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THIS HUNGER IS SECRET
MY JOURNEYS THROUGH MENTAL ILLNESS
It’s out! The Kindle text is ready! You can now get This Hunger Is Secret in paperback from Chipmunkapublishing’s website. The .pdf text at Chipmunkapublishing has been replaced so there are no more bugs in it. The Kindle text has now been replaced at Amazon as well.
Here is the link to the paperback:
Here is the link to the .pdf:
here’s the link to the Kindle:
Prices are as follows:
Paperback from the publisher: 14.99 British Pounds Sterling, $25.48 USD includes shipping.
E-book from the publisher in .pdf form: 5 British Pounds Sterling, $8.50 USD, downloaded, no shipping cost.
The Amazon Kindle version will be $8.99 USD to be delivered wirelessly.
American prices from Chipmunka will vary according to exchange rate in the future. The British price will remain the same.
I will have some copies available that I can sign. Please contact me if you’d like to purchase a signed copy directly from me! If you know me in person, you may want to do this!
Here is a link to my home site
I sitting in the lobby of the London hotel where I am staying, in the middle of madly reading Jason Pegler’s book,Mental Health Publishing and Empowerment. If I start to cry, I will not hold back my tears. If someone sees me sitting here all emotional and powered up, then let them go ahead and ask.
I have a story to tell.
I am beginning to write the story tonight. It must be so. I am telling the story about a woman past 50 years old, who, against all odds, hopped onto a plane for London knowing one thing: she wanted to change the world. She was not even well enough to travel. She had to jump through hoops of fire to get to this place, avoiding doctors who surely would have had her locked up and therefore making it impossible to make this trip.
You might often hear her recite her motto, “You do what you have to do to survive.” She had done just that. Sometimes, you have to lie, just like the Jews, those from whom she had descended, had covered up their Jewish identity to avoid the gas chambers.
Was the lie so wrong? Yes, there had been close calls. The threat of being forced into “treatment” was on her tail every step of the way. The authorities wanted her locked up in the name of keeping her alive. They would take away her freedom, her choice to live or die,and replace it with a life of slavery to the system she now rejected.
She walked onto the plane a free person, and the next morning, stepped onto a different continent where people did not know her, where her identity was secret…
Yes, This Hunger Is Secret. The title of her book. The key.
The thirty-two-year anniversary of her eating disorder had just passed and she was entering her thirty-third year of self-deprivation. She was the riches-to-rags girl who had hungered with a credit card in her pocket. She hungered to change the world. She hungered for God and for the pinnacle of the Universe. And now, it was on the verge of happening.
She was shown her room upon her arrival at the hotel. Yes, this is more than suitable. This is the place, she told herself.
With painstaking precision, she unpacked her things and put them into their places. It was Tuesday. Then, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday with her publisher, a man who himself had changed the world and was continuing to do so.
Learn. Observe. Listen. Be transformed. Either something would happen or it wouldn’t. Live or die. You can’t straddle both worlds for very long.
The Chipmunkapublishing offices are located in Canary Wharf, perhaps 45 minutes’ ride on the Tube from her hotel. Why, after two days, did it seem as though she’d been in this city for her entire life? The Summer 2012 Olympics will be held right here in this city. It was like a beehive, a swarm of what is to come.
Living with an eating disorder has been the only life she has known, especially for the past four years. Ignorance about eating disorders was so abundant that she had been branded a liar, an addict, a filthy abomination not fit for the common crowd. She tried on the role of bitch and wore that clothing for months.
They said she used her anorexia to manipulate others. Above all, they said, she was attention-seeking, flaunting her thinness, wearing her illness like a badge. It was a badge that made others uncomfortable because they saw a tiny bit of themselves in her. They could not tolerate that ache in their hearts that she represented. They despised that symbol, crushed it, rejected and denied it.
Hey, folks, I am coming back. If you choose to despise me, let my mere presence haunt you.
People say that in February 1983, Karen Carpenter’s death changed the world. What people forget is that she changed the world while she was alive, through her music, through her celebration and love. Anyone can do this and you don’t have to pass a BMI test to qualify.
I can and will change the world, and I don’t have to die to do it. I don’t have to be infamous and cause a stir and a huge nuisance to get noticed. Karen Carpenter did not die for anyone’s sins. She died because her body gave out. It is not the 20th Century anymore and I never was a famous singer and never got noticed.
But I am a writer. Most trained writers desire to be noticed. Writing is catharsis and publishing is empowerment. It is not the kind of power that means control over others but a feeling of self-worth and inner strength. Yes, we can.Attention-seeking is not the horrible sin folks think it is. It means making a statement and being heard. It is a myth that people with anorexia starve for attention. All we want is the same thing everyone else wants: to be loved and wanted and cared for. We do what we do because it is the only way we know. We do this to survive. To turn our backs on life so that we can live. Most of us gave up on having our voices heard long ago.
Sure, you hear me screaming here in my blog. You have sat and watched me for years. Maybe you have come here and read my rants and shaken your head and said, “She will never learn.” Or perhaps you have come here periodically to see if I was finally getting “help,” and then, seeing that I had taken the path toward death yet one more time, you had Xed out my blog, shut down your computer, and gone and watched the soaps and tried to forget about me. But maybe once or twice you freaked and got a little paranoid over my words. You called the cops on me. Hate to inform you, but the cops have a lot of respect for me now. They do not have the time for paranoid people who call them all upset over something they read on the Internet.
Like I said, I am coming back. It is my presence, not my absence, that will blow your mind.
Sometime late today at the seminar at Chipmunkapublishing I had the gem of the idea I needed. We had been discussing marketing all day. Not just marketing of our books, but spreading the word: freedom, justice, empowerment, love. I do seek attention. I have always loved reading aloud to others. I was always a ham. And this is not a bad thing. Being a ham is how you get the message across. Be daring. Take a risk. Cross the ocean. I am the bravest person I know.
I am here against all odds in every sense of the term. It is an amazing story that needs to be told. I vowed that I would begin to write that story tonight, and I am, right here, right now.
What’s important here:
Financial survival skills
Independence from parents, both financial and emotional (this applies to adults…kids, you WILL become adults, very soon
Taking control of care
Surviving forced care
Gaining your own voice
And the last thing I wrote today, which I stated, very tearfully, on camera:
(and wrote in all caps)
I AM MY VOICE
Excerpt from my writing today:
…I should try to think about how I can change the world with my writing. Right now, people don’t even know what eating disorders are. These illnesses are not caused by the fashion industry. It goes so much deeper than that. To explain why I strive to be ridiculously thin isn’t easy, because although many people want to lose weight, the way I see things, the difference between being a person on a diet and having an eating disorder that takes over your life….It has been so difficult. People want to shake me. They say, “Why do you do this to yourself, why do you want thinness more than you want to stay alive?” I want to tell them, “Yes! That desire, over life itself, is anorexia in a nutshell.”
I am proud to say that sometime the week of the 9th, I’ll be “signing off” my paperback, and it will be in print shortly. What is thrilling is that I am writing my “John Hancock” not here at home via e-mail, but in London, at my publisher’s office. My publisher is Chipmunkapublishing. The office itself is located in the Canary Wharf district. They have recently switched to a new building, but it is very close to the one I visited in November. I think their old building was being remodeled or something and this was the reason for the move.
Not only that, but very soon a new version of the e-book will be substituted for the old version. I believe this is a free download for those of you who already have the e-book, so long as you have a registered account with Chipmunkapublishing. I also believe Amazon will supply the Kindle update for free. Please, please don’t take my word for it, and wait till the substitution is made, in case I’m wrong about the free download. I’ll let you know when all’s a-okay.
How is the new e-book different? The main change is that all the glitches that appeared as a result of file conversion and passing from one computer to another (and between continents) have been fixed. The other major change is that my proofreader extraordinaire, Tiffany Maxwell, has rescued my punctuation and made it spotless. She also honored my request to fix up the technical problem with the dashes, substituting the clumsy-looking hyphens that Chipmunka put in there and changing them to proper “m” dashes. My publisher pointed out that the most important thing here was consistency.
I am now waiting for Will at Chipmunka to return the file I sent a while back. There were some page number issues that needed addressing. I’m sure the file will be in my hands very shortly, and we’ll be able to proceed.
While double-checking the new e-book file, I found spots in two chapters where the indented paragraphs were indented a speck too much. Just to make sure, I went through the entire file and checked that there were no other places where this occurred. There weren’t. All other problems were ones that occurred in my own copy-and-paste action, for whatever reason, and were simple to fix.
The weird thing was that the chapter that consistently messed up formatting-wise was the first of my two “Family Therapy” chapters, which are the funniest chapters of the book, in my opinion. Actually, I believe my wonderful stand-up comedy instructor, Bob Gautreau, would agree. My very first stand-up act was based on these chapters!
Above all I would like to say to writers out there, beware….If you do any editing to your Acknowledgements page, make sure you don’t accidentally delete someone’s name! I did exactly that. A while back, I found that the list was getting longer, and the page, therefore, had become cumbersome to read. So I simplified the entire page. This was when I made the accidental deletion. I’m so glad I read it all over carefully, and found my mistake in time.
In only two hours, the sun will be rising in London, England. Not long after, Jason, Will, and Andrew will be headed over to the Chipmunka offices. They will find my e-mail. Yes, the ball is rolling. Hello, World.
On one hand, I wrote this today:
“March 10, 2012
Disgusted with waist size increase ___ and only ___ weight loss. Just so gross. Legs are disgusting. So ashamed of my fat chubby face. I feel dead inside.”
Here in my blog, I tell it like it is, and this is what I wrote, like it or not. This is how I live my life from day to day. I can and will change this but right now, this is the reality of what I live with and right now these are my feelings.
On the other hand, I am making some very positive changes in my life. I decided to change therapists. I have an excellent therapist for whom I have a lot of admiration but this is not working. I went sharply downhill when I started seeing her (the end of November 2010, right after National Novel Writing Month) and life has been shit this whole time.
My feelings are mixed about the future of therapy. Quitting entirely is the route I had originally thought I would go, but decided to try someone else. I have decided, though, not to drag things on and on with my current therapist and to end as quickly as possible. Of course I have no one lined up to replace her next week but as of today am sending out e-mails, and will be phoning people Monday. I am taking advantage of free introductory sessions. I am looking into anything out of the ordinary. One of these is acupuncture. I am contacting a couple of nutritionists as well, but I am not interested in nutritionists who talk out of textbooks and prescribe traditional “meal plans” that I am supposed to follow like a mindless robot that has no brain. I am flat out doing away with these weekly “weight-checks” and will no longer tolerate this outright humiliation. I have tried 12-step four times. I have mixed feelings about it all. Just mixed. I will look into it and will also look into Smart Recovery and get a bunch of books on different approaches. I have a list of books I want to read.
I am anything but a mindless robot with no brain.
I now see through my T’s reasoning in getting me hooked up with DMH. It was not for the purpose of “help” like I had originally thought. My T was actually thinking ahead and in her mind (so I speculate) thinking that if I had DMH, it would be easier on the paperwork to force me to give up my apartment and move into a group home! This would mean losing Puzzle! Right now, actually, during Thursday’s session, she again threatened that if I starve myself again, she’d send me to the state hospital. DMH involvement makes it a lot easier for this hospital admission to take place. This was her plan all along! Oh my god! Now I’m stuck with this useless, irresponsible DMH person who is a complete appendage to me, and an “easy in” to the state hospital system. Oh, shit.
Positive: My contact person at Chipmunkapublishing has written to me to tell me that he’ll be sending me a big file, the proof of my paperback, on Tuesday. I’m sure he’ll be e-mailing me with more information on this as well. I was so pleased to meet him when I was in London in November.
Positive: After a lengthy search, I finally found a decent deal on plane tix to London in July. I booked flight and lodgings both and will again be seeing my publisher.
I will be flat out broke and in serious debt for a long time. It will get paid off. It will get paid off. It will get paid off. And debt cannot harm me physically so long as I have a roof over my head and food on the table. I do have low-income housing and I do have food stamps and there are food pantries.
I have a lot to do today. I feel positive. I am looking toward the future. My eyes are placed on my head in such a way that they face forward, not back, always looking in the direction that my body is headed. I think this is telling me something.
Weird things are happening that I’m not sure I want to get into. I’ve been looking up my meds and side effects and such and will soon make a decision about tonight…which ones I will leave out…it’s not like I want to stop meds altogether but being on meds is scary to me right now….
I am finally free of the sickness I had. Or at least I don’t seem to have a fever anymore or diarrhea. But the edema remains. My legs look awful. My ankles are round and my legs are stocky but my stomach is a little flatter. No one has to see my ugly legs. I keep them covered. Still, they make me feel horrible about myself.
I stopped diet soda days ago. Tomorrow, no caffeine. I wrote that down.
I read today about the impact of Karen Carpenter’s death. Just a short article. What struck me was that the article mentioned that when Karen was found dead, she was lying naked right next to her clothes wardrobe.
I have been reading one heck of a lot about dead bodies and ways that people die lately. Unusual deaths and controversial deaths. Suicides and why people commit suicide. Lotsa You-Tubes. There are whole websites on the topic of death and its varieties.
Humans disappoint me. It has been one thing after another.
On Thursday, my publisher wrote that he is going to contact me this coming week regarding my paperback, and we will be getting it out in the new year. That is not too long away.
That is not too long away. It will be cold tonight. Tomorrow is Sunday.
I am happy to say that as of just now, I have sent the file of This Hunger Is Secret: My Journeys Through Mental Illness and Wellness to Will Kettle at Chipmunkapublishing in London. Will has been patiently waiting for this file for a long, long time. I had hoped to have it ready before my trip, but I was in too much of a rush. I got the file done two days ago and today was able to do the last five minutes of this and that on it and sent it off just a moment ago.
It is now 11pm in London and Will is most likely asleep or watching the telly or doing anything but checking his work e-mail.
I am very proud of the work I did on this book. It was a hard book to write. It was tough the whole way through. This Hunger Is Secret is my master’s thesis. Doing graduate school was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. This memoir is representative of that work…and beyond. The toughest semester was my final semester at school, when my eating disorder really began to take hold on me. I worked so, so hard on my thesis, poured everything I had into it. I lived at the library during the day, and then brought my work home with me and worked more on my thesis into the night. I remember sometimes I had pages of my thesis all over my living room, chapters lined up in different orders, then changing my mind and re-ordering pages and pages. I remember lying in bed and then coming upon an idea just as I was falling asleep, hopping out of bed and scribbling it down. And I was starving myself the whole time.
Everything was electrical and exciting and magical then. And you know, traveling to London last month brought back some of that electricity and excitement and magic to my life…as it does now. On Tuesday I threw aside everything and delved into the file and got it done. I must have made a zillion decisions about punctuation that day. Technicalities….at the last minute, the file refused to attach (of course). No, it did not go corrupt, and yes, I had it backed up in a zillion places.
I guess Christmastime is a time for magic and excitement and electricity and sparkles and snowflakes, too. I have a Christmas tree now. I bought it for eight bucks at CVS. I haven’t had a Christmas tree for years. I trekked to the Stop&Shop for it, thinking they would have a good selection, but it turned out that the CVS next door had just what I wanted. This one is eighteen inches high and has its own lights. The tree is a little lopsided but I am a Jew so I can’t complain. The whole time I was lugging it home via the shortcut over the Charles River on the footpath where I probably shouldn’t have been cuz it was already very dark out, I was telling myself I would need to beat my heart very hard next Yom Kippur and attone for the sin of having shamelessly bought a Christmas tree and trafficked it over the Charles River, and erected it in my home, and then placed upon said tree an ornament from my church–yes, church not synagogue. The ornament is round and white and upon it is a drawing of the First Parish Church of Watertown that a member of the congregation drew. That is my Christmas tree. Dad would have my head.
The Christmas tree, with its new ornament, is a tree that a week ago, or a month ago, or a year or two years ago I could never have predicted would be standing where it is now. A year ago today I was preparing for my first 5k race. Doing the race was an incredible accomplishment but immediately after I crashed. What followed was 2011 and it has been a hellish year. Two years ago I was about to enter treatment at the ED hospital for the first time. I made the call to the admitting department on the day of my fifty-second birthday. They told me to get packing. I will keep this Christmas tree up until my fifty-fourth birthday in the beginning of January. Then I think it will be good and ready to be taken down. Meanwhile, it lights up the room nicely at night so I don’t have to leave a light on while I sleep.