Have you read all that “positive thinking” stuff out there? Those magazine articles that say “If you are lonely, it’s your ATTITUDE that’s the problem?” Oh, please.
I’m going to cut to the quick. (Sometimes I do, often I beat around the bush.) She didn’t take into account societal prejudice, hatred, bullying, and stigma. Not one bit.
It very well could be true, that people don’t like you. Only not for the reasons you think. It’s not because you’ve got some moral problem or because you are a defective. YOU DID NOTHING WRONG. The REAL reason folks don’t like you is because they are jerks. They gossip. Let’s face it. They yap. Prejudice and stigma.
So look at the schoolyard and tell me what you see. The fat kid gets teased. Why? For no reason.
So society hates poor people, sick people, the veterans our country used and then tried to make excuses to, those it labels “crazy,” anyone with some “other” skin color…oh, anyone different whatsoever.
I remember the peels of laughter and jeering of mean girls in junior high. Why? My ankle socks. Wrong color, wrong length. The schoolyard is a microcosm of society and it wasn’t my fault that I was too young to shop for my own clothes. It took months of PR with my mom and countless elastic bands around my shins before finally I found a pair of the “right” socks that didn’t make me the laughing stock of seventh grade. I wasn’t even fat! Can you imagine the nightmare the “fat kid” went through?
Don’t tell me to be “politically correct” and not talk about it, cuz we all know there was one “fat kid” in the class that got it bad. I was a kid that got teased for other reasons. So I cried for the “retarded kids,” the kids with various injuries, the kids who had some facial scars, the very tall kids, the kids who walked funny and everyone laughed. I cried for the kids that had trouble in gym class cuz they got laughed at and I wanted to say, STOP!
That’s our society now, and we’re grownups now. Do people grow up on the inside? Naw, folks gossip. That’s the adult way that they tease, the grownup version of teasing the kids that are different.
Gossip takes on different forms and it’s often disguised. Your medical record, of course, contains gossip, stuff that isn’t scientific, but opinion based on no scientific measurement or data. This stuff gets spread around like wildfire.
Then there are the patronizing folks that claim they love you, but they don’t. They tell you, “We care so we spoke of you….” and you notice they yapped some untrue statement about you all over your school or your town or social media or wherever you hang out. How lovely. You feel like everyone hates you.
No, I refuse to leave off here and say life totally sucks and the human race sucks so bad that we lonely folks might as well give up. I’ll tell you why.
It’s not true, first of all, that everyone goes though extreme bad shit. Most people in our society have never been through extreme social isolation.
Okay, so imagine the writer at the writer’s retreat. Alone in a cabin for a month with no one around. He knows he has loving family waiting for him when he’s done writing that novel. Friends, family, a spouse, kids, his teaching job. Solitude is awesome for writers.
Now imagine having no idea how you ended up in that cabin. No loving family waiting. No publisher. No teaching job. No way home or out of there. No end in sight.
I’m here to tell you that you didn’t cause the “cabin in the woods” problem (it’s a metaphor I’m using). Societal hatred and of course, bad luck caused it. It’s not because of your “character” or “bad personality.”
Be patient and persistent. Don’t give up. I didn’t. I’m not lonely like I used to be. To end the extreme loneliness and social isolation, I didn’t have to fake it and pretend to be someone I wasn’t. I didn’t have to put on a mask. I didn’t have to be anyone’s slave or take bad happy pills or join a support group or “comply” or pretend or kiss anyone’s ass. I didn’t have to admit I was “wrong” and fake some confession. Because I wasn’t wrong! I was right all along. And slowly, folks are waking up to that fact. I do have friends now and I am cherished and loved. I feel proud of who I am.
Be yourself. You are wonderful just the way you are.
When you feel you are all alone in the world
When you are ready to give up and no one is by your side
When not one person agrees
When they all call you a liar
When everyone says you are wrong
When they all say “No”
When everywhere you turn, not one person is an ally
Maybe, just maybe, you AREN’T paranoid
Cuz guess what, baby, you might just be right after all.
Get a lawyer. I’m so glad I did.
I’m persistent and I have not given up.
Folks that knew me before know that stuff happened that wasn’t coolYeah, baby, I’m not crazy.
Schizoaffective? Baloney. Never was.
It was a nice club. It was fun lining up for the pills and socializing in the “meds” line with the other kids and yapping about how to cope with “side effects,” something to talk about, like the weather. We all went there when home life got a little boring. No wonder holiday weekends were so overcrowded on the units. No beds, always a long wait in the emergency rooms for “placement” being watched over by some security guard on those three-day weekends. Sure, my pals were on the units, all the regulars I knew so well, clean sheets, someone else mopped the floors.
My buddies started dying off. We all got zapped and jabbed too much. This was no vacation. Naw, no picnic. Waste of time. Senseless. I realized all these diseases I’d learned in the place and never had to begin with. Then, I suppose, awakening.
Many of us did. But as soon as we started talking, the docs weren’t happy, so they forcibly drugged us and pushed further “supervision” and unwanted “help” on us.
This was WAR.
No choice now but to walk out. Parades of us. It’s called antipsychiatry. A whole glorious movement, and there’s no stopping it now.
I’m proud to count myself as one, that is, a voice in that parade. Somehow, I’m speaking now and someone is reading my words.
I am telling you that the treatment of EATING DISORDERS is about the most inhumane mental health treatment out there. Is anyone listening to me? That’s what I discovered and I’m not going to shut up till someone listens.
I’ve got that trickle now. That is, VALIDATION.
Two years ago, no one was listening. Two years ago, I was alone in this and I was starting from scratch.
Never, ever shut up.
I phoned the place where I put in a housing application…as I figure it, mid-August 2012. At the time that I put in the application, I was told the wait list was two to three years. I guess the person was mistaken. These things happen. Not all people who work the desks are properly informed and they’re only clerks.
So all this time (it’s now the end of the year, 2013) I’ve figured, “My lucky day is coming soon,” and looked to that one bright day when some Angel from Heaven would sweep me out of this hellhole apartment here. I’ve hated it since the day I moved in.
I got up the courage and made the call today. Put on my cheery, polite, business-like telephone voice I taught myself years ago. I’m particularly good at it.
The clerk who answered the phone put me on hold after I made sure she got the correct spelling of “Greene.”
I waited. Prayed, if you could call it that.
She said, “Six to eight.”
Then she went on to say, “Years.”
Oh. My. God. Yep, she said I had oh so magically moved up the wait list by one year so now I would be waiting one less year. But the good news was that I was still “active.” Good news according to….
Um, I’m alive. Yeah. Fifty-five going on fifty-six. In eight years I’ll be legally collecting social security, not “disability.” Same ridiculously low amount I can’t even live on, same crap, lots more housing options. Without the “disability” label, I will be free of discrimination for good.
Because on my body, there is not one scientifically measurable trace of “mental illness.”
Well, I’m not staying in this crap apartment. Period. There’s got to be a way….
Time for Plan B. That’s what life is all about.
The tent idea wasn’t such a bad one after all, if only I wasn’t so physically sick. I need to get my health more together. I’m getting better in a few ways, in many ways in fact, and I’ll talk about that in another post…it’s rather exciting, in fact.
Don’t you love the way I never give up? I never, ever throw in the towel. Truth is, I’ve thrown them all in already…there’s nothing more left to throw in! If you got nothing left, if you find yourself alone and trapped in some dark place (through no doing of your own, I KNOW this is how it happens), please, crawl out any way you can. I’ve sure been there.
I’m in the process of rewriting the pages (what you see up top) here so that they read a bit differently. What you will see when I am done will clarify how I was misdiagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. So folks will come here and understand that yes, I did end up with that fake diagnosis on record, but never even had it! So the page will explain how that misunderstanding got made.
I am going to reword my eating disorder pages to clarify how that came about. I do have an eating disorder but I don’t believe eating disorders are mental illnesses. So the word “disorder” I can take out. Binge eating is not a word I use anymore. What I suffer from is inherited polyphagia. I still use the term anorexia and I believe in my case, my extreme dieting was a response to polyphagia, a desperate attempt to reign it in. Much of that happened simply because I had no clue what else to do, and no one to discuss the problem with. It was all a big secret. Same thing happened to my mom, but she was younger at the time and it resolved on its own for her.
I ended up with schizoaffective disorder on my record because I showed up at the System’s doorstep, begging for help. I literally asked for meds for binge eating. They said, “No way, you aren’t sick.” I should have gone away, but I was desperate for pills to fix the polyphagia. I thought there must be a pill for it. I went running to the hospital ER when begging outpatient didn’t work.
They had no clue what to do with me. Finally, I got admitted and they gave me an antianxiety drug (just to shut me up) kept me for five weeks while I dieted and shrank myself before their eyes, and then they sent me home, wondering how I’d gotten so skinny.
I came home and nothing had changed. I went running back to the warm, safe hospital. So the cycle began. This was a place where they loved me. It was a nice club. They gave me antipsychotics and noticed the drugs gave me akathesia. Akathesia means you have restless legs. I couldn’t stop pacing back and forth!
“Look, she appears to be schizophrenic!” remarked one doctor.
“She sure paces like a lunatic,” said another.
“Her speech is slurred.”
“She’s confused. She’s stiff and her movements are jerky, just like one of those schizos. We’ll put her on the books as schiz, shall we?”
So this was how I ended up with my psychosis misdiagnosis.
Funny, but not so funny cuz once you get misunderstood like that, you are discredited for life. Legally, too, and permanently, and that’s not all that funny.
There are answers.
But first, you have to be committed to walking away from the merry-go-round, that is, to NOT returning to the “club” of the hospital. This is not where your friends are. No, they don’t love you here. It’s fake love. They are being paid. They turn on you. Even the nice ones. But it takes years to find this out, and the nice pretty pills turn, too.
I stopped calling it “recovery” a while ago. I had no clue why I refused to call it that. Now, I know. Why call it “recovery” if there was no illness to begin with? There was nothing to recover from. Much was “treatment-acquired,” just childish habits I quit doing.
You can, too, but please, decide for yourself. You are not what someone else says you are. No one is a hopeless. No one is “incapable of change.” Only you define who you are, and the person you can become.
What did you think I was talking about? The rent? No, that’s a given. Yeah, that, too, and Puzzle’s monthly doggie medicine. No, I intend to bore all you men to tears and talk nonstop about my period. And some women as well.
Guess what? I’m done. Are you crying yet? If so, I suggest a box of Kleenex, or any brand of tissues, instead of your sleeve. Go hug your dog. This is the best thing to do while you are crying. Stay away from the shrinks cuz if you go and tell one that “Some lady talked about her period till I cried,” you are bound to get locked up, either as a depressive or,
If you male and look the part (somewhat tough-looking, like you just got out of prison) you might get labeled a sex offender whether you have committed a crime or not.
Trust me, either way, telling these dudes over and over that you are a regular reader of Julie Greene’s blog is most likely going not going to get you out of the mental institution or prison, and more likely, will get you exactly nowhere. Or you’ll just get funny looks. But I’ll talk about that later. I need to go find the pads and tampons and say goodnight.
I dropped out of Nano, but now, I’m beginning to wonder. I’ve done so much blogging that I wonder what the word count total is between my nano project and all the blogging I did afterward, all total! Does it come close to 50,000, or am I way off base? That plus the stray comments here and there that I’ve left on various miscellaneous sites here and there, my all-self-important opinion cuz I am the Center of the Universe, which I can’t say too loudly cuz I’ll be accused of PARANOIA, but that doesn’t add up to that much more in terms of word count anyway.
Oh, I am so, so important. I only say that because I hate being ignored.
I’m too lazy to count up my words right now. Only curious. What the heck.
How you use words is vital. Are you ready to rewrite yourself?
Who has called you “mentally ill”? Think about it. Think about what it means to be ill and well.
When we were young, we’d get a sore throat. First, just a scratch, then our throats would hurt more and more. We’d begin to feel tired and unusually warm. Finally, maybe we’d tell our mom or dad, “I think I feel sick. I don’t feel up to going to school today.”
Some kids didn’t say a word and they’d try to go to school anyway. Maybe something fun was happening at school that day, or more likely, they felt pressure over homework or sports. Sometimes, a teacher or coach would notice the kid looked sick and would send the kid to the nurse. The kid would end up going home with a note.
That was what “sick” meant in my day. You couldn’t do things you usually could do, and you spent a lot of time in bed and not in school. I liked the “not in school” part and I liked that I got to spend time in my room alone. If you were sniffly and your sore throat didn’t go away and your fever wouldn’t stop, someone eventually dragged you off for a throat culture, which came out positive or negative, and depending, you’d end up on penicillin. What was good about a positive throat culture was that it guaranteed more private room time. Or that’s how I saw it. More private writing time for me. Sleeping felt good. It sure beat school with all the mean kids and teachers.
So what is “mentally ill”? It’s something different, isn’t it? You can’t measure it with any thermometer, especially not those cheap plastic ones they now insist we buy. Not even that old-fashioned accurate glass one you secretly stowed away and you hope never breaks (I won’t tattle on you) will EVER detect mental illness. So if your kid has mental illness, how will you know it? How will you be able to properly measure it and make a decision to your kid home from school?
Answer #1: Not everything is measurable with scientific tools.
Answer #2: Not everything that’s human is within the spectrum of “illness” and “wellness.” Therefore, not all human experience needs a medical “diagnosis.”
Answer #3: When making decisions about the direction of the lives of our children, we should include them in the decision-making, depending on their willingness to take responsibility for themselves. As elders, we can only hope our children’s maturity and wisdom increases with time.
You may be surprised to hear me admit to Answer #4: Not everything can be expressed in words.
I can’t speak for others. I had heard of “mental illness” when I was growing up in the 1960′s and 1970′s, but I thought it was for young Frankenstein monsters and their new, adopted brains and for runaway kids or for unlucky kids who accidentally took very bad drugs at teenage parties and then afterward, no matter what anyone did, the very bad drugs wouldn’t come out of their bodies. I knew there were kids who were rumored to be “screwed up,” but if I asked around and investigated, I’d eventually find out the kid had been in a tragic car accident or had a very bad sports injury that didn’t heal properly. I spoke with a girl who took many pills. I asked her why she did this and she said her head hurt all the time and no one believed her, so she took pills to make the pain go away. She said the pills made her stomach hurt. I asked her what the pills were. She said it was a new thing called Tylenol. she said she found it in her parents’ bathroom but there was more at the corner drugstore.
These memories I have from my school of these kids represented the typical ones thought of as “screwed up.” These kids, I believe, eventually were sent to “shrinks.” That’s the last I heard and I have no idea how their lives ended up.
There were the drinkers and party-goers. These were popular kids and this drinking activity, even if done to excess and even if occasion breaking of the law was done all in good fun and even if a car was involved, unless a kid died of course, this was all considered “normal” and the kids ended up “successful,” got married and made loads of money. Our class presidents and various popular offices up and down the lines, over the years, drank quite a bit, and this was “acceptable.” Kids like this went to college after public school as pre-meds and such, partied their way through college and then became a rich doctors, accountants, business people, and proper law-abiding citizens that we all admire. Can we measure this, please? Numbers? Diagnosis? How many “friends”……
Oh, the road not taken……
Anyway, no “shrink” sitting in some office today believes I came from such a town. Who knows what they think! The shrinks assume I am hard of hearing, that my vocabulary is severely limited, and surely, I am incapable of remembering my hometown at all, so what does it matter? They take one look at me and assume I’m a dimwit. Great diagnosis.
I must be a mass of confused emotion. Mania. Tourettes for sure. What’s that one where you deliberately pull pieces of hair out? It begins with T. That’s one I don’t want cuz I happen to value my hair. I need a disease that causes me to pull my boobs out and hopefully they stay out and don’t pop back in. That would be handy so I wouldn’t have to put on a bra every day.
Maybe shrinks need to get “obsessively staying on a permanent vacation break” disorder. Every single one of them. How about putting them all on a leper island? We need to put thick walls around the island with secure locks on those gates to keep the shrinks locked in. Let’s protect our society! Homeland Security at its finest!
Maybe I have “Silly Blogger All Alone on Thanksgiving with Nothing Better to Do Disorder.”
It all depends on nomenclature. What you choose to call it. So around age 23, and surely, by 24, I had adopted the term, “Mental Illness.” This was my new identity. I threw it around like Halloween candy.
I didn’t have mental illness, but what I’d found in fact was a new bunch of folks to hang out with and the new bunch of folks seemed cool and accepting enough. I have no clue what was REALLY going on with anyone there. Cuz under all the layers was a history I never, ever heard. It all got buried. Therapized and translated into MEDICAL and PSYCHIATRIC terminology that wasn’t our true life experience. These professionals translated it and gave us a new vocabulary. We then adopted this vocabulary.
It’s essential to retrain ourselves to stop using their language if we want to ever think for ourselves again. No, I don’t agree with some of these “programs” that insist that “medical terminology” and all “clinical language” is TABOO. No way. I do agree that we need to redefine ourselves AS WE ARE, NOT AS WE HAVE BEEN DIAGNOSED BY SOMEONE ELSE.
YOU ARE NOT A DIAGNOSIS. Are we clear on this?
Do you believe rumors about a person, or do you believe what you see based on your own five senses when you meet the person face-to-face?
The diagnosis is the rumor. You are who you are face-to-face.
From now on, I don’t suffer from Binge Eating Disorder. Before I entered therapy, I had never heard the word “binge.” Nor had I heard of “eating disorders,” and you bet I had no imaginary “Ed,” either, and no fairy godfather Voice of Ed ever talked to me! I’ve tried and tried to hear this “Ed,” and the therapists insisted that I talk to this imaginary “Ed,” but really, I would rather talk to God and tell God to please take the therapists off my hands.
I do, on the other hand, suffer from an inherited set of traits that lead to periodic polyphagia, that and my varying desperate strategies with this oddity. If anything went wrong that you could call “disorder,” it was the disorderly fashion that the World of Mental Health and its totalitarian personnel and structures dealt with me over the next three and a half decades.
The sad consequence was the split in my immediate family following my dad’s death. No, I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t sin. I didn’t do anything morally bad that caused the split or say anything or omit anything. But I feel that if I hadn’t been immersed in the System, that is, the Mental Health System, this split wouldn’t have occurred. No way do I blame any kind of “illness.” I didn’t have one as I define it. The System decided I have one and what was this but a rumor, their definition, someone else’s opinion. I guess most of my family made up their minds based on rumor alone.
Today, Thanksgiving, this saddens me.
I had a great day, though. Puzzle and I hung out. I wrote this piece. I realized that much time has passed and I am moving further and further away from the System. As this happens, I am regaining my ability to write.
Gradually, I am shedding my old ways, and adopting new ways. It’s amazing that now that I no longer have to cope with pressure from “therapists,” hounding me about my eating, I no longer feel the need to go running to the scale to “check” my weight to make sure I still have a meager amount of “control” left. I’m thrilled that I can make my own food choices without someone grilling me all the time about what I eat, or forcing me to make some grueling confession once or twice a week. Sure, I mess up plenty, and would love some advice, but the freedom sure has been worth it. I am far less panicky over my weight than I ever was.
Slowly, I am making new connections and reconnecting relationships that lay dormant while I was far too immersed in “therapy,” not my fault, but thankfully, a few friends realized this and stuck around patiently. I am grateful for their persistence. I am amazed that while some, true, have turned their backs, many others have stuck around and see what happened for what it is and nothing more. They know that in time, I’ll be okay.
As for those that turned their backs, it’s sad. Many simply didn’t know me “before,” or they think that I was always the “Angry Julie” I’ve turned into over the past two years or so, not realizing that it was only a due to psychiatric abuse (abuse from therapists, etc) and not some weird personality fluke of mine or moral problem or even starvation.
I’m actually getting better. Not only trying to figure out how to rebuild my life, but I’ve already started rebuilding it. This excites me immensely. You have to start somehow. You put down one brick. Then another. Eventually, I’ll have a built myself a enough stepping stones to reach the mainland. They say no man is an island, and if I keep at it, I won’t have to be alone anymore.
Hi again. I am bursting with writing ideas I want to share with you all on this Thanksgiving Day. I promise I won’t bore you with a gratitude list unless it’s something completely different from what everyone else is putting up there. As you know, or you may not, there’s no big table here, no kiddies, no turkey, no mom and pop, no football afterward, no family arguments, no family to argue with. So I’m quite happy NOT to be boring you today with any tales of the usual Thanksgiving nuisance. I’ve been spared that for about 10 years now.
I want to mention briefly that for a while my local online paper, which the locals do read I suppose, stopped sending me emails and I have no clue why. Then, the e-mails just as mysteriously resumed. I was out of touch with local politics for a while and I don’t own a TV. By coincidence, the gap coincided with our local election.
It’s difficult for me to relate to many issues here in town that families with kids face, cuz I’ve never had any. I can’t relate to people who have lots of money and want even more money. I see both sides of the fence sometimes, but mostly, it makes want to cry when low-income people and people without jobs, adequate housing, and healthcare are disregarded. I see the stigmatization of the poor as a growing problem here as there is so much emphasis on beautifying our town.
So one evening, I got a personal phone call. This caller saying her “brother-in-law” was one of the candidates.
My Google Voice spams the recorded calls from the autodialers, which I appreciate. I can look back in my phone records, but I believe this call was indeed from Watertown, or at least appeared to be.
So this lady told me all about her brother-in-law. You guys know how lonely I am. We’d been on the phone about 45 seconds, maybe less, when I said, “I’m so touched that you called me personally. No one bothers with me anymore.’ I told her about my political concerns. She said, “I’ll tell him right away.”
Was she really his sister-in-law, or some hired person? If she was hired, she was a good faker. She was a nice person, too, and seemed to know what I was talking about when I mentioned certain local issues. Not only that, she touched my heart that night. But I feel taken advantage of.
They sure know who’s lonely in Watertown.
I can’t recall which stop it was on the Orange Line I was at a week or so ago. It wasn’t a bad night to go out, so I figured I’d linger around and observe the humans. People everywhere with cell phones, in groups, schmoozing in and around each other, some already beginning on their first drinks of this Saturday night. You know how I am. I watched to see what would happen.
So I saw this dude and I felt so sorry for him. Guess it takes one to know one, as they say. I knew right away: must be Tardive Dyskinesia. What’s worse, he had some stick-like thing in his hand, waving the darned thing. I kept saying to myself that he seemed to have so little control over what his extremities did that he’d better be careful with the stick. Considering he had that “mental patient look,” he was likely to get locked up, waving the stick around in a way that would cause a stir.
I felt so sorry for him. I myself narrowly escaped TD. I am lucky that I stopped the antipsychotics when I did. Most my age are not so fortunate. This guy, let me tell you, had it all over his body, both arms waving this way and that, and his entire torso joined in, too, swaying around. People were watching him, staring, in fact, following his movements intensely. I told myself, “Watch out, Buddy, you’re gonna get nabbed.”
But he kept going. A crowd gathered. Not only that, a bunch more kooks came. I said to myself, “Did some mental hospital let everyone out on pass?” Of course, I was joking to myself. Maybe they were just dudes from some local bar, already high as kites. They looked wicked stoned or strung out, though, on something I sure never took.
So these people were singing at the top of their lungs. Eeks! Bunch of them. Standing up and singing. I figured you gotta be rather drunk to dare to do something like that in public. I told myself these dudes will be arrested if they keep up the ruckus. They kept up their singing for a very long time. I was surprised at the attention they got.
Some street musicians joined in the fun, but I said to myself, “These street musicians must feel embarrassed associating with a bunch of mental patients and drunks. We have such fine street musicians here in Boston, and I think they should stay away from these loser types, lest it ruin their reputation.”
You wouldn’t believe the nonsense stuff the singers were singing, too. I figure you gotta have some kind of OCD to repeat the same lines over and over like that. Who else would do that? Isn’t that what the disorder is called? Or is it Tourettes if it’s done out loud? But if it’s in a group, is it a “shared delusion?”
Then, of course, I had to consider myself. I was sitting. I and my companions were seated in a row in the audience, and when the performance was over, everyone gave the conductor, the entire opera cast, chorus and orchestra a hearty, warm, and vigorous standing ovation.
Name of opera: Four Saints in Three ActsLibretto: Gertrude Stein
Composer: Virgil Thompson
BMOP, Jordan Hall, Boston, MA
November 16, 2013.