Writing as Addiction

Tilting The Thing (1998)

Breakdown Lane, Traveled: An Anthology of Writings on Madness (2002)

This Hunger Is Secret: My Journeys Through Mental Illness and Wellness (2010)

Summer in November (2009)

I am So Cold, and Hungry in My Soul (2010)

Julie Greene’s Blog (forever)

Addicting?  What do you think?


Julie Greene
MFA in Creative Writing
Goddard College
Class of 2009

PS:  Yes, I have been sitting here writing a lot today.  I will not apologize.  Yes, I have been ranting a lot today.  I will not apologize.  Yes, I have been crying today.  I will not apologize for having feelings and feeling them in my heart.

I will not apologize.  I deserve to take up space in the universe.  If I bump into you now and then, consider our souls to have touched.

The Knife of Loneliness

It’s frustrating
Not to be able to share
With any human that I know
Inner hunger, laughter, depression,
Shame, and yes–also–

Because most do not know my sadness
So they do not know me.

They do not understand
What I want to tell them
What it means
Why it is important.

Either that or there is this inaccessibility–
This understanding–just out of reach….
No, I cannot call you
No, I cannot share this with you.

My feelings!  My feelings!
They are so big and wide
They do not fit in the box
They do not fit in this room
They do not fit in the ocean.

You see, you cannot know joy
Unless you have experienced deep sadness
And you will know it is joy
Only when joy comes through back door
Opens the door wide
And then, instead of slamming the door shut
Leaves a little breeze to pass through.

So I sit with the phone in my hand
With this knowledge I cannot share
It isn’t so much the content that hurts
It’s that I can’t share it
I am in desperately alone with this
And this knife of loneliness makes up most
Of the feelings that overflow the box.

Or–on the other hand–
Maybe I’m not ready yet
To share anything–anything at all
Maybe I just need to sit with this
And feel
And not feel
And feel
And not feel
Maybe I’m not ready to share yet
Or maybe the moment
Isn’t right.

My meal

I got hungry
So I ate
I have not been hungry in a long, long time
I ate a meal–
Protein, fruit, veggie, fat, dairy–
(I did not have the patience to cook a grain)–
And seasoned the protein/veggie/fat mixture
It was very good.

And although
The quantities were very, very small
And although
You would say
“That doesn’t count!
It’s not enough!
That’s not a meal!”
I say, it’s a meal.

The point is
I felt more or less okay about it
The point is
I did not feel fat afterward
Or overstuffed
Or bloated
Or angry at the world
That I had eaten it
The point is
I did not feel
Like I had ruined my body
Or contaminated myself
Or needed to poison myself
With more and more
And mostly
The point is
I ate it
And savored it.

And now
With tears in my eyes
Let me say to you
This means more to me
Than anything my brain or body
Can accomplish
Because it was done
With conviction
And will
And determination
From a place deep, deep, deep
In my soul.

The McLean Papers – January 10, 2011


Questions for Dr G:

1) I question the social worker’s role in my care
note: She barely recognized my T’s name, when I mentioned it
She barely knew who Frank is
I was shocked.  What the fuck?  Enough said.

2) What is the plan?
Is there a plan?
As far as I am concerned, Dr S’s plan [he was my Dr for the first week I was there] was “wait and see.”
As far as I am concerned, Dr S’s plan was “the passage of time will cure her.”
Well, this is bullshit.

3) When I met with my day shift person, I learned a new word: goals.  That is, my goals.  That is, our goals.  That is, taking action.  Because without action, no one’s goals can be met.

4) I am going to be assertive regarding my care from now on.  I have a 30-year history–yes, 30 years–of going with the flow.  Well, no more.  I have been hospitalized over 50 times and can count the number of times that I have been assertive and not been laughed at and not had it seen as a component of my illness or had it not taken seriously.  I can count the number of times that a hospitalization has actually been of tremendous help. [This time, obviously, was not one of those times.]

5) What I need: Help with bad depression.  Help with bingeing.  This combination, as my T points out, is intertwined.  This combination is fatal.

6) The only thing that has ever helped me with bingeing has been medication.  I beg of you to respond to this problem.  The medication–the right medication–will completely eradicate bingeing.  [This did turn out to be the case when Dr G added Trileptal a few days later.]  The two medications that have done this are Lithium in 1984 and Topamax in 2006.  Both were also immensely helpful with depression.  Both took effect almost immediately.  NO one believed me and said it was impossible for this to happen (especially in 1984) which was incredibly hurtful because when a miracle happens, it is a crime to deny the blessed one that it took place.

7) Lithium stopped working in 1987 with the addition of Nortryptyline.  Many medications cause bingeing for me [typically, antidepressants and a couple of antipsychotics].  I don’t know why the Topamax stopped working but I am absolutely devastated that my life has turned into this nightmare.

8. I had the binge-urge twice Friday and three times Sunday.  This is actually a blessing when you think about it.  I did not act on the urge at all.  This does not mean that I can control it.  I can’t.

9) I have not been depressed for this long in ages.  As you know, I have rapid cycling and it never sticks around like this.  It feels like it will last forever and I am incredibly concerned.  My two supports, Frank and Lori, have been very worried, and I don’t like worrying them.

10) Thanks.


Laptop Crash

My laptop crashed yesterday–what does this mean?  Does it symbolize the ending of something?  I think so.

It could simply mean that my laptop crashed and I need to shell out a bit of dough–hopefully not much–to get it repaired.

But consider this….I can no longer access the full form of Windows.  I can no longer see out.  I have the shades drawn.  No one can see in, either.

I get the Blue Screen of Death when I awaken, and I can’t get out of it, even if I try to restore.  Yet I can boot up into Safe Mode.

It used to happen just about every time I updated my operating system, made a change deep, deep into my configuration, bringing it up to present time.  Now, I am broken.

These updates come from Someone Other Than Myself.

It used to happen when I removed the battery, when I cut the energy source.  Now, I am broken.

There is a good possibility that it is a hardware problem, a physical problem, a defect of the body.

I know the problem is not an infection.  I may be cold, but not infected.

I have a good, long-living battery.  Constitutionally sound.  Amazing resilience.  Two batteries, in fact.  I was lucky.  I used to run far on a good day.

And hopefully, hopefully, I can get fixed.

A bit of anger left out of the box?

Maybe I relished in the anger.  Maybe I enjoyed it–a little.  Am I still feeling it?

Well, I do feel sorry that it is possible that what I did last night may–or may not–have been a consequence of the remainder of the anger.

Yet, I do not feel any anger.  Not the least bit.  I feel as though I neatly and efficiently put all of it into the box.

I was, actually, very neat and efficient about everything yesterday.  It was part of feeling myself again.  I vacuumed the floor and took out the unbelievable amount of trash that had piled up over a period of…was it weeks?  All the trash.  Not just the large kitchen bag.  The empty boxes, the one by my desk, and the two little ones as well.

Good for me.

I felt myself again after, over a period of a mere two hours or so, I felt the binge-urge drain out of my body.  I felt it leave through my feet and spill onto the floor.  It seeped through the parquet floor and out of my life.  I rejoiced.  I rejoiced for a long time.  I rejoiced into the night.  So maybe I was so distracted by this joy that I forgot my bedtime meds.

Or was it a teensy bit of anger?  Naw.  Naw.  I do forget my bedtime meds now and then.  Puzzle reminds me to take them at 7:30; however, I no longer take them at that time.  At bedtime, I was too busy rejoicing.  I was too busy being excited that I was free!  Free!  Free at last!

And, incidentally, I saw no reason to stay up into the wee hours, though I could have.  My day was done at 11.  I felt full and satisfied.  Satisfied?  Yeah.

This morning, I awoke, a bit early, with heaviness.  Of course, this could be for any reason.  There were too many factors.  I checked my med container to make absolutely certain that I hadn’t put the Effexor into it by accident.  But it was then that I realized my mistake.  It was early.  I phoned the pharmacy.  Long story short: I did what the pharmacist told me.  Pharmacists are smart.

I will allow the heaviness to cover my body now.  I will cry, just a little, remembering yesterday.


Off Effexor: Day One

Without the binge-urge, I am free.
Free!  Free!  Free!
No longer enslaved to a craving so cruel
That it would take my life
Along with it
Even if I didn’t die
It would have all of me
In its grips
And life
Would have been as useless
As crushed chewing gum
On the pavement
Left there to die
By some careless boy
Who didn’t bother to wrap it
And carefully toss it
In the trash
No longer of use to anyone
The gum would just sit there
And get stepped on
Until ultimately the road
Got chopped up in construction
As inevitably all roads do.

Free!  Free! Free!
Now, I have saliva
No more dry mouth
Yet the antidepressant effects
Have not yet worn off
I can say that I feel truly myself
Which is rare these days.

I felt myself in the hospital
A couple of times
An afternoon here and there
It didn’t last long
And I don’t expect this will, either,
Cuz I know
I have a long way to go.

Things I’ve noticed over the past 24 hours

February 12, 2011


This whole Effexor ordeal, and subsequent decision, has sparked feelings in me, mostly feelings of anger.  I have misdirected this at Dr. P.  Why?  When it comes to medication, I always direct my anger toward Dr. P.  She is the symbol of my medication woes. The decision to add Effexor to the mix was mostly mine, knowing that in the past, Effexor has caused bingeing.

(Why did I make this decision?  In 1998, adding Effexor was beneficial because it ridded me of The Thing.  Yes, it suddenly caused bingeing, but this occurred perhaps once every other week, and I noticed that bingeing happened when I did too much cooking in large quantity (a pan of lasagna, for instance).  I had no clue that Effexor was the cause.  I tried eliminating my ambitious kitchen habits but the bingeing persisted, still once every two or three weeks, sometimes twice a week.  I told no one, until one day, a year later, it all came out in therapy.  I bawled for the entire session.  Once the Effexor was raised, I was bingeing perhaps three times a week, or more.  Of course, I had no tolerance for this.  My doctor continued to raise the Effexor.  I never slept a full night’s sleep, and was always exhausted.  I switched doctors.  The next doctor immediately took me off Effexor.  I had no problem with withdrawal.  I began to sleep again, and the bingeing stopped.   It was since then that I noticed the pattern: Antidepressants, frequently used to treat the binge/purge syndrome, actually cause the problem for me.  I simply can’t take them.)

So it was entirely my fault that I chose, while in the hospital in January, to try Effexor again.  I am now stopping it, without Dr. P’s consent, because of my recent suffering with bingeing, which, as far as I am concerned, is deadly due to suicide risk. I already think about dying enough.  Thoughts are one thing.  I don’t need a reason to actually take action in that direction.  I must stop Effexor immediately.  It is bad enough that I have It.  I don’t need my precious wee hours ruined by this Hell.

My feelings?  Anger.  Why, one may ask, aren’t I putting the anger in the box?  How am I able to tolerate this anger?  Do I enjoy feeling it?  Does it help motivate me?  Does it help me feel…just a little…alive again?

Yesterday, I was motivated–yes, motivated–and almost traveled by bus to the Mouthful reading in Central Square, prepared to do a five-minute reading, and then It overtook me.  What feelings drove this motivation?  Hope, perhaps?  Hope is not a feeling, nor is self-confidence.  I recall, sadly, a time when The Thing had a very strong grip on me, I signed up for private music composition lessons at Longy School of Music, paid for them, and didn’t attend a single lesson!  Of course, I had no mental capability or cognitive ability to compose music at that time, because of The Thing.  It had been years since I had touched a piece of music composition paper.  What was I thinking?

Could this feeling of confidence in self be due to the Effexor finally helping me?  Could this presence of feelings–that I am actually tolerating without putting in the box–be from the Effexor?  Could this presence of feelings be something I actually cannot tolerate?  Could I now be experiencing feelings that feel good, and feelings that feel bad?  Am I perhaps not ready for this?  Am I numbing all this out by bingeing?

NO, NO NO NO NO.  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  I do not buy this theory.  The binge-urge is the binge-urge.  Medications cause it, and medications take it away.  I have had 30+ years’ experience with this illness as it applies to me.

I WILL NOT ACCEPT THIS “TRADEOFF.”  Let us just say I had an allergic reaction to Effexor and had to get off of it immediately.  Surely, there is something else that will help me that we can try.

I will put my anger, misdirected at Dr. P, into the box now, and let her work her magic.

“Sick as a Dog”…and how often are dogs actually sick?

What a weird expression. Sick as a dog.

Yep, I’m sick today.  Four days in a row of bingeing really did it to me.  And I did double-check my records.  I was totally right.  The bingeing did start about ten days after starting the Effexor.  I first noticed effects from the medication about eight days after starting it.  So it would just figure.

I have been through Bingeing Hell the past few days, trust me.  This is very difficult for me to admit.  I have woken up with a full belly and felt the urge to binge first thing in the morning, even–but for some reason, was able to stop myself at that time.  Other times, I wasn’t so lucky.

The worst–well, one of the worst–was when some cashier made repeated rude remarks to me hinting that he knew EXACTLY WHO I WAS AND WHAT I WAS UP TO.  I am not the type to smack people, but at that moment, I wished that I was that sort of person.  Actually, I wished, for a split second, that I had a gun and knew how to use it.  But guns and smacking aside, why don’t cashiers keep their comments off people’s food?  Especially in convenience stores, when the skinny, desperate customer is buying the largest size ice cream late at night?

So today I am sick.  Running to the bathroom every few minutes since 4:30 in the morning and glad to be getting off the culprit, Effexor, that is causing all this misery.  Glad to be proactive and taking action.  And not glad that I think the Effexor had some positive benefit for me that I’ll have to let go.

It is not worth it, Dr P.  Bingeing Hell will send me into the worst pit of depression imaginable.  There is no such thing as “bingeing and happy.”  This is a big fat contradiction.  “Bingeing Hell”–does that sound like happiness to you, Dr P?  Does it?

So I left a message for her.  She’s not going to like this.  I concluded by saying something like, “You’ve got to consider my quality of life.”  I wish I had put it a bit more strongly than that.

The Effexor should be out of my system in two to five days.  Completely.  Then, I probably won’t be bingeing anymore.  Let’s hope.