Devastating consequences of diagnosis

As I watched this, childhood memories floated back to me. I had many imaginary playmates who stayed with me even when I was nine or ten. Did you? I doubt I had 200, but this little girl is cursed with a diagnosis, so of course she won’t let go of her pals. If you watch to the end, the parents give us a clue into why this has become not only exaggerated, but permanent. “It never goes away,” they say.


I believe that’s what they want, deep down inside. Any of you who have taken a childhood development class know that having imaginary playmates is very normal for children. Children often converse with their pals, and it’s not unusual to have many such playmates. I’m thinking it’s likely most common among children born first, since there are no siblings initially. My mom told me I was very easy to raise because I could play alone so well and was great at amusing myself. She said I could go on and on for hours, yapping away in my room.

That sure wasn’t schizophrenia. It was Mom realizing I was a well-developing child. Later, I loved to read fairy tales. These days I can keep myself amused just fine, with or without external structure. I can’t recall being bored for years, likely a full decade.

The ability to self-amuse is a skill, not a disease!

The child’s rejection of Oprah is understandable. Imagine how many shrinks have insisted she “talk” instead of what kids want to do…play.

Do you really see psychosis in this child, or normal childhood stuff? Clearly, making this into a disease has caused exaggeration of problem behavior. People who are psychotic are in some way irrational. Their stories might seem believable at first but you can see, eventually, that they don’t add up. The person might explain about an encounter with aliens, or involvement with top levels of government, etc.

There’s a wonderful story about peer respite staff who make a point of meeting the psychotic person where they are at. The person was frantic over an alien invasion at a certain time and place. The staff took this very seriously instead of trying to “treat” the person or push the person into accepting some fake illness. Instead, the person and the staff went to that place, at that time, and waited for the aliens. They did not come.

I love that story. This wasn’t done to shame the person or to “prove” him wrong. This was done to honor him. You won’t see this happening anywhere in traditional MH “treatment.” The guy would have been locked up and drugged, solving nothing.

The child’s imaginary playmates are perpetuated by diagnosis. She gets attention when she highlights her pals. Note again the end of the film. The parents pay attention to her because her “symptoms” overwhelm her when they don’t. Poof! She knows how to play this game. Sadly, the reinforcement of game-playing inevitably ends up in disaster.

The YouTube was published last year. I wonder if we’ll get an update. Note the comments also.

Narcissistic abuse, done by a therapist. This is what it is like

Maria Mellano was manipulative from the very first session. The first session was supposed to be “Meet and Greet” but it wasn’t. She did psychodrama on me, trying her best to pull at my emotional heartstrings. Looking back, this was likely the best session I had with Maria, even though it really wasn’t supposed to be emotionally heart-wrenching. It all went downhill from there, although I recall telling my previous therapist that I liked Maria and was okay with being transferred to her. Oh, I wish I had known then what I later learned!

I was convinced that whatever Maria was going to do, it would be curative. After all, she had brought me to tears on the first session, inappropriately so, but that’s what she did. Just the fact that a therapist can get you to cry does not mean the therapist is good, or that the therapist even knows what she is doing.

During the second session, she laid on the heavy manipulation. She told me she questioned whether I was ready for her “therapy.” This led to my wanting to prove to her that I was. I wish I had just let her conclude that I was a bad patient and let her kick me out, or agreed with her and left for good. Unfortunately, I took up the challenge she presented to me. I wish I had not.

I think she knew what the result would be. She knew I am a high achiever. That in itself isn’t a mental illness, by the way. I happened to like school, liked studying, and as a student I was well organized.

A big part of my clinging to Maria Mellano was terror of not having a therapist. I had been well-trained by the mental health system to believe that I couldn’t live without one. This was false, but it would take years before I figured it out.

Even worse, my psychiatrist, Dr. Kimberly Pearson started praising Maria right away. I think she was taken by Maria’s supposed specialization in eating disorders. I felt that my previous therapist, whom I do not name to protect privacy, was much better, although she didn’t have the credentials that Maria had.

I believe Maria Mellano picked eating disorders for a reason. You can get the patients to show up twice a week. You can enjoy controlling every part of their lives. I believe one of her patients came four times a week. She also took a patient to lunch, which is shady and unprofessional.

My appointment was at 1pm. Since I had a long commute, I usually ate lunch in Maria’s waiting room. She did not usually pry into what I had had, but occasionally, she did. One day, I brought in baby food. It was on sale at the local CVS, for one thing. Secondly, I wanted the jar. Those jars are useful for so many things, notably spices. It’s worth it to purchase the baby food just for the jar.

I felt that I needed to explain myself, so I did. She got very huffy with me, claiming I was “manipulative.” I have no clue, to this day, how explaining the practical reasons for buying baby food was “manipulative.” I think she was projecting.

After eating I usually went to the bathroom, which was a cubby off the main waiting room. Since I have diabetes insipidus I usually have to pee frequently. I also wanted to wash my hands.

I established early on that I did not vomit. I never did. After eight horrible months of therapy with Maria Mellano, one day after I came into her office, she said, “I see you kept your lunch in this time.”

I was shocked. I suddenly realized that she never believed me to begin with. I said, “I told you I do not vomit and I was telling the truth.”

Maria said to me, “Anorexics are all sneaky liars.”

Now what? I couldn’t tell her anything. I was an automatic liar in her eyes. It was damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

I didn’t know what to do about the forced weigh-ins. How much water should I drink beforehand? I tried a little experiment. One day, I drank very little water ahead of time. The doctor said I was dehydrated and told Maria! Then, I tried drinking the usual amount, the amount my body needs, and I was accused of “water loading.” Damned if you do, damned if…..

That’s how my life was seeing Maria. One time, I was ten minutes late due to a delay on the subway. When I arrived she was already on the phone with the cops!

One time, I was in the library studying. I happened to be in a study room since the library was often overly air conditioned and that study room was a little bit warmer. Had I not been there, I would have put my phone in Airplane mode. All the sudden, it rang. Should I answer in the library? I did.

“Where are you.” It was her.

“What? I didn’t think I had an appointment now.”

“You didn’t. I just called the police on you and they went to your apartment and you weren’t there.”

Like I’m obligated to be home all the time to appease the cops…..

She reiterated, “Where are you?”

“I’m at the library.” Should I admit this?

“They couldn’t find you at home, so they left.”

So was it safe to go home, or would I get the raid again? I went home and nothing terrible happened. One more sectioning, avoided.

I have no clue how she thought she could get me into the state hospital. She didn’t seem to have a particular state hospital in mind, interestingly. I am not sure when it was that they assigned CBFS to me, likely 2011, but Maria admitted to me that having a person on CBFS makes it easier to put them in a state hospital.

Just prior to MGH, I was put in Boston Medical Center’s ER. This is the worst ER in the city. For three days I was held there. I got no treatment and they didn’t even give me my “meds.” The guards watching over us were not medical professionals. They barely knew how to take blood pressure. They were there to police us.

While there, I refused to go to Walden. Maria called me up and said she would fire me if I refused. I still refused so she fired me.

The day I got out of there my pulse was 45. I knew something was drastically wrong, and it wasn’t all in my head, either.

Now, after Maria had fired me, one day a few days after BMC, I got a call from Maria. She wanted me to come in.

This is typical narcissist behavior. I love you. I hate you. She lured me back, and I immediately regretted it. They put me in MGH. Afterward, I ended up in Walden. I knew the problem was trauma, but they had other ideas.

They couldn’t get me into State in September of 2011. I never figured out the logic in what they were doing. I knew that Dr. David Brendel, who ran the “unit” I was on, was on a power trip. Was he responsible for trying to get me into State, or was Maria behind it? Was MGH administration behind it? (Brendel was later convicted of sexually abusing a patient.)

Maria’s tactic when it came to the MGH incident was to gaslight me. She first said, “The unit you were on in MGH does not exist. You are psychotic.”

It has, indeed, been tough to get anyone at all to believe that there’s an inner unit on Blake 11. I can’t seem to get the architectural plans of the floor to prove it. For the most part, patients that were on that floor didn’t know that there was a separate unit beyond the double swinging doors. Most assumed it was a “staff” area. This made things tough for me. I was accused of psychosis by fellow patients, and now, Maria.

I think they were well aware that the water deprivation worsened my kidney disease. I have enough blood tests that show significant enough lowering of kidney functioning afterward. I wish I could sue, not for the money, but to expose them for their idiocy.

When Maria tried to convince me I was imagining the whole thing, I stuck to my guns. I told her over and over that I was well aware that the unit exists. That tactic to silence me hadn’t worked. That’s when she started in on the State hospital threat. Between the fall of 2011 and the following March when I quit her finally, she threatened me during every session.

Maria never lost an opportunity to accuse me of lying. She even tried to coerce me into admitting I vomited. I put my foot down finally. I even told her it was abuse to continue to accuse me like that.

When it came to drinking water, this woman was a trip. She told me I water-loaded. She then told me I deliberately restricted water as a form of self-harm. She then said I drank too much as a form of self-harm. She said the edema came from water-loading. Neither she nor Dr. Pearson admitted to me that I had kidney disease which caused the edema in the first place.

I couldn’t win with this woman. In fact, I was sinking below the water. What could I do? Maria was making me want to kill myself. I wasn’t sure if I could find another therapist. I decided to take the plunge. I told her I was quitting, right after a hospitalization in Walden in February 2012.

She tried to win me back, but I insisted.

You can read about what happens after narcissism. It is not easy. Therapy is addicting but so is being in a relationship with a narcissist. I was in very bad shape that spring and fall. That summer, in July of 2012, I planned, but did not execute, a suicide. I believe this was due to Maria’s abuse, but it was also due to the antidepressant Imipramine.

Now, some seven years later, I’m pretty much over it. I’d say even a year or two ago I still got very much on the defensive around certain types of interactions. A year or two after I quit Maria I found a public post she’d made on Facebook, saying her mother had been controlling and abusive.

That kinda explains it, doesn’t it? She was taking out all her childhood fears and frustrations on her patients. She really did need us, didn’t she? I hate you I love you…..

Maria Mellano shouldn’t be a therapist. Thankfully, my reviews of her are still up there. She tried to counteract by getting her addicted patients to post glowing reviews. I don’t think it totally worked. Hopefully, they’ve gotten away by now.

I have communicated with some of her ex-patients who tell me about the same thing, that Maria ruined their lives, etc.

If you know this therapist or have had experiences with her, please post comments here. I’d love to collect stories.

My review of Depression Hates a Moving Target by Nita Sweeney

This review is going to be a bit different because of my survivor viewpoint. I figure most of my readers are also psychiatric survivors which is why I am going this route.

The purpose of writing is to bring the reader from Point A to Point B. This means wherever you’re at, if you read the work, you will be transformed in some fashion. For me, reading the book Depression Hates a Moving Target was a transforming experience.

Memoir presents the added challenge, for the writer, to illustrate how the book’s protagonist, the self, also moved from Point A to Point B, and it should be written in a way that others can relate.

I admit I have some biases, and biases are part of who we are as human beings. Bias cannot be avoided. That said, I am proud to say I know Nita. We went to graduate school together. She was in a class ahead of me. We didn’t talk that much, but I do recall admiring her. I was amazed that she had studied with Natalie Goldberg, and also, ran her own writing club in Ohio. I figured I sure couldn’t do that! I recall one particular conversation we had near the end of my grad school experience when we rode the bus together to Port Townsend, Washington.

To me, it really means a lot when a person shares that they had a mental health experience. Nita said she was a recovering alcoholic and also a survivor of an eating disorder. She told me she “used to be really depressed.”

Even back then, I noticed something about her. She was wildly underconfident considering her amazing accomplishments. I noticed the way her voice trailed off at the ends of sentences. She also habitually added qualifiers, such as “I don’t know,” or “I suppose.” It was almost like she was sabotaging herself. But why?

It turned out that what she had told me wasn’t quite true. The “used to be depressed” part. She was still depressed.

It was after graduate school that Nita took up running. Her book is about the most honestly written Couch to 5k story I have ever read. Except there’s one hitch: She started running when she was over 50. And she didn’t just run 5k. You’ll have to read the book to find out.

I recommend this book to the survivor community, but not for the usual reasons. This isn’t a book that bashes psychiatry and the DSM. This isn’t a book about getting off meds. It is, though, a book about the value of exercise.

I suspect that many of you out there don’t exercise enough, although I know some of you do. I’m not trying to shove running in your faces, either, although, as you may know, I’m biased toward it.

Can running cure depression? I’d say it can. I have known people who refused drugs and therapy and took up running instead, with much success. Running is a great form of meditation, also. In my opinion, it’s the best form, because while you are running you are doing something useful instead of just sitting and saying some nonsense word such as “Om.” For those of us with health conditions (like me), running literally keeps us alive.

This book, Depression Hates a Moving Target, illustrates how Nita went from over-the-top underconfident and prone to catastrophizing to strong and self-assured.  She credits this to running, and shows you just how this happened.

Some of the catastrophizing is truly amusing, too. She worried that she’d get into a car accident or catch a horrible disease right before the race.  These musings were so funny to me that I laughed out loud (and at the time I happened to be in public).

Another thing I observed were the self-deprecating remarks. I had observed this in Nita when she was in graduate school as well.  This commentary gets very funny at times, for instance, when she tells herself she should give up running because she’s “too fat.”

However, what I noticed, and you may, too, is that this catastrophizing and self-deprecation slowly and gradually diminished as the book progressed. Isn’t that cool?

I love reading about a non-meds way that a person beats depression. Anything beside the usual psychiatric recommendation “meds and therapy” makes me very happy. Through running, Nita was able to reduce the number of “meds” she took from six to three, and all these doses were significantly lowered. Clearly, Nita has had exposure to those of us who aren’t fond of pharma, as when she states that she still needs “meds,” she says this almost apologetically.

I want to ask the survivor community to set aside your opinion about diagnoses. Nita does use disease-words a lot, and we do not. However, we must realize that most of society does think that depression is a disease. We know better, but the logic behind our knowledge is not well known. We cannot expect everyone to stop using disease names when the media and psychiatry continue to push the DSM ad nauseum.

This book taught me to open my eyes to the fact that most people still use this vocabulary. Most who were diagnosed “bipolar” will also call normal highs and lows “symptoms” even though highs and lows are normal to the human condition and the rest of us won’t use these words. I see examples throughout the book, notably feeling high while running or after a major accomplishment. Likewise, a few days after the accomplishment high has worn off, people tend to crash. Many out there don’t realize this isn’t a symptom.

In my opinion, we, as a survivor community, need to be more open to this popular, though erroneous, point of view. People are trained to believe these things, and if we are going to be successful as a movement, we must be inclusive (or a little bit so) of the mainstream folks who very well may join us in the future.

Depression Hates a Moving Target is a moving story that I think anyone (especially us runners!) can relate to. The book was a reminder to me that people are at different points in their lives.

Nita adds that her mental health services have been excellent, but also recognizes that for many of us, it’s crap. It’s at least crap. It’s a human rights violation. I remember, though, when I had what I believed was decent mental health care. This kept me coming back for years, sadly. I suspect what happens eventually to many of us is that the “services” go from great to mediocre to downright horrifying. That is when we get turned off. Some people just aren’t at that point yet.

Are we all coming out? Are we all moving toward liberation from the mental health world, at whatever stage we’re at?

You can read in this book how Nita came to the realization that the usual “therapy and meds” isn’t the only answer. Running was so curative for her that her whole life was transformed. That, to me, is huge. We need to respect that and not expect people to become totally liberated from psychiatry and the DSM overnight, and we must be careful about not pressuring people too much (coercion is a no-no, right?). The value of running, illustrated beautifully in this book, is something we need to start paying attention to as well.

Nita especially loves running with her dogs. I love the way she portrays her two dogs, Mr. Dawg and Morgan. I think you will, too. Again, the power of pets is something we don’t talk about enough in our movement. I know from experience that running with a dog adds something very special to my run. I think you will find the same thing.

Black Box Warning: If you read this book you might be inspired to take up running.

Here is the link to the book: The cost for both Kindle and paperback is just over $12. The publisher is Mango Publishing.


I will likely not see the kidney doctor whom I saw last week. The reason is that he was dismissive of natural medicine, although he acknowledged that I “do everything right” and that when I figured out, totally on my own, that what looked like a panic attack was actually respiratory acidosis, and figure out the solution, I had done his work for him.

When I told him I do natural medicine for the acidosis rather than taking baking soda, he tried to discourage me from this, his reasoning being that natural medicine is more expensive. Actually, it isn’t.

Taking baking soda is relatively safe for me. I do not process the sodium in it as sodium. If I did, I’d be in trouble. He said that baking soda does not have much sodium in it. Actually, that is not correct, but since my body doesn’t see it as sodium I am safe in that respect. However, the bicarbonate in it is a worry. He told me the bicarbonate level can get too high and they’d have to monitor it. So why should I take it, when natural medicine has a safer solution for me?

I did not take the baking soda as he had instructed. Instead, I take the natural medicine solution, which enables me to run without huffing and puffing. I know I can’t tell him I have disobeyed him.

Also, I really couldn’t get a word in. He continuously interrupted me. Interrupting once or twice is okay. This wasn’t just the normal overlapping of conversation that is the usual way humans talk. He wouldn’t even let me finish half my sentences.

He also did not read the form I filled out, that was required prior to the appointment. I had no chance to ask questions, either, or bring up the insomnia that has plagued me for years.

Had I learned something valuable at this appointment it would have been worth the money I paid for it. Sadly, it was a waste of money. I felt that I was doing this just so, if anyone asked, I could claim I do see a kidney doc. For the record.

His nurse is super nice, extremely courteous, too. I am very impressed with her. Had I not instantly liked her from the moment that she called me to schedule the appointment, I very well may have skipped it altogether.

Maybe when it comes closer to the time of the appointment, I should cancel. A method I have of weaseling out of appointments is to tell them I have to work and then when they tell me to reschedule, suddenly inform them that I cannot access my schedule. In the past, I have claimed that I was out on a bus, and that I did not have my schedule book with me, or that I didn’t write down my hours and will need to find out when I have to work. Way back when, I told the scheduler I had a funeral to attend. That always works!

Of course, I could tell this nurse the real reason I do not wish to return to any more appointments. I could say I am hoping to find someone more open to natural medicine methods, and leave it at that.

Four miles

I am so happy. My ankle is back to par. I ran four miles Tuesday and Wednesday morning, both times outdoors. I truly love these morning runs.

I have been working on the acidosis. As far as I can tell, I have totally fixed it…with natural medicine!

My sleep has improved, but last night I did not sleep and I am dreading going on the bus today. It is a struggle to stay awake when I have had so little sleep. There have been days that I have nodded off at work, even while speaking to customers. These mini-sleeps cause me to miss what they are saying and I have to ask them to repeat themselves. There are days that I am so sleepy I am forced to lie down in the middle of the shift, or between shifts. Ten minutes of sleep will do wonders for me. If I still can’t sleep, just lying down for ten minutes helps. I am concerned that this will affect me on my job, my other job that starts in a month or so, because I will be outside of my home all day long. I will not have a place to lie down. I know now that this insomnia is caused by kidney disease. Most who are this far advanced take “meds” for sleep. I found out that with advanced kidney disease a person can no longer make melatonin. I’m not sure if the issue has to do with the melatonin receptors or with the glands that produce the hormone, or both.