My only choice might end up a fun project

Seeing as I am unable to get the light bulb out of its socket, and clearly, the light bulb socket is falling apart anyway, I’ve decided to replace the entire fixture, and toss out what’s there. These are sold all over the place for pennies. It looks like the fixture was not installed properly anyway.  I do have an alternate fixture I can use, or I can go out and get a different one, should I decide I’d like something a bit more aesthetically pleasing.  Meanwhile, I have rearranging to do around here still, just to stay dry. See you later.

Not quite habitable

When I first moved here I kept another blog, meanwhile keeping this one up as well. At first, I kept it secret that I  had moved here. There was good reason for this. I knew many people assumed I had “bipolar” and would assume I had gone manic. Of course, I never had bipolar, but there’s no arguing with people who are stuck in their ways.  Either way, the other blog is still there. I kept the blog private at first, then opened it up to the public, then started revealing to my friends where I was.  Eventually, the secret was out, but I meant to move those blog posts over to this blog. I haven’t due to laziness and not much else.

In that blog, I describe the home I lived in when I first came here. When I first saw it, I thought it was great. Great compared to public housing maybe, but truthfully, the building wasn’t habitable. I stayed two months and then, fled.

What do I mean by “not habitable”? I don’t mean peeling paint nor do I mean rickety stairs. The structure itself was not built correctly and couldn’t be lived in nor could it be used as storage space. The reason was something known as moisture lock. In the USA  you don’t have that problem, but here, it’s extremely common. Our buildings are made not of wood, but of concrete that is coated with some kind of dry wall material. We don’t use “wallboard” or “paneling” or “studs.” These are unheard of here. Buildings are not built with insulation nor with foundations. No one has central heating nor central air nor any of those luxuries. We are lucky to have wood doors.

The first place I lived in was so swampy (there was no other word for it) that one day, I awoke to find a number of earthworms on my kitchen floor. That’s when I knew something was drastically wrong. Could the whole country be like this, or is there something wrong with this house? It turned out to be the house. Yes, I fled. Too much moisture indoors leads to mold, and mold will make any person extremely ill.

Funny, I noticed respiratory problems right after I came.  My nose dripped non-stop. I had no clue why. I thought maybe it was from cold weather. Then,  I started noticing the entire floor wouldn’t stay dry no matter what I did. I kept trying to mop it, over and over, and it kept looking rained on. It never got clean either. My clothes got wet if I left them sitting out. The only answer was to tightly wrap everything in plastic, and to cover my bed, otherwise it became “dewy.” This whole thing was turning into bad Hell. Anything left out would end up stinking, so I had a huge pile of laundry after a short while. Everything was wet, all my bedding and me, too. I had a two-track mind: CLEAN. DRY. And I HAD to move. My friend overseas assured me that as soon as I found a place, I would be able to walk in there and feel the air and know it wasn’t moisture locked.

Indeed, that’s what happened when I moved from the first place to Centro. As soon as I got all my stuff there, it breathed. The wet papers dried out. I was lucky only a minimal amount of stuff got ruined. I felt like I’d just escaped something horrible, like a natural disaster.

Centro was okay, the building was habitable but not at all private and the area far too noisy. Also, there was no natural light in that apartment, no daylight at all. I’d say it was the most dismal and dreary home I’ve ever lived in. Never mind that black floor. I wanted to cover it with something light, but the room was so big and a rug would have been unsanitary. The floor wasn’t black stone. It was made of stones that were dyed black, not quite paint but some other type of black pigment. That black dye came off a bit every time I mopped the floor. I liked that the walls were white. At least that brightened the place.

I stayed out the whole year’s lease there. Now, I have a new place. I tried looking back in December, well ahead of time, but that wasn’t a good time to look. I waited a while.  Then, I was promised a place in the country. The person who promised it to me started hemming and hawing and not really giving me a definite yes or no. This went on for a few weeks. I felt like I was being kept hanging. Finally, I realized that “no answer” or “stalling” meant I needed to look elsewhere. I tried looking around and at that time, there seemed to be nothing out there. I figured I’d have no choice but to go back to that swampy place I started out at. Maybe I could make it work. I knew someone had gone in there with bleach and cleaned out the mold. Still, I had such a heavy heart, knowing I was going to move to a place that I wasn’t even habitable.

This was all I deserved. I kept telling myself that Uncle Sam sure had a way of driving that home. That I was unworthy. That all I deserved was the minimum.

Dear Patient, You suck. Your family is hereby Off the Hook. Now, instead, you get “services.”

I knew I shouldn’t move back there. I knew scandal was attached to that place, that other expats had moved there too, and had fled the mold, just as I had done. Wouldn’t the same thing happen all over again? My heart was so heavy. At the same time, I was dying to leave Centro. The noise there was driving me nuts. I felt like I would crumble if I had to stay one more day.

Meanwhile, the owner of the swampy place mentioned that a repair person was supposed to come, but hadn’t shown up. The repair person was supposed to install a screen door and make the place a bit more manageable. I had told the owner I’d install a door  myself (knowing that’s the best way to get things done).  But the person insisted this repair person would do it.  I decided one day to go check out the place myself, since my plan was to move there within a couple of weeks.

This was around the beginning of July. I showed up early on a Sunday morning, before the fog had lifted. I didn’t have to get too close to know I’d been lied to.

There was no repairman.
No one waited there for a person to show up.
No one had been there, nor done any of the mentioned repairs.
Months’ worth of bills and junk mail were stuck in the door, uncollected.

Why had I trusted, when I had known all along there was something very wrong about this arrangement?

Now, I had two weeks to find a place. Betrayal sucks bad and so did the very real threat of homelessness.

I had to scramble. With only one day to spare, I found my current place.  I feel that I lucked out in terms of location. Yes, it’s private. No  prying eyes that watch me come and go and no nosy questions. I don’t hear constant yelling and hammering all day long.  There’s far less traffic noise.  But the building structure is typical. The front room leaks badly in every rainstorm, and the whole house has the same moisture problems as the swamp I first moved to. However, it has adequate windows and also gets direct sunlight on two walls of the house. Beyond that, it’s barely habitable. I’d say borderline. We have a pervasive sewage odor here that never goes away. I have all my stuff wrapped in plastic. Finally, I’ve decided that the front room really isn’t livable, and can only be used for cooking, laundry, and bathroom, and the bedroom I have divided into a sleeping area and office/dining room. I hung a blanket to block off the bed area. I plan to move my desk table into the back room. It’s just too wet out in the front room. I’m always mopping up “condensation.” The bathroom is even worse. I am always drying off that floor.  Dehumidifiers cost hundreds of dollars and aren’t cost effective to run in a place like this that just keeps getting sopping. I might just go out and get a few tubs of Crivea and put that around to absorb moisture. I’m  not sure if maybe that, too, is a losing battle.

Still, for whatever reason, I love this place. It feels like home. The place in Centro by all means didn’t. I’ve been decorating my current place and taking pride in it. I know why. I feel more dignified here. I no longer feel like I am living under a landlady’s watchful eye, nor in the middle of a storefront where everyone sees me, as I was in Centro. I no longer am the object of elderly gossip as I was in public housing. I  no longer get those letters telling me I am getting the bare minimum and they will take away as much as they can as soon as they can.

I can only hope it doesn’t get noisy here. I’m not sure how summer will go with that futbol field nearby. Time will tell.

Light bulb stuck in socket?

Has that ever happened to you? You are renting and the previous renters (or a repair person) stuck a light bulb into a fixture and insisted on screwing it in as tightly as possible. Now, you need to change the bulb, but it won’t come out, either that, or if you struggle too much with it, either the fixture will break or the bulb will break. What to do?

I went to some forums and collected suggestions. Here are some you can try.

  1. If this is a wall fixture, you might want to flip off your circuit breaker temporarily.  If your bulb is stuck in a desk lamp or other plug-in appliance, unplug the appliance and wait about ten seconds before proceeding.
  2. I heard that the following works. Use a hair dryer. This is what I am going to try first since I used a hair dryer on my hotplate and it worked brilliantly. I figured if there was debris or moisture trapped inside it, the hair dryer would get it out. I assume the hair dryer will make something swell, maybe loosen enough for me to remove the bulb. They say when you put the new bulb in, grease it up a bit with Vaseline, but not on the contacts, just on the screw part. I will probably use Eucerin hand cream.
  3. Another suggestion was to squirt WD-40 into the fixture. I’m not sure I want to resort to that, especially since this fixture is far above my head and I have to stand on a step ladder to reach it.
  4. I heard you should use a potato. Something tells me this isn’t the best of advice. Also, I read “use rubber gloves,” but I think if I did that, the bulb would break and then I would have to use pliers to pry out the metal part. I can’t imagine standing on a step ladder for hours, with my arms held over my head, prying out a tiny stuck metal part from a loose wire fixture that is going to fall off my ceiling anyway. Seeing as I have just gotten over migraine headaches, I think this would be a great way to get the headaches back.

If the hairdryer doesn’t work, I think I will set up another light for now. I’ll use that, and not the overhead light at all. Then, when I inform the landlord that when he fixed the roof leak last week, he didn’t really fix it, maybe he can do the bedroom light bulb, too.

Drawbacks

I know, I can reassure myself it’s not forever. Nothing is perfect. Can’t complain. It’s better than……. At least……. I can’t tell you all how thrilled I am to live in a more private location. And it is indeed more quiet. I hope.

I say this knowing that something isn’t right. Or wasn’t. The next door neighbors have let me know they are delighted with their place. These are are the ones that are having the baby. They are quiet and stick to themselves. On either side they own motorcycles,  but this is no problem. These are used for transportation, not to show off. On the other side, oddly, I have figured out that the neighbors don’t really live there. This is a common meeting place for the divorcees, and to have as a play space for the kids. It seems they do laundry there, but no one spends nights. I think also sometimes a grandmother minds the kids. They are quiet and extremely cute. The fourth home is vacant. In my opinion, the place won’t get rented at the price they are asking, especially if the potential tenant knows the neighborhood. Right near us are loud neighbors, a house that seems to be a hotbed for weekend parties. Maybe they have teenage kids or maybe they are just inconsiderate. They have a TV,  radio, stereo, or just too much damn noise most of the time from that place, to the detriment of the whole area. Oh well. Again, I am not married to this house.  Teens grow up, I gotta remember you, too. This is a poor country and no, there’s nothing I can do. In a year,  even if I moved again, to someplace even more secluded, it would be no guarantee some noisemaker might not move in next door. Don’t marry your home.

There’s no such thing as “negative energy.”

Have you ever heard the term “negative energy”? Maybe you were in a group of people, and one person left the group. Afterward, the others said, “We’re glad he left since he had such negative energy.” I leave groups that talk like that. How dare they! No human being is such a societal leper as to have “negative energy.” What’s that? Does the person use energy as a light bulb would? I doubt that, as they aren’t light bulbs. They are living, breathing human beings. It is the group itself that is the negative energy, having an attitude of exclusiveness. There it is, the energy-sucking. Do you want to be a group that excludes, or do you want to be loving and kind?

I always knew when I should stay away from a person, when they started talking about their ex-friends as having “negative energy.” What a snobby term. They acted like yoga know-it-alls. Next thing you knew, one more person was on their shit list of “negative energy” people. People that they thought would destroy their “karma.” Thing was, while they yapped on and on about other people’s use of “negative, limiting language,” words such as “I don’t like,” they themselves cut off anyone that didn’t write them a five-star testimonial nor hand them a big fat check now and then.

I enjoy generating all sorts of energy. I don’t give a hoot if someone finds if positive or negative, because none of that is relevant and it’s all a bunch of bullcrap as far as I’m concerned. Not one human out there has negative energy, and if anyone out there hears that term, just walk away and know that you don’t have to believe it nor listen to discriminatory baloney anymore.

Contrary to what you might think, certain subjects do not “trigger” me.

I think we cannot be too quick to generalize or assume. Often, other people assume I “get upset” hearing about stories of abuse. Actually, that’s not true. I don’t. I don’t mind hearing about these things at all. I don’t mind reading about people being abused  by their therapists nor about people being abused in hospitals. I know this isn’t true of other survivors. Many survivors cannot tolerate any mention of “bad therapy” or any other similar situation, or even mention of certain hospitals gets them rather upset. “Don’t even mention the name of that place, it makes me so sick!” “Why do you keep bringing it up?” Or, “I don’t want to hear war stories.” “War stories” is the term some survivors use as euphemism for “stories from the hospital.” They refuse to discuss anything from their hospital days, yapping about being “triggered.” I suppose I should respect that. However, I can yap as much as I want here in my blog. And I do.

Know what does get me upset, or used to? Diagnosis. I used to seriously snap if someone said to me, “You look so upset.” I would try to contain myself but I couldn’t help but feel like I was being called “anxious.” Or if a person said, “You look depressed.” I’d feel “diagnosed.” I’d usually lose my cool over that, knowing that my reaction was overblown. Once, someone said I should “take a vitamin and chill out.” I didn’t say anything, but was furious because i felt like this was a nurse telling me to go “take a PRN.” In fact, I used to get furious if I heard, “chill out,” “take a chill pill,” or “take a deep breath,” or, “breathe.” All these sounded like “staff” talking. Anything with “staff” tone of voice, that, too, pissed me off. Condescending, kindergarten teacher, rude, bossy, telling me to go to bed, sing-song, etc. Or that mellow shrink tone, “How does that make you feel?”

“If you speak to me in that tone of voice, Doctor, it makes me feel like kicking you in the balls and then running away fast.”

I actually like hearing abuse stories because then, I know I am not the only one. Thankfully, people talk. This is why I  know for sure I am not alone. It’s a good feeling.

Electroshock aftermath: The victim compensates for unexplained, negative effects of “treatment” and coverup

A person with memory deficit due to TBI or dementia, if confronted (“Have you forgotten again?”) might feel embarrassed or threatened. Perhaps the victim has not done well at a particular task he or she once excelled at, or forgot to show up, or failed to follow instructions due to inability to properly retain information or had trouble filtering out what was unimportant.

I have witnessed elderly people become defensive regarding memory loss. They do this for a good reason. I have seen just how truly frightened they are. I have seen families of elderly people come pounding on their doors, accusing them over and over, “If you don’t clean this place, you’re going to a nursing home!” or, “If you can’t manage your own affairs, you can’t stay here!” Whatever they can threaten, they will. If they knew I was there and overheard them, they would not have said such things. Meanwhile, you can bet such families have already made sure that “insurance” pay for the nursing home. It won’t come out of their pockets.

These frightened elderly folk were well aware of this. They lived in fear. They may or may not have been experiencing any memory loss at all. The point was that they needed to make it look like everything was fine, and this meant patching up anything that could be used as a legal loophole. At the nearest opportunity, a son or daughter might find “evidence” that could hold up in court that would allow that offspring some way to take legal guardianship, whether the evidence truly represented anything substantial or not. One “wellness check” could lead to losing one’s independence. Police or EMT’s make extremely arbitrary and quick decisions, and tend to err on the cautious side. I know, since I myself have been subject to such decisions on the part of emergency personnel, which were either correctly done or not so correctly done. We all have read in the news about the rather quick decisions to “shoot” simply because a person who was profiled was “wasting their time.”

What I saw was this: Elderly people compensated. If they lost things, they invented ways to keep track of stuff so they would either not lose anything, or they would cover up the fact that they’d lost it.

When I was starving, I kept an insanely neat house. I always put stuff back in the exact same place. The reason for this was NOT obsessive compulsive disorder nor was it any sort of psychosis nor mood disorder. I did this because I was desperate to hide the fact that I couldn’t remember where I had put anything. I was fastidious about keeping things in certain spots because I knew that if I didn’t do this, I’d never remember where I’d left them.

That’s the state they saw me in at the hospital. I continued to do that, to put things in certain places rather obsessively, fearing that I would lose track of them. They claimed I had “odd behaviors” that required antipsychotic medication. I tried to explain the dementia-like state that I had been in before my arrival, but I always got cut off mid-sentence before I could explain.  They were out of the room already, shaking their heads and not understanding a thing.

After ECT, I was similarly embarrassed. I hated it whenever someone mentioned that I’d forgotten anything, or said that perhaps I was deficient or damaged  now, or stated that ECT was a stupid decision on my part. I think anyone might be insulted by this, wouldn’t you be insulted? I had chosen it, or thought I had. In fact, I asked for it.

The truth is that I wasn’t properly informed of the consequences. I wasn’t told that the effects are so unpredictable that it wasn’t worth it. I wasn’t told that if I was damaged, they’d lie about it and wouldn’t own up to what happened. I wasn’t told that I’d be talked into bilateral while lying down 30 seconds before anesthesia, in dehydrated state, without being told the differences nor risks, nor asked to sign papers regarding potential risks. At the time, all I wanted was a drink of water!

I weighed well under 90 pounds for much of the ECT, and I was close to 40 years old. Each time they gave me ECT I had to refrain from drinking fluids. I have diabetes insipidus, meaning that when I finally arrived at ECT, I was desperately thirsty, most likely medically dehydrated to the point of possible electrolyte imbalance. I repeatedly reported the severe thirst, and requested that if possible, they could have the ECT as early in the morning as possible. I said that late morning ECT was “like torture for me due to thirst.” (And still, they didn’t even think to test for diabetes insipidus!) Since I was dehydrated and at a low weight, I know now that they were administering anesthesia when it wasn’t even safe to do so. I was far more of an anesthesia danger risk than I was a danger to myself from potential suicide. Often, all I could think about was surviving the thirst in the waiting room, which was the biggest challenge.

ECT is never voluntary. The first treatment may or may not be. Consent may be voluntary, but is it informed consent? I begged for ECT but I wasn’t properly told what it was nor why it worked.

It works because it damages your brain. Brain injury causes a “high.” You don’t even know it. It feels like you have been miraculously snapped out of your depression. But really, you have been brain-damaged, similar to being delirious following a concussion. This is why you feel just the same a few weeks later, and need either another brain injury or get back on antidepressants and you are back at square one.

Proponents think this is great since it prevents suicide. But does it? If a person really wanted suicide, would they take the trouble to submit to ECT if they believed the ECT would save them? I kinda doubt it. If I wanted to do suicide, I’d kill myself first, and bypass putting money into the shock doc’s purse. Why bother? A person who wants to die that much doesn’t want to be saved nor rescued, not so much that they will voluntarily have an electric lobotomy to prove it.

After ECT, which I am sure I could have done without, I was confused intermittently. Sometimes I was okay, others not. There seemed to be no pattern to it. I didn’t want to be accused of “losing my mind” due to a stupid decision I  myself made. So I begged for some explanation. What was wrong with me?

They should have admitted fault. Later, they did, long after the fact, but didn’t admit their error upfront. This was done rather subtly. “Well, yes, we gave you too many in 1996, but we promise not to do that again.” They never owned up to the coverup. They didn’t own up to the fake diagnosis of borderline that was given to me to explain my confused demeanor. They lied, claiming I was “dissociating.” They lied to me, to those caregivers who had not known me prior to ECT, and to my family, claiming I had a “dangerous personality disorder.”

I tried to read up on dissociation. Everything I read about it didn’t seem to fit what I was going through. I felt that what was happening was cognitive, but I wasn’t sure. Thinking straight was hard. I wrote things down, because this made it easier for me to keep my thoughts straight. I had heard that the confusion from ECT wears off quickly, that no way could I be experiencing permanent effects. No one did. No one became a basket case from ECT, did they? That couldn’t possibly be true, could it? But it was indeed true.

Dr.Michael Henry, who practiced ECT at McLean, is fooling himself, even now, wherever the hell he is, if he thinks the thousands of patients he shocked came away undamaged.  What he should have done was to sit down with me and tell me the truth. I had nothing, no word from anyone that this had occurred. Instead, a make-believe lie about “dissociation” that had no basis in truth.

I made up my own name for the confusion. I called it “The Thing.” What else could I do? This name that sounded like it came out of a Stephen King novel didn’t help relationships with my doctors much. However, I didn’t want to say, “I’m dissociating,” since I knew I wasn’t. I knew this wasn’t some “personality disorder” that suddenly struck me out of the blue.

You bet they poked fun of me. The Thing gave them plenty of golf course and elevator jeering material. Late night drinks, I’m sure, included enough jokes about The Thing. Maybe, too, they felt a twinge of guilt, knowing that what was behind it all were a few too many zaps of electricity, a few too many destroyed brain cells.

People compensate. They don’t want to look bad. They don’t want embarrassment. Embarrassment is extremely uncomfortable. In my confusion, I compensated by reinventing The Thing, by fitting other parts of my life and working them into The Thing. I stated that these stories from earlier parts of my life were due to my present condition. This doesn’t make logical sense, however, I was not being treated with logic anyway. The doctors allowed me to conclude anything, as long as they were not being accused nor seen as at fault.

For instance, I saw the fact that I’d been fired from a job when I was a teen “due to The Thing.” This wasn’t true at all. Many college-bound teens had a hard time getting jobs in some geographical areas during that time. This may be true even today. Many bosses are hesitant to hire a teen only to see that teen leave for college in a few months. When I was fired, my boss’ reasons were vague. However, my mother pointed out that I had not once called in sick, and had not once been tardy. When I asked for more hours so that I could get properly trained, the manager had made excuses, week after week, then fired me. She said he never even gave me a chance, and that I should forget about that job. I did.

I didn’t want to admit that The Thing was from ECT. Above all, I didn’t want to face the truth. So without changing facts, I explained my past via The Thing. The Thing caused me to lose my job. However, I don’t at all recall being confused on the job. I didn’t like the job, it was not something I wanted to do all my life, but I didn’t have severe cognitive problems and that wasn’t why I was fired. I was an inconvenience to the boss, and I was probably too smart for the work that was required of me. It was a bit embarrassing wearing that Brigham’s uniform.  Scooping ice cream wasn’t my thing. I wasn’t the first nor last who was fired from food service. Life goes on.

Nonetheless, after ECT, I rationalized many past life events, and fit them into The Thing. I finally concluded, quite incorrectly, that I’d had The Thing all my life. By then, time had passed. Winter was approaching, 1996.

Bingo. Now was the time. McLean had to make their move to seal this. Get it into the girl’s head that she has had this condition all her life, that it is impairing and permanent, and that she will have to ACCEPT IT. What else could these criminals do? They’d fucked up badly. They didn’t want a lawsuit. Dr. Henry couldn’t do this himself, oh no, not admit fault directly. They needed a Deus Ex Machina.

What’s that, you ask….I will tell you. This is an Unknown Hero who comes in and saves the day. It’s a terrible plot move on the part of a writer. They say not to do it. Audiences end up dissatisfied. That doesn’t matter, there was no audience. Guess what McLean did? They had a new medical student doing a rotation in psychiatry at the rinky-dink program I was in. So he was the hero who took me aside one day. This was during late afternoon. I didn’t know him. I’d only met with him and the doctor together once or twice and he’d only been there as witness. This was carefully planned, trust me. I’m trying to recall his name right now. It’ll come back to me.

He had been briefed, Possibly only partially, I’m not sure. Did they tell him, “She was damaged by ECT and we need some good lying right now.” Probably not. I had the whole conversation written out somewhere. I had a tendency to do that, believe it or not.

He tried to reason with me, saying that since The Thing had been with me all my life (which was what I had finally concluded, and they were going along with it), and I had the “best possible treatment” for it there at McLean, he said….He stated, “The best possible doctors, the best possible technology, the best possible research….”

Do you hear me laughing now? Under such honest administration!

“Even the best treatment hasn’t been able to help you. You will have to accept that you will have to deal with this for the remainder of your life. Our object now is not to cure you, but to help you learn to cope with it.”

I repeat,

“Even the best treatment hasn’t been able to help you. You will have to accept that you will have to deal with this for the remainder of your life. Our object now is not to cure you, but to help you learn to cope with it.”

That statement was true to their perspective. He wasn’t referring to The Thing as I had rationalized it, nor to any sort of personality disorder they invented, but to ECT damage that they didn’t want to honestly admit. Their aim was to avoid a lawsuit, to keep me from associating the changes with the ECT, and to keep my friends and relatives (those that remained) from making this association. As far as they were concerned, my mind was a lost cause. I was a permanent basket case. I was best off put away for good.

None of that was ended up the case, eventually. The damage turned out not to be permanent. It was extremely long term, as it all lasted a year and a half, then went away.  Their lies outdid them. Now, what about this personality disorder lie? What about their claim that I couldn’t sit in a roomful of people? And yet I had functioned fine in the classroom. With my memory coming back, it seemed that this “personality disorder” hadn’t been present before, nor had this “dissociation,” and I hadn’t spent my whole life cutting, running from partner to partner, doing street drugs, and threatening suicide. My next therapist, without being asked, said to me that she’d never understood why “borderline” was on there, and told me that she’d had it taken off ages ago. I myself didn’t like it on record, since I knew that people with BPD diagnosis were treated terribly in medical and psych situations across the board. Some Boston area facilities still had it on record and some didn’t, but for the most part, it was eradicated.

I believe the most permanent damage was to the cohesiveness of my family. My family was outright lied to. They were told things about me to cover McLean’s ass that simply weren’t true.  This was done through my mother, after my father died. She was taken aside while she was still grieving, and told that her daughter had a dangerous personality disorder. She was told she’d better detach from me, and to instruct my brothers to do likewise.

Imagine that. You lose your beloved husband to this thing called cancer, now, your daughter. My poor mother. I know her. Do you know my mother? I know her darned well. This bit of information, which was a lie, went in one ear and out the other. Clear and pure, in one, out the other, untouched. My mom most likely kept up that smile of hers, nodding and acting like she heard and understood everything. She did, but knew it was meshugana.

DSM lies, sure, it’s all meshugana. My mom knew me, she had faith in me and so did my dad. I was me.  I wasn’t a diagnosis. She was an artist, my dad was a scientist, so we kids were half-breeds, were we not? They say mixing the genes is a good idea. The scientist part of people’s brains can wreak havoc. The DSM lie went through my mom untouched and unbelieved, but sadly, I suspect my brothers decided to heed the warning. I haven’t heard much from either of them since 1997.

For decades, I wondered why the heck I didn’t have family. It really wasn’t until recently that I was able to put two and two together. I was often accused by people who had never met me, never knew much about me, saying, “You must have done something horrible for them to barely speak to you….” However, I haven’t done a thing! I never did nor said anything, nor was an asshole, nor acted badly, nor did anything wrong, nor (I hope) embarrassed them so badly as to give them reason to excommunicate me in such a manner. My family consists of wonderful, well-intentioned people who only want good things. They are good boys I raised myself. I taught them to speak and to read and to play baseball. I taught them to say hello when they pick up the phone and to pay a penny for candy. I helped them with Halloween costumes and played pretend with them. We played all sorts of games. I defended them when we all got yelled at. I taught them how to get away with skipping school if they really thought they had to.

I know I didn’t do anything to warrant being given the cold shoulder, to explain away years of silence, coldness, and noncommunication. I hadn’t done anything! And yet a lot of the time, I was treated like “Julie the asshole,” or, “Julie who really should be kept at ta distance” and I didn’t know why. I hadn’t been irresponsible, hadn’t, say, gotten drunk and acted disrespectful in their presence. I hadn’t been verbally abusive. I hadn’t been violent. In fact, there had been no chance for any of that to occur, since there had been ZERO contact.  It’s like believing a rumor about someone that you have never met. I even asked, but received no response. I was never given a chance. I can only guess that the phony diagnosis was believed, and that to this day, they are keeping their distance, believing in this fabricated “dangerousness.”

This is how stories get twisted around. When you don’t know, when you are deprived of all the information, either because someone doesn’t want you to know, or the information isn’t available, what can you do but to compensate just to survive? Perhaps my brothers only wanted to protect themselves and their families from this perceived “danger.” It saddens me that they only deprived themselves and their kids. And me, too. I don’t believe they really wanted to believe the lie in the first place, and honestly, I doubt anyone did.