Happening now as we speak in Ohio

Protest in Ohio for John Rohrer in Columbus against forced “medication” and forced “hospitalization.”

I believe in what we are doing with all my heart.

Go, folks. I am with you. Many are.

A second protest and OPEN MIC is planned for February 5, also in Columbus.

Stay tuned.

Why I avoid using the term “mental illness”

I try to stay away from the words “mental illness” unless I am speaking of a diagnosis, that is, something that was said of someone. If I do use this terminology, I’m repeating what I heard or read, that is, I’m quoting something stated by someone else or something in a medical record somewhere. That’s precisely what diagnosis is. It’s something written in your record.

I used to think that diagnosis was akin to college major, or occupation. So I USED to think that diagnosis defined a person. As in,

I am a musician.
I study writing.
I major in chemistry.
I program computers.
I change oil in foreign cars and occasionally change a tire.

And so, I’d sit around a table on some psych ward and we’d talk shop. The question, “What are you in for?” got a variety of responses:

“I tried to hang myself.”
“I fought with my girlfriend.”
“My parents kicked me out.”
“I got fired so I took pills.”
“They say I have schizophrenia.”
“I don’t know. They stopped me at the airport and I had no suitcase.”

Eventually, we were assigned diagnoses. After I’d been around a while, I was the smartass who had them memorized. I’d explain to folks that bipolar didn’t mean you had two personalities. I’d tell people that it meant you had to take a mood stabilizer for life. I’d tell people that if they were depressed it had to do with serotonin. I’d tell them they should always follow their doctor’s advice. I’d say, “Never question what they tell you. They know what they’re doing.” I even talked a guy into doing shock treatments. I told him, “You’d better do as they say, or you’ll be depressed for life.” Thank goodness he didn’t listen to me.

See, I was just like any other mental patient. I praised those doctors and thought they were “great.” Even though I knew, in the back of my mind, that they sure hadn’ t done me any favors. But I kept on forgiving and forgiving. After all, I figured someday, I’d get better, wouldn’t I?

But I was getting nowhere in life. I was getting worse because I was following “doctor” advice.  I identified with my psych diagnosis, which made no sense because they diagnosed me with any ole diagnosis and ignored my eating disorder entirely. Actually, none of it made sense since all that “bipolar” stuff seemed to be improving over the years whether they drugged me or not. Maybe it was just a part of my youth. Maybe all that was just normal ups and downs after all. I began to realize that anyone who had badly starved themselves would end up as depressed as I had gotten. Especially since my eating disorder had either been laughed at or ignored for decades. I don’t see eating disorders as mental problems, but nutritional problems.

Do I believe in mental illness? These are two words, “mental” and “illness.” I do believe people suffer terribly. I don’t believe we have a consistent definition of “illness” at all. People who are diagnosed as mentally ill don’t have germs. They don’t have tumors. They don’t have missing parts of their brains. Their blood is no different. You can’t find mental illness on a blood test or x-ray. As a matter of fact, when a patient has to go to court, and a doctor testifies that a patient is “mentally ill,” know what the “evidence” is? There is NO EVIDENCE whatsoever. An opinion is all that is used. Yep, the doctor’s gut feeling basically. Guesswork.

You are most likely better off going to a psychic. You’ll get results that are just as accurate. Ever go to one?  I’d love to see the “reviews” of psychics as opposed to the honest reviews of various shrinks. Shrinks and psychics rely equally on the placebo effect and also work very hard to “satisfy” you. I went to a psychic once and enjoyed myself. That was 1979. Last time I went to a shrink I walked out utterly disgusted, and vowed I’d never return. That was September 2013. That’s one promise I kept. No turning back.

Where I live

Here’s a link about the town where I ended up living:


The information in the blog post is accurate, I’d say, even though it was written a couple of years ago. You can see the Italian influence here.  If you take a walk around town, you will see so much variation in how homes are built. I took photos of some because I was amazed at the colors and shapes of homes.  Some are cone-shaped and others seem rather flattened in appearance.  

I grew up in what my parents called a bungalow-style home. Most homes in New England, USA are built of wood. Not so in Sud America. Here, homes are built of concrete. Rarely do homes have foundations nor is insulation used. In USA, the home I grew up in had a layered wall, that is, there was an outside of the house, then insulation, then the inner part. My dad knocked on the inner wall board to find where the studs were. He told me if ever I wanted to put a screw in the wall, I should use my ears to find the studs, and put a screw wherever I find a stud. Otherwise, anything I stick into the wall won’t stay in because wall board won’t hold up. 

After I left my parents’ home I found that other places had plaster walls that fell apart if you ever tried to stick a nail into them. Ever do that and get yelled at by your landlord, or try to patch up a boo-boo by covering it with a mirror or wall hanging so your dumb mistake wouldn’t be seen?  I think we’ve all been through that.

Here in Sud America, concrete homes don’t have insulation, and the walls are coated with plaster or some kind of wallboard. Homes might be built of brick or stone. I’ve seen everything anyone can think of. As for windows, I’ve seen huge windows and very tiny ones, too. They may slide open, swing open, or come off for the entire summer. It’s common to see a larger window covered with a metal gate to keep thieves out. I wonder why, because we have so few thieves here.

Doors may be left open all day long. Why keep them shut? The weather is pleasant here. It’s a nice feeling seeing an open door and feeling welcomed.  We tend not to have screen doors.  

Because our soil never freezes, we have an awful lot of mosquitoes. This is a year-round annoyance. I can’t tell you what’s more annoying: seeing a mosquito land on me, that “waaaa” sound, the actual bite, or the “itchy” period several days later. Never mind if ever I have my whole face covered with bites. It’s somewhat embarrassing. I’ve noticed local folks have a variety of ways of dealing with the problem. If you choose to stick around, you will learn, too.

Often, I see two homes built like conjoined twins.  They are separately owned but inseparable. They might be made of different material entirely and the residents may or may not know each other well. The deeds might be done up separately and zoned separately, too. People live in all sorts of arrangements. Zoning laws are hard to enforce. I think the officials are busy doing other things. Trust me, people do have to pay taxes, though.  

As for government and Policio, I was scared at first every time I saw a uniform. But I’ll bet the Policio here are worried enough about traffic accidents to keep themselves rather occupied. They do their job, which is a good thing. If you are lost, they’ll help you find your way home. You see them in the entrances to stores and there’s no reason to be afraid as I used to be in USA. The Policio are here to help people who might lose their belongings, or fall down, or need with their grocery bags. They will find lost children or help confused tourists. Around January, there are more confused tourists here than there are dogs.  Any other time of year, I’d say there are more pet dogs than people.

If you ever move to Atlantida, you won’t have trouble finding a veterinaria. I had no trouble here finding a lovely vet office for Puzzle. Everyone loves Puzzle. I found it was tough explaining in español that her nombre was Puzzle. Maybe I was over-explaining. I have no clue. I do know folks here watch TV and movies from USA, sometimes with subtitles. It’s tough to explain that no one in USA names their dog Puzzle. It’s just that I’m a bit of a nut, so I did! I’ve resorted to showing people her tags. Then, suddenly, they catch on and we all have a good laugh at my very bad español.

The roads in Atlantida are mostly dirt, except for the main roads. It can get muddy on a rainy day or in winter. You’d be surprised just how fast those puddles dry up. You can walk right on the highway, called by a variety of names such as the IB, the Interbalnearia, or occasionally the Interbal. This road is kept up well. It’s okay to bike on it, too. I have run on it as well. Please be careful! I have seen elderly people having trouble getting across. Cars won’t stop for you, although they will stop for pedestrians on local roads and drivers are incredibly courteous. Be especially careful of buses because honestly, I’m not sure how well bus drivers can see bicycles and pedestrians. Don’t be a daredevil.

A cool thing about the IB is that it’s built with the pedestrian in mind. We have an auxiliary road that runs alongside the highway. This is meant for slower traffic, or local drivers only going a few blocks, or pedestrians or bikes. Much of the aux. road is one way, so be careful! They will ticket…not that I would know but I’ve heard they do. You should keep your children off the highway and encourage them to use the auxiliary road instead. In Atlantida I believe there’s one footbridge where Calle 22 meets the IB. The bridge was built only a few years ago and cost thousands, maybe millions of pesos. It’s there for everyone. I recommend using it especially during rush hour. I also recommend it for children, anyone vision-impaired, or anyone who might worry they cannot get across the highway fast enough. You get a great view from atop the bridge, too. It’s nice place to walk and daydream. It’s okay for small motorcycles as well, though I’m not sure they’re supposed to be on it.

It’s true that the casino brings loads of dough into the town. If you don’t like drunkenness and noise, stay far away from Centro during January and February. It is wall to wall people and to me, the drunkenness is more than annoying. We also have a kiddie carnival. Come and enjoy it. I find that night after night it’s downright maddening to hear it blasting away. I finally invested in earplugs. This will be my last January living right in Centro.

Come April, the town will empty out. By 10pm, or, rather 22:00, the streets will be totally empty every night. In fact, at 7pm, (19:00) it can be silent here. It stays silent all winter. You’ll hear a dog bark, or ten dogs bark if you walk past their home, but you won’t hear cars honking and maybe for an entire half hour, none will even drive by. You won’t hear the crunch of snow under your feet. That’s only a memory, something far away.

Tomorrow morning, or any morning, you can hop onto a bus and enjoy a ride. If you are lucky, you’ll see someone enter the bus with a guitar in hand. He’ll announce something about “musica” in español. Then, he’ll begin to play and sing.

I don’t know why, but riding on the highway on a bus always brings tears to my eyes. The highway symbolizes freedom to me. I hear this musica in a language I don’t even understand, and it is then that I allow these tears to freely fall down my face. I know it is here that it’s okay and good to cry. No one is going to assume something’s terribly wrong with me, or diseased, or sick, or loco. No one will demand that I “take a deep breath.”  No, it’s just that I appreciate and love the music and my life and freedom and all that is here. This is my home.


























Wise people such as Jesus encouraged two or more to gather. He also said, “In the name of God.” But what, specifically, is the “name of God”?

Perhaps our languages did us a disservice with the creation of “to be.” Elimination of “to be” from thinking and expression would save humanity. In principle this might be true, would it not? Some writing teachers say “is” is passive and tell their students to eliminate all usage of this word. Is “to be” passive, or is it a verb?

Did you know that the Jewish word for God is “is”? It is “to be.” Just that. In some Christian literature, Jews are said to have a god named Yaweh, but actually, that’s a total mispronunciation and misinterpretation. The word for God in Hebrew that’s commonly used is in fact an acronym of “to be,” in the forms past, present, and future. These are sometimes seen as two “yud” letters. “Yud” is a consonant, and when Hebrew is written out without vowels, Yud still stands, silently. “To be,” as name of God, is more like “the active presence of God.” Can we be okay with “is” now?

Can we be in each other’s presence actively? It’s our choice if we choose to share our beliefs. There are as many beliefs as there are humans present, and as many opportunities to change our minds as there are moments in time. Can we hear each other’s voices? Can we really listen?

I might say “is” today. I might not. I believe in Freedom of Speech and saying “is” or “was” isn’t a crime. If the grammar police banging down my door for having written this, I’ll invite them in for a thermos full of maté.

To X, prior therapist, whom I attempted to contact the other day

Dear X,

I met you at McLean when I was trapped within that system. I had been handed off to you from another therapist, the esteemed Dr. Elsa Ronningstam.

Did I ever tell you why I’d been seeing Ronningstam back in 1996? This is why: I had a private practice person back in the early 1990s. I had to stop with her because she moved her office to another town and I found the commute too difficult. I asked my McLean psychiatrist I was already seeing for a therapy recommendation. My psychiatrist found two people who had openings. One was a young resident and the other was Ronningstam. I interviewed both, and preferred the young resident, but my therapist I’d been seeing was very angry that I hadn’t consulted her, and told me I needed to see the more experienced, older therapist who had a reputation, even if I liked her less. I believe my prior therapist was envious and resentful. She lectured me, saying I’d gone behind her back. I begrudgingly went against my own inner instinct, and began to see Ronningstam at McLean.

I didn’t fare well with Ronningstam. I didn’t admit to anyone what an awful mistake this was. She seemed so irresponsible and uncaring. She was always late, not just by five minutes, but it was clear that after I’d waited a half hour and I didn’t go downstairs and ask the secretaries to page her, she’d forget our sessions entirely. She’d arrive all disheveled, barely apologizing, saying she’d “screwed up her schedule.” Or some such thing.

She bored with me, mainly because I didn’t have her specialty diagnosis, which I suppose was whatever sinister bogus thing she imagined people had. What is it that they say crooks have? Antisocial personality disorder? Or that abusers have? I forget now. Then there’s that sexual problem, too. So she didn’t find me particularly interesting. I’d watch her nod off during our sessions. I had a notebook in my knapsack and wondered if I should take it out and spend the time writing, so I wouldn’t have to sit there wasting my time.

After nearly a year of this nonsense, I had to get some form filled out, so I brought it to her office, saying this was required. She then left me a voicemail saying she needed my help on the form. It turned out that the entire time I’d been seeing her, she hadn’t heard a word I said. She didn’t know anything about me. This was therapy with Dr. Elsa Ronningstam.

I should have left her. I guess I felt pressured not to hurt her feelings. I knew inside that this wasn’t the best thing. I didn’t know I could change therapists. I didn’t know I had a choice. This is because in the MH system, patients are taught that they don’t have choices nor do they have a voice. They are taught that they don’t matter. They are unimportant and the therapists are “experts.” They are taught that they don’t deserve respect.

Finally, someone heard what these “sessions” were like and said, “Julie, you deserve a better therapist. We’ll get you someone new.”

The day I walked into X’s office, I was rather amazed.

So, looking back, I can imagine what X had been told by the officials at McLean. Probably she recognized that she had been fed lines of bullshit. X was working under an asshole misogynist boss. I think by now, years later, X has thrown out most of what she was taught in medical school. I haven’t seen her for about 15 years.

So she started working with me. I have no clue what she thought of me, and that wasn’t my business, either. She’d been told one thing about the person she saw before her, but I know after she’d been working with me a while, it was darned obvious that the glove not only didn’t fit, it hurt.

She was honest and admitted it to me. She told me the half of it that was my business. To this day, I am thankful that she was one of the few that was upfront with me.

She stated the following:

“I am trained to work with people on certain problems I was told you had. However, I’ve been working with you now for five years. You were handed to me and I was told how to do therapy with you. I am now being laid off, and after these five years, I have come to a realization. I don’t think what they told me about you was true. Your main problem is that you have an eating disorder.”

Who was fooling whom? I’d been trying to tell them that for years, decades, in fact. It was “therapy” that had gotten in the way, long before the day I walked into X’s office.

X had tears in her eyes. She said, “I regret that I don’t have any training in eating disorders.”

I told her she’d been an excellent therapist all along. I told her I felt the main quality of a good therapist is the ability to listen. I told her that no way had she let me down or failed me.

I believe this to this day. I don’t believe she harmed me. She got me out of McLean. She encouraged me to go back to school.

I reported the abuse of another patient, and no one believed me because I myself was a patient. I mentioned the abuse to X. She was the one person who believed me, and because she believed me, she acted. She never took credit for this and it took me all this time before I realized any of this had occurred. If you are a mandatory reporter, it’s the law to take claims of abuse seriously.

The other half wasn’t my business, because it was between X and her bosses. Maybe X knew they’d messed me up royally with shock treatments before she even met me, and were covering up their gross medical error. Or maybe she didn’t know, maybe they kept that bit from her. Maybe she hated the way the female residents were being treated like meat. Maybe she’d drive the long distance home, fed up with work every day, exhausted. I’m sure that’s why she loved the weekends.

Maybe, someday, X will bust loose. Or maybe she’s one of those rare shrinks that helps people who have been damaged by psychiatry get OFF meds.

Better still, X, if YOU are reading this, please help people undo the damage done by psychiatric diagnosis. Diagnosis is harmful. We need to undo the brainwashing that is pervasive in society. The fact that people will listen to this coming out of the mouth of an MD, and the last person they will listen to is “patient,” is prime example of the brainwashing.

If it’s psychiatric, it’s misdiagnosis.

How do people find answers to eating disorders?

I have seen the following:

Many find distance from eating disorders by forming new relationships and raising children.

Many people mature, and grow out of their unhealthy eating behaviors.

Many get away from what was causing the behavior in the first place.

Many figure out who it was that they learned these behaviors from, and get away from these influences.

Some confront those that hurt them in the past, or write a letter if confrontation isn’t possible.

Many enjoy sharing their experience of having suffered an eating disorder, through writing about what they have been through or sharing with fellow sufferers. Some enjoy sharing with young people and speaking in front of audiences that may benefit from these stories.

For some people, it’s important just to have a good friend. Often, that was the one thing that was lacking all along.

Some people need to discover for themselves what to eat or how to eat, or what foods they are sensitive to. They find that they may need to experiment and explore more, and trust their own sense of what is best for them, rather than being handed a generic list of foods or standard “meal plan.”

I’ve heard that for some, school is a godsend. All along, they were told the one thing they needed was “treatment” and they were discouraged from educating themselves. However, education is empowering and can only strengthen, not weaken your position in life.

Job training can lead to better employment, which will lead to more money and a better socioeconomic position in life. Going to therapy won’t make money at all. I say, go for job training and don’t give any more money to psycho-the-rapist (psychotherapist).

Looking back on my life with ED, what was the #1 biggest time waster? And joke? I can answer that fairly easily.

The forced weigh-in. By far. Oh my goodness that was truly a laugh. I think I could make that one into the funniest short story (or play, or comedy act) I ever wrote. I liked my PCP, too, and I honestly think she thought the drama was a scream. I think she felt just as coerced into it by my abusive therapist as I was! She knew darned well that it was a total waste. As did one of the secretaries who was totally on my side. What a power struggle, a stupid, wasteful joke.

“If you lose a half pound this week, you are sectioned immediately.”


“If you don’t gain a pound, or you don’t show up for your weigh-in, we are calling the police immediately.”

What a damn joke. What if I forgot to drink my coffee that morning? I’d get hauled in. Yep, it was true. I’m still laughing. That’s the other way to get cured. Laugh your ass off at these folks.

Love and adult diapers

I remember I met a guy online once. He was trying to impress me. He said he cared for his aging mother for a few years until she died. He said he’d done this as an Act of Love.

My mother cared for my father for several years. She waited until the last ten days of his life before she was told that he needed so much nursing care that maybe he should spend his final days in a nursing home. I remember it was a tough decision. He didn’t want a nursing home, however they needed so many nurses, skilled nurses that hiring them to come to the home was too impractical at that point. Also, they needed equipment that my mother couldn’t obtain nor rent. Nowadays, I think renting such equipment might be possible, but then, it wasn’t at all practical. My mom found a place quickly and my dad, who could barely speak at that point, was agreeable.

I don’t happen to recall who called whom. My brother who had recently taken a job a distance away came to Massachusetts on emergency visit.

It was one of those “This Is It” situations.. Only if someone’s dying, or think they might be dying. You only show up at the beginning or end of life. This is when you see those long-lost relatives. They are ten years older now. Or gone.

I recall my mother explained to me about Dad being in the nursing home. She said, “It’s temporary.”

No, I didn’t ask for any further explanation. I knew there were unspoken follow-up sentences. I don’t need to write them, either.

I think someone tried to tell me in Plain English what was happening. Like I didn’t already know. You die of cancer. Okay.

I look back now, nearly 18 years later. I remember I thought my mother was being trite because she complained about changing adult diapers. Now, I admire her honesty. I admire her admitting she hated changing Dad’s diapers. I admire that she dared to speak up about how she truly felt. Another woman wouldn’t have dared to admit it, and only spoken of the “Act of Love” they did.

Perhaps, the guy I met online didn’t mind changing his mother’s diapers. Maybe he didn’t hate changing them. Maybe he never gave it a thought. Maybe he had never changed his own kids’ diapers, so he couldn’t see the irony in it.

Maybe my mother, after three years, was just plain worn out. She told me the folks at the nursing home were great with Dad. She showed up every day. One day it snowed so hard she had to take her cross-country skis across town to get to the nursing home. I no longer see my mother as the flighty, trite woman that I once portrayed her in my writing. I see her as a person who is strong, independent, and stubbornly refuses to give up.

Possible causes of eating disorders

Eating disorders are generally inherited. However, even if passed on from generation to generation, it’s possible for these genes to sit dormant and not trouble a person if not activated.

Think of this genetic material as a setup file you may have downloaded onto your computer. If you don’t run the file, it’ll sit there, and not be of much use to you. If you run the file, you can use the program. If it’s a virus, you’ll have a problem.

This is my observation only from speaking to many sufferers and asking them about their families. I find there is no “typical ED” out there, no stereotype, no cookie-cutter we fit into. I would never want to try to squeeze anyone into something not right for them.

I believe environmental factors will activate what’s already there, and set these traits into action. Eating disorders appear odd to outsiders, perhaps illogical. Here are some possible causes. I’m just throwing this out there. Maybe some can relate.

Relocation to dormitories from “home.” I’d say of everything I’ve heard, this is the NUMBER ONE trigger or contributor to setting the wheels in motion, if the ED hasn’t been set off already.  The person has moved to a cafeteria-style dining situation. This is all brand new. The food is entirely different and she must now eat with others, instead of with her brothers and sisters. She keeps different hours now. She feels pressured at the dining halls. The meal plan offers certain options and she has a hard time coordinating her classes with the dining hall schedule. The dining halls that offer the foods she likes close down before her class gets out. She likes certain food combinations, but feels embarrassed combining these foods right in front of her classmates. They don’t offer her favorite foods. They put things in the food she is allergic to. She doesn’t understand why she has a rash now. Which food is it, or is it the laundry detergent?

Does that sound familiar? Doesn’t every college student go through that? Combine it with certain genetic traits, such as feeling extremely good, high, in fact, delirious maybe, when you have a totally empty digestive tract and don’t eat for days, and you’ve got anorexia in the making.

Let’s propose this: The college student is now a campus activist, campaigning for better food, more choices, and more flexibility in the dining commons.

Here’s another relocation scenario, sanitation issues: The woman is somewhat older and moves to an apartment with three other people, two men and another woman. She hits it off right away with the woman, even though they don’t have much in common. But the two men don’t seem too friendly. Still, she puts up with them. One morning, she notices the toilet isn’t flushed and urine is splashed around the outside of the toilet bowl. She’s annoyed. The toilet seat is up. She figures it was one of the guys. She flushes it and tells herself, “He must have been half asleep. I hope this kind of thing doesn’t happen regularly.” She does her best to clean up. As the next few weeks go by, sanitation issues worsen regarding the two men. She realizes that they drink too much and rarely clean up after themselves. She is so grossed out she can hardly eat. She stops purchasing food because she doesn’t want to eat at home anymore. She loses her appetite, and her motivation. She notices she’s losing weight. She gets complimented at work. This seems ironic to her. She calls it the “roommate diet.” But she keeps on losing, and continues losing even long after she has left that place.

I’d love to see this person, years later, after anorexia, becoming an activist. She creates a radio station and invites homeless people to call into the station to read their poetry. Then, she offers them full-time jobs in broadcasting and journalism, starts a small publishing company, and nearly 100 previously homeless folk in her community now have clean, warm places to live. No more piss on the toilet seats.

Here’s another scenario, trouble fitting in at school: A boy tries to fit in at school but feels he cannot do his math lessons. He feels he is trying his hardest. One day, right in front of class, his teacher calls him stupid. The boy feels embarrassed and humiliated. The teacher sends the boy home with a note and tells the boy to give the note to his parents. He feels ashamed and isn’t sure what to do. He sits at the dinner table and is so nervous, he cannot eat. He plays with his food instead. Finally, he shows his parents the note and they tell him he didn’t deserve supper anyway and send him right to bed. They lock him in the room and tell him he needs to sort it out himself.

Twenty years later, forced ED care has never worked for this man. He has been given a variety of psych Diagnosis of the Day, whichever is convenient so that insurance can be billed and a variety of medications could be doled out to him, making him worse. But one day, a neurologist discovers that this man has a neurological condition that caused the man to have trouble doing even the simplest mathematical equations.

The man, now thirty years old, thanks the neurologist. The neurologist says, “The schools should be sending the kids to neurologists when they see learning problems such as the one you describe to me. Now, they drug the kids without giving them a proper exam. I think there’s big money behind what they are doing. I’m so sorry you had to suffer for so long. I suggest you use a nutritional approach to your eating disorder, not a psychological or psychiatric approach.”

I hope the boy, now a man of course, writes a few books and that they sell well. He now enjoys gardening and hiking. I can keep going with this bit I suppose, but I won’t. I got my own life to live. In fact, it’s so cool to be alive, isn’t it?

Believe in possibility.

Revelation: with their last chess piece, they gave themselves away

I have the puzzle piece now. The reason they were so desperate to cover their asses. The whole reason for the coverup of what occurred in the ER August 12, 2013. I know now.

Asshole Bully, you are a fool. You gave it all away, didn’t you? I’ve put two and two together now. So Pearson decided that because I had refused meds and it didn’t look to hopeful to get me back on, she was changing diagnoses once more. The ole schizo one wasn’t looking plausible anymore, right?

Meanwhile, I had shown up at Mount Auburn, simply because my CBFS worker had called the EMT’s, who took me to the one nearest to my home. Okay, it was down the road. Know something? They didn’t know a darned thing about ED at that ER. Therefore, it naturally followed that they’d NEVER taken my ED seriously there. They’d always said my complaints, whatever they were, were “trivial.” And according to my records, that’s precisely what happened. I was given a tox screen. So it looks like I was screened for an overdose and then maybe you all’s were gonna send me home, telling me to quit wasting your time yet once more. Of course, I’m a welfare case, and no one wanted me around.

Which was my point, eh?

Driving your point home, you fudged my weight by 18 pounds, that is, recorded it incorrectly. I’d say 18 pounds is plenty inaccurate. I’d say the coroner’s report would have conflicted so much that a few eyebrows would have been raised. Or I’d say, if I myself had had any consciousness left beyond the grave, I’d have hoped so. At least for revenge. I think you were thus denying the seriousness of my eating disorder. I think you’d rather have said, in fact, that I was FAKING my eating disorder. You wanted to make it look like I had some “other” thing wrong, something else you could label me with.

I do have a photo of myself taken August 6th. I know your scale was off, assholes.

So that, right there, was one helluva reason why you didn’t want to admit fault. You didn’t want to admit to the seriousness of that problem you saw before you. If I weighed 18 pounds more than I really weighed, which is about what I weigh now, then what was the big deal? None. On the other hand, if I looked like [picture me looking kinda creepy] then I think it meant you really weren’t doing your job. Right? In fact, I recall ASKING you for help. I didn’t ask for psych abuse, nor shrinkage. I wanted medical help.

Which leads me to the illegal section that was put on me, and everything you did since. It’s time to own up to the fact that what was done to me, the entire thing, was illegal and never should have happened. You didn’t want me to know. You are deceptive liars. Everything you did after I coded in the ER was all to protect yourselves from a lawsuit, not to protect me nor my health.

Some honest thoughts about M, who died this morning

I arrived here in Uruguay mid-May 2014, not having any clue what to expect. It was Thursday. I arrived in the morning and even before unpacking, came to my first meeting with other Expats. Here in my town, the Expats meet in a local restaurant twice a month to speak together in English. Most of us are from USA, and most are retirees. Right now our meeting place is on La Rambla, a long road that runs along the seashore, east to west, or west to east, depending on which way you choose to travel. I’ve since learned that La Rambla can be a quiet and peaceful place to enjoy an early morning run, because Uruguay is a country of late-risers. But that day, Thursday, I found myself dizzy with excitement. I’d been up all night on the cross-continent flight. I had no clue what an Uruguayan Peso looked like, nor how much it was worth. I didn’t know how to order a cup of coffee, or, rather, café. I decided to follow everyone else’s cue, and drink what I was given. It looked enough like coffee. I was going to be okay. I am indeed okay.

I looked around. I wondered about this crowd. I was younger. Would I have trouble fitting in because I wasn’t a retiree? I had nothing to retire from. Did I have to worry about fitting into anything at all? Or was the idea of “fitting in” something I should have left behind at junior high school? Maybe my years, or rather, decades of discrimination from living with fake mental illness label, arbitrarily given to me by a “doctor,” made me worry far too much about such things. I was going to be fine. Maybe it would just take time to learn.

It must have been a month later. A man came to my home to help me split some wood and fix a light switch. His name was J. He was white-haired, bearded man who seemed handy with tools and rather friendly. He told me he and his wife had come together with their two dogs a while back. He said they had kids. I said, “What did your kids think of your coming here?”

He said, smiling, “They think we’re nuts.”

I asked, “Does that ever change?”

He answered, “No, they’ll always say that.”

Somehow, this seemed comforting to me. Simultaneously, I was being told my own move to Uruguay was “crazy” by various folks in USA.

I told J, “Maybe the folks in the USA are the crazy ones, eh?”

He smiled at me and got back to work splitting the wood. It was getting colder out back then. Winters here are mild and muddy. I don’t know why they seem to last forever. He warned me that the first winter here, for many, can be tough.

Then, he stood upright. He just stood there and looked at me.

I didn’t know then, but I know now. I know he saw something in me. I’m not sure, exactly, what it was that he thought he recognized. Even now, I wonder if he guessed correctly. I met M, his wife, the following October.

Last fall, it was spring here, that is, the weather was warming up, and days were getting longer. I was coming out of my initial shyness. I decided to attend an Expat meeting, though I had shed the label Expat in favor of perhaps Refugee, or simply, Immigrant. Sometimes, I think: Escapee. But I’m only human, aren’t I? Or maybe I just suck at Spanish so far.

M was sitting across from me at our long table. She mentioned that her husband’s name was J. Could it be the same J? She mentioned two dogs. Could it be? Of course, J is a common name in the USA, as common as can be.

What was it that caused M to bring up, almost immediately, right in my presence, that she had suffered from anorexia as an older person? She said she’d gotten over it, that she was okay now.

Why did she mention it to me? Because it takes one to know one, and she knew.

I wonder, now, about that look J gave me, back when he came to my home to help me out. I wonder if somehow, instinctively, he knew I’d been through that very same thing, that starvation disease. Did he see it? Or maybe he’d seen something else. That was some faraway look in his eyes. Or was it the coming winter….

I feel like a fool sometimes at the English-speaker’s meeting. Our table is so large that we take over the restaurant. I wonder if the locals resent our presence. I wondered if anyone resented the depth of the conversation between M and myself at that moment. We spoke as if in code. People who care about eating disorders can get quite passionate on the topic, and often forget that others don’t share as much energy as we do. That’s because it’s almost as if it’s part of our heritage, or lineage. We’ve been through it and lived it and breathed it. Many live it for decades, and many die of this starvation affliction.

She explained why, in her opinion, it all happened. I will try to recall her words, though perhaps not exactly: “I didn’t like the food at first, when we arrived. It seemed disgusting to me. J and I were both losing weight, only I kept on losing. I liked losing weight. It made me feel good.”

I responded, “I know how it is when you feel very high from starvation. I feel that, too. Almost like you enjoy it when you are empty, like you want that even more.”

M got excited. She said it made her feel good knowing another person knew exactly how it was for her. She explained that she had to adjust, as we all do, to a new place, and new food. She had to learn how to shop and prepare it, and also how to learn the Spanish words for each food.

She told me she’d been to a shrink here who knew English. “It wasn’t the language barrier that was the problem,” she told me. “It was that the shrink assumed I was just like an adolescent. The shrink kept asking me about body image. I told him that had nothing to do with it. I had to keep reminding the shrink of my age. I’m over 50. I’m not someone out of a textbook.”

I said, “We aren’t all alike. That’s the problem with those people. They try to stereotype us. It only will work for those that fit into their very narrow view of who we are, which is like, no one.” We laughed.

We shared our experiences together. I was somewhat embarrassed because I felt we were excluding others from the conversation. In other ways, I didn’t care at all. It felt so important to connect with M. It seemed like a rare opportunity.

I didn’t know just how rare.

The next time I came to the Expat meeting was only a few weeks later. I had a decent time. I wasn’t one to show up often. Just as I was leaving, I heard someone say something about someone being in a hospital. I figured most likely, it wasn’t anyone I knew. Ididn’t pay much attention. A few days later, I heard the description of who it was.

Oh no.

We didn’t want to gossip. But we do care. I was out having coffee with a few folks at a coffee shop out by the Interbalnearia, the highway. They didn’t know, at first, why M had suddenly become anemic. Why, then, she had complete organ failure. Someone said, “Liver. Cirrhosis. She’d been warned. Told to stop drinking.”

I said, “Huh? That too?” This, I assumed, was speculation, and I wasn’t one to assume anything. I’m still not. They said J was stressed out, running back and forth to the hospital, in need of support and love right now. She might be dying.

Someone said, a few days later, they’d had to put her into a coma because her organs couldn’t hold up. Every day, they tried to get her off the respirator. For weeks, these efforts continued to fail.

It has been a sad time. M died this morning.

I weep for that one connection I had here. That one woman I knew. That one person here that I’d met in person. She said she was happy that she’d met another that knew, too. I will cherish this memory I have of her, that Thursday afternoon, in October.

Julie Greene, Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Canelones, Uruguay