I figure I’ve spoken enough on here about weight change, but a picture is worth a thousand words. And after all, I’ve been told so many times how I lie and exaggerate…so lately, I’ve been photographing stuff just to PROVE I’m not lying. It’s so sad that psych patients have to go to such lengths because their word is so often doubted, even if they are highly reliable, honest, and have excellent memories.
So….As I have told you in the past, the drug Seroquel made me gain an awful lot of weight and I was terribly unhappy with my body. Some of the photos of me at close to 200 pounds I am really not in the mood to put up here…they are “mirror” poses and I just can’t stand looking at them. I am wearing this horrible t-shirt I threw out I was so disgusted….and I could wear nothing but polyester pants. Wow I hated those clothes! I hated the way I felt in my body.
Now, I know what you are thinking. Body loathing is wrong. Well, quit that. I have the right to think whatever I want, and this is MY HISTORY. This is the past, and that’s my real story. That’s how I felt. I can’t change the past, and so I am reporting to you what went on in my head back then. Self-loathing.
I did have reason to be unhappy with weight gain, as it wasn’t safe FOR ME. I am 5’1″ tall. Even before I reached 150, I huffed and puffed while trying to walk even a quarter mile at any reasonable pace. At 197, which was my highest weight, one knee gave out entirely. I was too heavy to use crutches. I tried using a walker and couldn’t do that. So….I was “in a wheelchair,” as it is said…for three months.
The year was 2005 when I reached 197. I hated my body so much and I hated going to therapy, too. Certainly, therapy was doing me no good! I used to see Dr. Louise Ryder, supposed “eating disorders therapist.” Dang. She used to work at CEDC…but why? I didn’t see, even from the time I first met her, that she knew anything at all about ED. Here was the extent of her “advice”:
“One day at a time.”
“Accept your body.”
Oh, I guess she said…”This too shall pass” one helluva lot.
I think you can get that kind of advice from self-help books (or nowadays, off Facebook) quite fine, can’t you? If she’d been an effective therapist, she’d have said something like this:
“Julie, we need to get to the root of this weight gain. I’m going to call Dr. Pearson right away and see if you really need that Seroquel. You seem to be on a ridiculously high dose.”
But no…she only wanted me to cooperate and comply. Of course, I was totally compliant and it never occurred to me to question Dr. Pearson. Never! I never missed a dose nor missed an appointment. Oh, I missed plenty when my knee gave out.
After I got off Seroquel (by the way, the “withdrawal” wasn’t so bad as I was OVERJOYED to get the shit out of my body!) my weight dropped. Here I am at 175, and trust me, I DESPISE this photo…I hated the way I looked and felt that I was too fat!
Anyway, I have other photos. By 2008 I had lost a lot of weight. I had to work at it.
Here I am, just messing around with the camera:
I was 50 years old. I had been raped recently. But for whatever reason, for a few months, the memory was suppressed at the time. I think this was around the time I fired my therapist, Goldie Eder. I was sure something was terribly wrong, as she spent our entire sessions yapping on and on about her nieces and we never spoke about anything going on with me. She’s one of the two therapists I’ve had (out of over 20) who regularly fell asleep during sessions. I had to wake her up. She’d apologize, and promise to stop falling asleep, but she always fell asleep again. A couple of times, she said I was boring her. I guess she should have been listening when I told her I had been raped, eh?
Naw, you can’t see it in a photograph…so quit trying!
My weight kept on dropping. My feelings were mixed. I had hated being fat so, so much. I knew I wasn’t eating enough. But did I really give a shit? Anything beat being overweight! I’d been discriminated against so much when I was overweight. Now, people were leaving me alone, which seemed better…or was it?
My therapist started in on me…I liked her a lot, in fact, cuz she was open minded. Dr. P disliked my therapist’s open minded approach. I won’t tell you the name of my therapist…but Dr. Pearson would badmouth this therapist RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME…I often asked myself about what went on whenever they spoke. I’ll bet Dr. Pearson treated my therapist rotten. I can only imagine their conversation…Oh, I think the writer in me will speculate:
Dr. P: “I think we need to forced Julie into the hospital.”
N: “But Julie is suggesting an alternative and I think we need to listen to her suggestions. She has lived with this long enough and is a responsible adult. I see this because she’s amazingly prompt and is so courteous to everyone here at the clinic. She’s keeping up with her studies. I think what she is saying is important and we need to listen better.”Dr. P: “N, you are NOT a specialist. Therefore, you don’t know what you are talking about. We need to take over and get Julie on the scale, and NOT in her clothes. In a gown and force her not to drink ANY water all day! She needs more monitoring, more force…You are too lenient.”
N: “Okay, I am not a specialist in ED. Neither of us is a specialist in Julie. Know who is? Julie is. We need to honor her wishes.”
Dr. P: (swearing to herself, covers the phone) “I wish Julie had a different therapist. Someone controlling and manipulative will do great.” (uncovers phone) “Yes, N, well…when is Julie coming to see you next? Before graduation?”
N: “Er, let me see where she is on my calendar. Yes, our regular appointment is before she leaves for graduation.”
Dr. P: “Give her an ultimatum that will REALLY scare her! Tell her she can’t graduate! Oh, we need to take over her body! Run her life! She’s clearly incompetent!”
N: (after they’ve hung up) “Gee, what a bitch…..I feel oppressed in this situation. I feel cornered and in a tough situation. I cannot go against Dr. Pearson, but at the same time, I trust Julie and feel she’s certainly insightful and clever…Plus I’ve got the clinic administration to deal with. I wonder how much Julie senses of this. I try to hide my real feelings, and I wonder if this is the correct approach, or if I should just relax and be myself.”
Here I am at my graduation, with my advisor, Darrah Cloud. I was wicked proud that I had earned my MFA!
After Goddard, my life went downhill, sorry to say. I was coerced into “eating disorders care.” I’d never been in “eating disorders care” before because it didn’t exist back when I entered the mental health system. This was supposed to be the Great Cure but wow, was I ever sorely disappointed! Had they learned ANYTHING at all in 30 years? Apparently, I had lived with my own ED for 30 years and because of my own individual experience, I knew far more than these supposed “experts” I was meeting! You can usually tell by the dumb questions they ask! Oh, they have surveys and standard paperwork they have everyone fill out. I was so disillusioned…
N lost her job. It’s so horrifying what happened next. I figured no therapist could do me actual harm but that if I had a bad one, I’d put up with her and then find another ASAP. That’s not true, and I had to learn this lesson the hard way. I fell into the clutches of Maria Mellano.
From day one, she was manipulative and controlling. I truly believe that she had a deep psychological need to control young vulnerable people and run their lives. She jerked me around badly. I was so, so hurt after a while, but know what form that took on? Lemme tell you the truth about really bad abuse….
You actually worship the abuser because the abuser is so, so manipulative and can do no wrong that he/she justifies all her wrongdoing and you are always apologizing…for some fictitious thing she has claimed you have done. You beg this abuser for forgiveness.
You develop terror toward her.
You often think of killing yourself after you leave her office. Only to get the hell away. Sure, there’s the Red Line train station right there. Another body, another day. But you think real hard about the train operator. Somewhere, you heard that if a train operator is operating a train and a person jumps in front, that operator ends up with PTSD, and this can ruin his life. Did you really want to do that?
Oh, then, the accusations…..jeez. When you can’t do a darned thing right. And the threats and her use of “police force” if I was caught on a broken down bus and didn’t make it there on time. Sure, I’d call her to let her know, but what if her voicemail was full.
“Oh, Julie, it’s NEVER full.” Which was complete BS. Her word against mine, not much you can do. I was accused of lying over over when I wasn’t lying.
Then, it was 2011. Guess that’s when I really couldn’t take her abuse and BS any longer. My weight dropped to a very bad danger point. Because I still trusted her, I told her I was gonna die. I told her my pulse was too slow. So? I would show you the photo I have, but I’m not wearing enough clothes! Sorry! Well, I am…I think a jogging bra is enough, don’t you? It’s just that I feel kinda modest, know what I mean?
So…anyway….You guys know about the abuse at MGH. And the whole ordeal….Really, in all my years on psych units I had never before experienced such horrors as I did there. I had been on units over 50 times. This wasn’t just “not liking the care.” This was patient abuse like I had never known before.
Let me tell you something. Shitty medical care is everywhere. Sure, there are lousy dentists, lazy orthopedists who would rather give you pills than do an exam or give you a referral to PT. You CAN see someone else. You just walk out and go to a different one, and in so doing, you are sending a clear message to that doctor that he or she sucks. And we all know about rude secretaries. But abuse…well, there’s a difference!
I was completely stripped of everything that I had in me that was human at that place. No, I wasn’t psychotic and this stuff really happened. I couldn’t leave. I was trapped. I couldn’t call out or use the phone for one second in privacy. All calls were done with the nurse standing right there, listening on, and if she didn’t like what I was saying, she’d grab the phone from me and hang it up.
The meanest nurse in the place was named Sheridan. Or I should say the mean one I had. At one point, after Sheridan had decided she didn’t “like” my phone conversation where I was telling my friend I felt I was being poorly treated, she yanked me into a room and started yelling at me for what I’d said over the phone.
I told her this was a private conversation…She cut me off. I wanted to say that what went on between me and my friends was none of her business. I could say what I wanted to them, and I had the right to feel any way I wanted about what was being done to me. I had the right to tell my friends the truth about what was happening there.
Apparently, Sheridan felt that the TRUTH shouldn’t get leaked out. She shoved a paper and pen at me.
“It’s a three day. Sign it now.”
A three-day is a special paper. If you sign it, you have to appear before a judge. Judges are moody of course (ask any lawyer) and when your three days are up, the judge decides….You leave, or you are COMMITTED! For ten days, or up to SIX MONTHS!
Now, how illogical is that? But that’s the dumb law, as it stands. Why was I being forced to sign something?
I never signed it. Actually, what happened was their error most likely. Maybe the medical student blew it. Or someone just pulled some strings for me…either way, I doubt the medical student had any clue (or, shall I say, insight) into what was going on with me. They told me my “commitment” was up and I was free to go. Thank god! I was so thirsty! I left that place and thank god I could drink as much liquids as my body needed!
Guess what they were doing? Restricting my fluids to four cups a day. That’s roughly a liter. Now, I asked over and over what the MEDICAL reasons were for this, and they said, “This is protocol.” Apparently, this is the case, as every single other patient in their prison who has ED has reported this arbitrary water restriction.
If you ask anyone, they’ll tell you, “Well, it’s Mass General, the great Mass General must surely know what they are doing.”
I told them over and over I had taken lithium in the past and for whatever reason, I required more water than other people.
This was confirmed a year later. After about 25 years….I have had faulty kidneys since age 26 or 27 and no one was even paying attention. In fact, I am very good at drinking the right amount for MY BODY. Know how much I really need?
Here in South America, it’s winter right now. I have to purchase water because our tap water tastes really lousy…so I purchase a six liter bottle of water…daily. Yep. I drink six liters of water a day. Not six cups, six liters. That’s during winter. Summer…and if I am exercising…that will be up to double the current amount.
You can imagine how it was for me at MGH, begging for water like I was a beggar woman, and being told over and over how manipulative I was and what a liar I was. Oh, they insisted they had to watch my every move in the bathroom for fear that I would drink out of the shower or toilet. I didn’t shower cuz they were cruel to me! I wasn’t gonna take off my clothes in front of them!
I got out. So shaken. This was the first time I had ever had really bad PTSD FROM a psychiatric experience…yet I was already experiencing trauma from abuse from Maria Mellano and her constant threats and bullying. I had to go to so many appointments! This was hell!
Then, I got on Imipramine for binge eating. THIS IS WHERE MY NEXT BOOK BEGINS. Ten days later, guess what happened? I got the black box warning thing, that “agitation” you get. The thing that makes people SO CRAZY that they end up committing suicide within a short time. Yes, I did report it to Dr. Pearson, who claimed it was paranoia….nope. I told her about increased heart rate and pulse. She said to ignore it. The fast pulse and high blood pressure were witnessed at the ER that winter… I pointed out to the nurse that this fast pulse was a side effect of Imipramine and she said, “No, it’s anxiety.” You can’t argue when you are seen as a mental patient! She knew nothing of Imipramine and she was the one who asked ME how to spell it and what it was!
I have another photo, but again, I don’t have that much clothes on in the photo.
Oh, I got off Imipramine the following February 2012, but that “black box warning” thing continued and I was going through withdrawal…geez. I couldn’t get my pulse or blood pressure down. And my breasts were still enlarged from high prolactin. This came from Imipramine as well.
Here I am the next fall, 2012. This is after that whole suicide fiasco:
I seem happy, but I was just dressed up for church. A bunch of shit came down. Some lousy stuff happened late fall. I was really beginning to see through Dr. Pearson as the money-hungry drug pusher she is. Oh, sweet talking, but….
I tried to find another therapist. I went through two, then ended up with that David Alpert who was an abuser. As I’ve told you, he was a liar, a faker, and his asking me out on a date, his discussion of random acts of sexual abuse (that was just plain weird) his telling me about his ex-girlfriend, his constantly calling me “Honey,” was just plain flat out abuse. I walked out of my last session and told myself I had no clue what to do…knowing Dr. Pearson wouldn’t even believe me! She’d think I was delusional, so there was no point! I was starting to hate her.
So, I was starting to keep track of my weight, I mean really seriously. I was still trying to get so-called “treatment” but….It all seemed hopeless. I tried so hard to reach out, cry out and say, Please, will someone just LOVE ME? I wished that black box warning feeling would go away. I knew it was from the drug…but dang, it was there and there and there. I couldn’t get it out. Like I wanted to but I just had to wait it out.
I found some photos in my files tonight. This one was taken July 19, 2013. At this time, I went to THREE therapists at my so-called “health plan.” Geez…one yelled at me in her office, the second turned me down saying he knew nothing of eating disorders, and the third asked me where I lived and who I lived with, then said to “talk to my social worker, see you in a month.” I left then thought, “Wait, I don’t have a social worker! I told that therapist this, was she not listening!” Then I fell down right near the bus, so exhausted.
I have a couple more still photos of me around that time. In one, I’m only in bra and panties, so forget it. Here’s one taken August 6, 2013, less than a week before I went into full code from acute renal failure:
I think I am still alive. I have a few sad pictures of me over the past year…I am crying and stuff, really couldn’t stop after what was done to me in the hospital, the accusations, etc. I felt ruined by those doctors, by the shrink who insisted that I be force drugged, and by Dr. Pearson, who never even called me to…maybe at least apologize for not listening. Perhaps when I was raped was when she really began to turn her back on me. If she had some other agenda, some pressing issue I never knew about, well, fine, but I almost died a bunch of times from her denial and…I guess negligence.
If a patient of yours is being abused, you are supposed to do something to help that patient. It’s professionally required of every doctor to do so. It’s abusive to instead try to convince that patient it never happened and tell her she’s sick and wrong!
With everything stacked against me (I’ll spare you the gory details but there were a few) I am now FREE of psych abuse! I walked out!
Here I am in Miami:
That night, Puzzle and I flew to South America, and we are here now. Safe and free.
It’s been cold here the past few days (it’s winter here in August, Agosto) but sometimes I go to the beach, a few minutes walk away. Here is Puzzle running on the beach a few weeks ago:
I will be back soon! I ain’t dead yet! Me and Puzzle are right here!