was some sort of crime.

I tried to join a few groups. I was told I wasn’t wanted. For a group for people with eating problems, anorexics weren’t allowed. What did they have, weigh-ins for membership?

I tried to get speaking engagements but was turned down. I remember two occasions. I was getting sick of being told “No.”

How many times were you bullied in 2014?

Oh my goodness, that must be over 50. At least. No, over 100.

How many times were you rudely insulted in 2014? This doesn’t include perceived insults, but outright put-downs.

I’d say several hundred times, back in the USA, and continuing online even though I took off.

Out of nearly 365 days, how many of those days did you shed tears?

Until after I moved here, I cried every day.

In 2014, how many times did you attempt suicide?

Not once.

In 2014, how many times did you have a passing thought about killing yourself?

A few times, usually after someone insulted me, but this was only a passing thought. I never seriously considered it. I knew  back in Boston the medical people were denying me care and this neglect was causing my slow death. I’m so happy I got away.

Compared to last year, how depressed were you?

Far less. I was very sad after I was abused in 2013, but that has improved now that I have gotten away from shrinkage. Leaving that therapy mentality really helps!

Did you try to kill yourself in 2013?

No. I suffered from anorexia nervosa. I never made an attempt on my life in 2013. I’ve been treated so badly in my life, that you’d think I’d have killed myself  by now, but no, I haven’t.  In summer 2013 I got so starved that my kidneys were failing I wasn’t capable of getting myself to eat anymore. I begged for help to get out of the cycle and was flat out denied. Actually, this is documented. Anorexia isn’t the same as actively killing yourself. Many with anorexia do commit suicide, most likely because of bad treatment or neglect.

My kidneys began to fail, as I figure, July 1, 2013. That’s when the whole world started feeling like I was on a ship on a rocky ocean. It never stopped nor gave me a break. July 10 I saw my own psychiatrist, Dr. Kimberly Pearson, and terminated with her because she had threatened me and yelled at me in her office more than once. I told her I’d arranged follow-up care at Harvard Vanguard. I sweet-talked my way through the appointment, but inside, I was seething. I hated that woman who cared about her money far more than she cared about us patients.

July 18, 2013, I saw Linda Simon at Harvard Vanguard. I was desperate for help. She obviously had never treated anyone with severe anorexia before and had no clue of the seriousness of my situation. She took a phone call during our session. No, this wasn’t an emergency or family member in some crisis. This was a casual call. She stayed on the phone, chatting away while I sat there. I told myself this lady wasn’t for me. She asked where I’d last been hospitalized and I told her Walden, July 2012. She had never heard of Walden. Wow, then I really knew. Surely, if she knew what she was doing and had experience with eating disorders, she would have heard of Walden. Right in front of me, she opened their website and took a peek, then demanded I sign a paper allowing her to get my records from Walden. I told her, “Why don’t you believe me, instead of believing other practitioners?” But no, Linda was so demanding, threatening me in her office. I told her the doctor and staff at Walden never listened to me that July, never even cared. So why should this Linda rely on unreliable records? Afterward, I phoned Harvard Vanguard to retract my paperwork, refusing to allow records-sharing. She phoned me up and threatened me, raising her voice.

I phoned my primary care physician at Harvard Vanguard. I told her what had happened. She said no way should I see Linda Simon again. She arranged for me to see this other guy, a psychologist, Dr. Bauman. My appointment was the 23rd of July.

Dr. Bauman immediately told me he didn’t treat eating disorders and knew nothing about anorexia. I was glad he told me the truth. But I begged him for help anyway. He refused. He referred me to a lady in Harvard Vanguard’s Cambridge office.

Puzzle had a vet appointment. I was so scared because I could barely stand up. I knew it was getting harder and harder to make sense when I spoke, due to starvation. I asked if there was anyone at church who could go with me. Nope. Everyone was “too busy” or “on vacation.” Oh, they probably were. Isn’t church a place where you find community? Nope. Not for skinny me. They were all off enjoying their wonderful vacations, and I was starving to death all alone.

I called the Harvard Vanguard office and made an appointment with Fatima Munion. The appointment was August 6. Wow, what a joke. We spent the whole session, paid for by insurance, on demographics. She said she felt sorry for me. My next appointment was not for another month, in fact, it was in late September. She said, “Talk to your social worker.” I left, terribly discouraged. I remember I fell when I was trying to get off the bus. I was that weak. Then I realized I didn’t have a social worker. I had a CBFS lady but she was unreliable (they all are), was in love with her cell phone, and knew nothing of ED. I felt unloved and lost.

I had been trying to hook up at the Women’s Center, and met someone there via e-mail.  It took like six e-mails before she even told me her first name. It was like pulling teeth, she was so cagey. I never managed to schedule a meeting with her and apparently the Center wouldn’t give out phone numbers. I felt like giving up.  I told myself no one gave a shit. I truly believe I was right, very few did.

I tried a few times to reach out on Facebook. I remember I wrote private messages to a few people and got NO RESPONSE! What the fuck are friends for? I was too starved to feel pissed off.

What happened to me wasn’t a suicide attempt. Far from it. I was dying, and begging for help. I never got it. That was very sad, but I’m sure glad I am alive.

I had a few friends who stuck around. One wonderful woman who called me every day when I was in the hospital. Another who visited me, but the following year, 2014, he dumped me over a stupid argument. I have another one who called me occasionally while I was inpatient, but for whatever reason, every time I talk to her now, I feel like she doesn’t even believe that I was abused. I think she assumes “perceived abuse.” It wasn’t perceived, it really happened, but you can’t force people to believe you. I think she assumes I have some disorder that causes me to “feel persecuted.”

Could thousands of people, rapidly growing in numbers in the antipsychiatry movement “perceive” similar abuse? We are gaining in solidarity, numbers, and strength. I know I am not alone.

So my answer is no, I never attempted suicide in 2013. Sadly, everything that happened at Mount Auburn was based on lies, not based on the picture I honestly presented to them.

After the abuse, I felt I had no reason to live. I knew the hospitalization could have gone otherwise, but didn’t. I wasn’t treated with respect. Had I been respected there and treated like I was a human being, things would have been far different for me when I left the hospital. Had my community welcomed me back and given me leads for finding legal help, my life would have been different, too.

I cried every day. I felt that Mount Auburn had ruined me. I had no in-person companionship except Puzzle. I cried and cried, asking God, or anyone, Why did they abuse me? I wasn’t suicidal, but many in my situation would have killed themselves had they been abused like that. I knew if I killed myself, the shrinks would have absolved themselves of all responsibility, convincing the authorities that the abuse was imagined. They would claim my refusing “treatment” was why I killed myself. I sure didn’t want to die misinterpreted. I hung on, hoping that things would get better.

I had to hang on a long time. Finding Mad in America was key, actually, going to the Justina Pelletier protests and meeting others.

I might have stayed in the Boston area if I’d even had a voice there. But I didn’t. I’d show up at places, try to contribute, and was told to shut up. I had no clue I was valued at all by anyone. I saw other survivors in the movement getting published, being invited to speaking engagements, and being honored. I wasn’t. I only got rejected over and over.  Where was love? I felt like Oliver Twist without a home. I needed to find my place. I knew the answer was not Mental Health Care. Nor was I being accepted in Boston among the activists there.  It was something else.

 

I had to create my own place in the world. You won’t find it in any “help” organization. You won’t find it in a hospital nor in therapy. You won’t find it in another person. You have to create it on your own. No one will build that place for you.

You must try hard. Find that place. God isn’t in a church. God isn’t in the sky.  God is in your soul. That’s the holiest place of all.  Some say God is everywhere but please don’t rely on some church cuz they mostly lie. If you have no answers to life’s problems, create your own answers. Then, you are blessed with inner knowledge that no one can take away.

Where are you now? How has life changed?

I guess for years I’ve wanted a coffee companion. I’m very happy now to have one. We meet every morning. Others stop by at our table to chat, in English and Spanish. I feel so blessed.

We have all kinds of ideas. I know a guy who cured his own cancer. I know many who speak out against what’s happening in the USA. Many who were booted out just like I was. You know when you HAVE to leave. And many won’t reveal what, exactly, drove them out of the USA. Often, it was bullying. People who are aware, who tell the truth, get bullied cuz no one wants to hear what they are saying. The general public  back in TV-land USA would rather be cozy with the feel-good brainwashing. Those of us here in exile refuse to believe it nor go along with it.

Some expats see the coming of mass extinction. Others see a total rebuilding of social structures. Many are writing books. Many enjoy self-sufficiency and farming the land. We are survivors, and each has a story to tell.

Many don’t attend the gatherings. I’d say those that show up represent a minority of those that have settled here. We are growing in numbers, folks that know what’s happening and are trying to change things on a global value.

I’d say I feel valued here. I’d say I have a place. People believe what I say and here, I am NEVER told “It didn’t happen.” Nothing like that. I’m never called crazy or paranoid. I don’t think it even crosses anyone’s mind here. Not even close.  In fact, I am seen as a person who is aware, that is, who has woken up to the reality of the way things are. People ask me for help or advice. This is thrilling to me. I am so happy to help out and contribute my knowledge, education, and experience.

I never thought, after the rejection in Boston, that the accusations and bullying would ever stop. But it does. Please, please please get away from oppression so you can live your life freely as an adult. Find your place. It’s well worth the wait.

 

 

Reflections on being a member of a church

“Once a member, always a member.” “The door is always open.” I believed at the time I heard this that this was Gospel truth. Why? Cuz they said so. But it was a lie.

Oh, it does hold true for those they “like.” They didn’t like me. So I got the boot. I notice they took me off their membership list. I notice that just now.  I feel very sad.

I don’t know how to fathom this. I was never honored there. I was never asked to do anything for their church except give money. I had a lot to give but that was denied. I was kept off the greeters list.  I was told this was an “oversight.” But two years in a row? And no apology?  They denied that I had any human worth except what was in my bank account. Beyond that, they stressed silence and compliance.

I never spoke at Joys and Sorrows. Oh, once I did and was immediately put own for what I said. That it wasn’t a joy. Yep, that’s what she said. “That’s not a joy.” I had no clue what to say to that except originally I didn’t think the church believed in censorship. Clearly, they did.

A lot of people got put down for what they said at Joys and Sorrows. I began to notice the same people went up there again and again. I felt that to allow congregation members to speak aloud to the congregation was a good thing. Then, I guess the minister didn’t like giving up his absolute power, so he made restrictions on Joys and Sorrows. It was like a totalitarian regime.

They said they needed Chalice lighters on a certain date. I volunteered. I was happy to contribute something besides fucking money. But immediately, I could see the minister panicked. “Keep your word count down.  Remember it must be appropriate for children.” Wow, did he terrorize everyone in that manner when they did the reading for the Chalice? I was so insulted. And when I came to do it, they were ready with their “substitute.” I was suddenly painfully aware of the reality: I wasn’t wanted there. They were hoping I’d forgotten to show up.

Yep, they claimed to be welcoming. For the few. For the elite. For those that give money. But they routinely pushed out those they didn’t like or those they couldn’t get money from.

They’d do it in sinister ways. I’ve seen people belittled there. I’ve heard insults and discrimination. They claimed anyone could join a committee, but that wasn’t true. If someone they didn’t like joined, they’d gently push them off, convincing them to drop out and at the same time, making it look like there was no coercion.

At the time that I joined, I yearned for spiritual connection and community. I thought I’d found it. But that wasn’t true. I’d go to “feel good” church, come home, then spend the week in isolation. One member even ordered me, “Never contact me outside of church again.” So began the long list of Sunday Only friends.

I might as well have had “Facebook only friends.” Same deal. Don’t call me and don’t talk to me.  I believe you are worthless shit, but I want to add to my friends list so I’m including you. I’ll only come to you when I need something because I don’t value your company.

No, I wasn’t valued at church. I wasn’t loved. I tried so hard, but every Sunday I’d come home after church and cry all afternoon.

After I left Watertown, I noticed they were “allowing” letters to the editor in their monthly newsletter. But have i seen one letter “allowed” in? Nope. That, too, is domination, control of the press by the very few elite.

Yeah, they want more members. More members means more money. You bet that’s what they are thinking. But they didn’t keep me. Sorry, dudes. I don’t want to be valued for my bank account, money I didn’t even have, and then censored and silenced.

In my letter to the UUA in Boston I explained how the church had discriminated against Rachel Ann Klein, and others, too. I sent that letter at the end of December 2013, maybe over the turn of New Year’s, since I was alone as usual and had nothing better to do.

So it was two days after my birthday, nearly a year ago, that two church bigwigs came barging into my home accusing me of plotting to kill the minister. Seriously! They brought a cop with them.  I am not kidding! The two church bigwigs, especially the guy, were shaking all over, like they were scared of “dangerous” me, accusing me of having weapons. It was all speculation, completely unfounded. Based on my letter, which didn’t once state I intended to do anything violent to anyone.  To barge into my apartment building without ringing my bell was illegal, cop or no cop. They had no warrant, no evidence, and they admitted it was all a hunch. I challenged them, telling them they would NEVER do this kind of thing to a person who didn’t have a “diagnosis.” And then they said that all this was being kept secret, only one committee in the church had any knowledge that they were doing this.

I realize now why they didn’t let the rest of the congregation know. First of all, it was yet another act of discrimination. An inside job. Get rid of the unwanted by terrorizing me. Don’t tell anyone. That way, if I speak out, I’d be told by most that they’d never heard of this, and therefore, it had never happened. I’d be accused of being delusional. This left me defenseless and terrified.

I am speaking out now, loud and clear. There is no place in my life for being bullied by any individual nor institution. I won’t be a member of any group where I am not even valued, not wanted nor recognized.

I wish, after that incident, that I’d contacted Rachel Klein. No way would Rachel have called me delusional. She would have known the serious offense the church committed. She was demanding, too. She would have approached them I bet. She had guts. I guess they never liked that, nor appreciated how smart and insightful she was.

Was Rachel squelched by them, too? I’m sure they tried their darndest to silence her in some way. I’m sure she was fully aware of this. Aware people get killed, or bullied into committing suicide. Organizations such as that church only love those that have plenty of money and are silent and compliant. But I can only speculate, and I sure know the feeling of “Nobody loves me.” You bet I do.

 

 

I fix stuff

I fix all kinds of things. I never knew I could do it. I used to think I wasn’t capable, that it wasn’t my turf, and that I’d have to rely on hired people to fix my stuff when it broke.

I heard the voice of my youngest brother who told me over and over how stupid I was and how I’d messed up my car. My other brother, too, telling me I was stupid with computers.

For years, I got put down and all I could hear was their condescending voices telling me how incompetent I was. So I never really tried.

Here, I address my readers: Do you want to be an adult? If you are adult age you should act like one. Learn self-reliance. Don’t rely on others to pick you up when you fall. What if your rescuers weren’t there? You cannot rely on others. They are unreliable.

All my life, I was fiercely independent and I made my own decisions. Mental Health Care ended that. I became dependent on those doctors for everything. That should never happen to anyone.

So now, I am away from all that.  I do for myself. I can’t count how many things I have fixed in the past week. I have fun doing it. Except there are so many leaks in the bathroom and I don’t have proper tools to fix them. I imagine the tools will cost me so much it might be more economical to get someone in here to do all four leaks at once. Before I move that is. PS: I got my eye on a place.

 

And then the night was silent and holy

They say Freedom comes with a price. The concept isn’t an easy one to grasp since we are always redefining what Freedom means to us. People aren’t static, they are living and life means change, growth, and decay. Where do all these ideas come from if all we are are our bodies? But we are more than that. We are sacred.

I went out last night in Atlantida, Uruguay, leaving my home at 11:30pm, or, rather, 23:30. The sun sets now around 21:00 and rises around 6:00. We are currently on Daylight Savings Time, at -2:00. Some call it Amazon Time. So 23:30 here was 8:30 in New York and Boston, where the hoopla was just starting.

I suppose it’s cold there, in my former home of Watertown, Massachusetts.  Folks have to be careful driving on ice. We have some of that commercialism here and a few of the stores were packed with long lines at the register. Only a couple of our stores broadcast Muzak, thankfully, or have statues of Santa greeting customers.

I was amazed at the lack of Christmas decorations. Where I lived in the USA, there was so much “holiday cheer” that it was sickening.  My landlady here is one of the few in Atlantida who has Christmas lights in her door. I’ve seen very few Christmas trees.

At 23:30, I decided to go out and see the fireworks. I didn’t bring Puzzle with me cuz I figured she’d be scared. But honestly I think with all the popping around, perhaps she was uncomfortable staying home alone.

The night was warm. I tried walking down Artigas toward La Rambla, then turned onto Cuidad de Montevideo. Around the intersection with Rep de Chile, I saw some folks gathered. Someone was doing something in the middle of the street. He was bent down. Then, he ran off to join the others.

In the spot where he’d been fussing, sparks shot up, up, up and erupted into bursts in the sky. Popping sounds surrounded me. I quickened my pace, moving away from the noise and explosions. I turned back onto Artigas.

The street was marvelously empty. A lone couple passed me walking arm in arm. I nodded to them but they were engaged in Spanish conversation I didn’t understand.

I passed by one of the bakeries, or, rather, panaderias, which was closed up for the night. Their parking lot was empty. Just beyond, I saw a man bending over. I thought he was looking for a lost coin. I told myself if only I could speak Spanish, I could ask him if he’d lost a ring or if he needed help searching for whatever valuable he was frantically seeking.

Maybe he was seeking God, or meaning.

But I reminded myself that Freedom comes with a price. I walked past, then turned to see what he was doing. He got up and walked away rather quickly.

All at once, the spot where he’d been searching (so I thought) erupted in sparkles and thunderclaps. More sparkly stuff shot up. Boom! Boom! I told myself this was a loud one. A large one. Did he even anticipate that a pedestrian might be walking past? Or was I stupid to be out on such a night? Boom! Boom!

Silent night. Holy night.

I didn’t turn onto the highway at Plaza de la Madre, but headed up Ave Circunvalencion, toward the Liceo. The popping became more frequent. I turned to see what was happening in the homes. Some folks were enjoying parties. I suppose the folks in the darker, silent homes were either at another party or trying to sleep. Or maybe these homes were vacant, their owners hungry for tourists to rent them. Many, indeed, had “Aquilar” posted out front.

I tried to walk past the Liceo. Not a chance. A line of young people, teens I suppose, stood out there and I knew they were blowing off more firecrackers. I walked around the school and took a side street to the Interbalnearea.

This major highway was completely devoid of vehicles. I saw no buses, even though I know I’ve walked past here and seen the bus stops crowded late into the wee hours. Tonight, on this holiday some consider sacred, those bus stops had been abandoned. No buses. No cars. I saw no cops. After about ten minutes’ walking along the Auxiliary Road, a lone ambulance or rescue vehicle whisked past without playing its siren, and tore eastward along the abandoned Interbal.

You would think, then, that all would be silent, with no cars nor people around. No, hardly. The popping increased to a feverish mania.

I could have been in a battlefield. The sound of machine guns surrounding me. Up ahead, I saw it just in time. Some teens set off a firecracker in the middle of the Auxiliary Road. Damn good thing I saw it and turned around, hurrying away as it exploded.

I reminded myself there was no need to be scared, though perhaps being out on such a night wasn’t the best idea. Especially alone. I was now headed westward, but I was hesitant to pass the Liceo again. The popping and firecrackers display made the USA Fourth of July look and sound like kids’ play. Even the Boston Pops concert on the Charles River paled by comparison.

And no, the quieter, more private and less pricy north side pf the IB wasn’t quiet tonight. While I walked on the south  side, on the other side of the highway were higher and more elaborate sparkles in the sky. The grass is always greener. Especially since it’s summer here.

I remembered that under the bridge where Ruta 11 crosses over is a teen hangout. I told myself maybe I shouldn’t be walking past there. But I saw no kids, no people hanging out at all. I laughed, then knowing they couldn’t shoot firecrackers under an overpass, so they wouldn’t want to use this hangout. Silent night.

I walked all the way past Tienda Inglesas, of course, closed up for the night. The Petrobas gas station also was closed, open only to those who had credit cards to use at the pumps. I followed Calle 11, hoping it was safe from mischievous kids. Something told me again perhaps I shouldn’t have ventured out, but the warmth of the night comforted me and I felt rather secure.  Now, midnight had passed, and the popping machine gun noise was calming down. Less frequent, coming to a close.

I didn’t hear the churches ring bells. I haven’t heard mention of Jesus or “Senior” as they sometimes say, referring to Jesus.

That I know of, we have only two churches in town. One is a Jehovah Witness meeting place, and I know the Witnesses do not celebrate the holiday. The Catholic church of course does. But I have heard not one familiar Carol. No Jingle Bells. No Little Town of Bethlehem.  Yesterday, I saw cashiers wearing Santa hats at one of the stores. They seemed to regard this as a bit too silly.

And above all, no snow. No snowmen.  No White Christmas here.

All at once, I wanted to shout out, “No! This is not my country!” But I didn’t. I wanted to be home now, holding Puzzle and comforting her. Surely, she must be spooked by this. Why had I left her alone?

I passed by a home and saw a Christmas tree in the window. The family was gathered around their dinner. Norman Mailer picture perfect. For whatever reason, I found this scene immensely relieving.

I walked a few more blocks. I saw the pharmacist, an older guy who works at the pharmacy on Calle 11, closing up shop for the night, perhaps his wife with him, headed elsewhere. I wanted to wave but didn’t. I’d gone there looking for calculator batteries only two days ago.

I prayed for peace, for love, for understanding.  All at once, I had arrived back at my apartment.

I opened my door, stepped inside, and felt such marvel at what was before me. Nothing had changed. No one had come to do an illegal search. No one was here to drag me off to some hospital or holding place. Puzzle had been asleep, and rose to greet me. I gave her a pat. Yes, I have come to Home Sweet Home at last.

The four walls that surrounded me in Watertown that was my apartment sure didn’t make a home. It was more like a prison.  Home is a place where you are wanted and loved and feel secure and safe. I never had that in Watertown, not since 2008.  Here, in this place where Navidad is so different, I am okay, safe, and free.

They say Freedom comes with a price. Watertown must have had over 20 churches in four square miles. Here, not one charity group nor church people came to me this season asking for money. In the USA, they spoke of Christmas around the world. What a dumb, ethnocentric idea. I doubt Santa made it past the equator, and had he slipped down anyone’s chimney here, he would have been considered an intruder. Here, if you want to alert those inside of your presence, you clap your hands outside the door. Santa needs to learn our customs or I guess he’s not wanted here. No wonder the cashiers were laughing over “Ho ho ho.” The joke’s on the rest of the world.

Late at night, I held Puzzle in my arms while she slept peacefully through the remainder of the fireworks. I, too, fell asleep soon after I lay down. I made sure both of us were on the inside of my mosquito net. And then, we lay curled up together, like mother and child.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

 

Puzzle, showered with love

I brought Puzzle into the shower with me this morning. I had heard that this could be done. I noticed over the past week that she seemed resentful to be separated from me while I showered, even if we were in the same room. So this morning I brought her right in with me. Actually, she went in first and had to wait while I got the last of my clothes off. Then, I hopped in too. She watched me curiously, wondering what on earth would happen next. I finished myself then told Puzzle that it was her turn. She wasn’t under the water at the time. Not yet. But she was plenty wet enough. I soaped her up with the mildest soap I have.

Puzzle was so thrilled!  What a blast! She wanted me to scratch her backside forever. I cupped my hands to rinse her. I put her back end right under the water and she didn’t mind one bit!

The drying part wasn’t hard either. I put a large bedsheet over her. I told her to sit and stay right there. She looked so cute with that slate blue sheet over her.

I dried her as best as I could. Then I got my blow dryer on her.  I used the cool shots feature so she wouldn’t have too much heat on her. She dried fast!

I proudly paraded Puzzle around the neighborhood. What a beautiful girl she is.  Mi perrita.

One year, so much happier

I look back on the past year and I am amazed. A year ago I was crying every day, and desperate to leave Watertown. I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it. I thought I was stuck there. Permanently. That I’d always have to deal with discrimination and hateful people. I look back at the things people said about me (and made sure I overheard or said to my face):

“I can’t be friends with you because you have an eating disorder.”

“I dislike your sense of humor.”

“You are negative. Your negative energy makes me uncomfortable.”

“It’s your fault. You refuse to forgive.”

“They were only doing their job. Why can’t you see it that way?”

“You brought it upon yourself.”

“Your bad attitude caused it all.”

“You are stupid.”

And so on.  I never thought I’d EVER hear the words I hear nowadays:

“You are so enjoyable to  be with, I stayed for extra time.”

“I love talking to you. You are one of the few people who can converse on my level.”

“I love seeing you.”

“We love Puzzle.”

‘Your dog is lovely.”

“You are funny. I love your sense of humor.”

“Thank you for being there for me.”

“You are a big help.”

“It’s refreshing to see someone like you so aware of what is happening in the world.”

I thought this would never happen, but it is. I am enjoying life now. I have fun every day. I don’t mean a few minutes of fun, but lots of fun. I enjoy challenges and I enjoy problem-solving.

I spend loads of time outdoors. I like to make people smile. I tell good jokes, and bad ones, too. I have a rich wealth of experience behind me. It’s worth a ton, you know.

I look back and am amazed. Yeah, shrinkage damaged me,  but NOTHING IS FOREVER. That includes so-called “bipolar.” Bipolar is a figment of your doctor’s imagination.  That includes PTSD from psych abuse, which doesn’t have to be forever, either.

I fix things. I use my brains and figure stuff out. I use logic. Common sense. No “hospital” taught me to build a fire and cook food over it. No treatment center taught me that papaya is delicious. No therapy group taught me how to fix my calculator, or replace fuses, or fix plumbing.

Staying in MH care only held me back from living the life I wanted and deserved. Is it holding you back, too?

One year, one big future.

Amber glasses to block out blue light! Why is this such a big secret?

It is known that blue light, when seen with the eyes, tells the body it’s daytime, thereby causing a person to have difficulty sleeping. I started blocking blue light from coming out of my computer screen. It really works!

Looking back, I can analyze why I became sleep deprived in terms of light. This began suddenly following my horrific experience at Mass General Hospital in 2011. I had always thought the insomnia was the result of having had a slow heartbeat for so long. However, my heartrate has been okay for a while.

I looked at the idea of trauma, but that doesn’t make sense as the insomnia is consistent. If I am worried about something (such as money) I sleep the same as if I am feeling calm. The insomnia is not intermittent, it is every single night. I haven’t slept through the night at all in three and a half years. In fact, I’ve only slept an hour or two at a time. I am lucky now that I sleep in “shifts,” that is, I sleep two hours, get up, sleep two more, etc. Some nights I’ve woken up six or seven times, though. Sleeping pills don’t make my sleep any better. They are addicting and dangerous.

Nor does “sleep hygiene” do anything for me. It hasn’t made a bit of difference to use my bed only for sleep or to cut down on caffeine. Making those changes never worked for me and only made things worse.

I have tried various herbs, which may help slightly for a few days then quit on me. Changing my diet didn’t help. I really was feeling hopeless that I’d ever be able to function normally again, that is, be able to work or to go to school or to be productive at all. I told myself I might as well let myself die, since I lived in a nether world, half asleep and exhausted all day long.

I am trying to use light to help me sleep now, and I see a difference, though the placebo effect works, too. But I am hoping I am onto something at last.

The obect is to cut down or eliminate blue light as soon as the sun goes down. I’ve rigged my computer screen not to show blue light past sundown. It now glows amber.

So I thought; What about amber glasses? Wouldn’t that work? If I invented some, they’d sell like hotcakes.

It’s already been thought of:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20030543

But…if the experiment was so successful and sleeping pills so darned dangerous, why are they still pushing the pills?  It’s because you won’t convince anyone that glasses will work. But as you see in the study, they do. They are safer than pills by far.

Sweet dreams.