Monthly Archives: January 2012
As I have previously stated, my brain doesn’t work properly. This is going to impede my ability to write this article, but I will do my best. I have been sitting here a while, in fact, knowing exactly what I wanted to write, but somehow, I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do. Then, I figured it out: Write.
I plan to be specific, detailed, and graphic. I may use numbers that specify my weight or pounds lost or gained, calories, and other things people count and measure. I will mention specific foods. I will describe in detail some very sick and dangerous things that I have done. I will talk about body parts. I will quote some of my negative self-talk. I think a lot of readers, whether they have an eating disorder or not, will find this article disturbing. I am not writing this for the purpose of disturbing people. Actually, I hope you read this. I am writing it for two purposes: first of all, as always, to tell the world just how insidious this illness can be, and also to share my story because I know now that I am not the only one who engages in these insane behaviors. I know that there are others, and I know that perhaps some folks reading this may recognize that they experience some of the same things that I do. No, you are not alone! I am right here with you. I guess you could say I have a third purpose in writing this, and that is the simple joy of getting something written.
I suspect that my blog upsets people. I have an upsetting life, and this is why people don’t want to be friends with me. It’s too painful to be around me. I cry all the time and don’t eat, and a lot of the time, I talk nonsense. But I’m happy that I don’t have a political blog. There are so many political blogs out there, angry political blogs, and others that are not so angry. I am a child of the 60’s when everyone was angry and political. Some grew out of it and some never did. I never got into it in the first place. If you read here in my blog about my childhood, perhaps you can understand why, and perhaps this explains why I have a minimal amount of political material here in my blog. The only way that I get political is when I get revved up about the way society treats people with mental illnesses, and the general ignorance in society about eating disorders. In sharing my upsetting life here in this upsetting blog, I hope to break down some of that ignorance. I am a real, 54-year-old woman and I really do experience these things. See me. Hear me. Believe me.
Maybe I’ll start with last Saturday, the 21st of January. I woke up exhausted and the first thing in my head was, “Ugliest fat stomach you can imagine.” I hadn’t eaten for a couple of days. Today was going to be another. I peed, then weighed myself. Upon seeing the number, I said to myself, “Gross.” All day, I was in a bad, bad bitchy-headache mood so intense and angry that I found myself unable to write. Believe it or not, this bitchy-headache mood is unusual. I was turning into an anger machine. I didn’t realize it, but I was very quickly becoming depressed.
I came home from the library having produced nothing. Out of curiosity, I took my vital signs. Because of this antidepressant I take, my pulse runs high, around 94, and my blood pressure runs a little high as well, the diastolic around 85. Now that I think of it, my antidepressant has probably saved my life by keeping my pulse from dropping super low like it was last summer, although I got readings in the 40’s a month ago. Saturday night it was 54, but my blood pressure was as usual. I kept my fingers crossed that I would feel okay tomorrow, okay enough to get myself to church. I hoped, also, that I wouldn’t feel faint in church.
Sunday morning I awoke at 4:30. Before weighing myself, I guessed my weight. I was right on the mark. I had lost three and a half pounds since yesterday. But within minutes, I was in that same bitchy-headache mood…again. I returned to bed to try to shake this awful feeling. Sleep helped. I was able to get to church, and that, too, helped a great deal. I find that church calms me in a way that nothing else can. Church is also exhilarating and energizing. My headache was gone afterward. As I walked home, I still felt like I was a walking clenched fist, but I said to myself that at least I recognized that fist. If only I could rid myself of this anger! I stole off to the library as quickly as I could and got a bit done on my book, then came home.
By now I’m sure I recognized that the anger in me was the same non-stop anger that I felt in October, the feeling I had that both preceded and accompanied the severe depression I went through at that time. I couldn’t tell you how long the depression lasted. The eating binges that went along with the depression were horrific. At that time, the answer was indeed a pill. I’m still taking that pill. Has it stopped working? Or am I so malnutritioned that whatever pill I take won’t make a difference anyway?
I think it was around 8pm, Sunday night. My memory is a little spotty. I’m kind of blanked out on the vegetables. I hadn’t eaten for several days. I had some lettuce, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts in the fridge. I told myself that lettuce was very high in calories and that it would be better to eat cabbage if I were to eat solid food at all. I measured a little in a measuring cup, and wrote down the calories. I did this again. Then I broke into the entire bag, sat down leaning over it, and threw handfuls of shredded cabbage into my mouth. The dog ate what fell onto the floor.
Either it took several hours to eat all these vegetables, or I lost time and went into a confused state for a while. I’m sure it was past 11 when I went wandering into the hall. No one was out there. No one saw. I had with me a small empty opaque bag and a small bag of miscellaneous trash to throw out. I tried the second floor trash room first. The trash room door is heavy, and the overhead lights make a tell-tale squeal as soon as you turn them on. The barrels were just about empty. Just cigarette boxes in a plastic bag. I exited and closed the door behind me as quietly as I could. There had been no elevator activity during the past few minutes. I pressed the “Up” button, hoping no one was awake on the third floor. What excuse could I make for being up there? But the third floor was as dead as the second. Nothing had been left on the table in the hallway for scroungers. In the trash room I spotted a small bag with two small, heavy, rectangular boxes inside. Candy. Chocolate, probably. Uneaten. My treasure. One of the boxes had been broken into by mice. The cardboard box had been chiseled into sawdust by tiny teeth in spots, revealing the candies, and they were indeed chocolate. I would have to be careful not to let the sawdust spill in transport. I tossed out my actual trash, which I was carrying just as an excuse to venture into a trash room, and placed the bag of candy into my empty opaque bag. No one saw me return to my apartment.
Brandy-filled chocolate, expensive type, real booze, alcohol included. Only a couple of pieces had been completely devoured by mice. Three or four had been partially bitten into. These I tossed out, hoping that I wouldn’t dig into the trash later on and retrieve them. There were easily forty pieces in the box that I ate. I found the brandy repulsive. The chocolate was chocolate like any other. The smaller box was outdated and the inner brandy had completely evaporated. The chocolate was discolored, stale, and brittle. Some was so hard that it cut into my mouth as I tried to chew it. I tried not to think about my unsuspecting third-floor neighbor who had tossed out these chocolates. I never even knew who lived on the third floor. Now, I really didn’t want to know. I wrapped up the empty boxes and threw them out in the second floor trash room, put on my coat, and went out. Frozen pizza, bread, peanut butter, a pound of cheese, sour cream, chocolate-covered raisins, cookies, I don’t remember what else. I ate. I collapsed on the bed.
In the middle of the night sometime, something happened that even now slips in and out of memory. I experienced severe leg and foot cramps. I have heard that cramps of this sort arise out of nutritional issues. At the time, I thought that the cramping would never, ever end, that I would be permanently in a state of immobility and pain, lying on my bed, trying to work out the knots and kinks that deep down I knew had been caused by my own inability to feed myself reasonably like everyone else.
Yes, I was fully aware that I was overwhelming my body in more ways than the binge itself. My digestive system hadn’t seen food, or any calories, for days and couldn’t handle anything solid. I should have had spoonfuls of vegetable juice to start off with, every few hours or so, awakening my body. There is indeed such thing as being in a starvation state. It’s no myth. Because I hadn’t eaten, ingesting anything more than the tiniest amounts of nutrients to start with was putting a strain on my heart and my entire body.
That night, I awoke, stuffed myself, and collapsed again, several times. It was somewhere during this process, probably during the brief moment before losing consciousness, that I realized, each time, that it was unlikely that I’d wake up again.
Monday morning. Therapy today. I can’t do this. I canceled both appointments last week and I feel pressured to go in. Just can’t imagine going in like this. I e-mailed my T, not knowing what to say. I went back to bed.
I dragged myself to my appointment. I dragged myself home. I went back to bed.
If anything happened food-wise Monday, it went unrecorded and forgotten. Or maybe I can’t even think about it all.
I awoke at 4 or 4:30am or so Tuesday, and found my browser pointed to dunkindonuts dot com to find out which shop opened first. Mount Auburn Street opened at 5, Main Street at 5:30. Mount Auburn Street was farther away. The route back was all back roads, dimly lit, so I wouldn’t be seen. The only other time I’d been there was late at night, so the chances of being recognized by an employee were next to nil. But Main Street was so much closer. I had to walk on a main road and cross at a major intersection, but very few people were out to begin with. Most of the customers at Dunkin Donuts at this time of morning are in a hurry to get to work, and the chances of seeing someone I knew, such as a former neighbor, weren’t too great. If I did, I would scoot out of there fast. I brought with me two large bags.
Dunkin Donuts has packaging for a dozen donuts that’s about as idiotic as you can imagine. It’s a flat box. The dozen donuts lie flat out next to each other, face up, on display, instead of nestled side-by-side sensibly in a brick-shaped box. This flat box will pop open unless you ask the employee to put “stickers” on it. They have to use stickers because they have no tape. Undoubtedly, the employee will only put on one sticker, or will put the stickers on incorrectly, and the box will pop open anyway if you don’t instruct the employee properly. In the past, I have had the box pop open and donuts have fallen on the floor. I ate them anyway.
But the main problem with this idiotic box is not that it pops open. It’s that you have to walk around with it. There’s nothing to cover it. Sure, Dunkin Donuts has a big bag for it every now and then that they might offer you, but it says “Dunkin Donuts” on it, so what’s the use? If you’re carrying the box, everyone knows. If you’re carrying something in a huge Dunkin Donuts bag, everyone knows. If you’re walking around with anything resembling a flat box and carrying it flat, by god it’s either pizza or Dunkin Donuts and I don’t want my neighbors seeing me walk into my apartment with either of these. Especially the dozen donuts.
That’s where the two bags came in handy. One bag for the stupid flat box. The box fit perfectly. The other bag for the four pumpkin muffins. The employee hardly paid attention to me, just did her job. She wasn’t even awake yet.
I don’t know how long it took me to devour all this. The donuts were gone in one sitting, but I slowed down on the muffins. I was in bed for the rest of the day, seriously depressed.
It must have been after the rest of the East Coast had finished supper that I began to consider hospitalization. Of course, the hospital would do nothing for me. But at least I’d get a break from this. Maybe a couple of days. At most hospitals, they just put you down, call you “chronic,” misdiagnose you, laugh at you behind your back, shake their heads, and when they send you along your way, they say, “See you next time.” Well, fuck them. I could try to get into the place I was in in September. They didn’t once laugh at me. They were so kind to me that I cried because I felt like I didn’t deserve it.
I must have picked up the phone, stared at it, or dialed it and then hung up, or dialed wrong, maybe twenty times, and then gave up. I fell asleep. I woke up and called the crisis team. I always question myself when I call them. They are a funny bunch. I’ve had varying experiences calling them. The service used to be run by another company, and before that, yet another company was running it, but I’m not exactly certain. There was a point at which pretty much anyone who answered the phone would give me the same answer. This was several years ago. “We don’t know anything about eating disorders. That is a medical issue. Go to the emergency room.” That was basically what I’d get. Then there was a time that I’d call them, and the minute I’d open my mouth and say half a word, I mean half, not a whole word even, they’d say, “This is not an emergency.” They’d give me the number of this patient-run “warm-line” to call. No way am I going to call this number and talk to someone that I might know out of my past life as a mental patient from, say, twenty years ago. They were just as fucked up as I was and I don’t want to remember them or associate with them. So if I call the crisis team, I risk the “We don’t know about ED” or “This is not an emergency” responses, but recently I did get a very amusing response from a crisis team person. At the time, though, I didn’t find it funny. Starvation has its way of slowing down my thinking and my speech. Sometimes, my speech is a little slurred, and that combined with the occasional difficulty I have pronouncing some consonants due to missing molars…well you guessed it. The crisis person told me to call back when I was sober, and hung up. So I sat there with the phone in my hand for a long time, but that night I did call, and someone useful answered the phone. Not only that, she wrote down my stats, so the next person I speak with will know a few things before calling me a drunkard and hanging up on me. We worked out a plan, just some simple things I’d try to get done in the next hour or two, and then I’d call them back.
I never got even the simplest thing on the list done. I felt like the depression alone would make me drop dead. But the phone rang. Late. I assumed it was a telemarketer. But my called ID said that it was my therapist. Really? No human being had called me in ages. It was late and I could almost see the lifeline, from me, to her voice.
My therapist and I haven’t communicated, or shall I say I have been pulling away from her, since maybe October, or November, or maybe I should say starting in October, then a little more in November when I went to London, then in mid-December you could say there was this complete split. She went on vacation and I thought I’d be dead by the time she came back. I still don’t know what to do about the split. But there she was, on the phone. I told her I was surprised that she was calling because I thought she only cared about the patients who were motivated to do well and get better.
She said she cares very much about me.
I knew, right then, that she was telling the truth.
As I write these words I remember that last summer when I was at Mass General (the “Prestigious Boston Hospital”) and in such a weakened state that I couldn’t even get out of bed, weighing eighty pounds, dehydrated and malnourished, my brain slowed and confused, refusing to eat, my heart rate at times dipping under thirty beats per minute….She was there. She came every day. This is my therapist.
We talked for several minutes. She asked me not to cancel my appointment with my PCP, Dr. K, tomorrow, Wednesday, even though it had been my plan to cancel everything that week. I normally have therapy on Thursday, but this week, my T is in New York for a training or conference or something like that. I agreed to show up for my appointment with Dr. K, whom I see weekly. Or at least I’m supposed to see her weekly.
I awoke Wednesday and promised myself cross my heart hope to die stick a needle in my eye that I wouldn’t eat today. I peed and weighed myself. I had gained nine and a half pounds in three days.
Then I looked in the mirror at my fat face. Perhaps there was a quarter inch of added flesh on my cheeks. I could feel it when I moved my mouth and bit down and smiled. Chubby face. A couple of days of not eating, or eating next to nothing, and the fat cheeks would be gone. I tried getting myself showered and dressed, but my mind slipped into starvation madness. I repeatedly begged myself to stay sane, but it wasn’t within my control. It took hours to get ready to see Dr. K, just to get dressed, get Puzzle out, brush my teeth.
In the cab, I knew I was useless for conversation. I usually try to talk about things. The traffic, the weather, previous customers. Do you think I should have brought my umbrella? We’ve been lucky this January. But I was silent. It didn’t matter because my mind was talking up a storm.
I tipped the driver generously, and got out at my doctor’s office. They were having some kind of pizza or burritos or something at the office for someone’s birthday. Not only that, but they were eating these huge pieces of pizza and burritos. I told my doctor that I had turned 54, much to my surprise. She gave me a hospital gown to put on once I’d taken my clothes off. If your mind doesn’t work right, this undressing and dressing process can be long and involved and experimental and fascinating and have lots of stuff in it worth writing down.
Dr. K checked everything and asked a lot of questions. She weighed me even though I didn’t want her to. Of course I hadn’t eaten all day, but I’d had a heck of a lot of water to drink, and I admitted this to her. Apparently I drank a half gallon that morning. For me, that’s not particularly extreme or much to be concerned about. I’m not supposed to do that before getting weighed, though. I told Dr. K that I had been incredibly thirsty. She said that’s okay. I think she was more worried about other stuff. Like my overall deterioration. She asked me if I was going to be okay going home. I said I would. I went to the lab to have my blood drawn. They remember me at that lab, or at least they remember the good vein I have in my left arm. I am always polite and kind to them. It’s important to be polite and kind to people.
Much later, I was in the library, finishing my writing. I had been there a few hours. I don’t think it was yet closing time, but I decided to leave because I didn’t want to dig into a different project. I was satisfied with what I had written and decided it was okay enough to leave alone for now. I started to pack up. I stood. I immediately felt faint, but this wasn’t postural hypotension, which is the sudden lowering of blood pressure upon rising. I know this feeling and I’m generally not prone to it. Then, all at once, confusion, and fear because I didn’t even know where I was! Was I in a hospital? Where was Puzzle? Where were my glasses? I knew I had to get out of there.
I don’t know what it was about the opening of the automatic sliding doors and the cold, fresh air on my face that awakened me and brought me back a bit closer to sanity and away from the disorientation that I had felt. At least I had found my way out of the library. But when I got to the sidewalk, instead of turning right to go home, I turned left, to the CVS. Using my CVS coupon, I purchased two frozen pizzas (I was rather fussy about which brand frozen pizza to get) and an 8-oz bag of candy. These I carried in a large canvas shopping bag. I often see people I know in CVS, neighbors, frequently. I make a habit of “casing the joint” upon entering that store, going up and down the aisles looking for familiar faces. If I see one, I bolt out of there and buy nothing. This includes if I’m just going there for toothpaste. But I saw no familiar faces this time. I closed the canvas bag tightly in my hand when I left the store so no one would see the pizzas. As soon as I was at a safe distance, I removed the bag of candy from the canvas bag, ripped off the top, opened the zip-lock, and placed it in my jacket pocket. It fit perfectly, with no tell-tale wrapper showing. The candy was “for the road.” It was ideal for this purpose. No melting on my hands. No embarrassing brown chocolate on my lips. Soft enough not to rip up my gums. And no crumbs.
I stopped at Tedeschi’s, too. Thankfully, the cashier was one that I didn’t think had me pinned as a binge eater…yet, anyway. I purchased foods that are totally non-suspect: a loaf of 12-grain bread, peanut butter (18-oz, bargain brand, smooth, can’t stand crunchy), a pound of sour cream, a pound of elbow pasta. Basically the same as Monday.
Several hours later, it is clear to me that my stomach is filled about as full as it ever has been, ever. We’re talking about not only a thirty-two-year history of this bingeing behavior, but a gradual weakening of the stomach wall due to stomach cell necrosis. The reason that the stomach cells die is because the stomach has been stretched to the limit so many times, and this causes cutting off of the blood supply to stomach cells, so they die. Dead cells don’t stretch. They are brittle. They break instead. This is why each time my stomach is stretched, the risk of stomach rupture is greater.
Yes, I knew the risk, and I knew I was in danger. So what did I do? I drank a couple of glasses of water. Yes, I filled my stomach further. Stupid? I suppose. I was thirsty. Extremely thirsty.
I knew damned well that all it would take would be an involuntary yawn and it would be all over.
I lay down. Within thirty seconds, I was asleep.
You see, I don’t want to die of a stomach rupture. I don’t want to die with a wicked huge belly. I don’t want to die in a binge. I don’t want to die with binge food all over my kitchen counter. I don’t want to be remembered as one who died from pigging out.
That was a lot, lot, lot of food I bought Wednesday evening. I didn’t finish it until Thursday at around 4pm. I spent Thursday in bed.
All day Thursday, my stomach remained stretched to the limit. Let me describe it to you. I am talking about a round belly, sticking out on three of four sides, a little different from nine months pregnant but definitely just as big or bigger than pregnant considering it was on the sides as well. The pressure was very uncomfortable. That’s not exactly the word for it…I’d say the pressure was unbearable, as was the stretching feeling. If I could have thrown up everything that was inside my stomach I surely would have, for comfort’s sake, but I’ve never been able to do this. Probably sometime when I was a child, I trained myself to suppress the reflex to vomit. Not only that, I’ve suppressed the memory of why I’ve suppressed the reflex. I’ve even tried Ipacac and was miserable for hours and hours and hours…then a little spittle, nothing more….I only did that once. But back to my stomach….I would have taken a photo, but posting it would have been in poor taste and would have shown parts of my body I’d rather not have posted online.
The rest of my body was not nearly as shocking, or at least not to the ordinary eye, or so I would imagine, but still, I found it disturbing enough in my own eyes. My arms were still skinny skinny skinny anorexic, the last remaining holdouts. I found it extremely disturbing that my ribs were rapidly disappearing, both in front and over my entire back. My collarbones didn’t protrude as much as I wanted; in fact, there was quite a bit of change in this area. Thankfully, there wasn’t much change in my hands or wrists…yet. And my legs were downright awful. The chronic edema I have is bad enough and follows no pattern, not really. I can starve for ages and consume no salt and still have edema. Today, my ankles didn’t bulge over my shoes, but my socks made huge ugly dents in my calves. Edema doesn’t hurt at all but it does ruin my self-esteem. My entire legs were thick with it. My thighs were an added two or three inches in thickness. That’s a lot on a short skinny person.
Ultimately, it was because of my huge stomach that I couldn’t wear clothes Thursday. Nothing fit. I would have had to wear nine months pregnant maternity clothes, and I’m not certain that those would have fit because the bulging was on three sides, not just in front. I couldn’t go out in pajamas and I couldn’t go out looking like this. I ended up putting a long coat over pajamas to take Puzzle out. This was the only reason I would need to leave the apartment, and surely, I wouldn’t leave the apartment for any other reason! I had pajama bottoms sort of hung under my huge belly and over my butt and hoped for the best. On top I wore one of my large, large shirts that I’ve kept over the years. Many of these I threw out because I couldn’t tolerate the memories of being nearly two hundred pounds. Those shirts…it was too painful to look at them…I couldn’t stand it. But there were others that I kept that are huge but I don’t have the same association for whatever reason. I sleep in them many nights. I made a quick exit out the back door, and entered back into the building as quickly as possible with Puzzle, looking at no one. If it were summer, I don’t know what I would have done. I couldn’t have hidden a belly like that.
I believe I slept for a period of four hours, from 9pm Thursday until 1am Friday, and awoke feeling that something had changed. What was this? I had weighed myself Wednesday morning, chastised myself for my fat face, and vowed that I would not eat all day. Then, of course, I broke this vow. Fell flat on that fat face I hated so much. Why, now, did I want to go through all this again and weigh myself and find some body part to criticize, again? Wasn’t this what my mother did to me all my life? Even after I left “home” for good, she always picked a body part of mine, heck, any body part she could think of, and beat it to bits with her commentary. What is the point of this? Why play her game?
Fuck the scale. It didn’t matter if I stepped on it or not, after all. I decided to step on it. Between Sunday at 4:30am and Friday at 1am, that is, Thursday night late, I had gained eighteen pounds.
I was now a reasonable weight for my height. Hah! Did I feel reasonable? I felt absolutely miserable physically. My stomach felt pressure all around and stretched to the limit, my back was killing me from pressure, my bowels felt stuffed, my whole body stuffed with crap, I had a headache, and was miserably carbed 0ut, overheated from metabolism overdrive, and depressed. I wasn’t even thinking about the eighteen pounds. This was a given.
It was 1am and something had changed. Even before stepping on the scale, I knew I had reached a point of turnaround. I felt it in the air around me and inside me. Not only that, but I was going to talk about what had happened to me this week. I felt that by sharing my story, I might help someone feel less alone. I began this blog entry. For four hours or so, I wrote. It was rather tough and slow going. I daydreamed a lot and got distracted and deleted stuff. Eventually, I got tired and slept.
I awoke much later and weighed three pounds less. I knew I needed more sleep. Several hours later I awoke and had lost another pound and a half. Another hour later I’d lost another pound and a half. Somewhere in there, my mind went. Despite this, I was able to write at the library, that is, work on this blog entry for four hours at the library. I had hoped to work on it more at home, but ended up goofing off instead. I weighed myself before bed. In roughly twenty-four hours, I’d lost nine pounds.
Saturday morning, I was clinically skinny. I was also no longer depressed. I determined that this depression “phase,” if you will, was most likely over. Good riddance! Today would be the second day that I would be up and out of bed!
Ah, the joy of starvation….It does indeed feel good….
Today is Sunday, the 29th of January. I have been to church and now I’m at the library. I feel really terrific. I’m still working out the kinks in my sleep, because I was asleep all week 24/7, and switching to “normal” hours, that is, awake all day, asleep at night is certainly a switch for me. In less than three days I have taken off sixteen pounds of the eighteen I gained between Sunday and Thursday, from massive bingeing.
Yes, I warned you readers that I was going to get technical and use “numbers” in this entry. I was going to get real and show you exactly how I think. I think about these numbers. I think about these numbers all the time. I know at eating disorders sites they don’t let contributors use numbers and that posts are “edited” and the numbers are either taken out or the posts with numbers are completely deleted. This is my blog. I run the show here. And no, this is not a pro whatever blog. I am just being me. This has been my world for thirty-two years. Sometimes things have been a lot, lot better, but since sometime in 2008, I relapsed, and haven’t been able to get out of this nightmare. We, that is, you and I, don’t know what will happen next. I have heard some awesome miracle stories, absolutely amazing stories, people nanoseconds before being placed into their graves rising up, defying all odds and attaining what seems like the impossible. Not just with anorexia nervosa necessarily or mental illnesses in general, but any illness, I have read amazing stories of regaining health. I’m not sure what the real pattern is to it, what the unifying factor is….Money? Good insurance? Supportive family or partner? Faith? Something else? I’m sure some of you are positive that you know the answer to this…think again. It is not so simple, because everyone is different.
If we were all alike, we could get our miracle cure instructions from vending machines. There would be a one-size-fits-all religion. There would be no need for political arguments because we would all think alike. We wouldn’t even need to vote because we’d all agree on everything. There wouldn’t be a 1% and we’d all be occupying Wal-Mart. Eeks! I don’t even know what Wal-Mart looks like! I’ve never been to one! Maybe that’s my problem….
Today the minister’s sermon was called “Occupy Watertown.” It was about the wealthy and the rest of us in the community, and how disturbing it is that the split seems to be increasing. I think one of the most moving parts of the sermon was when the minister talked about how disturbing it was when you keep finding babies in the river, more and more, and maybe it is good that you are rescuing them, but what’s really important is finding whoever is upstream putting the babies in the river, and likewise, building shelters for homeless people is one thing, but what’s more important is getting homes for homeless people. He talked about how in our church we are all together no matter what our economic standing, and we take care of each other, and our sense of community is more important than how much money individuals have or don’t have. The sermon hung together incredibly well, and I hope that I communicated to the minister that I was quite moved and impressed by it.
Sometimes I drop in on our minister, and it so happened that on Friday, two days ago, I did just that. I was on my way to the library, where I am now, to write this entry, and work on my new memoir. I only stayed a couple of minutes. It so happened that he was in the middle of writing his sermon. I could tell that the sermon was cooking along, and I didn’t want to take up too much of his time.
I know what it’s like to be on a roll with one’s writing. It’s got to be one of the most exciting feelings I’ve ever experienced. You don’t even have to be a writer, and you don’t even have to write to know this feeling. It is the feeling you get at the track, maybe in December, the feeling you get during the ninth lap at sunrise, the feeling that your legs are no longer there and it’s just you and the track and the sun and you are floating and the music is carrying you. It’s the feeling you get when you hear Joni Mitchell’s voice, her voice that you remembered some thirty years ago, and find yourself weeping. It’s the feeling that you get when you and your dog are walking and there’s so little traffic that you don’t need to stop for anything, you’re zooming together, and the dog may have no obedience training and be zooming this way and that, and though the two of you aren’t touching each other, you’re totally in synch, and in synch with the sidewalk and the earth. It’s the feeling you get when you’re in church, and as the minister extinguishes the chalice, he asks that we hold what we’ve experienced this Sunday in our hearts until we meet again next Sunday, and as you’re sitting there, you feel the chair cushion under you, your hands in your lap, and at once the piano accompanist begins the same Bartok Chorale that he plays every Sunday. You had known this piece, and forgotten it, until you came to church only a few months ago, and now, it is here again. You knew this piece as an adolescent, a secret oasis, listening alone with the turntable at night while the others danced at their loud parties. Now, the Chorale plays in the sanctuary, and the diamond needle rests gently on the record and floats through not only your memory, but the present time, because you know that at this very moment, in this chair in the church sanctuary, where you sit weeping, is right where you belong.
And it has passed from Sunday into Monday. I have experienced being awake during the day, rather than sleeping all day, for four days now. Last night I attended a “dress rehearsal” for a recital to be given by our church accompanist later this week. It was so wonderful that this concert was held at our church, so close to my home that I could easily walk. Hearing a night full of piano music from the Romantic period awakened a part of me from my distant past, the part of me that existed just prior to the onset of my eating disorder. Electricity! Magic! Such was the beauty and fascination of learning and excelling at everything I did with my music. It was like walking through a pristine garden where everything was sacred and and glistened with dew.
Just don’t get too close. Once you touch a flower, it will crumble and disintegrate at your fingertips.
I cried last night. You could say that I cried myself to sleep, only I really didn’t sleep too well last night at all. It’s nearly 5pm right now Monday evening. I cried because I realized, suddenly, that although I am no longer depressed, I am no further away from death than I was before. I am, in fact, eating nothing at all because it is easier to eat nothing than it is to eat just a bit and try to decide what to eat and when, that is, to make these very complex decisions. Nothing is absolute, and very simple. Nothing is perfect. Absolute is perfect. You don’t have to weigh and measure nothing.
Starvation is the only way I know, the way I’ve learned, in my sick way, to keep away from dying in a binge. Of course logic tells me that this is untrue. I cried last night because what I am doing, in fact, is substituting one death, the more desirable one, for the other. To avoid death while bingeing, I am substituting death by starvation. That’s the bottom line.
Why, I ask, you ask, my therapist asks, any logical person asks, don’t I have “life” in there as an option? Why don’t I just eat like everyone else? And why do I think about death all the time?
There is someone in my life who talks about taking time to smell the roses. I hear this expression all too often. What if I don’t like the smell of roses? I can’t say if I do or I don’t. The smell of roses doesn’t impress me one way or another. Or maybe I haven’t smelled a wicked good rose yet. Something tells me that roses aren’t the only awesome thing out there.
In a bit, I’m going to leave the library and go home. I’ll have to bundle up because it’s rather cold out there right now. It’s so windy out that I might get chilled right through me, but once I get home, I’ll put ice on the thermostat and make myself a cup of Roastaroma herbal tea in the new mug that the church gave me when I became an official member. But by far, the best part of coming home is the look of excitement and wonder in Puzzle’s eyes when she greets me as I let her out of her crate. Her little back end wiggles to and fro; in fact, her entire torso wiggles and twists this way and that, and she trots into the kitchen to see if there are any morsels on the floor that she can snatch up. This evening, she’ll find nothing. She’ll return to me, her bright eyes full of expectation.
How can I let this creature down? How can I let anyone down? How can I leave those that love and care about me? Much as I gripe about the world, it is mostly filled with goodness. I may say that I do my best to be rude and hostile, but this is generally the exception, because I truly believe in the importance of being polite as much as possible, and kind to other people. If God is good, how could the world be bad? If God is good, how could I be bad? If people are good, and people are all different, then how could any size, or shape, be at all distasteful or unsightly? And who am I to judge? Am I the scale-keeper?
Of course, I do judge a lot of people. I jump to conclusions about a lot of people. I say swear words sometimes about people and situations that I don’t like. Sometimes I get pissed off. Sometimes I get fed up with situations. Sometimes, I go on writing rants and probably drive you readers up a tree.
You can climb down now, because I’m ending this entry soon. But be sure that you know where the nearest tree is, because you can be certain that I’ll drive you straight up it very swiftly…next time…because I have this tendency, when I go to bed, somehow, to make it through the night, and be alive and ticking the next morning.
I just lost a bunch of work….I’m not sure if the problem is with WordPress dot com, or with my library Internet connection….I can’t save drafts….I lost about two hours of work on the post I’ve promised you….Sorry folks I’ll rewrite….
I am in the midst of a longer post that I started at 1am or thereabouts on Friday. Today, it seems, is January 28th, so I guess that would mean 1am the 27th of January. I was in a funk for a week. Perhaps a better, more precise or clinical term for it would be a severe depression. I didn’t get out of bed unless I had to, and slept all day and all night, waking intermittently, sometimes for a few minutes and sometimes for a few hours. I believe it began on Saturday, a week ago, with the bitchy-headache mood that turned into the clenched-fist perpetual anger state. This was how it began, I recall, in October. This state dissipated and morphed into depression. In October, the clenched-fist anger state lasted for a ridiculously long time and was intolerable to me, not only that but I was depressed at the same time! I can’t imagine the hell I was going through then. This past week was bad enough but I think it’s over. I awoke at 1am Friday, or shall I say it had just turned Friday, and I recognized that I was beginning to become un-depressed…gradually…it was a start. I began my blog entry because I wanted to tell you about my week. I felt that it was important to share what happened to me not only depression-wise but with my eating disorder. Progress on this article has been slow because of my irregular sleeping pattern that has been happening all week due to sleeping during the day and feeling a tiny bit better at night. I tried to straighten out my sleeping last night, but unfortunately awoke at 3:30 in the morning unable to sleep further, stayed up until I was sleepy again, and then, unfortunately, was unable to sleep extra in the morning to make up for it because my DMH person was due to come, and I had to get ready for her arrival (in case she actually showed up this week). When I woke up I was kinda pissed about this situation, and would have preferred to stay in bed another half hour or hour. After all, I’m accustomed to staying in bed all day! I had a headache due to lack of sleep that disappeared quickly after I took aspirin and I wasn’t in a bitchy-headache mood at all. While in the shower I made up my mind: I wasn’t going to let this bother me at all. I would wait forty minutes. If she didn’t call, I’d split for the library and get on with my day. No sense in wasting my time sitting around when I can be here at the library being productive. I might be a mental patient, but my time is precious. It’s not like I sit around watching TV and smoking cigarettes all day long. I’m not depressed so I’m going to grab this time while I can. So here I am, writing.
PS: It reeks of garbage again in the room where I usually sit here at the library. I haven’t noticed that smell since last Saturday, and I believe I mentioned it here in my blog. Instead of staying in there and putting up with it, and possibly getting cranky, I moved to a different room. I am happy to have discovered this new place to study!
My therapist and my primary care physician concur that whatever is going on with my brain is caused by malnutrition and cannot be solved by medication. Today I went to see Dr. K, and she said that if there were a magic pill for this, surely the problem would have been solved ages ago.
I went web-surfing a bit ago and I wonder if what is happening to my brain is what happens to the brains of alcoholics due to malnutrition, specifically thiamine deficiency. I am noticing certain patterns. A lot of patterns in fact. This thing comes and goes, though, and seems to vary as to how much I am aware of it, how fast time flies by, how fast I forget things, how well or poorly I can concentrate, how long it takes for me to make simple decisions and perform simple tasks (such as getting dressed, preparing Puzzle for her walk, etc). I never, never feel well physically anymore. I always seem to either have a headache or strange feeling in my head, or am nauseous or crampy in my stomach or intestines, feel weak and faint and lightheaded and wobbly, and am sometimes deeply depressed to the point that I am unable to get out of bed. Here is the link:
Dr. K had me get my blood tested and did all the usual examinations. They are all very worried about me. I didn’t hear from her later today so I assume nothing came out super urgent (my kidneys haven’t failed, in other words). My next appointment with her is on Friday next week.
I think that I have been able to make a fair amount of sense while speaking today. I spoke with the minister, and he said I was making sense. It was hard to tell. I forgot the beginning of a sentence by the time I got to its end. I was able to write, but I’m not entirely certain of this, either. At one point at the library, I felt faint, and again, confused, but about what I don’t recall. I make a point of being polite. It’s very, very important to be polite and kind.
A bit ago I heard a sound I haven’t heard in quite some time: my phone rang. But the real surprise was that it wasn’t a telemarketer. Not only that, it was my therapist. She never calls me. Never.
Actually, she was the person I needed to talk to.
I told her lots of things. This would include my immediate difficulty trying to take a shower because first of all, I hate my body and I can’t stand looking at it or touching it right now and I have bad feelings about my weight and shape. Secondly, I do not want to die in the nude and have been afraid to spend any time naked whatsoever for fear that I will be “caught” in the nude and frozen in my death without clothes on. For months, I have made two exceptions: shower, and weighing myself.
I told her a few other things besides that. Just some stuff going on over the past weeks, months that I never told her, maybe no one ever found out the whole story, maybe I’m finally telling it now. Secrets.
She asked me if I was going to show up at my PCP appointment tomorrow. I told her I was planning to cancel. She told me I’d better show up. So I will.
Not in any particular order.
Shower. Spend a lot of time sleeping. Take Puzzle out. There were a couple of other things but they don’t come to mind right now. Then call the crisis team back and let them know I survived the past two hours okay and I’m still alive. (Most of the time, when I reach out I get slapped. Thankfully, when I called these guys just now, someone who gives a shit answered the phone.)
I slept all day today. I slept just about all day yesterday. Yesterday I dragged myself out of bed and went to therapy, came home and went back to bed and have been in bed ever since.
My head hurts.
Sunday I went to church. I’m not going to make it to church next Sunday at this rate.
Humans. What a nuisance. If you saw the way I act around my neighbors, surely you’d know that this is the way I think. I live in an eight-story building on the second floor, which is the ground floor. I’m guessing there are twenty apartments here on the second floor and I know by name only two of the second-floor residents. I know the name of one fourth-floor resident and there’s another resident whose name I used to know but now forget and I haven’t a clue what floor she lives on. I have lived here since September 2008. Over three years, eight stories, three and a half names. Since September 2008, I have conversed with only one of the three and a half people. Twice, I think. Add one or two other people to the mix for good luck whose names have escaped me now and that about sums it up. Most of my private thoughts and things I say here in my blog about my neighbors are spiteful and bitter. Sometimes, I get needlessly worked up in my spitefulness and bitterness and hatred and end up in a bad, bad negative space over this. I have heard, “You should be nice to them. You should treat the elderly with respect,” but I cannot feel sympathy for people who sit on their behinds and gossip, gossip, gossip all day long. They don’t know my name even. They haven’t asked what my name is. They haven’t asked me what my dog’s name is. They aren’t friendly to Puzzle or ever pet her. This was established very, very early on, and I began the habit of sneaking in and out the back hallway to avoid walking past them and their gossip. It’s very handy to have this back door my apartment door. On my way out, I can walk down the back stairs and out the back door and be completely invisible. Simple arrangement. On my way back in, however, it’s a bit trickier. I can’t enter through the back. I have to go in through the side and then either up the elevator, or slide through the “community room” and up the back stairway again. If I travel up the elevator, I might have to put up with some nosy person in the elevator with me, and then, the elevator exits into the main hallway, where I have to walk out where everyone can see me, and it just plain sucks. I try to avoid the elevator routine, but I can’t always cut through the “community room” either. Puzzle isn’t allowed to walk through there, for one thing. I don’t go through there when they are serving “community lunches” in there, certainly not, because this is can be awkward as hell with my former neighbors in there, who make their indiscriminate comments about my weight. I am not kidding you. You wouldn’t believe the things they have said, or not said. Maybe they just look me up and down. That is bad enough. At night there are the card-players I tend to avoid, building residents, gossipers I assume. I look for a darkened room. If it’s dark, then no one’s in there and it’s safe to walk through, go up the back stairs, and make a quick dash to my apartment door. All this extreme effort just to avoid being seen by my gossipy neighbors. Yes, I am rude, unfriendly, cold, aloof, stick to myself, not neighborly, the works.
My phone. Yes, it does ring, but who calls? Telemarketers and “professional fundraisers” on behalf of bogus charities that prey on the elderly and anyone else they think they can snare. I get these calls about twice a day, maybe more. Being on the National Do Not Call List hasn’t gotten rid of them. What I am saying is, my phone is no longer a tool for useful, intelligent human conversation anymore.
Therapy. I normally see my T twice a week. Surely, this is intelligent human conversation. But this week, I canceled not one, but both sessions. Monday I was sick. Thursday I was sick. I screwed up somewhat the week before as well. I can assure you that my T is very unhappy with me right now. I can assure you that my T has possibly even fired me. So much for further opportunity for intelligent human conversation.
Not that this is the only reason I go to therapy. But the lack of human out-loud conversation this week has been so extreme that if it weren’t for the fact that I babble to myself non-stop every night as I’m headed to bed, I’d probably wonder if I still had a voice. I had one phone conversation all week, and it was a good one. I think this was Friday, at least I am fairly certain that it was. Also on Friday, I stopped at the church and spoke with the minister. I told him, very excitedly, about my new book. I asked him what this Sunday’s sermon was going to be about, but then told him that I was going to be there Sunday, and that I’d wait and find out and be surprised. So that was intelligent conversation #2. The third was with my primary care doctor when I saw her Wednesday.
You know, I will go for days, sometimes, days and days, without talking to anyone intelligently. Maybe a word or two to a store clerk. Or maybe I’ll talk to people, but I’m so insane that the words just float around, or I fake my way through a conversation and I’m out of my head and pretend my head’s okay, I just smile and nod but I can’t even concentrate on what’s being said. I haven’t been Stark Raving Mad, as I’ve come to call it, for a number of days now, thankfully. I am hoping that this stays at a minimum.
Last Sunday at church I was Stark Raving Mad. I was completely out of my head. But I was still me, and church was still church, which meant that I was still just as welcome there and church was still just as wonderful. I did have to fake my way through conversations during social hour, nod and smile and stuff, but I wasn’t connected enough to be scared. I’d say it was so weird and interesting that I didn’t get a chance to be scared, not at all. The Director of Religious Education read a story to the children during the service, while all the children gathered up front to listen. I heard the title of the book, then the rest just went off somewhere. I told myself that if this was going to happen with a children’s book, then the sermon was going to be really tough for me to understand. But I wouldn’t say that this was exactly the case. The sermon was simply a different experience. I didn’t hear the sermon the way I usually hear sermons. I saw it laid out before me. Kind of like a puzzle or a skeleton or a graph, something bare-bones that had to be put together. As is the tendency when I’m Stark Raving Mad, I get a thought, and then the thought completely leaves my head as soon as it comes into my mind. So all this was happening with this skeleton before me that I was trying to assemble. I heard the congregation laugh periodically. I heard snatches of words here, then gone. I felt a heat rise in my chest at the end of the sermon and I felt the warmth of the words as the flowed and spun around, and I thought that something was there that had to do with being held close and protected and loved. Something happened in the congregation just then, a bubbling, and then a release.
It wasn’t until much, much later, that night, or maybe the next night, yes, probably the next night, and I think it was in the shower, that I looked back, and suddenly I was able to recall the entire sermon! Yet I couldn’t comprehend any of it while I was sitting in the church last Sunday. Why this recall? Memory is a very, very strange thing indeed. As I sit here right now I realize that it is late, and I am truly exhausted, and at this exact moment, my memory of the sermon is only vague. I have yet to read the online text of the sermon. These are generally available shortly after Sundays, usually Monday or Tuesday.
Tomorrow is Sunday. I am not thinking of having the opportunity for human interaction tomorrow. That’s not really my primary concern in fact. I think what I’m more focused on is showing up for church on time and remembering my name button. That’s very basic stuff. Church is church and I’ll get to sit there and be there and that’s the important part. The music will be awesome and everything will be awesome because it always, always is.
Showing up is awesome. Remember this.
Oh yeah, the coffee afterward is a great bonus, too.
It is necessary to do this wicked bad rant about stupid trivia to get rid of my headache so that I can start writing today
Listen: I’ve got to let this out. I’m sitting here at the library. I came here to work on my new book. It’s a start, and a very positive one. Yes, I’m motivated. Day #2. But I had to get on here first and tell you something, a couple of things, actually, get this off my chest.
I wasn’t even going to include this, but let me begin by saying that it reeks of garbage in here. Yes, garbage. Rotting veggies. I’m considering packing up and going home. Like, if I didn’t know better, I’d say I was going to be sick or something from the fumes. But I’ve mentioned here before that I haven’t actually puked since 1997. I can probably count the number of times I’ve puked in my lifetime, period, with the exception of this weird “phase” I went through sometime when I was in my 30’s that lasted, say, a couple of weeks. Every time I smelled something the least bit offensive, like the tiniest fart, I’d throw up. A “phase,” I guess. It ended. Let’s just say the library smells damn pukey right now. Okay, enough. Subject dropped.
I woke up this morning with a weird combination of a bad mood and a positive attitude. I feel this sense of renewal over the new book, like awake and alive finally, a sense of purpose and future that I didn’t have before, a real reason for going on, a feeling of drive. By bad mood I don’t mean clinically bad mood, that is, I don’t mean I was depressed, nothing like that. I mean I was bitchy and annoyed. I had a screamer headache. Actually, I still have that screamer headache. It’s very rare that I have one that hangs on, and in fact if I ever get a headache it lasts a few minutes, fifteen maybe at most, and then goes away. I get them for a variety of reasons and they are never a big deal. Maybe I didn’t get enough sleep, or too much sleep. I take a couple of aspirins and drink a cup of coffee and that cures it, and if I don’t have time to make and drink coffee, I ingest a caffeine pill instead. Today, it’s a genuine tension bitchy annoyed headache and that’s why it won’t quit.
My reasons for bitchy-annoyed: My DMH person is back from her six-week vacation. Yes, six weeks. I am aware that she is due back, of course, and expected her at 11. I was very annoyed that I had to deal with all this today, knowing that she is chronically late. I don’t mean just late, I mean very, very late, without notifying me. Ever. Like, I am a mental patient and therefore have nothing better to do but sit around on my ass, so it makes no difference when she shows up? I’d been up late, way too late, my fault, didn’t want to drag my butt out of bed, was thinking of all kinds of ways to blow this whole thing off in case this was one of those rare occasions that she showed up anything like on time or within a half hour of on time. I decided that I had a flu bug, but then, I didn’t need the flu bug at all, because noon came, and then 1pm…no show…I left the house and came here to the library.
Okay, something else completely unrelated I want to mention. Yesterday. I left the house in disgust. Aw man, my headache is starting to pound just thinking about this. I walk into my apartment with Puzzle. We’ve just been out for a walk. I’m planning to go out, and then suddenly I can hardly wait to bolt out to the library, because there is screaming, I mean screaming right outside my door. What the fuck? It’s the neighbors. Again. My fucking neighbors. You wouldn’t believe these people. This time, the shopping cart lady and someone that I think is her daughter. The shopping cart lady is making her rounds in the hallway, and her daughter is strolling around with her, and they are having an argument. They are screaming and yelling at each other while walking up and down the hallway. Just tell me the logic in this. Why the fuck can’t they have their screaming fight inside the shopping cart lady’s apartment instead of out there in the hallway where everyone has to hear it? I’m not talking one or two minutes. By the time I got my stuff into my knapsack and organized and my jacket on and Puzzle squared away, ten minutes had passed and those two were still screaming in the hall.
This has been a wicked bad rant about stupid trivial shit. Thanks for listening. Now I can get to work.
I can ‘t really backtrack my entire thought processes this morning. I thought a lot about the link I posted yesterday, or maybe it was earlier today, the You-Tube done by, I assume, a high school girl who had anorexia. I started thinking a whole lot about this kid. I guessed that she was sixteen. I don’t know why, but sixteen strikes me as an extremely miserable age.
Sixteen was miserable for me, and I didn’t even have an illness. I was just a confused kid. I think all the kids were confused. If you ask most people, they’ll talk about the “good times” they had at high school, and look on their times participating in clubs and teams as fun and exciting. They’ll remember how fun it was to party with the other kids, and to get a little naughty.
Sixteen wasn’t like that for me. None of high school was like that for me. You’ll see this when you read This Hunger Is Secret. The experiences I had in high school were more than unusual. They were bizarre. No, I was not mentally ill at the time. I was involved in a very twisted, abusive friendship, and let me twist your arm a bit more and tell you that I was the one being abused. Bullying? I guess if you had to give it a name, any name, maybe it could be called that.
We’re talking about someone who called herself my best friend. We were always, always together, she and I. We were known for this. Such pairings, these close friendships, are not unusual in high school, and on the surface it appeared that we were just another of those duos that are inseparable, occasionally to the point of getting on everyone’s nerves.
But I had a secret. Actually, I was full of secrets. This Hunger Is Secret was given that title for a reason. In high school, I pasted a smile onto my face and made sure it stayed there all day long so no one would know that I felt like a complete fuck-up inside. I hated being her slave and I hated that she ran my life and I hated that I didn’t have a life of my own. I was so completely dominated by this girl that if I wanted to do something, I had to ask permission, and she knew my every move, all day long. I had no privacy and no dignity. I was allowed no other friends. What friends I had previously watched her turn me into her robot, and she either stole my other friends and took them as her own, or rejected my prior friends, pushing me further into isolation.
Perhaps, if you have been in an abusive partnership, you can see stark similarities. But we were thirteen years old when we met, freshmen in high school. I had only started menstruating and wearing a bra the previous school year. She was the same age. We were children.
And no, this wasn’t a one-week experiment. This lasted four years. For four years, I pretended to be thrilled to have this really close friend. I pretended to be having fun. Pretending itself was fun and challenging. I practiced my faces in the mirror. As the abuse worsened, I challenged myself to see just how much I could take. Problem was, it had already gone so far and so out of control that as a powerless child, there was nothing I could do to make it stop.
We met right away when freshman year started, in the high school band. Come winter, my family got involved. They invited her to come skiing with us. Now, there were four kids: me, my two baby brothers, and my friend, who was also one of us kids, one of the family. She was blonde and so were my brothers. I have brown hair, so it looked like I was the friend and she and my brothers were the family. She started calling my parents Mom and Dad. They let her do this. She started inviting herself to participate in family activities. They let her do this. My parents encouraged and endorsed this friendship, saying it was the best thing that could have happened to me. Do you see the trap I was in? For the four years of high school it only got worse and worse.
She started bossing around my brothers. They were very little, and didn’t know anything. She bossed me around and hit me in front of my little brothers. She started bossing around my parents. They didn’t recognize that she was doing this. Instead, they started doing things to try to please her. But if you’d asked either of them, she was a faithful, generous friend to me and a wonderful addition to our family. Our sick, sick family.
One of my brothers started acting up in school. He got in trouble because of temper tantrums and bad behavior. He got kicked out of a bunch of things and I guess you could say that at the time he had become a troubled kid. He ended up having to see a shrink and we went to a family therapist as part of all this. Family therapy was hopeless with my parents, the way they were, never really listening to us kids or to anyone for that matter. We burned out three family therapists over a period of, I guess, a year, probably less. I was sixteen then. My brother seems okay now, and is married and has kids and stuff. We don’t talk about it.
I was sixteen then. I didn’t have an illness, and I wasn’t messed up on drugs, but every day, I seriously considered taking my life. Sometimes it seemed like the only way out. I had no one to talk to. Everyone thought I was happy. If I had the guts to tell them what I thought and felt inside, and what I thought about my friend, they wouldn’t have believed me anyway.
I am asking you to believe me now. When my memoir, This Hunger Is Secret: My Journeys Through Mental Illness and Wellness comes out, the truth will also come out. My chapter, “Locker #47,” describes my high school years. It is written in my voice, my voice at sixteen. My memoir is already out as an e-book, but the paperback version will be out very, very soon and it will be worth the wait. My story will be in print, on paper, as a book that people can hold, and turn the pages, and see what happened. And this isn’t the only story in there, of course. But with this publication happening within maybe a month, six weeks maybe, my life is going to change. A lot. The book isn’t just going to sit there. I am going to publicize. I want people to know what it’s like to have a mental illness. I know it’s really hard to publicize and market a book, especially when you’re not the super aggressive pushy type, and not even sociable, but I’ve got a handful of ideas, and the burning desire to want my voice to be heard.
I was thinking all this while getting ready to take Puzzle out this morning, showering and brushing my teeth and the like, when I realized that today is January 20 already, about a year since I left McLean Hospital in 2011 and began The It Notebook, a journal that I kept while I was very ill. I kept the journal for two months, then ended it. I believe every entry can be found here at this blog. I have not yet written the Introduction and Afterward of The It Notebook, which are the only two parts of the book that I will write in polished form. The rest is written once, then left as is. It is, after all, merely a journal. I plan to print out maybe two dozen copies of this very short book, and sell them for cheap, a buck or two, at readings, to anyone who may be curious. I consider this book to be a historical document of a very hard time of my life. Much of it is written in verse.
But I asked myself, when I thought of The It Notebook, what I had done since. What have I written? I have not been involved in any project. Not really. I started a novel revision course but I didn’t have the mental capability to concentrate well enough or work consistently enough on it to follow through. I am So Cold, and Hungry in My Soul, my fifth and favorite book, the novel I was trying to revise, remains in first draft form. (Dang, I love that book.) Besides this?
Besides this? Besides this? I have just turned 54 years old. I have survived 53, the most hellish year anyone could possibly imagine, and for the entire year, every day, I came to the computer, and sat here for hours, blogging, writing about myself, yes, myself, telling the world exactly what I was experiencing, feeling and thinking. I told the world about my suffering and misery. I told the world things that I hadn’t told anyone before. I wrote in my blog things I would never tell my therapist. When I had no hope, I wrote about my hopelessness. And when I felt that there was nothing left to live for, I said that, too.
I wrote so much about myself that I’d say that by now, I know myself very, very well. I think I have so much understanding through my writing and so much will to share my words that it’s time to start writing a new memoir.
I started planning things out while walking Puzzle. Chapters. Topics. What the heck I want this book to be about. How I want to say it. We came home. I fed Puzzle, packed for the library, and left. I stopped at the church on the way over and said hello to the minister. He was the first to hear of my plans. At the library, I wrote down notes longhand. Just ideas. Some came out as surprises. Some were rather detailed. Others came out in spurts.
But I had brought something with me that has never left the house. It was my calories and weight notebook. The secret notebook where I have written my food. I began this notebook October 9, 2011. The first page doesn’t contain any calories or food. It has the letter “S” written on it. S stands for starvation. I didn’t want to write the whole word. I was afraid, I guess, that someone might see it. I read the entire notebook, from the beginning, in October, until now. Then I wrote today’s entry.
“Friday, Jan 20, 2012
beginning my new book
My memoir about my anorexia
I did not eat today
Reading this entire notebook now
I have been so sick
I have put myself so close to death
Not just once or twice, but
every day that I have kept this notebook. Begun Oct 9, 2011.
Not recorded: For a month at least, and ending mid-December, I bought 2 2L bottles diet soda, guzzled them @ night. I stopped.
I still desire thinness and intend to continue starving myself. This is how I survive.”
When the library closed, I walked over to CVS and bought a new notebook. I decided to include the “S” notebook, along with last summer’s Starvation Spreadsheets, in my new memoir. Somehow, I’ll figure out which parts need to be edited out.
After I got home, I read the entire “S” notebook again, and cried. I’ll share some of it with you sometime. Maybe. Or maybe you’ll just have to wait for the paperback.