Here’s more proof

Hi folks, I thought I’d provide more proof that my apartment is clean:

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This is a view of my living room, now cleared out.  Note that the floor is clean but I’ve left the dog toys intact.  I’ve been sleeping on the couch lately because that is what QB preferred.   The couch is covered with all kinds of crocheting that I did.  Of course you can see the stability ball and weights.  The ugly box on top of the bookcase is actually filled with bicycle stuff.  I plan to get a plastic tote box instead–looks much neater.  Most of the artwork is mine except for the parrot, which was stitched by a friend of my grandmother’s, George Olsen, a sailmaker.  The faded photos are of Hoofy as a puppy.

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Here is the bedroom.  As you can see, I’ve got not one but two bikes.  One is an old (1972) Raleigh ten-speed, the other is a Burley recumbent.  When I was thinner, I was an enthusiastic bike rider, and I hope to get back to it soon!  To the left is my bed, covered with bags of clothes for charity.  Until I cleaned this place, I couldn’t walk from the “office” (where the corner desk and computer are) to the bedroom.  I had my bureau in the way.  I’ve moved the bureau so that the area is passable.

Puppy will like it.

The big cleanup

I spent all day Christmas day (sad!), the day after, and today, cleaning.  I used about 40 tall kitchen trash bags and produced about ten shopping cartfuls of trash to bring outside to the dumpster, and seven bags of clothes for charity.  I rearranged the furniture, cleaned everything including closets, and finally vacuumed.


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I challenge anyone who thinks they had a more productive Christmas. 

My plan is to get a new bookcase and some kind of rug for the center of the living room.  Where I will get the money to pay for these items is still a mystery to me.

I think “Puppy” will like the new setup.

Happy New Year.

Merry Christmas

I feel very sad today.  I miss QB!  I can’t get the sadness out of my heart, and I can hardly wait for this “holiday season” to end.  Here is a photo of my dog Hoofy, who lived from July 23, 1977 until July 3, 1987.

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I found the photo today, while cleaning out my office.  Handsome guy, isn’t he?  No, he’s not a longhair Shepherd, he’s a Belgian Tervuren!  As you can see from his facial expression, he was intelligent, alert, and sensitive.  He brightened ten years of Christmases for me.

This Christmas, I have no dog to keep me company, and life seems dismal indeed.  I’ve got the radio on, but I’d much rather hear a bark or two, or the jingling of keys indicating that my canine dude wants to go out.  I hold out my hands periodically, expecting a dog to come underneath, wanting a petting or two.  I get all kinds of junk mail from Petco, PetSmart, and other places advertising gifts I can give my dog.  What can be worse than having no dog to shower with gifts?

I have saved a fair number of toys that QB hadn’t yet played with, and some that he barely touched.  I have about three-quarters of a box of Iams Puppy Biscuits.  These will not go to waste.  They are designated for the new arrival, wherever he or she is, whenever he or she comes, and that, my friends, is my comfort.  I clean the house in anticipation of this arrival.  I weep seeing photos of Schnoodles, for that is the breed I will acquire, a Poodle/Schnauzer mix.  I revel in making up names.  (No, I will not tell you what they are, though you, dear readers, will be the first to know!)  Forgive me for being overly sentimental, but there are moments when it is completely, inarguably appropriate; this is one of those times.

Oh balls!





As part of my recent spending spree, I’ve purchased a stability ball.  For those of you who are wondering what one is, a stability ball is like a large round balloon, only sturdier, so that it can withstand the weight of any person seated upon it.  The ball is typically 65 cm in diameter, but there are also 45, 55, and 75 cm balls.  The stability ball is used for much more than sitting–it is a wonderful tool for exercise!  Lie on your stomach on the ball, reach down, and do push-ups!  Or lie with your shoulders on the floor and your calves up on the ball, body straight in a plank position and try holding that position for a half minute.  You’ll feel your core muscles strengthen after only a few such poses on the ball.  I have been using stability balls at the gym for several months, and now at home every day for about a week, and I can feel the benefits already.


But before I could work out on the stability ball, I had to pump it up.  It came in a box completely deflated and folded up, smelling brand new and rubbery.  On careful inspection I was able to find a hole in the ball.  The pump came as a round bellows accompanied by a blue shaft, both plastic.  Assembled, the pump looked like this:

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Conceivably, the contraption could have been pumped by foot, but I chose to squeeze it with my hand instead, and the round bellows, which thrust air deftly through the shaft and into the receptor ball, seemed to take pleasure in my compressions.   A definitive rhythm ensued.  To make certain that I was pumping correctly, I manipulated the shaft, gently at first, then with an up-and-down motion, smoothly, yet with urgency and excitement, because the ball was filling now, its sides glistening, round, inviting.  I felt my breath come in and out rapidly, and a feeling of warmth fill my torso.  To make sure I kept up my pumping with adequate strength–for the tension was filling me now–I held the pump between my legs, rather at my crotch, and pumped the air, my breath spilling out into sound, more–more now, more, more–until the thrusting is in me and I cannot bear it another moment, and then more and more–yes, yes, yes–


They say working out raises one’s sex drive.  I say it happens even before you start.

It’s all in your head!





True stories:


Guy D (not his real name) is treated in the emergency room at a local hospital for mania.  While getting up from a chair, Guy twists his leg and feels a sharp pain in his knee.  More concerned about impending hospital admission than a twinge in his knee, Guy ignores the sensation until he arrives, by ambulance, at the hospital where he is to be admitted and treated.  By then, his knee is significantly swollen and he experiences pain while walking.  He says to the doctor, “I think I injured my knee at the other hospital.”


The doctor responds, “What about your knee?”


“It hurts.”


The doctor, a psychiatrist, responds, “I’ll have the medical doctor look at it.  Meanwhile, I’ll give you something to get your mind off your knee, some Risperdal [an antipsychotic].  And something to help you sleep.”


The psychiatrist leaves.  Given that it’s a weekend, Guy won’t be seeing the medical doctor until Monday.  Before he turns in for the night, he shows the charge nurse his knee.  “Yes, that does look swollen,” she says.  “Why don’t you go to bed now, give it a rest.”


Later, someone from physical therapy, having gotten the word that a man in the psychiatric unit is experiencing knee pain, brings up a set of crutches.  The nurse sends the crutches back downstairs, saying that Guy “cannot be trusted with such objects.”


The medical doctor looks at Guy’s knee on Monday.  He prescribes ice packs and Ibuprofen for swelling.  He forgets to ask Guy if his knee hurts.


Again, a young fellow comes up from physical therapy with a set of crutches, and is turned away.


Three weeks later, Guy is released from the psychiatric unit.


Diagnosis: Torn meniscus, surgery required.




Diana B (not her real name) has a lengthy history of psychiatric hospitalization and drug abuse including heroin use, and is currently attending a methadone clinic.  At one time she was extremely overweight and opted for gastric stapling.  She lost a fair amount of weight afterward.  She lives with her parents who berate her for being a “failure” at life.  She has one son.


When Diana develops severe abdominal pain, she decides to go to the local emergency room.  The result is as she expected: the attending physician looks at her chart, then at her, and says, “You want painkillers, right?”


“I want treatment.”


“And you want painkillers.”


“Aren’t you going to do an x-ray, or an MRI?”


“I don’t think anything’s wrong with you.”


Diana is turned away, and her abdominal pain continues to worsen.  She chooses to go to a different emergency room, where the staff doesn’t know her, in hopes of getting medical care.  But when Diana gives a list of the medications she takes, including a lengthy list of psychiatric medications and methadone, she is turned away again.


Finally, Diana returns to the doctor who performed the gastric stapling, and asks if he can help her.  He runs some tests.


Diagnosis:  dislocated gastric staple, surgery imperative.


Diana is immediately hospitalized, in a psychiatric unit.  She undergoes surgery four months later.

Eating Disorders

As some of you may know, I have had trouble with eating disorders in the past.  Here is a very interesting article on the causes of eating disorders.  I find the biochemical aspects especially fascinating.  Not everyone is alike.  Patients are as different and varied as are the stars of the universe; don’t let “specialists” try to fit you into their molds of what they think a person with an ED is or should be.  Speak up and be active in your care.  Don’t be afraid to ask for medication if you feel you can benefit from it; I waited too long to ask and would have been better off if I had been more assertive.  If your therapist doesn’t seem right for you, ask for another.  Don’t waste your time with someone who isn’t right for you because you’ll never get that time back–time only moves forward!  You deserve the best care.  You are a good person.  You deserve the opportunity to grow. thrive, and enjoy a happy life.

I’ve been out almost nine months now….





I followed Devorah, the social worker, into the little room sometimes used for individual conferences, wondering what she had in store for me this time.  I was getting disillusioned with Devorah.  Whereas she was immensely helpful the first time I was hospitalized at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, she was running out of ideas, and I had the sense that she had either given up on me or had dismissed me as one of the “chronics,” or worse, one of the “regulars.”


We sat down.  A turned off computer sat on a desk to Devorah’s left, along with file cabinets, and a stray chair here and there made the cramped office even more uncomfortable than the situation already granted.


“Well,” said Devorah.


“Well what?”  I hooked my feet around the front legs of my chair.  Already this wasn’t sounding like something in my favor.


“Dr. R____ and I have conferred.”  Devorah produced a pen from behind an ear.




“She said–you know, Julie, therapists are only human, and they can’t be available to you one hundred percent of the time.”


“I’m aware of that.”  I let a bit of sarcasm seep into my response.


“She can’t always return your calls.”


“Of course not.”


“You seem to need–well,” she cleared her throat appropriately, “a little more support.”


Shit.  I knew what she was getting at.


“You know what I’m getting at.”


I nodded.


“Julie, not all day programs are alike.  We’ll find a good one for you.  C’mon.”  I shook my head.  “It is my–rather, our, Dr. R_____’s  and my own, recommendation.  You’ve been hospitalized a number of times over the past year.  This is not working.  You want to stay out of the hospital, don’t you?”


She didn’t understand.  Going to a day program meant being babysat at a program for six hours a day, five days a week, going to group after group with other patients who had problems similar or worse than my own.  It meant leaving QB alone by himself for at least eight hours a day, and it also meant rarely having the opportunity to work out at the gym.  It meant giving up hope of going back to graduate school in the near future, and resigning myself to possibly becoming a “lifer” in the mental health system.   I knew these things from experience.


I knew I couldn’t explain to Devorah my reasoning in a way that would make sense to her.  I didn’t fit into her mold.  I wasn’t the typical “regular” that came through the doors of her unit.  I was a writer, a graduate student; I had a life, a life I wasn’t easily going to relinquish. 


I would prove her wrong.  I could do it.  I straightened my back, holding my head upright to face Devorah.  She flinched.  I squinted at her.  “You know, I don’t need Dr. R_____ as much as the two of you think I do,” I said.  “I won’t call her anymore.  I’ll state this in a written contract.  And–”


“Okay, but–”


“I don’t need you, either,” I breathed.


“I still think you need support.”


“Support is overrated.”


I was discharged March 20, 2006 and haven’t been back.  I have survived my dog’s serious behavior problems and ultimate euthanasia.  I have survived a particularly difficult three-year anniversary of Joe’s death.  Prior to taking Topamax, I experienced severe depression, eating binges, and the torment of the Beings as well.  I have survived changing therapists and changing my outlook on dating and sexuality.  I have survived, mostly, a change in myself.


Support is overrated.  Patients get to the point where the more support they get, the more they need.  Therapists have a way of supplying just the right amount of support, giving it and taking it away, sometimes making patients dependent and even needy.  I know this; I’ve been there.  I think therapists love being needed, that is, until they are overworked and realize they’ve gone in over their heads.  Dr. R_____ didn’t set limits with me, which was her fault, not mine.  I chose to correct the situation, and doing so saved my relationship with her.  When Dr. R_____ left a couple of weeks ago for Montana, I felt our relationship was a healthy one and I had no issues with her; therefore parting with her was not as difficult as it could have been.


Looking back, yes, I am rather proud of myself for proving Devorah wrong.  I’ll be even prouder on March 20, 2007, when I’ll be able to say I’ve been out of the hospital a full year, and I have no doubts that I’ll make it to that point.  And yes, I wish I could see her now, maybe in the subway, maybe right here in the library, while I sit here at this desk, typing away, while she comes looking for some book on gardening, and upon seeing me, eyes widening, mouth forming a perfect O, I would say, quite proudly, with evenness and pride in my voice, “See, I told you so!”







While a patient at Putnam Memorial Hospital’s Special Management Unit (which had been converted into a psych unit) I, at 25, developed a crush on the charge nurse, Heide Merecki, age 43, and upon hearing about my adoration for her, Heide became quite embarrassed and flustered, saying, “I have never been in a situation like this, certainly!” 


I could think of nothing to say immediately, so I stared into her green eyes, flaked with a bit too much make-up, and then, feeling myself blush, finally blurted out, “I think you’re, you’re beautiful, and Louie, me and him–he and I, that is–call you Dragon Lady, that’s because you’re strong, and I love you, and–”


She stomped off in her inch-and-a-half heels. Hearing her heels tap on the hospital floor normally excited me.  But this time, that familiar sound brought me to tears.


“PIX 106 PIX 106 PIX 106!”  It was Louie.  “C’mon, Little Kitty, don’t cry.  Let’s smoke.  Don’t cry.”  Louie was 15 going on 7, and he was the only person that had ever called me “Little Kitty.”   I could have counted every freckle on his face, if I’d wanted.


This crush, which perhaps you could call love, with a stretch of the imagination, began to extend to all nurses, and eventually, the field of nursing in general, until finally, after I left the hospital, began taking Lithium and was somewhat recovered from my malady, I decided to apply to nursing school.  The paperwork and testing were a cinch–I placed in the 99th percentile in everything except reading speed (55th)–and I was happily accepted into the Putnam Memorial Hospital School of Practical Nursing in Bennington, Vermont for the fall term.  For the occasion, I quit smoking–in part because Heide was a passionate ex-smoker–and on the second day of school I showed up at the “unit” decked out proudly in my yellow uniform dress, to show the nurses at the Special Management Unit that I was not the loser they first saw dragged into their doors some year and a half ago.


“Well, well,” said Heide, rounding the corner of the tiny nurses’ station in the center of the unit.  The two fat LPN’s were filing their nails behind the desk.  I wanted her approval.  I wanted her to say, “You finally made it.  You overcame adversity.  You tried and succeeded.  You recovered,” and most importantly, “I’m proud of you.”


“Well, well.  One of the yellow ladies, I see.  Did you want to become like us?”  Heide gestured at the two LPN’s, whose attention had shifted to a shampoo commercial.  Their heads bobbed stupidly.  “Or did you simply want to stay here with us?”


Heide looked at her watch, then turned to one of the LPN’s.  “Pat, it’s near the end of the shift.  I need to do report.  Will you keep Ms. Greene amused while I go write my notes?”


I bolted.  I didn’t even bother to wait for the elevator; I took the stairs.  Down to the ground floor, down to freedom. 


Then I thought of Louie.  Where was he?  He was the only one who knew of my special feelings for Heide.  He alone understood.  Christ, I couldn’t even remember his last name.  I had no way of contacting him.  He could have graduated high school by now, and moved to a different town.  Or he could have been in the state juvenile prison.




After I was kicked out of nursing school, for the reason that–the school director explained, “People with mental illnesses have no place in nursing,” when she found out–I transferred my entire obsession with nurses and nursing to an obsession with smoking.  I wrote poems about cigarettes, smoked several brands at the same time, smoked clove cigarettes.  I smoked marijuana cigarettes when I could get my hands on some, and hung out with men that smoked.  I collected ashtrays of various sizes and shapes.  In one poem, I referred to smoking as “restrained pyromania.”  I refused to go any place where I wasn’t allowed to smoke, sometimes declining invitations that would have been advantageous not to pass up. 


And so I found my place in smoking.  Here was something I could do that didn’t take much effort to succeed at, that relaxed me, that reduced the symptoms of my illness somewhat, that at the time was relatively cheap.  Smoking gave me something to do with my hands and mouth.  It was a palatable accompaniment to coffee and television.  There wasn’t much to do except watch TV, drink coffee, smoke, and let my head bob stupidly, anyway.




Right now, I am sitting here at my desk in the corner of nonfiction, near the auto repair manuals and gardening books, and I hear him show some couple the books on breast-feeding, and then his voice, saying, “C’mon, Little Kitty.”


Of course.  I’m imagining things.  Who?


“Little Kitty.  I knew that would get your attention.”  He still has that toothy grin and the freckles.




“Can you stream in PIX 106 on your laptop?”  This is really happening.  I am not making this up.




“Never mind.  Hey, how are you?”


But his movements are stiff and deliberate.  Readers, I’ve been sitting in the library too long and my mind isn’t quite right.  Louie isn’t really here; he’s lost to me now, and I don’t think I’ll ever remember his last name.


He, or what I perceive as Louie, wavers, like a candle flame.  “Let’s go smoke.”


“Louie, I–”


“No, please.  I wanna show you my new Gameboy stuff.  Pretty please?  Let’s go smoke.  I got a new pack of those Marlboro 100’s that you like.”


So he’s caught up with the times, but hasn’t grown up.  “Louie.  No.  I won’t go with you.  I can’t.”  I try to lower my voice.  This is a library, after all.


“Look, I knew how you felt about Heide Merecki.”


“Shh.  You did?”


“It was wicked obvious.  A lot of things were obvious.  The way you looked nervous whenever she walked by.  The way you stared at her.  You’d blush when she talked to you.  I’d even see you sweating.  I haven’t forgotten.  You haven’t, either.  But let’s go smoke.”


“Louie, I–”


“I know.  You quit.  You quit smoking, you quit a lot of things.  You quit watching TV, you quit marijuana, you quit obsessing about nursing and sleeping with men you hardly know.”


“Yes, I quit a lot of things.  I got better and grew up, Louie.”


Louie flickers again, then turns into the library stacks, somewhere between the travel section and women’s studies, disappearing as he rounds the corner.


Dumbfounded, I type the last few words of my entry, and post it to all of you, my readers.  Heide, if you are among my readers, know that I have not forgotten you.  You were not the first woman to touch me the way you did, nor were you the last.


            ~~Little Kitty

The Thing-bearer





…for one’s lousy behavior?


This question brings me to another: Do I blame my illness or do I blame myself for my lousy behavior?


Which brings up the issue of my mother.


I am not saying she is to blame for any of this crap.  I’m just saying that when it comes to blaming, she fits right in, because she needs something or someone to blame or she’s not satisfied.


Furthermore, when I’ve gotten really, really pissed off at her, she blames the illness for my display of anger–oh no, it couldn’t have been something she did, could it?–




…for a lousy start to a blog entry?


The real question is, to what extent am I willing to take responsibility for my own actions?


And, to what extent are my actions dictated by an abnormality that most people never experience and cannot fathom, yet over which I, myself, as bearer of this abnormality, am powerless?


And, to what extent can I claim that I am only the bearer of this abnormality and that it is separate from myself?


There came a woman, sent from the Ward, whose name was Julie.
The same came for witness, that she might bear witness of The Thing, that all might believe through her.

She was not The Thing, but `came’ that she might bear witness of The Thing.

Julie beareth witness of him, and crieth, saying, “This was he of whom I said, He that cometh after me is become before me: for he was before me.  Watch out!  He is Evil!
And I confessed, and denied not; and I confessed, I am not The Thing; I am not my illness!”