Why they all assumed I was delusional

Eating disorders “care” loves to keep its patients blindfolded. That’s why they hate it when patients educate themselves. They don’t want actual books on the wards. Oh no. They’d never want patients reading Szasz. Or Judi Chamberlin. Never mind Robert Whitaker. Are you kidding? You can’t mention human rights or you’re considered a criminal. They’d love to tell you the Patient’s Liberation Movement never existed. Just like they’ll tell you the “side effects” are minor, unimportant, unlikely. They won’t allow you to talk about edema, refeeding syndrome, unnatural or unwanted weight gain from antipsychotics, the illegal use of the drugs they’re giving you, the long-term effects they’re not telling you about, the fact that symethicone is a placebo, and they’ll tell you it’s unhealthy to read the pharmacy insert to the drugs they hand out like candy. The Five Fundamental Rights are in their packet, but buried deep in there and they hope you’re too tired to read it. These laws aren’t followed in any “unit” in the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts, so they’ll tell you the laws are “unimportant.” Yep, that privacy, dignity, and respect are “unimportant.” Their money is what counts. In fact, they are counting it as we speak.

That’s why, when I started talking up a storm about antipsychiatry, no one believed me and assumed my rants were “bizarre beliefs.” Nope. Thousands, if not millions of people are aware that MH care is a lie. In fact, antipsychiatry has been around for decades, since long before I entered the System and got brainwashed by it. There are huge international organizations devoted to the cause, such as MindFreedom International, PsychRights, and others. There are attorneys working hard for the cause, such as Jim Gottstein and Tina Minkowitz. Journalists, writers, doctors, scholars, psychologists, sociologists, economists, religious leaders, rap artists, poets, many people all together are now all fighting for the cause. Will you join us? Will you help beat MH care to the ground and find a new way to end ED that’s humane, based on caring and listening to each other, instead of imprisonment and force?

The credibility, or, rather, non-credibility, of “mental patients”

I have been struggling with this for a while. A nurse or doctor or “counselor” will say something, and instantly, it is believed as gospel truth by a majority of the public. Why shouldn’t it be believed?

But whenever I say something, my word is doubted. I am assumed to be delusional, mistaken, or inaccurate. Why? Because I am, or rather was, a “mental patient.”

Here’s what’s probably one of the best examples I can give. I was at Massachusetts General Hospital’s psych ward in 2000. The place is called Blake Eleven. I have no clue when the Blake Building was built, but I’m sure it’s been around a while. It’s a tower near the White building, etc, quite similar. The Blake Building has an elevator, too, just like the White building and the Wang Building.

Blake Eleven is MGH’s psych ward. Inside this ward is another ward, that is, an inner ward where they keep the patients they consider more “dangerous” or more “inappropriate.” The ones they want to watch more closely.

I was kept in that inner ward for five days in 2000. I didn’t mind actually. I had a private room, and did nothing but write all day. They let me keep my laptop.  I had a private phone right in the room.  A large “treatment team” came in now and then. They were nice, especially the psychologist. I ignored the other patients and pretty much any other goings-on on the ward. I never thought about it again.

Early in 2011 I was in McLean and the other patients were saying they’d heard MGH had the best care in the world. They said MGH had won an award. I had just come from that horrific ER at MGH (the psych one) where I’d been kept for 24 hours, slept on a cot in the hallway, and wasn’t too impressed with that.

Then along comes mid-2011 and I was stuck in MGH again. I was on the medical floor and then put into Blake Eleven. They put all ED patients into the inner ward. This time, it was a living nightmare being in there. I’ve told you of the horrors. One of my friends begged me to do everything I could to get out of there because he was afraid I would die of dehydration.

After I got out, I couldn’t believe the response. People on my treatment team were saying I was delusional that there was an inner ward. I’m not kidding you! Even my psychiatrist who worked at MGH! Had she never been there? My therapist had come onto the ward, but that inner ward wasn’t exactly staring you in the face with a big sign on it saying, “We keep the patients we are torturing in here.”

One day I was at Alcott and even the other patients were telling me there was no inner ward. They told me they’d been patients there and had never seen it. So were they doubting my credibility? Assuming I was delusional? Then, the staff interrupted our conversation and said it was “inappropriate.” Of course. They were always doing that to further invalidate me.

This kind of discrediting that happens to mental patients is a form of torture. I am not blaming the other patients, who simply didn’t see the door there. However, our society puffs up authorities such as hospital personnel, who are just as likely to be mistaken or give out misinformation as I am.

I have a friend who, through no fault of her own, doubted my word until she heard it from another patient who had been through the exact same tortures in ED treatment at MGH, came out terrified and wanting to sue the pants off the place. Could two people who have never met have the exact same “delusion” with the exact same details? Not likely.

How many times have you been told something by a doctor or nurse that wasn’t true? Such as the following:

“This medication won’t make you gain weight.”

“This won’t hurt a bit.”

“It couldn’t possibly hurt that much.”

“There’s no reason you should be in that much pain.”

“There are no side effects.”

“There are no other treatments besides what I am offering you.”

“We don’t have a bed.”

“Your levels are fine.”

Of course, I have developed the bad habit of qualifying a lot of what I say by backing it up with, “My doctor even said so.” This I might say to boost my own credibility. Why? People assume I don’t know what I am talking about, and the doctor certainly does just because she’s an MD.

Experience means nothing to the general public if it’s the experience of a “mental patient.” However, every human experience has incredible value, far beyond “expertise.”

What’s more valuable, a doctor’s word on a drug, or the word of a person who has actually tried it, a person who has felt what it feels like in their body? Or several people? Do you go check out the studies conducted by drug companies whose interest is in marketing the drug, or do you ask your buddies? Or do you put the pill in your own mouth and see what happens?

Take me with a grain of salt. But please, take those medical “professionals” with a grain of salt, too. They lie, they cheat, and they are mistaken. They often don’t admit when they can’t answer a question. They cover up mistakes to avoid lawsuits. Don’t tell me they are more credible cuz at this point, I don’t believe it.

Telling a person over and over that what she is saying is a delusion is a form of torture. That’s what I went through in 2011, 2012, and 2013. I’m awfully glad I left the MH system. It was killing me. I don’t fault the other patients or general public who doubted my word, but I certainly fault the MH professionals who should have known better, and in some cases, were deliberately discrediting me due to their own fears.

We aren’t a democracy here, or, rather, I am not one

This is my blog. Welcome to my world. I say whatever I want on here. I celebrate having a voice. I was denied a voice for a long time. There are particular instances I can recall where I was told, “You can’t speak here,” or, specifically, “We just don’t want to hear from you.” Or they said, “We don’t think you have anything of value to say.” Or, “Listen to us, we know better, and you can’t get a word in.” Or, “We only want to hear from those that agree with us. Dissent isn’t allowed.” Or, “I want a one-word answer please.” Or, “I don’t have time for anything you have to say.” Or, “Your writing isn’t welcome here.” Or, “Sorry, we already have enough people.” Or, “You are a liar.” Or, “I’ll have to double-check everything you said because of course your word can’t be counted on.” Or, “You don’t qualify.” Or, “Your time is up.”

Or the person would just walk out of the room or not pick up the phone.

Or, just plain “No.”

That turned back. I sure got used to it.

But here, it’s different. It’s not a democracy here nor a forum. I screen my comments and I have a spam filter do some of the work for me. I love real comments and I am thrilled to receive them. But again, this is my world here and it’s a bit unfair here, or, rather, lopsided. As it should be, cuz I’m making up for lack of voice in my other life.

Truth is, there’s quite a bit of incongruency between the way I am in real life and the way I am here. It’s like when a person acts one way at work and another way at home with the kids. You wouldn’t talk to the kids the way you talk with your guy friends at the bar, right? Maybe the bartender has a cutesie answer to that one.

I had conflict with someone once cuz she noticed just that. I’d act one way here and another around her. I got accused of not only lying, but actually being a “liar.” It’s taken me a long time to get over that one, but now, I realize just how easily that little misinterpretation can happen.

I was wicked happy yesterday when a friend of mine announced on Facebook that she had made up with another friend and they had repaired their relationship. Wow, that gives me hope. I really hope I can repair some of mine, too. I loved hearing that it’s indeed possible. I feel that some of my relationships have been suffering far too long.

Sadly, some people insist that I never contact them again. Okay, fine. I can’t apologize to those people.  I can’t get along with everyone nor please every person. Still, I feel that with other relationships, I’m not the one that needs to apologize. And with others, there’s simply no apology necessry.

Comfort food: A poem for 2015

Do you have comfort foods?
What are they?

I learned of these things when I was a young child.
For Charlie Brown, a spoonful of peanut butter,
When placed in his mouth, supplied all the information
He needed to know.
If it stuck to the roof of his mouth,
It meant he was lonely.

Pooh Bear ate honey with his paws.
He ate so much he became larger
And couldn’t get out of Rabbit’s hole.
A fast for thirty days and a good yank fixed that problem.
What a lesson!

For Adam and Eve, the apple supplied all they needed
To seal their physical adoration for each other.
And perhaps, to begin the donning of clothing
And fashion wars, or maybe
We need to blame the Europeans instead.
The snake did it.
He said so.
Mr. Mustard with the lead pipe.
Or was it Mrs. Plum in the kitchen?

The Cheshire Cat knew it all,
Telling Alice to eat one side to get larger,
The other side to shrink.
What a perfect answer to solve any eating disorder.

Dorothy followed a road paved with gold,
But wasn’t there a field of poppies in there somewhere?
Tin men and scarecrows don’t have to eat
Or worry about their weight.
I daresay the straw man weighed next to nothing
And the tin man has no substance.
As for the lion, I’m sure he enjoyed the poppies
Whenever they turned the camera off,
Sharing a bite or two with the Wiz himself.

My ancestors left Egypt with unleavened bread.
Every Passover,
My grandpa took a half piece, dubbing it the Afikoman,
And hid it inside the piano.
I swear it was the same hiding place every Passover.
All us grandkids, each with four cups of wine in us by then,
Could barely find our way to the Steinway.
Or lift the lid to peek inside.
Perhaps it took forty days and nights.
Or seemed to, while the grownups gossiped in Yiddish.
Next year, in Jerusalem.

Oh, hope and comfort, where can I find you now?
Next year is upon us.
Tonight, I stand by my fire.
I roast Uruguayo beef for my little dog.
For myself, a pot of soup.
At night, she cuddles right next to me in bed.
We wandered some forty years in the desert
Knocked down locked doors with great noise
And now, the Promise realized.

I am published in Mad In America. What a great way to start off 2015!

Here’s the link:

I originally wrote this article as guest blogger at a site for survivors of suicide attempts, but that site was going down soon, so I submitted to MIA. Poof! It’s up already. I’ve dreamed of this for so long. Happy New Year!