About Chipmunkapublishing (my publisher)

Chipmunkapublishing is the Mental Health Publisher.  Their mental health books give a voice to writers with mental illness around the world. Most of their mental health books are written by people with mental health issues. They also give a voice to family members of people with mental health issues and other disabilities. Titles include autobiographies/memoirs, fiction, poetry, anthologies, stories written by carers, self help books, academic works and much more.

Chipmunkapublishers is a unique social enterprise focused on publishing both factual and creative literature. They  want to reduce the humiliation that people with “mental illness” feel. Chipmunkapublishers gives people with mental illness a voice so that they can have the opportunity and positive mindset to lead better lives and hopefully full recoveries. Do not let your children grow up not understanding people with mental health issues. Let’s improve society so that mental health artists can empower people with mental health issues and be equal in society. Then they can shape their future and help others.

Chipmunkapublishers works with the government, health services, the media, mental health organisations, charities and private businesses to successfully publish and promote literature that brings a positive attitude towards mental health issues. Chipmunkapublishing aims to break down the stigma on mental illness once and for all.

Chipmunkapublishing gratefully acknowledges the support of Arts Council England.

Chipmunkapublishing is creating a new genre of literature to empower the service user and break down the last taboo.

Adding value to people with mental illness helps economies. Enabling them to empower themselves saves lives. That means that by logging on now and purchasing their books or donating, you may have just been able to save a life. Support the humanitarian rights of the “mentally ill” and you will save the lives of people today and even future generations.

–from www.chipmunka.com

You can access my book, This Hunger Is Secret: My Journeys Through Mental Illness and Wellness at Chipmunka’s website here.

Note: This information can be accessed at one of my regular “pages” (off to the right near the top of the page) anytime.

On the bus–again

I went grocery shopping and bought some food at the co-op.  Today is the monthly discount day.  But that’s not what I want to talk to you about….

After grocery shopping, I caught the bus just as it was passing by. Luckily, I was able to find a window seat, which is my preference.  After a few stops, a skinny man got on.  He walked past me, then must have turned around, because he came back and sat right beside me.  Then, I began to wonder.

Eating disorders have mostly been investigated within the female population. To a large extent this is because of the apparent prevalence of eating disorders in women. On closer inspection however gender distributions of eating disorders show about 10 per cent of people with anorexia are men.

He wasn’t emaciated, just unusually skinny.  It showed not only in his physique, but in his face as well.  From his face I guessed that he was about my age.  He looked tired, and not particularly anxious.

There are a few occupations in which the demand for low body weights can lead to anorexia or bulimia; among them are horse racing, modelling, dancing, distance running and driving.

He was absorbed in his electronic device–an iphone I think.  He was wearing earbuds, so I knew he wasn’t paying complete attention to his surroundings, and definitely not focused on me–unless.  Unless he knew who I was.  Unless he was who I am.

In part, the hidden problem of eating disorders in men is cultural. Women tend to discuss emotions and psychological problems more than men. Anorexia and bulimia are perceived as a woman’s problems. Discussion of weight issues, weight control, linking thinness with beauty are common features in women’s magazines and so are eating disorders. Young women can therefore adopt the same behavior without it being seen as too socially unacceptable.

I then decided I needed to know.  I needed to know if he knew.  I needed to know if he was kin.  So I decided to catch his eye.  How was I going to do this without being rude?  Because if he wasn’t, and I stared at him, this was going to be very, very awkward.

To date the evidence suggests that the gender bias of clinicians mean that diagnosing either bulimia or anorexia in men is less likely despite identical behavior. Men are more likely to be diagnosed as suffering depression with associated appetite changes than receive a primary diagnosis of an eating disorder.

Suddenly, I saw my opportunity.  A man came on who recognized the skinny man beside me.  They shook hands, and the man who had come on sat behind us.  Slyly, I turned around and smiled at the new man.  Then, I caught the suspect’s eye.

Our eyes met.

He turned away.  I turned away.  There was no spark of recognition, no holding of eye contact for any extended period, no smile, no nod, no feeling in our brief encounter.  No, he was not one of us. Maybe he just doesn’t like to cook.

Maybe, though, my instinct is completely off here.

A large US study of adolescents reported in 1995 does show that significant numbers of young males experiencing problem weight control behavior.

  • 2%-3% of males diet all the time or more than ten times a year
  • 5%-14% of males deliberately vomit after eating
  • 12%-21% had a history of binge eating

It was time to get off the bus.  I asked the man to let me out of the seat.  I had to ask him twice, because he was so absorbed in his iphone.  I slipped through the rear door of the bus and onto the sidewalk, and headed home with the groceries I probably won’t eat.

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Quotes from about.com

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To download my book This Hunger Is Secret: My Journeys Through Mental Illness and Wellness in .pdf form from Chipmunkapublishing click here.

I’ve made some changes to www.juliegreene.name – check it out!

I’ve made some changes to www.juliegreene.name!  I want to make more.  Mostly, I updated the pages, stating that the book was currently available, and provided more links to the Chipmunka website where you can download the book.  It was a lot of work to do this.  Here’s the book download link again:

http://chipmunkapublishing.co.uk/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=1709

Have a nice day!

Excerpt from This Hunger Is Secret – Book Available Now!

This Hunger Is Secret: My Journeys Through Mental Illness and Wellness is available now!  It has been published!

To download the book in .pdf form, click here.  The paperback will be coming out in May 2011.

Here’s an excerpt. Read about my funny parents here:

Family Therapy

“Julie’s not right with herself,” my mother put it during our first family session with Diana.  I’d been at Crossroads Day Treatment for about a month.

Diana asked, “Mrs. Greene, could you clarify?”

My mother waved her arms around dramatically.  “She doesn’t like herself, that’s all!”

“Erna,” said my father, “let the therapist talk.”

My mother went on, “Julie screams at us!  Throws things!  She raids the cookie bin when nobody’s around!”  My mother set her arms back into her lap and said quietly, “You know, I’ve had to lock up the hermit cookies, giant oatmeal-raisin cookies, and lemon squares in the liquor cabinet to keep her from eating them all!”

My father said, “What’s with all this eating, anyway?  Why can’t she just stop it?  Erna lets us each have one or two cookies with dinner, that’s all.”

“And they’re not allowed cookies until after their fruit!”  My mother crossed her arms emphatically.

“It’s a rule in our family.

Diana interjected, “Mr. and Mrs. Greene, you both seem very–”

“We’re not angry,” my mother wailed, “we’re just concerned!”  She threw her arms in the air. “She doesn’t get any exercise!  She’s getting to be a fattie!”

“Exercise is very important!”

“And she drinks coffee all day long!  Coffee!  Bad for you!”

My father cleared his throat.  “Since she left school and moved in with us, she’s completely abandoned her studies.”

My mother said, “She hasn’t touched a piece of  music  composition paper–“

“–or her trumpet.”  My parents nodded in agreement.

“Julie,” demanded my father, “when are you going to quit smoking?”  He turned to Diana, who had already held her hands out in a “T”–“time out.”  He ignored her.  “And she’s friends with this Irene!”

“My God!  Irene!”

“Irene’s not a proper girl.  Uneducated.”

“Irene’s not a good influence on Julie,” said my mother, her hands on her hips.  “She smokes!  My God!”

“Very bad influence!”

“Julie says Irene is a light smoker, but–”

“Smoking is smoking, dammit!”

There was a pause, and then Diana said, “There is no reason to raise our voices here, Mr. Greene.”

”No, and I don’t think she’s Jewish, either,” my father muttered.

“Julie’s old enough to choose her own friends,” said my mother.  “Why Irene?”

My father said, “Why can’t she be friends with Sandra Bach, who used to come here to Crossroads?  Sandra studies at Brandeis University, and she goes to our Temple–”

“Alan, we can’t choose Julie’s friends for her, can we?”

“And if we don’t?” my father said loudly.  “Look what happened to–”

“Phil and Ned are adults Alan!”

“They’re dating shiksas!”

I had long since buried my face in my hands.  At last, Diana turned to me and said, “Julie, what would you like to say to your parents?”

I shook my head, and did not look up.

“Julie, you have this opportunity,” said Diana.  “What would you like to tell them?”

“Nothing,” I said.  “Nothing at all.”

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To download This Hunger Is Secret: My Journeys Through Mental Illness and Wellness in .pdf form click here.

THIS HUNGER IS SECRET is now available!

Click here to download the .pdf file!  You can download it RIGHT NOW!

This Hunger Is Secret: My Journeys Through Mental Illness and Wellness will be available in paperback form in about nine months.

The publisher is Chipmunkapublishing.  Their website is www.chipmunka.com

Something I just learned that’s in the DSM-IV regarding Bulimia

I got this off of medicinenet.com:

The actual criteria for bulimia nervosa are found in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV). There are five basic criteria in the diagnosis of bulimia:

  1. Recurrent episodes of binge eating. This is characterized by eating within a two-hour period an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat during a similar period of time and under similar circumstances.
  2. A sense of lack of control over the eating during the episode, or a feeling that one cannot stop eating.
  3. In addition to the binge eating, there is an inappropriate compensatory behavior in order to prevent weight gain. These behaviors can include self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics, enemas or other medications, fasting, or excessive exercise.
  4. Both the binge eating and the compensatory behaviors must occur at least two times per week for three months and must not occur exclusively during episodes of anorexia.
  5. Finally, there is dissatisfaction with body shape and/or weight.

The DSM-IV also identifies two subtypes of bulimia nervosa. The purging type regularly engages in self-induced vomiting or the misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas. The nonpurging type engages in other inappropriate compensatory behaviors, such as fasting or excessive exercise, rather than purging methods.

I was not aware of the non-purging type of bulimia.  What’s in the media and most books you read are descriptions of bulimics who typically binge and then vomit.

In 1981 I was diagnosed with bulimia because there was no such diagnosis as binge eating disorder.  According to the DSM-III, which was the definitive text then I believe, I did not fit the criteria for bulimia, not exactly, because I did not throw up.  Following every binge, though, I fasted for a long, long time.  If the DSM-IV had been around back then, the diagnosis would have been correct; I would have been categorized as bulimic.  Interesting.

In 1982 I attended a group for people with eating disorders.  It was like a pioneer group, because there were very few such opportunities around.  I was lucky to get in.  Most of the women in the group had at one point been anorexic, and were currently bulimic.  They all threw up.  Except me.  You know something?  I felt like I wasn’t a “good enough” bulimic, that I was inferior, that I didn’t deserve to be in the group even though the bingeing was devastating to me.  I never told anyone in the group that I felt this way.

Message to anorexics, bulimics, binge eaters, anyone with any kind of eating disorder: You cannot be “better” at your eating disorder.  Your eating disorder will get the better of you.  It will steal your life from you.  Do not go down its path.  Turn away now.

I am told that it is never too late to give it up.  I wonder what it’s like to just let it go the way one would release a captured snake into the forest, and watch it slink away between the trees.

You know, it takes a lot of effort to keep a wild snake alive.  I must be working pretty hard at it.  When I was a kid I captured a snake, and secretly kept it in a box, hidden from my parents.  I felt guilty,  but I felt like the snake was something special that was mine and mine only.

Was I sad when the snake died, or relieved that I didn’t have to keep a secret anymore?  I remember having a secret burial in the backyard, just me and the special snake.  It was hard making the hole.  I think I cried, grieved for the secret part of myself that had died and was now being sent to the earth.

I am told that when people truly give up their eating disorders, they grieve.  I felt some of this in June when they made me give up starvation (for a little while) and eat.  I ate a lot and cried.  I missed starvation, I craved it, wanted it back, and when I couldn’t stand the craving anymore, returned to it and embraced it.  Now, I am trapped, and I don’t know what to do.

I want to get back–to what?  I want to get back to me, but I don’t even know what me is anymore.  I can’t remember when the last time was that I was me.  I look back…I don’t know.  I don’t know anymore.  I really don’t.

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My wonderful new book, This Hunger Is Secret: My Journeys Through Mental Illness and Wellness is now available in e-book form from Chipmunkapublishing.  Click here to download the .pdf file.  To read excerpts at my home site, click here.  The book will be available in paperback form in May 2011.

On Stinking Properties

Sometimes, when Puzzle and I go out for walks, we encounter these odors.  I don’t know the source, but I don’t think it’s dog poop, and I don’t think it’s dripping from trash trucks.  I think it goes deeper than that.  Maybe it’s in the soil or the ground water.  The stink seems intrinsic to the environment.  It seems to be just in certain places, and it doesn’t move around; that is, it’s located right in front of particular homes or businesses–permanently.

You’d think that the stench, this horrible smell, this garbage-shit odor that seems to be peppered all over Watertown– the quiet suburb of Watertown, MA, where you’d never suspect this would occur–would surely lower property values where it occurred, wouldn’t you?  I mean, surely, when real estate agents sold these homes, they probably lied to the buyers about the odor:  “Yeah, there’s something in the air tonight, occasionally somebody puts down fertilizer,” or, “Someone must have spilled their garbage.”  Yeah, sure.  Little does the unsuspecting buyer know that the odor is permanent….

Then, they find out.  It’s too late.  They’ve bought the home.  They live with the stench, day in, day out.  They smell it when they rise in the morning and when the retire at night.  They smell it when they leave for work and when they return.  They smell it at mealtimes, three times a day.  Their children smell it.  They have to apologize to guests.  And when they finally decide to sell the fucking house, it won’t sell.

I often feel like I am like this home.  I have this permanent stink.  I am damaged goods that nobody wants.   And if you come near me, my stink might rub off on you, and you might stink, too.

It started when I first got sick.  It started when I first started worrying about my weight, when I started obsessing over it.  It started when I started my first diet in 1980.  It started when I stopped being me. When me got replaced by my eating disorder, and me generally didn’t peek its head back to the surface.  And the stink that started in 1980–trust me–has been with me ever since.

Can anything be done?  Perhaps.  It would take a zillion dollars on the part of the town to rid the soil of its odor.  Maybe it would have to be sifted or replaced or rinsed–heck, I wouldn’t know.  But obviously, the town would come to the conclusion that any town would come to, and besides, the money isn’t there–in Watertown, or in any town, no matter how rich.

The property, they would say, ain’t worth it anyway.

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My wonderful new book, This Hunger Is Secret: My Journeys Through Mental Illness and Wellness is now available in e-book form from Chipmunkapublishing.  Click here to download the .pdf file.  To read excerpts at my home site, click here.  The book will be available in paperback form in May 2011.

On Family

I just read this article about a woman who battled anorexia for 20 years and finally died.  I burst into tears when I read the article.  I choose not to share it with you.  Instead, I e-mailed the link to myself for future reference.

I have been struggling with this for 30 years.  Like Emily, I’ve sought many different types of treatment for my eating disorder–not ED treatment, though, because either I was misdiagnosed or the ED was ignored or there was simply no treatment available.  But I don’t want to suggest to you that I am going down the same path that Emily took.

But I don’t want to talk about that today.  I want to talk about family.  I found the article about Emily while searching for a quote about how family is typically the last to acknowledge that anything is wrong with the eating disordered family member.  As you can see, I got side-tracked.  But it’s true: families are often in denial.  They don’t want to believe it’s true.  The eating disordered person can be deteriorating right before their eyes, and family won’t see it.

Such is the case with my family.  My mother has no clue that I have an eating disorder.  Sure, she’s been in family therapy with me and knows I had an eating disorder.  She sees how skinny I am and has even commented–once–on my “tiny waistline.”  (How rude to comment on a body part!)  She thinks it’s good to be skinny.  She has no clue that I have anorexia.  No clue whatsoever.

It is ironic that I have asked my brother and my sister-in-law to come in to a meeting with my therapist as a last resort.  It seems that this should have happened long ago.  They live a mere hour away.  But I see them only twice a year when they do their “duty” to see our mother (who lives near me) and come up for Hanukkah and Passover.  Twice a year if they don’t cancel.

So I called my brother Tuesday.  He called me back–finally–today, Sunday, saying he’s been busy.  He said he couldn’t come to a session.  He has to work.  My sister-in-law, too, has to work.  No, they can’t take time off.  No, he can’t leave work early, not even a couple of hours early, for a 45-minute session.  Not even for me.  His sister.  Period.

I don’t know what to think.  They are both salaried, and have been at their positions a long time.  I’m sure they both leave work early all the time when it’s for a good reason.  Am I not a good enough reason?

I have a fatal disease, for godsakes!

It’s not like I’m going to die right away and they have to see me and say goodbye.  It’s not like they have to see to my affairs or make end-of-life decisions.  No, not that, thankfully.

But maybe, just maybe…they can help me.  Maybe they have some answers for me.  Maybe they can at least see me more often, provide companionship, comfort, humor, closeness, and sharing.  Maybe they can be what family are supposed to be.  Helpful.  Supportive.  Loving.

It seems like all the avenues of recovery for me are blocked off or dead ends.  I have been denied treatment or treatment doesn’t work.  Friends say goodbye.  Now, my own family will not come to my side.  What will I lose next?

Somehow, something has to give.

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My wonderful new book, This Hunger Is Secret: My Journeys Through Mental Illness and Wellness is now available in e-book form from Chipmunkapublishing.  Click here to download the .pdf file.  To read excerpts at my home site, click here.  The book will be available in paperback form in May 2011.

Day in the Life: A Trip to the Supermarket

I decide to go to the supermarket to buy food I will barely eat.  It is a 20-minute walk via the “shortcut,” a walk on the footbridge over the Charles River.  I have done this route many times.  Today, I am taking my rolling backpack and a pack I will carry on my back as well.  I plan to buy, among other things, a fair amount of canned food and dairy, including eggs, and a glass baking pan to make a turkey-lentil-rice dish I’ve been dreaming up.

It is a warm and windy afternoon.  I have eaten a meal today and taken vitamins.  I rarely take vitamins anymore, because they are only effective if you take them with a meal, and I don’t eat meals anymore, but today something got into me and I ate an entire meal, or at least the equivalent of one.  So I knew I had enough energy and strength to make this trip without Gatorade as a backup.

The supermarket is in the same shopping center as my gym.  I keep wondering if someone who goes to my gym shops at the same supermarket and sees me there.  When I work out, I cannot hide my body very easily, even in loose clothing.  Sometimes, I wear long sleeves and wind pants.  Other times, I just don’t bother covering myself.  It’s obvious something’s not right.

The last time I went to the gym I was working out three or four times a week between mid-June and the end of July.  Very few people knew this, even my closest friends.  While many of my friends who were trying to lose weight were having trouble getting up the motivation to exercise, I had  motivation to spare.  I wasn’t doing it specifically to burn calories, but to do something with all the energy I had from eating all the food they were making me eat.

Bullshit.  The truth is, as soon as I saw the scale go up, as soon as I saw the flesh on my body, I panicked, and would do whatever it took to get rid of it.

I worked out vigorously.  Where I was originally using 15-pound resistance, I worked my way up to 45 pounds.   Forty pounds became 70.  I increased my walking speed from 3.5 miles per hour to 4.1.  I taught myself new exercises, and incorporated some of my old routines into the current routine I was doing.  I developed solid muscles all over my body.  And on a skinny person, muscles are very, very noticeable.  I had to hide my new biceps from my therapist because I was afraid she’d ask questions.  So I wore long sleeves.

This didn’t last long.  When the starvation returned at the end of July, I knew I was too malnourished to support a vigorous workout, so I stopped going to the gym.  When you don’t eat enough, your body takes nutrients from itself–from fat stores, from hair, from bones, from all the organs including muscles.  So I lost muscle mass.  A lot of muscle mass to the point that I can now roll up my sleeves and I no longer have to worry about my T seeing enlarged biceps.  Really.

I arrive at the supermarket and grab a carriage.  I place my rolling backpack on the underneath thingy and wheel the carriage into the supermarket.  This time, I’m less self-conscious about what I’m buying and who is seeing me than I usually am.  Relieved, I turn up my MP3 player and head into the dairy department.

Yogurt.  Nonfat.  Plain.  Uh-oh, someone’s there.  Who is this skinny girl buying yogurt, anyway?  What right does she have to buy nonfat?  And plain?  Why the heck doesn’t she buy vanilla like a normal person?

Fuck off, fat lady.  I grab two quart tubs and move on.

Other groceries are easier.  I dodge more fat people in the aisles.  I bump into a guy.  He gives me a look: You’re so skinny–you had plenty of room to get by. I apologize.  He obviously isn’t accepting my apology.  Well, fuck you.

I turn up Indigo Girls even louder.  What brand of tuna is the best?  Who knows.

Finally, I get to the register.  I empty my cart.  I easily slip between the cart and the candy display.  I remember a time that I barely fit between the cash registers, for godsakes.  Okay, that’s an exaggeration.  But I was once fat.  Once.

I pay for my groceries.  This is complicated.  Store card, food stamps card, debit card, coupon, receipt.  Meanwhile, the bagger has bagged my groceries in plastic.  I did not want bags.

Why the heck did he bag them without even asking me if I wanted bags, or even if I wanted “paper or plastic”?  Why did he just assume I wanted plastic bags?  I am pissed.

“I didn’t want–”  I stopped myself.  “Okay, okay, you’ve already bagged them.  I’ll take the plastic.  Fine.”  I went on and dealt with the plastic, that will pollute our earth and never go away.

I pack my groceries into my rolling backpack, most of them.  Most of them I keep in the plastic, just for the heck of it.  I place the glass baking dish and eggs in the backpack I am carrying on my back.  I return my carriage and off I go.

I know I am carrying one hell of a lot of stuff.  The canned goods are heavy, and yes–I have soda on me, too.  Diet, of course.  I ask myself if I would be able to carry the rolling backpack up the stairs after I get off the footbridge.  With my weakened arms?  Probably not. Added to that is my general state of body weakness.  I could easily lose my balance, fall, and injure myself.  Going up the stairs, unless I have help from some stranger, would definitely be unwise.  And what were the chances of running into a stranger who could–and would–offer to help?  So, reluctantly, I go around the long way.  This is adding about 15 minutes to my trip, especially considering I’m slow with the heavy load.  I curse my eating disorder the entire way home as Indigo Girls sing and strum mightily.

I arrive home to Puzzle.  Home now.  But this isn’t the end of the story.  So keep reading.

I let Puzzle out of her crate, and turn the AC up to 80 degrees.  I have to keep it on for her allergies, otherwise I’d shut if off entirely.  I switch off Indigo Girls.  Take the wallets out of my pockets.  They slide out so easily now that my jeans are so loose.  Only one pair fits now.  Then I empty my groceries.  The dairy goes into the refrigerator, canned onto the counter.  The non-refrigerated stuff I can deal with later.

Then, I place the knapsack I carried on my back onto the counter.  I remove the eggs, carefully unwrap them from the canvas bag I used to protect them, and inspect them for breakage.  Suddenly, whoom!  The knapsack falls.

The glass baking dish shatters into a million pieces.

And no, the glass doesn’t end up all over the floor, to cut into Puzzle’s little paws and unsuspecting bare feet.  No, the shattered glass pieces don’t end up under the refrigerator.  The entire glass baking dish, shattered to bits, is protected, carefully wrapped, against my wishes, in a plastic bag.

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My wonderful new book, This Hunger Is Secret: My Journeys Through Mental Illness and Wellness is now available in e-book form from Chipmunkapublishing.  Click here to download the .pdf file.  To read excerpts at my home site, click here.  The book will be available in paperback form in May 2011.