Puzzles Dinner

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This is a typical dinner that I regularly make for Puzzle. The ingredients are simple. The main component is the meat. You won’t need to trim the fat prior to cooking. Most sources I consulted suggested cooking the meat (if you cook it) with skin, bones, and fat still intact. After cooking, remove the bones. You may choose to remove some excess fat as well depending on your dog’s needs. Remember that dogs can handle animal fat very well, and if you are feeding a cat, be aware that a cat needs even more meat fat than dogs. Cat food is also higher in protein. Both species should be eating mostly meat. When you feed home prepared meals you should vary from day to day. Get creative!     Your pet will adjust to eating a variety of delicious meals. Dogs should have added veggies. Which ones? It depends on your dog. Old standbys include cooked carrots (you may need to skin them), bell peppers without the seeds, and whatever your dog’s heart’s desire is. Don’t feed anything that is on the lists of foods that are poisonous to dogs. Dogs love fruit as well but avoid cores, seeds, pits, and sometimes skins. Some fruits and veggies do not require cooking but many do. Softer seeds such as those you find in cucumbers are okay. If you have leftover bread you can give small amounts to your dog but please never give your dog bread that is moldy or contains seeds such as poppy seeds. Dogs don’t handle legumes or corn well. This means meat substitutes should be avoided. If the meat you’ve purchased has had salt added, don’t give it to your dog. Don’t even try to rinse the salt off, as invariably so much will remain on the meat that your dog’s tummy will be pissed. Depending on your local regulations, you may or may not be able to give your dog canned veggies. In the States I found canned veggies were okay for Puzzle if there was no added salt. Here, I have found that Puzzle can’t handle whatever is added in the canning procedure. I tried canned fish but realized that even rinsing couldn’t make canned meat, fish, or veggies edible for Puzzle. Grains are okay but be careful. Ask your vet about fiber as your dog may need it, or not. The safest grain is plain white rice, not instant nor converted. If the rice is purchased in the States,  ask your vet about the added vitamins that are included in any rice called “enriched.” These can be rinsed out of the rice prior to cooking if you are concerned about your dog overdosing on specific nutrients. If your rice originates in the Far East, know that usually, talc is used as separator. It isn’t edible but some say the quantity is negligible. The talc gives the cooked rice a certain stickiness that I guess is desirable in some cuisines.

Your dog doesn’t care what the food looks like and will gobble it up without concern about aesthetics. I believe a that in humans, aesthetics are incredibly important and generally overlooked because these days we are too rushed.

You may need to add extra fat to your dog’s meal. A lot depends on age and breed. Ask the vet.

Your dog will enjoy a variety of meat. Most love chicken, beef, pork, lamb, and many types of fish. A rule of thumb to start with is as follows. Ten percent organ meat, and the rest, that is, the majority divided equally between chicken and red meat. Organ meat is high in fat and dogs go nuts over it. Your dog may or may not be able to handle bones. Please be careful! Dogs can choke. Above all, know that dogs vary and many have allergies and sensitivities just like people. They also have differing tastes and odd habits, some downright disgusting. Ask your dog what she wants for dinner tonight and spoil her rotten.

The answer

It’s annoying that I am always coming up with an answer, totally convinced that, “This is it!” and then I get all excited only for one more idea to fall flat. Either it requires other people’s commitment in some form, or I can’t afford to implement the idea, or I come up with something that has to be sold or marketed in some way. I can’t even sell hotcakes. Whatever I have to offer, no one wants! So these are the main reasons nothing has gelled for me in the past few years.

I came up with yet one more answer I think is so terrific that I immediately burst into tears and asked myself, “So why did it take so long for me to figure this one out?”

I can hardly believe I’m at this point. Of course, I am always ending up disappointed, disillusioned, discouraged, dismays…Oh dear, are there any more disses? Yeah, disordered, the worst of them.

My dog is named Puzzle for rather random reasons. Sometimes, though, when I find the right idea, the one that is going to work, it fits right in, just like that last puzzle piece I’ve been seeking for ages.

Creative activities, for me, take on a mathematical nature for  me. I suppose that’s because I am rather oriented that way, even though I’m way out of practice with actual math, that is, things like algebra or calculus. But I suppose problem-solving, finding solutions, can be done a variety of ways depending on how one’s creative process works.

What happens in your mind when you create? Do you brainstorm and then, pick the idea you like? Do you play around with the materials and see what works? Do you remove yourself from the situation, so that you then can approach it as if it is a blank slate?

Writers use freewriting sometimes, but I’d say some find if more useful than other writers. Some write a whole bunch in their heads before actually doing the physical act of writing. Some write, throwing all their resources into one place, then rearranging what they have written into a work  of art. Some take a walk first, and by the time they’re at their desks again, they are already packed with ideas.

Writing is a solitary activity. You might see many writers together in a coffee shop, but they’re each writing separately. One mind, one writer. Joint ventures are usually done by alternating the material back and forth between two or more writers. The activity is still done in solitary fashion.

I like that. I like it a lot and seeing as I suck at group projects of any sort, I found that I could write as much as I wanted. No one else’s laziness would hold me back.

Well?

I will always be a writer and always write. I suck at the business end of things as do many other writers. So why keep trying when…….

There are always new doors to be opened. However, I need to tell you all a secret. If you are traveling to a foreign country where you need to learn the basics of the language spoken there, here are the two most essential words to learn. (No, not “Where is the hotel?”)

These two words are “push” and “pull.” In Spanish, the words are tire and empuje. Guess what happens if you don’t learn these? You will walk into a lot of glass doors. I have yet to see entire homes here made of glass here, but if you ever live in one, you can throw all the stones you want but don’t throw them real hard at your wall because the entire house might crack. I don’t think Humpty liked being a cracked egg, by the way, although it was nice for the paychecks of All The Kings Men, wasn’t it?

See you later.

How to get rid of unwanted suitors

The old standby solution to this is to fart in bed. I have heard that this method is rather reliable to get rid of unwanted suitors. Tell him you have cancer even if you don’t. Get way too drunk or otherwise embarrass him. Have your period every day for months till he quits asking. Make sure, when you take your wallet out of your purse or pocket, that he sees your welfare card (or your friend’s that you borrowed) and not the credit cards. When he wants to know where you grew up, name the poorest part of town. Dress unbecomingly. Call him 20 times a day till he is dying to get rid of you. If all else fails, gain 100 or 200 pounds and that might get him off your back.

If he still hangs around, guess what? He might really love you. He might actually love you for who you are, not for your money or your body. You might as well count your blessings. Toss out the welfare card, lose the weight, quit farting and have a great life together.

How to nicely fire someone or kick an unwanted person out of your club

Do you want to get rid of someone? Do you have an employee whose presence embarrasses you? What about that handicapped kid you allowed into your club? You let him in because you didn’t want to appear discriminatory, but now he goes to all the meetings. What about that foreigner you hired because you didn’t want to be accused of unfair hiring practices?  How do you rid your organization of those you don’t want around? How do you do this without letting on that you are racist?

Here’s how. Try this out:

“We really care about you so much. We care about your health. You seem tired. Take time off. We care so much and we don’t want to wear you out. Your job will be waiting for you upon your return.”

The advantage is that on paper, it looks like the employee voluntarily took time off, but really, he was coerced into it. Now, all you have to do is to hope he doesn’t come back. Chances are, he won’t, seeing as eventually he’ll figure out what really happened. He won’t be able to sue for discrimination and you are off the hook.

Another thing you can try is to subtly make things unpleasant for him at work. Disconnect the air conditioning in his office and tell him the unit is broken. If he asks when it’ll be fixed, put him off. Have someone take his parking space every day so he has to park a mile away and walk to the office. If that doesn’t work, arrange for a long-term construction project right near his desk.

As soon as he complains, tell him he’s “oversensitive.” It couldn’t possibly be your doing, so he must have a disorder. Tell him he need psychiatric help for his oversensitivity. Finally, tell him if he won’t get the “help he so desperately needs,” you’ll have to let him go. Tell him you hate to see him suffer needlessly. Tell him you care so much, then go celebrate because he’s gone.

Beware of Psychology Today articles that embrace psychiatric diagnosis

I was going through some articles at Psychology Today at random. I am so sad that this magazine is so popular and that people buy into what it says as authoritative. Many people turn to it as the old standby for information on how to deal with their own suffering or how to deal with an inconvenient relative. Sadly, the “expert advice” in there embraces and reinforces the idea of psych diagnosis. The idea of psych diagnosis hardens people’s hearts, closes their minds, and limits their view.

Most articles encouraged total disengagement from those with psych diagnoses. These articles stated that these maligned sick people should only be handled by shrinks. It saddens me that these articles are taken seriously.

What can we do? I believe in honesty and transparency. I also believe in Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Access to Information. That said, we can either speak out on our own, or we can go to these harmful articles and point out alternative possibilities.

We can point out that diagnosis is given arbitrarily, and often hastily, with no proof, and could easily be incorrect. For those that understand the complete falsity of these diagnoses, any psych diagnosis is misdiagnosis by definition.

We can point out that diagnosis creates permanence.

We can point out that diagnosis causes the undesired traits to magnify and become habit, or to appear when they otherwise wouldn’t.

Those of us who have shaken off prior diagnoses and successfully gotten these labels off their records and out of their lives now are well-adjusted and no longer exhibit these traits.  In other words, to all of you: Set a good example and live well.

My First Impression of the Alcott Unit at Walden Behavioral Care, Waltham, Massachusetts, USA, “eating disorders treatment”

I wrote this a while back.  I found it in my files. I found it just now and am posting it. I did very little editing just now, only to eliminate or substitute a word or two for the sake of others.

My First Impression of Walden’s Alcott Unit
by Julie Greene
written July, 2014

I am a 56-year-old woman and I was 52 at the time of my first admission to Walden’s Alcott Unit. I believe the date that I phoned the Admissions office number was my fifty-second birthday in January 2010. I recall that the psychotherapist I had been seeing at the Edinburg Center, [name omitted], LMHC, had instructed me to telephone the main admissions number of Walden to see about getting in. I wasn’t happy about this at all, but at the same time, was rather curious as to what this “eating disorders care” was all about.

It had been nearly 30 years of suffering with an eating disorder, yet I had never been treated for it, certainly not at the inpatient level. I’d first gone to “therapy” and found that no one knew anything about eating disorders, and some “therapists” hadn’t even heard of ED. I’d been to OA and it never “worked.” I’d been to “groups” where I couldn’t relate to other members. I was even told you couldn’t die from an eating disorder. I was told I was exaggerating or “faking it.” Then, in February, 1983, I was in a hospital hoping someone would listen and at least care, when I saw on the news that Karen Carpenter had died of anorexia nervosa.

I tried to tell the nurse. “Look, that’s what I have. Anorexia. Something like that.” But again, I was ignored. Given pills and sent along my way.

A year later I realized the doctor I was seeing had lied. He’d only taken money from my parents. He knew nothing about eating disorders. That’s when I took an overdose. This was a few days before my 26th birthday. The doctor’s name was Thomas Alkoff, PhD, and his associates were the psychiatrist Carl Burak, MD and the psychologist Ronnie Burak, Carl’s wife. All three left town a few years later following multiple scandals, including the suicide of my friend Diane Daw (Manchester, VT) and the tragic death of Bennington College freshman Libby Zion. There were many others. The next “doctor” I saw, Charles Capers, MD at Gould Farm, didn’t even have a license to practice medicine. To get me onto SSDI, he pronounced me “schizophrenic” rather arbitrarily. I’ve had to live with the fake diagnosis “schizoaffective” ever since.

In 2010, I had a therapist who really was trying to help and really did care. She said I needed to eat. This was her main concern. She said Walden was a good place. So did my psychiatrist, Dr.Kimberly Pearson. Yet I was aware that there was always considerable strain between these two practitioners, though they tried to hide this from me for the sake of keeping professional distance from me.

I recall making the first phone call to Walden. I had already e-mailed with my circle of friends who were my age. These were women friends I knew online. Sadly, none of them are friends anymore. This is what happens when you are afflicted with anorexia nervosa. However, these friends were all in agreement: Julie needs this “Walden.” I phoned and reached a man named Brian. His voice sounded soothing and kind. Every time I called, Brian answered in his melodious voice. I told myself that he must calm the very young and frightened girls who call for the first time with questions, and calm the crying ones.

Brian asked me many questions, which I answered to the best of my ability. I thought: wow, this place must be state of the art. I’ve never been asked these questions before! No one has even cared! He asked me if I starved, and how much I ate. Usually when I have entered a mental hospital all they wanted to know about were suicidal intent.

That’s how it works., though, with hospitals. The admissions people such as Brian are the first ones you meet and you assume they represent the hospital. You are totally convinced that these organizations care about you, based on their “front” people, their PR dudes. Brian has tact and he’s smooth-talking. Their website looks nice, too. As does the website of any mental prison. I have my own website and I have designed many pretty ones and ugly websites, too.

Brian asked about height and weight. I am five foot one and was rather thin at the time. My highest weight was achieved because I was coerced into taking the drug Seroquel. I weighed nearly 200 pounds. My lowest weight was 78 last summer, as I weighed myself the day my kidneys failed. I have photos of myself at my highest and lowest weights for history’s sake. I think if I had allowed my weight to drop further, I wouldn’t be writing this now.

I am alive, however, because I walked away from psychiatric abuse. I am alive because a I refused imprisonment. I am alive because I refuse to go to one more so-called “hospital,” and I have been to many. I am alive because in the end I refused mental health care. I know the difference between “care” and “abuse.” I am alive because I recognized that beyond a doubt, my eating disorder is not a disorder at all, but a set of inherited nutritional traits that was passed on in the bloodline. My mother went through the same ordeal without any such imprisonment from the ages of 14 until 16 and never saw a therapist nor specialist.

My mother is right now in a nursing home in Johnston, RI. If you go see her you will notice a few things. Go eat with her. I have never been there myself but I’d love it if anyone would do this. With a variety of food in front of her, she will act differently around the dairy food. I guarantee this, and yet she and I have never discussed this openly. [note: my mother passed away August 12, 2015.]

Dr. Greenblatt, who runs Walden, was spot-on in his book, that eating disorders should be solved with nutrition, not by locking kids up and abusing them. However, Greenblatt sold out, clearly. I find this heartbreaking.

I arrived with a large suitcase at the appointed time. I had read that it was okay to bring a cell phone and I had traded mine for a used one that didn’t have a camera. I had my knitting with me. I was working on a sweater for my little dog, Puzzle. Now, neither knitting nor cell phones are currently allowed, as the rules have changed. I came by MBTA bus. I asked myself if this be the End, this anorexia? I told myself to quit thinking like that.

Well, this was what I needed, wasn’t it? My friends would approve, wouldn’t they? I would get super advice and learn a whole lot of new things about eating disorders that I had never learned in three decades that I had been bumbling around with a bunch of psychotic people. And after all, I wasn’t even psychotic. I “needed” this care, supposedly.  You’d figure these Walden folks were the experts. How could I know anything? I was only a sufferer.

Hell, no. Those of us who have been through the disorder know far more, because we are the ones that actually go through it. Those with book knowledge only know only what is in books, and the books have it all wrong. I was going to find this out, rather shortly.

The admissions process was lengthy. I know the word, “cozy,” is overused, but that seems like a good one to describe the Walden office, their “front” for allowing inductees into their fold. I had to fill out questionnaires and was interviewed. I got weighed in a paper johnny. How many others never forget those paper johnnies. Funny, though, you can drink as much coffee and water as you want before you get weighed, but you can’t sew a ten-pound brick into that johnny. Don’t worry, as soon as we get admitted we are all on the identical meal plan anyway. It’s called Chicago. Once you have been there a couple of times you have Chicago memorized. It’s not too different from the standard diabetic meal plan, made of so-called “exchanges.”

Greenblatt’s book tells us we get extensive testing. I had nine tubes taken in their admissions office via the Newton-Wellesley ER, but this test cost Medicare$2,000 and nothing was done with the results any of the times I was there. Greenblatt states in his book that patients should be neuro tested for what psych meds will work. I don’t think such state-of-the-art testing is ever done at this facility on anyone, or if such testing even exists. Some patients get zinc and some don’t, but it seems arbitrary to me. In fact, most of the nurses tell the patients the vitamin supplements are “optional” and “not very important.” Most nurses also don’t understand why they are given, if you ask them. They seem to be rather heavy-handed, on the other hand, and insist on bossing patients around, ordering them to “group” or telling them when to go to bed or that they need to stop talking about certain subjects. Patients are often threatened and told their socializing amongst each other will be “staff monitored” if they cause any trouble.

I did get tested by a neurologist during one of my five stays at Walden, by a real neurologist. This was to see the extent of the damage caused by self-starvation I asked the nurse practitioner, Deb, to tell me the results. She said, “I cannot read his handwriting.” I questioned her further but she put me off over and over. I was unable to get a straight answer from her.

I was allowed to be admitted to Alcott following the nine-tube, expensive blood test. I felt weak. I was guided to the unit and helped with my luggage. I wanted to sit down and rest, and I was thirsty, too. We had to follow endless hallways and open many doors. So many confusing elevators and beeps and buzzes. I wondered what this place would look like. I hoped the people there would be kind at least.

We arrived at the final door. The hallway turned and then, I saw the doors to Alcott. “This is it,” the admissions person said.

“Is it really named after the author?” I asked.

“I believe so.”

I said, “I am a writer, too.”

We arrived at the locked doors. “Here we are at Alcott.” She let us in.

Here was a hallway not much unlike Three East at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. Oh my goodness. My heart sank. Another psych unit. No, this couldn’t be.

I felt so tired. Someone guided me to a chair. I knew I was right by the nurses’ station. I saw the old familiar wite-out board. Patient names with only a letter for last name. Confidentiality, they say. And those doors had clicked locked behind me.

I gripped the chair. I said, “Wait. This is a locked unit?”

“Yes, Julie, this is a locked unit. We have some paperwork for you.” My heart sank another few notches as a staff person got out some old familiar-looking papers. That ole CV. Conditional Voluntary, it’s called. That means you have to sign a special paper to get out, and to get out of this prison, it meant waiting three days. If you don’t pass a judge’s decision, you can be locked up a good long time.

“Let me explain this to you,” the counselor began.

I said, “That’s a three-day. I know those. If I don’t sign in, I can be committed.”

“I would recommend you sign this, Julie. Don’t give us any trouble about this one.”

Soon, it was time for 3pm snack. I couldn’t believe that much time had passed since my arrival at the admissions office first thing that morning. I didn’t want to eat. I wanted to stay thin forever. If only I could leave that place!

I realized that everyone goes through this, this very moment of saying, “Why the heck did I agree to this. I’m stuck here now!” How long would it be? Weeks? What would happen here? The patients didn’t look happy. Instead, many were holding their bellies, as if they had stomach aches. About half the patients had tubes taped to their noses. The tubes appeared to go deep into their nostrils and were taped to the outside of their faces. Before long, the slurpy sound of liquid rushing through those tube feed pumps would be the sound of my life.

Many people shuffled into the dining room. Obligatory snacks had been distributed in a cramped dining room where we all had to eat together. We also had to drink either milk or juice. I was shocked at these snacks. I looked for the one with my name on it, “Julie G.”

There sat a package of Lorna Doone cookies and a big glass of milk. I sat there with those cookies in front of me for a long time. I looked at the other patients. How could they stand this? This was food slavery. I didn’t enjoy the sound of crunching. Someone began a game of 20 questions. I felt insulted to play a kiddie game.

My body wasn’t accustomed to eating this type of food. I knew one package of Lorna Doones wasn’t going to hurt me or poison me. Of course not. But still, my stomach hurt afterward. My friend wanted to speak with me to find out how things were going, so I phoned her following snack time. There was no private place to sit and talk, so I sat in the living room area where many others were seated.

My friend was home and picked up the phone.

“You ate what? They gave you Lorna Doone cookies? Not something healthy like nuts or something? Or fruit? Maybe an orange?”

“No,” I told my friend. “All packaged junk food. You have to eat it and you can’t complain. I feel really awful and my stomach hurts.”

“I really thought they would be more sophisticated than that.”

“Maybe they are just doing it cheaply. Anything to see to it that we gain weight as fast as possible.”

Suddenly, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was a staff person. I knew this because he wore a badge with his photo on it. He said to me, “Julie, you cannot speak to your friend like that. We don’t allow this. You cannot say these things. You must hang up now.”

I turned to him and said, “Why?”

He said, “It’s triggering to other patients.”

I knew this was bogus, though. They only didn’t want patients speaking to anyone on the outside about “care” or lack thereof. It was the same in any mental prison. I felt trapped. I excused myself from my phone conversation. I realized, though, that Alcott wasn’t going to be any different from any other mental prison.

I am finding that after three and a half decades suffering horribly from severe eating problems, after my bio family has been torn apart, after I have lived for decades in poverty, after my chances of a career have been stripped, after I have no chances of ever having kids or raising a family of my own, after my own public reputation is ruined, after my brothers have denied me the privilege of knowing their children and raised their kids without Auntie Julie, and now, since I was threatened with forcibly being drugged forever and permanently locked up, saying goodbye to the USA for good….Well, heck, it all could easily have been solved within the first year nutritionally, perhaps eliminating certain foods from my diet, eating a good source of Omega-3, taking some vitamins., and never, ever setting foot into the halls of “Mental Health Care,” nor any hospital, ever.

I spend quite a bit of time laughing over it all lately. Yes, looking back and laughing. Psych abuse gave me a darned good sense of humor. If I had my way, I would tear down every mental prison ever built.

Perhaps one wall would remain standing. Let’s call this the Wailing Wall. I saw one such wall, when I was 19 years old, when I traveled to Jerusalem, the last wall standing of the Temple the Jews had built.

I suppose that one wall would remain for history’s sake. I can imagine right now standing before such a wall made of stones. Papers stuffed hastily between the stones by visitors. At 19, I was an ambitious and promising young college student.  I wondered what was written on these papers. Were these prayers to a deity? Or messages honoring those that have passed and are now gone? Or something else?

 

Lives, interrupted

Susana Keysen’s Girl Interrupted is an awesome statement about USA history and culture. To me, the memoir is timeless that way. We can read it in from so many perspectives.  Here was a girl who was targeted for her parents’ ability to pay the bills. I recall the initial scenes well. She goes to a psychiatrist who then sends her to McLean in a cab.  After the book was written, there was some controversy over exactly how long the initial psychiatrist spent with her before proclaiming her a nutcase. She brilliantly describes the world at McLean as a “parallel universe.”

For me, at the time I read the book, I had barely any conception of this “parallel universe.” By then, MH was all I knew. I didn’t have much awareness of people whose lives didn’t center around MH. All my friends were in the System, which at the time didn’t seem limiting to me nor confining. Now, of course, I know that we patients were forced into figurative walled ghettos. We were stuck in that life, and if we tried to get out, we found the outside world was hostile and discriminatory.

Around that time, a guy I knew who was a “patient” got a job near McLean. Looking back, I don’t recall the therapists encouraging him in at all. He got the job totally on his own. I recall that in some of the groups, the leaders were dismissive of his accomplishments. I noticed that they were encouraging him to quit his job and devote more energy to “treatment.” I didn’t say much. I admired the guy for being brave and doing his best to empower himself.

One day, he came into group looking sad. He said he’d been laid off from his job. I knew this wasn’t a layoff but that he’d been discriminated against. They found out and cornered him out of the job. I knew this because I observed this guy and listened to what he had said over the past few months. I felt sorry for him. I believe he felt intensely embarrassed to admit to what had really occurred.

This was what happened when we tried to break out of the fake world that MH created for us. The therapists emphasized that the outside world was scary and hostile. By holding groups such as “weekend planning,” the therapists emphasized that time spent outside their “program” was too hard for us to handle, so we needed special groups to plan ahead how to deal with life on weekends. As a result of these subtle scare tactics, patients had more emergencies on weekends and off-hours than they would have otherwise.

The therapists instilled in us a fear based on an untruth, that we should dread our “unstructured time.” They told us it was harder to cope when the program wasn’t running due to our own inability to handle life. It wasn’t even true! But early on, they drilled this into out heads.

Now, of course, I know. Day treatment therapists are the most fucked up bunch I have seen. Many are going through divorces or other life crises. They didn’t seem to be able to separate their home lives from their workplace lives. They seemed to emphasize boundaries but their own boundaries were far less defined than those of the clients. Still, we looked up to them like they were gods.

Once, I heard a therapist say, “The only difference between staff and clients is that staff have their act together.” We all saw this statement as Manna from Heaven. It wasn’t even true, though.

I will tell you the difference between staff and clients. Staff are employees, and almost all of them are paid. Clients have to do many hours in these programs, but don’t earn paychecks. Staff have the keys, patients do not. Staff are authority figures and patients are on the bottom of the totem pole. The difference between patients and staff had everything to do with hierarchy and nothing to do with mental stability. “All over the place” might describe the mental status of most of the day treatment therapists I knew.

That was the parallel universe I knew. It was so full of untruths, but most of us bought into the myths we were fed. Where there were holes in logic, we subconsciously filled those holes, trying to make sense of a world that was truly “wacky.” It was so easy to accept this world, maybe because it offered a promise that we didn’t find in the outside.

“You are loved.” Not that it was true, but we so much wanted it to be real. That we were really loved by the miracle-workers, who had us wrapped around their fingers and could snuff our our souls just as quickly as they had won us over.

We were also warned not to get too friendly with each other. One nurse lectured a group of inpatients saying, “You may think that the people you meet here will be great friends, but after leaving, patients often find they have nothing in common.” While this was true, I noticed other patients seemed bewildered by this statement. It caught them off-guard. It wasn’t quite consistent with other statements told to us in groups. The staff wanted us to share information with each other but they didn’t want empowered patients. The hierarchy was similar to that of many groups where newbies are kept separate from each other. This is also done in brainwashing religious cults. From what I have learned about organizational structure, keeping the peons in line means depriving them of a voice, unified or otherwise, although there are some  organizations that strive to include all work levels in decision-making. MH “care” doesn’t do this, and cannot, since “informed consent” is almost nonexistent in MH.

We were so beaten down. How could anyone leave? If you asked that, you got into a lot of trouble.

Smart aleck answers to the psych eval

I’m going to have fun with this one. Haven’t you always wanted to give a shrink an ass-kicking response to those boring questions they all have memorized?

“Can you tell me where you are right now?”

I think the desired answer is, “In a hospital,” or, “in your office.” Try this: “At a circus.” “At a comedy show.” “I’m going around and around a revolving door. Where are you?”

“Can you tell me what the date is?” Know what I always did? I didn’t even answer. I’d automatically look at my watch. If you ask that question, I’ll look at my watch first. Since when is that “cheating”?

“How do you feel?” They often want a numeric answer, between one and ten. So give them Pi. Keep going and going and going. That will fill up the entire session, if the doc can stand listening to you.

“How are your thoughts?” The best answer I ever heard to this one was one  of Joe’s responses when asked this. Know what he said? “Cigarette.” I was cracking up inside when he said that.

“Subtract seven from 100, as far as you can go.” If you do it correctly, they’ll stop you when you are in the 80’s and then say, “Okay, that’s enough.” Don’t stop, keep going into the negative numbers.

“Why did you take the overdose?” Are you kidding? They don’t ask. Maybe years later, they will. Now, though, they’re busy assuming you are a criminal and treating you like one.

“Do you own any weapons?” At that point, take out a gun and shoot the shrink. For godsakes, don’t miss. Hide the body in the Quiet Room. After three days in the Quiet Room, will the shrink rise up from the dead? Sure he will. Most have the Messiah Complex real bad anyway.

Does your therapist have “rescuer syndrome”?

I found sections of articles on this topic, but no articles devoted entirely to rescuer syndrome on the part of therapists. I read that in relationships such as marriage, sometimes people get it into their heads that they are rescuers who dash to the aid of damsels in distress. The article I read spoke of White Knight Syndrome in men as a form of abuse. However, the term “Rescuer Syndrome” is used when describing a way that therapy can go terribly wrong.

Many of us end up being the ones who save the day, whether intended or not. This is part of everyday life for many people. Occasionally, this will happen. You’ll do something that ends up being a godsend for someone.

When I was a girl, I participated in drama productions. I recall one year, I was in Oliver Twist, playing the role of the man who eventually takes Oliver under his wing and adopts him. To play this part, I had to try to talk like a man (not very well), wear a bald wig over my real hair, and tuck a pillow into the costume I wore, to appear like a fat, rich man in an expensive suit. I was awfully happy to be able to wear my glasses as part of the costume. In other productions, I had to remove them and because I couldn’t see, I had to guess where everything was.

The time of the production was approaching. Elementary schools are germy places, so like any other kid, I got exposed to viruses and bacterial infections just like anyone else. I came down with strep throat only a day or two before the big day.

Uh  oh.

I can only imagine that our drama director was frazzled over this. I’m sure plenty of things go wrong at the last  minute, since that’s the way life is. They didn’t plan out stand-ins in case of illness. We showed up, period.

At the last minute, I was declared well enough to go to school. Mrs. Whatever (I can picture her but cannot recall her name), our teacher, apparently had no clue if I, playing Mr. Brownlow, was going to make the show or not until I came skipping into the auditorium. But there I was, ready to go.

Mrs. Whatever was so thrilled that she actually gave me a hug. She told me that I had saved the day. Oddly, I hadn’t done anything, really, just got over strep, but that’s how people usually end up in the role of rescuer, mostly. We were at the right place at the right time.

However, some people habitually get into this role on purpose. I think they feel a lack of self-esteem, and to assert their power over others, they repeatedly rescue their damsels. In turn, the damsels are disempowered, deprived of self-responsibility. Too much rescuing, or using rescuing as a way to diminish the power of others or assert superiority over them, can be extremely harmful.

I’ve talked to parents who have had to say, “Enough is enough” and in so saying, they limit how much and how often they rescue their delinquent kids. I can’t imagine how tough that must be. Most learn that if you rescue too much, the kid starts depending on it or refuses to take responsibility. Don’t we all  know people in their 60’s and 70’s who are STILL being rescued by their parents? We also hear about rescuer children who come to the aid of sick or drunk parents and then, in adulthood, end up self-sacrificing and rescuing till they become exhausted.

A rescuer therapist does a lot of harm. I saw this at day treatment programs and also among outpatient therapists. Occasionally, a staff nurse at a hospital or staff counselor ended up in that role. We all have seen those overly dependent patients who end up running after the same sympathetic staff person all the time. I saw among these people a marked increase in self-destructive behavior. I believe there’s a correlation. Rescue too much, and your dependents will come to not only rely on being rescued, but put themselves in danger, just to please the authority-figure rescuer.

I knew patients who repeatedly came close to death. In each case, there was a rescuer involved, some person who saved the day repeatedly as a form of abuse. If you took away the rescuer or stopped the rescuing behavior, and the patient usually grew up and stopped the “almost dying” syndrome. Voila! So it turned out that “I’ll die without my therapist” sure wasn’t true. With the therapist, the patient was driven to uncharacteristic risky behavior. Without the therapist, the patient stopped all that, and was able to be independent and more confident.

I’m told, though, that many don’t grow up anyway. I don’t know too many like that, though.