In memory of my dad

Today is my dad’s birthday. I wish he never died. In fact, I want him back. I know had my dad been alive, none of the shitty stuff that happened to me would ever have occurred.

My dad stood up for me. I took it for granted that someone would always be there who would stand up for me during times when my own word was brushed aside by others. When my dad was alive, I was accustomed to not being heard and not having a say in what happens. If anything went seriously wrong, I usually defended myself and got myself out of the rotten situation. Some rotten situations, though, you can’t get out of without some outside person rooting for you. After my dad died, I still had Joe. Then he died, too. It wasn’t long after that, after I had no “family” to speak of, that the abusers realized they could dispose of me or do anything they damn pleased because no “caring family” would hold them accountable.

No longer did my doctors have to answer to my dad. I remember I complained to my dad about something that Dr. Merrifield said to me that was disrespectful. Looking back, this was a trivial complaint compared to all that happened to me after my dad’s death. This was back in the day of the cassette tape answering machine. I played the message Dr. Merrifield had left to my dad. He said, “Save that message.” He told the doctor that leaving a message like the one he left was disrespectful to me.

I remember the message well. This must have been 1989 or so. I remember the end of the message verbatim. He told me not to waste his time with a report of “more of the same.” Then he said, “But if you have anything new, some new problem to report, call me up.”

While it’s true, Dr. Merrifield was disrespectful, it seems minor today in 2015. Back then, psychiatrists were supposed to be compassionate people. Over the years, I’ve come to expect less and less understanding and listening. I’ve grown to fear each visit.

While Dr. Merrifield was not at all effective as a shrink and certainly didn’t know what the hell he was doing with the drugs (he had me on both Clozaril and Tegretol simultaneously, for instance), I’ll give him credit for apologizing. I’ve since learned that apologies are rare in the medical field. My parents were hoping I would switch to someone more competent. Are any of them truly competent? I got the sense the entire time I was seeing Merrifield that all he was doing was grasping at straws. He had no clue how to make me well. He did whatever the nurses decided was best.

My mom gave Merrifield credit for “consulting” other doctors, while my previous shrinks had refused to do this. They had urged past shrinks to knock heads together with other doctors. My parents even suggested a few. Finally, they started taking me to other doctors themselves. They wanted a second opinion.

Once, I got chewed out by a therapist for seeing another doctor instead of my regular one. I was so furious. I wasn’t married to the guy. I have no clue how that got back to her. This is what I mean by not having a voice if you are labeled “mental patient.”

As my dad got sicker, I only wanted him to get the rest he needed and I didn’t bother him with any of my petty complaints anymore. Problem was, the abuse got noticeably worse. My dad didn’t have his power anymore to get me out of pickles. I felt more and more on my own.

It was good and bad. I always wanted my parents to bug off. Now, I had my way. But looking back, I know I now had no one to fall back on. The shrinks began to threaten me. They said I belonged in the state hospital. I heard it like it was their damn mantra. My dad died in April 1997 and the shrinks threatened worse after that.

I made it out of McLean and onto a better life. I can’t say it was easy. I went through so many incompetent shrinks.

For instance, I had Dr. Elsa Ronningstam at McLean. i think the only reason why I ended up with her was because she was one of the few that had openings. Of course she had openings! She was irresponsible, completely incompetent to treat me, and uncaring.  Had my dad not been sick, i could have told him that Ronningstam slept through our sessions, had no clue what she was doing, and for sure, was not a good match for me. He would have seen to it that I didn’t have to endure more sessions with her.

I had another therapist who slept during sessions. This was Goldie Eder, back in 2007 to 2008. I can’t believe I stayed with her as long as I did. Our first session was decent but after that, she fell asleep during every session. Her head would actually bob up and down while she slept. She’d jerk awake, apologize, and I’d suggest more coffee. My dad would have called her and told her off. Instead, I had to listen to my psychiatrist telling me I was delusional that Goldie slept during sessions. I was so glad to get rid of her!

I was raped by my neighbor in 2008. Even if my dad had been alive, I bet I wouldn’t have told him. However, in 2012, I bravely went to the Watertown cops in their fancy new station (hmm, lotsa budget for that, eh?) and reported the rape.  My dad would have given the Watertown cops a piece of his mind upon finding out they claimed my story was “fabricated” and didn’t even investigate. There was no evidence that my story was fabricated. I believe I was profiled as a mental patient. I am a person who was assaulted, and the fact that the police force ignored my pleas is flat out criminal on their part.

If my dad found out how abusive Maria Mellano was, he would have told her to quit the threats, lies, accusations, and power plays. If he found out I had to resort to seeing David Alpert as a therapist, who did little else but call me “honey” and repeatedly make verbal passes at me, he would have helped me lodge a complaint.

I left MGH in 2011 with not one person believing my story about what happened. Maria Mellano told me the unit I had been housed on didn’t exist. Actually, I was told that by a number of people. Some were misinformed but many assumed I was totally delusional without really looking into what I was saying. Or they just didn’t care. I was terrified when I left MGH. I felt like I was gonna die of thirst in there. I felt like a dirty animal, which was pretty much how they treated me. I was in so much shock over it all.

Yes, MGH does indeed have an inner unit where they house the hard cases. Many stay for over a month there, behind locked swinging doors and certainly not easily seen from the outer part of the unit. In fact, most patients in the outer section assume that the inner section is “staff only.” However, that’s not true. There are real, living human beings caged in there. I was one. They kept most of the “eating disorders” patients inside that inner part. They don’t advertise it and if you ask, they aren’t likely to admit that inner unit exists. Because I KNOW they have a lot to be ashamed of.

My dad would have helped me sue the hospital, or at least get a lawyer to help me out of that terrible situation I was in. Maria threatened to put me in the state hospital almost every single outpatient appointment after MGH. My dad wouldn’t have been fooled by her sweet looks, or seductive voice and mannerisms. I’ll bet he would have told her off and told her to stay away from his daughter.

If my dad had been alive, none of Mount Auburn would have happened. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have starved myself like that, knowing my dad cared about me. I wouldn’t have been so terrified to seek medical care. Whatever happened, he’d stick up for me. Why? Because he trusted me and loved me and knew I wasn’t one to make up “abuse” stories just for attention.

I didn’t have anyone to stick up for me, no one to stand by my side. No one spoke up to the doctors. In fact, many were very busy telling me that it was impossible for the hospital to have done anything wrong!

My dad was NEVER sue-happy. I don’t think he ever sued anyone in his life. Did he ever need a lawyer? Probably they used one for buying the house or dealing with the station wagon they bought that one or two mechanics stated was a lemon. He was never angry nor did he ever lash out at anyone. He was a good person to have on my side.  During the rare times that he was truly pissed off, he certainly got the word out.

My dad would have been shocked to see what the USA is like today, and the sorry state of MH “care.” You take Peer Support, for instance. These folks get paid by the state to be “trained fellow inmates” who are supposed to befriend inmates. Getting a nice paycheck from the state is a great way to keep employees silent, compliant, and “satisfied.” You keep them satisfied they won’t speak out. If they’re uppity, threaten to fire. That way, the state has these people wrapped around their fingers. If my dad saw this, he’d know what was going on.

I guess it’s all in presentation, eh? If you look together, I suppose without any other info, folks will certainly assume you’re together. If you tell people, “I’m a mental patient,” they will judge you likewise and only see limitations. That’s up for debate, though, isn’t it?

My dad used patience and perseverance rather than making a splash of himself. All I could do was stand in awe of him. He was a quiet man who demanded respect and got it. He set a great example for us kids.

Happy birthday, Dad.


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