Monthly Archives: March 2012

The shopping cart lady

I cannot believe it.  It is now past midnight.  I don’t even know this lady’s name.  Taking a shopping cart from a supermarket is considered stealing and is against the law.  It is against Housing Authority policy and fire safety laws to have supermarket shopping carts inside this building.  The Housing Authority sees these shopping carts every day and do nothing.  They know this lady has one.  I’m not sure if she only walks the halls when the Housing Authority leaves for the day and close up shop at 4:30PM…that is, 4:30PM exactly Monday thru Friday.  This is around the time that I breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that those maintenance guys are also off for the day and won’t come barging in no matter what I’m wearing or doing, not even asking if it’s okay.  4:30, when they won’t glance over and see that I’ve got ice on the thermostat just so that I’m not freezing my butt off (think about it).  I think it’s at 4:31 that the Shopping Cart Lady starts her nightly rounds.  She goes back and forth, back and forth in the hall, using her shopping cart instead of a walker.  Once, she shoved the shopping cart at Puzzle.  After that, Puzzle was scared of that shopping cart, and of the lady.  We got into a bit of a tizz one day, and I got fed up, this maybe in 2008, and I told her to use a walker.  She said she couldn’t afford one and didn’t understand English, anyway.  I told her that the elderly service that serves the building would give her one for free.  She damn well knew this already and every time you tell her she’s maybe doing something a bit unkosher, she suddenly doesn’t know English.

Just keep your freaking shopping cart away from my dog, okay?  And get the hell to bed.  We’re on Eastern Time, remember?

I should talk.  It’s late.  Goodnight.


Why do I take photos of myself? Is it really that weird?

I just went through my camera just now.  I’ve got about ten photos in there.  Some have been backed up on my computer, and maybe three of them are sitting in my camera on that little HD thingy not backed up.

Well, surprise surprise.  I knew about some of them.  But one of them I’d forgotten about.  I want to get a better look at it, so I’ll probably get it on screen tomorrow.  I’ll say what it’s of in a sec.

Remember those photos of the edema in my ankles?  Those are famous now, on the top of Google that I know of.  How do you like that?

The staff at the hospital were real hush-hush about edema.  Like real weird about it.  Huh?  I’m supposed to keep it secret that this shit happens to you if you freaking EAT?  Why not warn people that it can happen to you, and prepare them?  If I had been prepared, then maybe I wouldn’t have reacted the way I did, you twerps!

Well, when I mentioned, right in the hallway, just real casual-like, that my ankle edema was on the top of Google, wow was I censored pronto.

I was also not supposed to talk about anorexia being potentially fatal, and I was not supposed to talk about freaking statistics, like come out and say YOU CAN DIE OF THIS DISEASE.  When people talked about it, they skirted around words like “die” and “death.”  They said everything but those words.  It was quite noticeable.  You readers know how I am.  I just say stuff.  The staff were pissed at me…for being…yeah, direct, honest, and to the point.

Well, the heck with it.  I’m not there anymore and it’s over now.

I am going to spend the rest of my life (I don’t really care how long or short that may be) being direct, honest, and to the point.  I abhor censorship.

Now, back to these photos.  They are what they are.  They are records of history.  They are photos of me and they are my history and they are not photoshopped to cover anything or distort anything.  Most of them are of me standing in front of a mirror.  I am not naked and these are not intended to be that sort of photo.  They are a record of my weight.  I don’t have one at my very lowest weight but I do have one that looks like the lowest of the ones that are in the camera.

The heck with it.  Just read on and wait until I get to my point.

Okay, I’ll get to it.  I found a photo of myself after a binge.  I mean of my stomach.  And I just Googled for around looking for a photo like the one in my camera.  The first one I found, like I must have eaten ten times what this person ate cuz wow, my photo doesn’t quite look like that.  Then I found one of a guy.  This site had a virus in it, and my virus thingy apparently blocked the virus.  I Xed out real fast from that one.  So now I was about seven pages down.  He looked kinda pregnant.

This photo…says something.  It’s right there.  Right in my stomach.  Even sitting there in my camera, in the small square, you can see that the outer skin is stretched.  I don’t want to look at the photo right now, just don’t want to re-experience it yet another time.  This anorexic person and this massive stomach…now what the photo doesn’t say is that even after the photo was taken I lived with the stomach for another 24 hours or so.  It wasn’t like now you see it, now you don’t.

So I’m just thinking of having a page, just a historical record, maybe a link or something to a page that is password-protected or difficult to access, so people can Google, say, “Photo of…” and then only get a link.  They click on a link that will take them to the photos page and then put the password in.  Anyone can get to it, but if you Google me, you won’t see my “history” photos right away.

Why am I thinking this?  What is the point?

What have I been saying all along?  There is so little education out there.  I think I told you that a lot of people assumed that when I said “binge,” they thought I meant two peanut butter sandwiches or something like that.  I would tell them over and over, but they were dumb, and as I have been saying again and again, disrespectful and didn’t believe anything I said anyway.  When I said, “I look pregnant,” they thought my stomach was a little bit curvy.

Well, now I have proof it’s more than fucking curvy, you assholes.

To this day, I wonder if my former therapist, the one I just left, ever believed me. She claimed she did, but I wonder if she did.  She was always telling me I lied to her when in fact I hadn’t.  Then I’d lie, which I only did when I had to avoid getting sectioned, and she never noticed, or faked me out I guess…who knows.  I would say a good 99% of therapists I’ve had, as well as nurses and doctors that have treated me would be shocked to see the “pregnant” photo of me.

Trust me, I am sorely embarrassed by it.  This would be a huge risk for me, and I see it as something I am doing to help other who binge eat.  I feel that I am doing this to educate people who don’t know what binge eating is.  I feel that the world needs to know that binge eating is very serious, and the risks are much, much more than becoming overweight.

Go to the Walden Behavioral Care website and look up binge eating disorder.  All it talks about is that the risk is becoming overweight.  Well, bullshit.  Yes, you can become overweight but so can a lot of people who don’t binge eat.  People become overweight mostly from eating more than they need to given how much they “burn.” Binge eating is something else altogether.

There are a lot of risks of binge eating that Walden’s site doesn’t even mention.  Maybe the person who wrote that page wasn’t a binge eater, eh?  Well, heck, I know this stuff cuz I have 32 years of experience in the field.  First of all, suicide risk.  All sorts of gastrointenstinal stuff going out of whack, blood sugar stuff going out of whack, electrolytes, pancreas, probably ruptured anything such as colon or small intestine or stomach, screwed up intestines in any way imaginable,  probably various cancers, choking of course, food poisoning, biting one’s tongue, cheek, lips, or scraping one’s gums, and developing a serious infection from that, having a serious car accident from bingeing while driving, stealing food and getting caught for shoplifting, financial trouble from not having money after spending it all on binge food, social isolation, depression of course is a given….Need I go on?

So anyway, I need to go to bed.

Just my thoughts.



Changed my phone service to save money…it’s rather sad

I have no use for the phone anymore.  Almost all the calls I get are from bogus charities that prey on poor people, elderly folks, and anyone who has ever fallen for one of their scams in the past.  Sometimes, I get calls from those fake charities three times a day.

I get calls from my Internet company trying to sell me their phone service, and the phone company trying to sell me TV and Internet.  I have TV along with my Internet but no TV set, cuz believe it or not, if I add TV, it’s cheaper!  Go figure.  So they always call me and tell me to buy TV movie specials…sorry, I have no big screen, no little screen, either, and no interest in spending big bucks to get one.

Oh yes, calls from the pharmacy.  An automated voice.  Time to refill my prescription.  My prescription is available for pickup.  And so on.  Never a real person.  Press one for yes.  Two for no.

And the so-called “credit card service.”   Another animated voice, a woman claiming she will lower my bills.  I hang up.  I wonder what, exactly, that one is about.  I think it’s from Florida.  There’s some “opt-out” option, but I figure it’s “opt-in” so I don’t press it.

DO NOT CALL apparently doesn’t mean much.

The saddest of all are two of my undergraduate colleges that have caught up with me.  I was so thrilled to be included on Emerson College’s and Bennington College’s mailing lists.  Naturally, I glance through the alumni publications for news on people I might have known.  Now, I seem to be on mailing lists for both of these colleges.  I read about how they are developing their programs and the art, theater, film, music, and literature productions going on all over the place, and special events just for alumni.  I read about student and alumni achievements, and faculty achievements and awards, and new administrators taking the helm.

So here’s where the phone comes into play.  Yeah, I get calls from my old colleges, Bennington and Emerson.  The first one was thrilling.  It was from Emerson.  Wow.  I thought she was asking me how I was doing or something, maybe inviting me to some event.

Asking me for money?  Me?

And again.  And again.

I can no longer afford it.  Thankfully, the month is about over now, and my SSI check will arrive Friday, because the first is Sunday.  Checks arrive the day before if the first is a non-bank day.  My SSDI check, the larger one, is the third, not until Tuesday.  Sunday’s check is already spent, or, rather, planned out.   So a student volunteer from Bennington called last night.  I felt bad saying no, but I had to.

Wait a minute.  What the freak have these colleges done for me since I left, anyway?  It’s pretty damn sad.  Has anyone, anyone at all from Emerson been in touch, except to ask for money?  Absolutely not a soul.  Not a damn one of them.

You know something?  I really loved it there.  Emerson is a very conservative school, but I worked my ass off in those classes.  I remember doing a lot of reading and being in some very exciting classes.  I loved the instructors.  Each of them had a different style of teaching.  I was thrilled about many of the projects I worked on.  I worked for hours at the library.  I remembered showing up a the library wicked early in the morning and studying and studying and studying like mad.

Hey Emerson, do you know where I came from?  I came from the Forbidden Path of one of the creepiest mental hospitals in existence!  I came from the ashes and bowels of the Tunnels!  I rolled out of McLean Hospital, got swept down the Charles River, and landed on Boyston Street right at the Adult Degree Program office!  Tee hee hee.

You know, it was really weird at graduation.  I was standing there after the ceremony.  Me, my brother, Joe, and my mom.  Just us there.  A whole huge crowd under a tent.  We just sort of stood there and I felt real dumb because no one came around or anything.  I had hoped that maybe I’d see one of my instructors or something, and I’d have someone I could introduce my family to.  Nobody.  Just a crowd bustling around, and us standing there all isolated by ourselves, knowing no one.  We stood around, took pictures of each other, and left.

But I got into a tizzy over Bennington last night after talking to that student.  It was bad, bad, bad when I left Bennington.  There was no ADA back then.  I had this instructor at Bennington, this awesome teacher, named…never mind.  He was great.  He was a composition teacher and to me, he was God on Highest.  He was a bit temperamental, though, so there were times that you had to put up with a bit of BS if he was in one of his moods.  I think he drank some, but when I was that young, I mean like age twenty to, say, twenty-three, I was clueless about that sort of thing.

Anyway, this particular composition instructor, well, there were a whole bunch of those guys in the Music Division, or so it was called, the whole faculty, they held me in real high esteem.  I’d say I was very highly respected.  Like the students, too.  When I said something, it meant something.  My opinion mattered.  People listened to me.  I was considered a great composer, super talented, promising career, bound for success.  I remember showing up for faculty meetings, cuz students were occasionally invited to some of the meetings that were like these open meetings, and they would say, “Let’s hear what JULIE has to say.”

Hey, you guys in the mental health profession, did you read that last paragraph?  That stuff about respect?

Okay, that was me in 1980, 1981.  The Music Division didn’t know that I had a handful of secrets.  Namely, eating disorder.  They didn’t have to know.  I was pretty damn good at covering things up.  Until I couldn’t take it anymore.  I left school.  Had to give them some sort of explanation.

I told them the truth.  Sort  of.  Said I had to see a shrink. I said I had psych problems.

Bam.  Switcheroo.  Maybe I never, ever saw that respect ever, ever again.  Ever.  I was shunned by the entire school.  Mocked.  Treated with complete disdain.  Scorned.  It was horrible.  You wouldn’t believe it.  The things people said.  Patronizing.  It was like the entire town was doing it.  Bennington is a gossipy town, trust me.  There is this orchestra I was in that was like half town, half college, and the entire orchestra treated me like I was Welfare scum, the lowest of the low, no longer deserving of their notice in any way.  People turned their backs.  Just horrible.

So now they want money?

That was my tizzy last night.  So today, I cut my phone bill by what I think will be $25 and got rid of Verizon Freedom Essentials and now I have the Verizon lower budget plan for people who spend less time on the phone.  I cannot justify spending so much money each monthon service for this piece of electronics that only connects me with automated messages such as the CVS guy telling me to press 1 for yes and 2 for no and the credit card lady that I hang up on, and people asking for money.  That’s 99% of the calls I get these days.

I go for days and days without using it.  It’s damn sad.

So the guy says to me, “You realize that you will have to pay for each minute of long distance….”

I said, “Yeah, all my friends dumped me and I never use the phone anymore.  Thought I’d save money.”

He changed the subject to something else, something about the bill or whatever.

Pretty sad.

The past fifteen minutes of thinking

I’m having trouble expressing myself out loud today.  In my head I had a thought.  I made my thought into words before speaking.  Then I said these words out loud, or tried to.  What you heard, though, and how you interpreted it, is hardly anything like the thought that I had in my head.  Therefore, I must be very, very selfish indeed.

I need to unlearn what my parents taught me.

A person with anorexia nervosa writes about her memories of Goddard January 2005 residency that popped into her head while browsing the Internet and drinking tea

I’ve been sitting here drinking a cup of tea, and my mind got to wandering.

Well, no, let me make a confession.  I was drinking tea and doing something I admit I occasionally do: I was browsing the Internet looking around at sites that tell you ways you can lose weight.  Are you surprised?  Well, you shouldn’t be.  I think a lot of people do this, not only people with diagnosed eating disorders.  Do you?  Do you then erase your history trail so your spouse or kids won’t see where you’ve been browsing?  Anyway, I have never been to a pro-_n_ site.  Why?  For one thing, viruses.  For another thing, I don’t know how well they keep your e-mail addy, etc, private, if they follow whatever privacy policies they claim to have, or if they put weird cookies in there.  I don’t want to “join” these clubs, never did, and never will.  Scratch that third one, that is, “never will,” cuz really, I can’t predict anything.  Life can and does take funny turns.  I don’t have a bit of pro-_n_ in me and I do not in any way think of anorexia as “lifestyle.”  I think many people, whether they have anorexia or any other type of eating disorder or if they do not have an eating disorder, any of these, if they have spent all their lives, or just about all their lives dieting…this is not “lifestyle” this is suffering.  This is being tortured by this thing “diet.”  I am tortured by it daily.  I am tortured by it 24/7…are you?

What is “lifestyle,” anyway?  Low-carb lifestyle?  Oh bullshit.  It is just food choice.  Living alone, for me, has something to do with lifestyle.  I spend just about every day alone with no human contact.  Lately, this has pleased me.  I was standing in the kitchen maybe 45 minutes ago thinking, “Oh thank goodness I live alone! I might have this eating disorder, but I am SO much better off now than when I lived with other people!  I have my privacy, I can do whatever I want…no one snoops around or asks to borrow things…no booze bottles…no one steals my stuff or opens my mail…tries to convert me to their religion…sits around and doesn’t say a freaking word to me…And no therapist to send me to a group home!  I am free!”

Lifestyle…lifestyle can be culture.  I grew up in a Jewish family with Jewish culture and religious practices and that was our lifestyle.  The fact that my parents shamed me and used our Jewish beliefs as a way to do this…shaming is not lifestyle…it is abuse and abuse is not lifestyle just as dieting, restricting, and starving is not lifestyle…get it?  No, I am not pro-_n_.

Sometimes, I live in this persona, and sometimes, I don’t.  I can switch in and out of it within seconds, or I might stay in it for days without end.  It was the acupuncturist who pointed out to me, that right while we were speaking I was switching in and out of it.

I probably go back and forth while writing in here.   Oh, I know I do and you know it too.  A milder form of it is called indecision, but this is not mild.  I don’t even notice it, though.  I can’t even get into how it feels.  It doesn’t feel, really.  I’m talking about how I think and process information.  It’s not surprising to me and it’s not frustrating and it’s not confusing.  I find it very, very funny.  I spend a lot of time poking fun at myself, seeing myself from afar, and this is one way I survive, and one way that I communicate just how painful and sad it is to live with this disorder.  I enjoy making you laugh at me and laugh with me, cuz this disorder is so damn illogical.

So you might as well laugh at me, sitting here with my tea just a bit ago, Googling this and that, trying to find what I can add to my multi-faceted repertoire of things I can do to lose weight.   You can imagine the clicks, back and forth, brows furrowed, uh-huh, uh-huh, maybe I’ll give it a try…write this down…now Google this…damn these pop-up surveys!

Okay, so…a couple of memories popped into my head.  (Change of verb tense.)  2005.  Goddard College winter residency, Plainfield, Vermont.  I had to drop semester #2 near the end cuz I ended up hospitalized.  Unlike way back when, everyone was very, very cool about this and understanding.  I had it rough my first two semesters.  I had just been widowed in 2003, that is, my boyfriend died suddenly right after my graduation from Emerson College.  I’d finished up, actually, after the graduation ceremony in May.  I had maybe a course or two more to do.  I think the last one was American Government.  It was a great one to end up with.  Our instructor was a lawyer and thank goodness he was an anti-Bush liberal.  He was arrogant.  He was anti-cop.  I had loads of fun with him in class.  We challenged each other.  It was back and forth.  Wicked obnoxious, I must say.  I had to memorize a lot of laws and amendments and stuff.  I wrote these on flash cards.  Joe and I sat at Dunkin Donuts every day and he’d quiz me, sipping on a gigantic iced tea and smoking.  Occasionally, he corrected me, but I had these laws down pretty well.

You know, I noticed something:  Not long before he died, he began to make a point of always wearing a watch.  He’d smoke a cigarette, then check his watch.  Once, he wasn’t wearing it, and right after he finished his cigarette, he asked me what time it was.  He asked me a couple more times.  I noticed the pattern after a while.  A half hour later, exactly a half hour, he lit up again.  I noticed that he smoked fewer cigarettes each day, a lot fewer, than, say, two years ago, or even a few months ago.

Yes, he was making an effort.  And there may have been a reason for this.  You know something?  In the seventeen years that I knew him, this was the only time that I knew of that he made an effort to cut back.

You know, it had only been months previously…I am not actually sure when this was…I stayed overnight at his place…at night, while he slept, not only did he cough…no, not cough exactly…he struggled to inhale and exhale, to breathe.  He struggled noisily.  He vocalized.  This went on for a bit, then he returned to normal sleep.  In the morning, I told him that this had happened.   I told him that this happened all night long.  Then I didn’t say anything more about it.  Yeah, he heard me.

How he felt in those last months, whether he felt fine or yucky or had some anticipation or funny feeling…whether he recognized this feeling…if he had chest pains maybe he thought it was heartburn, cuz he used to have terrible heartburn…

Why on earth am I thinking about this and does it matter?  He died in an instant and everyone told me that most likely he didn’t even know what hit him.

That was August 19, 2003.  I spent the fall in a daze, then in January started grad school, still in a daze.  Not only that, but on freaking Seroquel, my body out of control gaining weight gaining weight gaining weight.  Like my fucking life.  I’m widowed and ashamed of my body and can’t even hide it in a coat at this point.  Every day drags and goes in Seroquel drugged slow-motion and I don’t even bother trying to be the overachiever I used to be.  Just adequate.  Barely adequate.  Not only at school, but at life itself.  Barely making it, barely hanging on.  I guess that’s why I ended up hospitalized.  And put on 900 mgs Seroquel a day, an unheard of dose.

2005 residency.  I’m going to finish up fall semester, that is, second semester, in the first few months of 2005.  I’m here at this January residency but am not officially doing the spring semester cuz I’m still doing fall.  Got it?  So I kind of feel like a failure and a tag-a-long to begin with and out of place and never mind a social misfit.  I developed a bad, bad cold virus while I was there, and a cough that went on all night one night.  Thankfully, I had a single at the dorm otherwise a roommate would have been kept up all night.  (I know, switch of verb tense.)

So here I am, walking from the dorm, which I think is called Kilpatrick or something like that, to the dining hall and main building where a lot of stuff happens, including all the readings, and a student stops me (unfortunately, I remember her first name, and wish I didn’t) and says to me, “You gained some serious weight, girl.”

And yes, a few days later, she said the exact same thing to me.  Again.  This was a Goddard student.  And this, people, crushed me.  It still hurts to this day.  I remember how it felt then and I remember how it felt a little while ago when the memory came back to me in the form of a very clear picture, while I sat here drinking my tea and browsing the web.

Yeah, I lost that serious weight.  Being overweight, having a body that I was ashamed of, my anger over the Seroquel weight gain experience, and the way society and everyone treats people who are overweight, and that included me, was one of the things that drove me to diet myself down to this weight that I am at now.

To be honest, it was that exact remark, “You gained some serious weight, girl,” that was the one reason that I switched to the Port Townsend, Washington campus.  Our director kindly allowed me to do this.  I didn’t mention the weight remark.  There were practical reasons why it made sense to switch.  But the actual reason why I came to this decision?  Yep.  I admit it.  (I was always happy at Port Townsend, and ended up loving it there, by the way.  It was, in a way, a new life.)

Okay, another thing that happened January 2005 residency.  I’m sitting at a table in the dining commons.  Our residency, that is, the creative writing residency, happens at the same time as the health arts and sciences residency.  Now, these people talk about nutrition all the time.  Oh, great.  Sometimes, they talk about how people are pigs and can’t control themselves and overeat.  I am not, not, not kidding you.  I ended up sitting with these people and had to listen to this crap.  I felt like shit to begin with, now I feel doubly shit.  These assholes don’t even know a damn thing about what they are talking about!  Do they know anything at all about nutrition or eating disorders, or are they talking off the top of their heads?  Do they write articles, like, say, those fad diets you see on the Internet?  I listen to them rant on and on about bullshit nutrition, what you should and should not eat, and looking back, OH MY GOD I FEEL DAMN SORRY FOR THEIR KIDS WHO HAVE TO LISTEN TO THIS BULLSHIT YEAR-ROUND…lecturing on and on, judgmental…I don’t mean to say bad stuff about my own school, but I sat with these people a lot, because I couldn’t find anyone in the writing program to sit with.  I just didn’t know people.  I was shy.  So I ended up sitting with the diet fanatics.

So one day, I am sitting with them eating a sandwich.  I don’t remember what kind of sandwich.  I guess peanut butter.  Yeah, let’s say peanut butter.  This memory was buried deep, deep inside me and I didn’t remember until I was sitting here with my tea, which I finished quite a bit ago while I was writing to y9u.  So I’m eating a sandwich, and one of the diet nuts blurts out, “You shouldn’t be eating that sandwich!  You should never eat peanut butter and bread at the same time!”

She goes on and on.  Don’t eat meat with this, don’t eat this with that, on and on.  Lecturing me.

Listen, lady:  Like I concluded when I was a patient at Alcott last month where I was being treated for anorexia nervosa after nearly starving myself to death, DO YOU HEAR ME?…You keep you eyes on your tray, and I’ll keep my eyes on my tray.

Just shut up.

So that was January 2005 residency.  For me, it had very little to do with writing.

It’s a little late to go back to my web-browsing.  But I was pretty much done with it, anyway.  I’m pissed with myself for not being skinny enough and I feel like my face is too fat.

When I was a little kid, my mom shamed me because of my breast size.  She shamed me as soon as I started “developing.”  She shamed me because my hips were getting wider.  Everything.  When I was smaller, she made me ashamed of my body in other ways too complicated to get into.  And she shamed me by force-feeding me and shaming me by commenting on my food habits and manipulating me into eating food that repulsed me.

All my life, I’ve been ashamed of my body.

When I went to the self-help group for people who suffered from compulsive overeating, I met people who were very, very overweight, and this was the first time that I had ever known anyone over 300 pounds that I knew of.  I met people over 400 pounds.  I met people who were diabetic.  I learned that diabetes and overweight were often closely related.  I learned that some people manipulated their insulin when they overate.  This is difficult to explain.  I think most people understand how diabetes works.  Some people who are diabetic and suffer from severe overeating “compensate” with their insulin.  It’s dangerous.  Very.  It’s playing with fire just like I play with fire when I starve.  Not only that, people who are dangerously overweight have to live in large bodies and many health risks.  They are stuck in these bodies and can’t get out of them, can’t peel off the costume when they get tired of it.  They live with constant discrimination from society, wherever they go.  Now, I’m not only talking about clothing stores.  I’m not just talking about the gross insults that were spewed at me during the 2005 winter residency in Plainfield.  It’s subtleties.  The way everyday people use words and language.  Strangers and friends and family alike.  I know this because I lived in a large body in 2005.  I know language and I heard how it was used toward me and about me.  (Yes, by you, too, Dr. P, by the way, and a bunch of other mental health professionals.)  I wasn’t 197 pounds for very long, but I got a hint of what being overweight and discriminated against was all about.

Just like the world treated me in 2005, I am sitting here, my teabag now drying out, and treating myself the very same way.  Spewing horrible insults at myself.  I mean worse than any human has ever said to me.   I am the worst.  I looked online and said, yep, shouldn’t eat that.  This will give me BELLY FAT.  I mean, have you ever heard anything more insane?

I think I really better get to church tomorrow.  It’s late.

Also, I need to give this entry a title.  Any ideas?

Are you listening? A post about eating disorders and a lot of other things

I was going to talk about this yesterday but for various reasons, I didn’t.  There have been  a bunch of studies done on teen suicide, and from what I can tell, I guess they looked into what was going on with these kids, some of this by doing studies with kids that survived suicide attempts.  Is it shocking that so many of these kids had eating disorders?

Over and over, I’ve heard mental health professionals talk about “impulsivity,” that bingeing and binge-purge behavior is impulsive, as is self-harm behavior such as making cuts in oneself with a razor blade for no practical purpose.  They say that teens, or anyone, with these binge or binge/purge behaviors who attempt suicide, or who do commit suicide, are impulsive.

Dear Mental Health Idiots, how dare you make assumptions about what is going on in my head.  How dare you try to fit me into a mold.  The fact that I am a person with anorexia nervosa and am 54 years old…think about it…this fact alone breaks your freaking mold already.  I break all your molds in so many ways, more ways than your accusing fingers can count.

You know something else?  I am so, so strong, so much stronger than all your molds.  And if I hadn’t been, I would have been crushed by the system, your mental health system, long, long ago.

I have proof that I have shattered your molds.  Do you want to see this proof?  Do you?

I am sitting here typing these words, and that is your proof.  Look at the fucking odds of this happening.  I must be a freak or something.

I am not alive BECAUSE of the mental health system.  I cannot believe the years of mental health bullshit that I have survived and lived through somehow.  I survived not only thirty-two years of starvation, two suicide attempts in the form of drug overdose, and binge eating, oh let me also add physical, verbal, and sexual violence from human beings and a couple of motor vehicle accidents…and thirty-one years of violent treatment in the system.

Wow, I’m alive.  Shake off the dust.  Now what?

Dear Mental Health Professionals, when you force someone into a mold and assume things about what is going on in their heads, you are already turning your backs.

One of these molds is the concept of “diagnosis.”  Diagnosis exists for insurance purposes mostly.  There are numbers corresponding to each specific diagnosis.  The clinician writes down these numbers, which come straight out of the DSM-whatever, on a form and sends this form to the insurance company, to make sure he or she gets paid for “treating” you.

You are not a number.  You are so, so much more.

Let me go on to say that if the clinician doesn’t know a thing about you, or hasn’t listened, or has slept through the session (I have had a couple who have done just that), he or she will pick a diagnosis in a strategic manner that ensures that he or she gets paid.  He or she will find justification for doing whatever he or she damn pleases.  This includes, for instance, coverage for more therapy sessions each year.  Does this sound harmless?  Well, strategic choice of DSM number can also justify whether to send this patient to a psychiatrist who will then prescribe psychiatric medications, and insurance covering this psychiatric visit.  And yes, this number can justify locking you up, even against your will.

You know something?  A lot of the time, this number is deliberately fudged.  You know something else?  You are not a number.  You know something else?  If I were to gather up my records from over thirty years of treatment, I’ll bet I have accumulated so many “wrong numbers” that if you were to pick up the phone and dial them all, the FCC would be after you in no time.

I am not a number.  I break all the molds.  I am that strong.  Nobody fits into molds.  There shouldn’t be molds.  People who are professionals who are trying to help people with eating disorders should quit assuming ANYTHING about their patients.  My suggestion is that you be a blank slate.  Listen.  And for gods sakes, stay awake.

I self-harmed in 1982.  I had never heard of self-harm.  I never heard the term self-harm until 1998, in fact.  In 1982 I cut myself with a razor blade.  I didn’t think anyone else did this.  I thought I was the only one.  I had no clue why I was doing it.

I have permanent marks on my arms because of this self-harm.  Nowadays, when professionals see these, they assume all kinds of things about me.  They hear “eating disorder” and jump to even more false conclusions.

When I finally ended up in the hospital in January 1983, no one even asked me why I had done self-harm.   They sent me “upstairs.”  I fired the shrink that put me in there (this is in my book) and hired this supposedly kind, compassionate psychologist/psychiatrist combination to take his place.  They made their money (they were very rich) by faking compassion mostly.  I fell for it.  That part is not in my book.  They didn’t know what the hell they were doing.

The truth is that therapists don’t want to talk about really painful stuff.  Oh, they will tell you to let it all out.  They will tell you that you need to “work on your issues.”  But there are a lot of things that I think therapists can’t stand hearing.  I think it’s too painful for them, or too far out there, or outside of their professional range.  I stopped talking about my experience in a brainwashing cult years ago.  Yes, I experienced being brainwashed, I mean, Google brainwashing techniques and you’ll see a host of stuff including sleep deprivation, isolation, abuse, and so on and so on…it has nothing to do at all with being gullible or easily swayed…anyway, I stopped talking about it with therapists because of the faces they made, like it was too unbearable for them and they didn’t want me to go on any further.  I was told that my experience was irrelevant to my treatment and didn’t matter, or was in the past and that I should “let it go,” etc.  My experience changed me and affects me to this day.  It makes me who I am, that is, Julie Greene 2012.  It’s in my book, and is described more fully in the book I wrote for Nano 2009 called Summer in November.   Curiously enough, it was when I joined this cult that I began to believe in God.  Now do you understand?  I have not been the same since.

No, therapists get mighty uncomfortable hearing about what is really going on with us.  No therapist wanted to hear about the abuse I went through in high school.  They say they do, but really, they don’t.  Most therapists I’ve had didn’t want to hear at all.  They ask at the first session and that’s all, subject dropped, never mind that I am who I am right here right now because of this thing that happened to me that went on for four years of my life.  Never mind that it is completely inexcusable that the school saw what was happening and made no attempt to interfere or offer any assistance.  They even encouraged and praised my abuser.  So I wrote about it.  The term “bullying” is the closest I can get to describing what went on.  And you know something?  This isn’t “past tense.”  Go onto Google and you’ll see that bullying is going on in every school everywhere in the world today, yes, in 2012 just as it was when I was in high school in the 1970s.  Right under the teachers’ noses.  Go look up bullying and suicide and you will see that kids that are bullied often end up committing suicide.  My high school failed me miserably.

My last therapist, God bless her, she was an excellent therapist, but she got very, very squirmy when I talked about my abuser.  I don’t think she was aware of how many times she changed the subject whenever I got to this.  Therapists are human and not flawless.  With most therapists, I never bothered to bring it up.  I didn’t even say, “This is what made me different.”  All those years 90% of them never knew this basic fact about me.  What was the point?  To be told that it is irrelevant?  To be told, “Don’t dwell on the past”?  To be told that my 50 minutes are up?  Or worse, to be told that the abuse was all my fault?

Okay, if you are a mental health professional reading this right now you might be jumping to conclusions about people who have been abused.  You might think:  hmm…abused, eating disorder, cutting…I see the picture.

What picture?  Are you squeezing me into yet another mold?  Well, quit it.  I am going to get graphic for a moment.

Imagine someone twenty-four years old.  She knows she has an eating disorder now.  After having this eating disorder for a year and keeping it secret, she finally went to get help.  She spent three months in once-a-week therapy but only got worse.  She was unable to continue with college.  All this time, she didn’t know that there was such thing as eating disorders.  She thought she was the only one.  Apparently, the therapist never taught her any of this stuff, or basic terminology such as “restricting,” “anorexia nervosa,” or “binge eating.”  It was not the therapist’s fault.  It just turned out that way.  She moved out of town and went into day treatment, where the program had no clue how to treat her eating disorder.  There was very little knowledge.  None of her therapy at this program addresses her eating disorder.  Most of the time, she keeps her disorder secret from the other clients there.  Actually, the therapists there only hear a fraction of what she experiences, day after day after day.  She gets worse.  After nine months of this, she relocates, hoping for a better life.  She knows that the day treatment program was not the answer.

This is the scenario: She is twenty-four and has a temp job.  She has the shittiest therapist on the planet.  In my book, I made this therapist a woman, and called her Megan, but this is a composite character.  It was actually a guy.  I made him Megan because otherwise I would have had to go into a bunch of explanations about one therapist getting laid off and replaced by another, stuff not worth getting into, and it would have slowed down the narration and bored the reader.  Truth is, it makes no difference who this therapist was because I was going to change the name anyway.  A bad therapist is a bad therapist and this one was bad shit and that’s the whole point.  Regarding my cutting…and I quote:

“You can do that as much as you want.  So long as you don’t kill yourself.”

I began cutting around that time, after leaving the day treatment program, pretty much giving up on that actually, moving, and working the meaningless temp job.  I remember the long drive home from work.  Stopping at every store to buy binge food.  Bingeing while driving.  Weaving in the road.  My vision blurring in and out of focus.

Once, I was stopped by a cop.  He shined his flashlight around in my car.  Food wrappers all over the place.  Then he said, “Well, obviously you haven’t been drinking.  We were looking for bottles, stuff like that.  You can go.  Drive carefully.”

Every night, I went to bed never knowing if I’d sleep or if I’d lay awake in digestive agony.  It was on the nights of insomnia that I did the cutting.  I think this went on over a period of a number of weeks.  I did it with razor blades.

If you are a mental health professional, perhaps you are jumping to false conclusions about me right now.  You are thinking, “impulsive” or “poor coping skills” or “cutting to relieve intense emotions,” or whatever mold you are trying to fit me into.

But I do not fit into your fucking mold.  You know, just about every therapist changes the subject when I describe to him or her that I didn’t cut impulsively.  I thought it through very carefully.  I did not slash my arms in a swift, angry manner.  I looked at the razor blade, first of all, and decided that there was a basic problem because it was double-edged.  I put masking tape on one of the sides so that my right hand wouldn’t get cut in the process of cutting my left arm.  What does this tell you?  Think about it.  If this were truly an impulsive act, would I have even stopped to consider this, and bothered with the masking tape?

I have never told any therapist about the masking tape.  They stop me before I get halfway there.  I make a general statement about impulsivity and cutting, which they almost always push aside.  They wrongly  assume that all cutting is the same, and that all people cut for the exact same reasons, and try to force me into a mold because of something that I did so long ago that no way am I at risk for doing it at present.

So here I am with the masking-taped razor blade, held by my right hand because I am right handed.  Well, what now?  I am going to think about it.  Yes, hold the razor blade, look at it, look at my left arm, which is still uncut, and contemplate the situation.  No, not standing there, angry and emotional and desperate and impulsive and needing release…hardly.  I was lying in bed, worn out, alone, I’ve written in my journal and concluded that there are no answers, nobody fucking cares, nobody is listening, I am getting worse and worse, I have a shit therapist who sits there and smokes all session and doesn’t know a damn thing about me.  Why?  He put me into the Jewish American Princess mold the moment we met, said he got the picture within minutes and didn’t need to know anything else.  Told me what my Jewish mommy was like and what my Jewish daddy was like even before I’d said a word about either of them.  Yes, told me.  It’s called Oppressive Therapy.

The therapist that I originally had, had attempted to refer me to the agency’s one and only psychiatrist, Dr. Scully.  This is in my book.  Dr. Scully insisted on delaying our appointment.  This happened over and over.  He had been called away.  Mistake in scheduling.  Et cetera.  Then, finally, he said he didn’t want to see me until after I’d been given an assessment by the agency’s psychologist, that is, psychological testing.  Weeks passed, and then I had this testing, grueling hours of inkblots, pictures that I was supposed to interpret, and some kind of personality test with yes or no questions if I remember correctly.  Many of the questions used slang or informal terms that I was not familiar with, or I found the questions were ambiguously worded.  I asked myself what would result if English were my second language, or if I knew very little English.  This would affect the entire psychological test, not only that part that I was now filling out now in the room by myself.  What a useless test.  Then, refusing to tell me the results of the test, Dr. Scully said he refused to meet with me.  I did not even speak with Dr. Scully at all, but heard this through my therapist that I had at the time.  Soon after, this therapist that I had been seeing was laid off from the agency.  Scully insisted that I see this new, shit therapist that performed Oppressive Therapy on me as I described in the previous paragraph.  I began cutting soon after.  Hmmm…

Well, back to the cutting itself and the masking taped-razor blade.  Yes, I was desperate because I was stuck with a shit therapist who was not only giving me no assistance, but abusing me every time I came to his office.  Every night bingeing, not only while driving home because I couldn’t hold on until I arrived at some defunct or dark, empty parking lot, shoving as much as I could into my mouth as fast as I could until there was no more room to fit anything in.  Most of the food trash I dumped into whatever trash can I could find, but only if I could do it without anyone seeing me do this.  It was a small town and who knows if anyone that knew me, maybe someone from way back in my past, saw me doing this shameful act.  Hell, they could be an undercover cop, pick through the trash and see what I’d thrown out.  I parked my car at my cold, cold half-duplex that I shared with my abusive roommate (another story altogether) and staggered inside, waiting for whatever my roommate had in store for me.   Yelling at me for not keeping the apartment clean typically.  Yeah, like I was so miserable in my body, stuffed full with junk food, barely able to stand up, sit up, walk around, certainly not bend over, now I was supposed to sweep the floor or clean the tub?  So damn depressed…what the heck showed up on these psych tests anyway?  And since when did she ever do any housecleaning?  I was stuck with her, stuck with this therapist, no one cared.  Well, she cared, but it was really weird.  Long story that I explain clearly in my book that will come out in paperback very soon.  I tried a support group but no one there had this type of eating disorder.  This is not in my book.  They were all overeaters and everyone was older than me.  Overeating is very different from bingeing and fasting, and I had only recently become slightly overweight, before that normal weight, before that severely underweight.  The overeaters had never heard of bulimia, in fact.  I had been diagnosed with this but of course just about all people who suffer bulimia throw up, so it was nearly impossible to explain to the people who suffered overeating what bulimia was without being really awkward about it.  This was a very caring group.  But because by this time I had become very ill, I was having increasing difficulty with absolutely everything in life.  They saw this, and reached out every way they could.  It must have been very sad for them to see me sink lower and lower.  It made me sad to see their sad faces.  Maybe I was letting them down by being the way I was.  Maybe I was a failure, called a Jewish American Princess who had fallen from her throne, failed to finish school and then was shunned by her college, Bennington College (wouldn’t that just figure it would be Bennington, as I was stereotyped “rich Bennington girl” by “townies,” my roommate, and probably that shit therapist), I fell from my throne and hit ground real hard, broken every bone in my body in fact.  What was the use of going on?  I was stuck with a therapist that didn’t even believe that I binged, and if he did, thought it was a trivial matter.  He didn’t believe that I was depressed.  He thought I everything I said was a lie.  Actually, I didn’t say all that much while in his office.  Rather, he talked about what I was like and why I was that way.  I thought about killing myself.  Maybe I would cut my wrist, and I would bleed to death.  I had heard that if you cut yourself from elbow to wrist it would work, while a cut across the arm horizontally won’t work.

My exact reason for cutting was this:  It was a contemplated, deliberate, planned-out practice run for actual suicide.  I wanted to get warmed up to the feeling of cutting skin so that I would have courage when the time came to do this.  Each time, I dug deeper.  But I had to repeatedly dig in.  I wasn’t able do do it in a single stroke.  I never got to the point of having that kind of guts.

Yes, guts.  Not impulse.  Guts.

And no, I have not told any therapist any of this stuff because as soon as they ask me if I have ever cut and I say, “Yes,” they assume.  They assume tons of stuff about me and even start to put a diagnosis onto me based on this one behavior that happened in 1983, and a tiny bit in 1997 but not much really.   Not only that, they don’t even hear these dates and seem to forget that it’s been the 21st Century for how long now?  When I start to explain why I cut in 1983, they cut me off because they already know enough about me thank you.

Do you hear me, World of Mental Health Professionals?  Quit your molds.  We are people.  We are not diagnoses.  Treat people, not categories.  Quit assuming.  Listen to the stories.  Listen to the entire story.  You may be surprised.

Psychotherapy appointments are generally 45 to 50 minutes.  Psychotherapy is some form of talk therapy.  Psychiatry appointments, that is, appointments where you are prescribed medication, are typically 15 to 20 minutes.

In this brief time, how can this pill doctor know anything, anything at all about you?

So many times, I have gone into Dr. P’s office and gotten a 20-minute lecture about my weight.  That is, Dr. P looks on her computer and sees what Dr. K has punched in for my latest weight that she took at my appointment with her, and then Dr. P turns to me and gives me a grueling lecture.  And that’s it.  On the way home, my feelings are ambiguous.  Maybe I feel really good cuz I’m skinny in her eyes.  Maybe, on the other hand, I feel shitty cuz it was a wasted appointment and I had other things I wanted to talk about.

Sometimes, I’ve gone in there and don’t say much, but she says how well I’m doing, and I feel like shit inside really.  I leave.  On the train, I might feel decent, only cuz I wasn’t sectioned, or because she isn’t going to blab to my T that I should be sectioned.  On the other hand, I feel shitty cuz I feel so misunderstood, misinterpreted…I don’t even give a shit.  This happened a lot of times.  This happened the last time I saw her.  Psychiatry is useless.  Maybe it’s useless.  Twenty minutes, ten if she’s running late, you say hi, while you’re in there her beeper goes off a zillion times, she taps a few things you say into the computer verbatim just for the record, you’re out of there with prescriptions and that’s about it.

Well, dang, imagine being a teen and going through all this and it’s doubly shit.  Teens are misunderstood to begin with.  They have the schools, too.  Have schools changed all that much?  Bullying is still happening.  The classrooms have more kids in them, that is, classroom size is bigger than ever and budgets are slashed and slashed and slashed again.  Teachers are overworked and underpaid.  How can they give individual attention to the kids if teacher-student ratio is so high?  The kids need this.  Many kids aren’t getting what they need from their parents.  Their parents aren’t good listeners or they don’t give a damn or they have financial woes or they are drug abusers or kid abusers or they’re going through a divorce or the family situation is just plain warped.

The kids aren’t being listened to at home or at school.  If no one lends an ear, are they going to speak at all?  Probably not.  Chances are, they will hold it all inside.  That’s what I did.  That’s what kids are doing right now and that’s why I DO need to speak up and tell my story.  My story is happening NOW, in the classrooms and in the homes everywhere where kids exist.

Where is the mental health system in all this?  Therapists, are you listening?  Treatment centers for eating disorders, are you listening?  Emergency rooms, are you listening?  What happens when a starving kid shows up?  Are you assuming?  Putting the kids into molds?  Listen again.  Ask questions.  What happened back in December when I showed up at Mount Auburn Hospital, starving?  I stated clearly that I had the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa, and hadn’t eaten anything with calories in it for six days.  Why did you say that I felt like fainting…ahem…because I was “anxious,” and sent me home with the diagnosis of an anxiety disorder?  Yes, you asked me specific questions.  I remember these questions.  You asked me leading questions that pointed to an anxiety disorder.  You tried to get me to answer all these questions so that I would fit into this mold.  You were busy.  I have Medicaid and Medicare, no money, maybe insurance whatever, maybe my useless DMH person (it was her boss that they talked to and neither knows anything about eating disorders) said something bizarre, who knows.  Emergency rooms, do you hear me?  Learn something about eating disorders.  At least know what they are.  Mount Auburn Hospital had no time for me and wanted me out of there.  They weren’t educated about eating disorders.  Even so, when a skinny 54-year-old woman shows up and states what her diagnosis is and then says she hasn’t eaten a thing for six days, hey, common sense, it’s freaking serious, you don’t have to be a doctor to know this.

(I don’t have a clue why I went there in the first place, because no way did I want to be hospitalized.  On the other hand, when you are starving, you aren’t exactly thinking very clearly.  Obviously they weren’t, either.)

Okay, I am complaining and not saying what WE can do about it.  I am saying that I am going to change the world and haven’t done all that much yet, done a heck of a lot of hanging out and moping around, stayed in bed a few days, hung out at the library a bit, and lived with my eating disorder.  What I have done is to vastly improve my life in many ways, take an entirely new approach, take my life into my own hands (self-reliance…yeah…was it Thoreau?)…I have goals that I want to achieve…I am working toward these goals…I am determined to help people with eating disorders, and no, I don’t have to be “recovered” to do this…there is no time…why should I wait for “recovery” when so many people are in need?  Why do I need to say, “I have to wait till I’m recovered and I can’t help anyone until I help myself.”  Because this is selfishness.

Today is what matters.  Not some nebulous, vague Tomorrow.  Tomorrow might never happen.  I might die first.  Get real.  I might not even make it to fifty-five.  Don’t tell me not to talk this way, cuz I’m only being realistic.  Plenty of people die in their sleep for no reason at all.  Plenty of things happen that don’t make sense to us.  Plenty of things happen that we find “unfair.”  Let me say right here and right now that in life, there is no “fair” and “unfair.”  Say it is a hot summer day, and you are out in the middle of a hot parking lot, and suddenly you find yourself in the middle of a thunderous downpour.  You don’t have an umbrella because the weather guy said zero percent chance, so you get drenched.  Unfair?  Oh, honestly!  There is nothing unfair or immoral about it.  How is rain at all wrong?  Did nature goof?  No, you goofed.  You and I know full well that nobody, even the weather guys, even now in 2012, aren’t perfect.  You took a chance.  I do this sometimes, don’t bother with an umbrella.  If you got wet, you got wet.  It’s not the same as getting your wallet stolen.  There’s no need to call the police or your lawyer or grief counseling.

I don’t see life as unfair, much as you do hear me bitch and moan and yell and scream.  You know what I call this?  It’s called speaking out.  It’s called expressing yourself in writing.  I think more people need to do this.  I think more people with eating disorders need to speak out about what it’s like to live with an eating disorder.  I think more people who have eating disorders need to come out of the closet and say, right here and now, say OUT LOUD, just say it:

















Say it out loud, or write it down and put this writing online so the world can see.  Write books.  Educate the world.  I do it here in my blog and I am on the top of Google in many categories.  Most of the people who read here are in the US, others are mostly from English-speaking countries cuz I write in English, some are from countries where they speak other languages but folks know English quite well as a second language or learn it early on in school.  Still others are from countries where many do not know English.

We still don’t know the exact cause of eating disorders.  Not really.  It sounds like there have to be a bunch of puzzle pieces that fit together.  If all the pieces are there, the puzzle gets made.  There you are.  But everyone is different, and therefore no two puzzles are alike.

Yeah, you know what I’m going to say, that my dog named Puzzle will need to get a walk soon.  Life.

Okay, another thing we need to do, we, meaning, if you are an adult, or everyone, cuz if you are a kid you are headed there and I pray that you reach that point safely.  Kids need an adult in their lives, like one adult that listens to them, one adult that cares.  Like one cool teacher.  Are you a cool teacher?  Are you a cool teacher that cares about kids?  Do you take a bit of time, maybe after school, and hang out with the kids, maybe talk to them a bit, open your heart to them and listen?  Can you stop grading papers just for an hour a day after school and just sit with them, let them into your classroom or office?

Are you a cool coach?  What about the kids on the team that don’t seem quite right?  Are you concerned about their physical health?  Are they taking drugs?  What about their weight?  Maybe working out too much or not eating right?  Did you hear someone throwing up?  Did you see a cut on someone’s arm?  Just sit with them.  Just be there.  Any time they want to talk about it, you are there and you will listen.

There are many ways that we as adults can get involved with kids.  I don’t see kids much in my daily life.  Maybe you do. I know of the Big Brother Big Sister organization and I have heard good things about it.  It is a two-year commitment if you want to do it.  They do an intensive background check and I am sorry to say that they screen for mental illness, which really blows…anyway, I have not looked into it for myself and have never seen an application or been through an interview or know what questions they would ask me personally.  I’ll bet they’d shoo me out the door in a minute or two.

But maybe it’s more important to me, right here right now, to reach out to kids in my daily life.  Like tomorrow.  I’ll be at church tomorrow and I’ll see kids at social hour.  Not a lot of kids cuz we have a small church.  Most families don’t have kids, or they have one or two, or they have grown kids that are out of the house and living far away, some with kids of their own.  There are a couple of babies at church.  During services, the kids go to religious education, and the babies stay in the nursery.  The kids are wicked cute.  They tend to run around a lot and do kid things.  They stay at the service for about ten minutes, then they walk out and go to their own classes, and while they are walking out, we sing a song.  The song is pretty.  I usually cry during this song.  I don’t know why.  Maybe cuz I see that the kids are so loved.  The ones that have just learned to walk hold their parents’ hands.  They teeter.  They waddle in their diapers.  Some of the ones that are slightly older trot along merrily.  Their hair sways with them as they pass through the door.  I wipe my tears.

Maybe tomorrow I will quit my shyness around kids, and I’ll try to talk to one of them.  I’m a bit awkward around kids, but I got more comfortable around teens after I was at Alcott.  Or shall I say I got to loving teens and caring deeply about them.  I’ll talk to one of them.  No big deal.  Maybe ask what they like to do, or if they have a pet.

Oh damn, I’m crying now.

It sucks being a teenager.  Or it sucked for me.  Please, reach out to those kids.  It sucks having an eating disorder and it sucked for every single person in that ward no matter what their age was, young or old.  This is no freaking game.  It’s life and death.

Just listen.  We need you.  Reach out.  Connect.  We all need this.  And it needs to start now.

A woman I loved (continued from where I left off)

Okay, as I was saying (I am finally home)…Whole Foods Market.  This is an expensive store.  Kind of a fake health-foody supermarket for upscale people.   Very trendy.  I suspect they sell a lot of…you got it…yeah…bottled water.  Packaged untested water from god-knows-where that tastes weird.  Half the people that drink it don’t even recycle the plastic bottles, mind you.  These bottles sit at the dump forever.  Yes, forever.  Okay, enough about that.  I don’t know as a fact that WFM sells bottled water anymore.  Maybe they’ve caught on that Coca-Cola and all that big business that thought they could rip people off charging more for water than they do for Coke were doing us all a disservice.  Okay, anyway….I was thinking Whole Foods Market and where these stores are located.  I’ll bet there ain’t any in places like Mattapan, Dorchester, Southie…I’ll bet Brockton doesn’t have one either.

Then I got to thinking about Brockton.  I don’t happen to recall if I’ve ever been there.  It’s a city outside of Boston, an area of its own.  I don’t know much about it.  I could be entirely wrong, but I’ve heard there’s a lot of poverty there, or at least that there are pockets of Brockton that are impoverished and places where there are a lot of drugs and prostitution.

So this was my thought process, just as I was leaving the house on my way to Boston to run an errand.  I was wondering what it was like to be a teen living in Brockton.  I figured it was a tough place to grow up.  I wondered what it was like being a teen in a really poor neighborhood in Brockton, or living in the “projects.”  I wondered what it was like if both your parents were hooked on heroin or really bad drugs and were out cold all the time.  I wondered what it would be like to find your parent real bad off, and have to call 911.  As I lifted my backpack to my back, I remembered that when I was a young teen, I was able to carry both brothers on my back simultaneously, the smaller one on my shoulders, and the middle child on my back.  This is why to this day I am able to carry heavy backpacks.  I pride myself in this.  I carried both brothers literally and metaphorically.  I am guessing that any teen with absentee parents, (absentee either literally or in their hearts), would have to raise his or her siblings and take on the role of parent.

But to be a teen in Brockton, or anywhere…being a teen is hard no matter where you are.  It might be tough in Brockton, but then again, there might be a way out for those kids.  Cuz all it takes is one adult in a kid’s life, one special adult that listens and cares.  This adult is more important than where you live, how much money you have, or anything.  When this thought came into my head, I started crying.  I stood by the computer with my backpack half-slung over my shoulder, and wept.

I did have someone like that in my life.  She wasn’t really an adult, not yet.  She was in my life f0r a very, very short time, but she was there.  I wrote about her in my book.  I believe that I first introduce her in my chapter, “Locker #47.”  I call her “Maria,” which is a pseudonym.  Before I met her, I had no clue what human closeness was.  I thought you had to keep all your thoughts, everything, to yourself.  I thought that humans were bad people who did nothing but tease me or dominate me and kick me around.  I always had to watch out for myself and be careful not to say something that would get me teased yet another time.

She was my camp counselor.  She was only eighteen years old, about to go off to college.  I was twelve, and had just finished what had turned out to be a nightmare for me: seventh grade, that is, my first year of our two-year junior high school.  Is twelve too young to fall in love?

I couldn’t get enough of her.  When I was with her, it felt like nothing else mattered, only that I was sitting beside her and I wanted to soak up all my emotions, everything I felt right then and let them surround me and bathe me, because what I felt in my heart for her was sweet and tender beyond what I had ever felt before.  Even if the sun had set, I felt that it was upon me, keeping me warm from the other side of the earth.  Maria!  Maria!  I could summon her up at any time, when I was walking to dinner, or singing at the lake with the guitars at sunset, even naked in the shower with the water, not quite warm enough, thoughts and images of her were always in my heart.

But summer ended.  She went to college and I went to eighth grade and my parents.  I didn’t hear from her much.  Long distance phone calls were very expensive, so we had to send letters instead.  I kept these letters secret from everyone, and I still have every single one of them.  They came so rarely. High school was a very hard time for me, but I survived, and escaped, and ran off to college.

We kept touch for a number of years, and I’ve seen her on occasion.  Sometimes it’s been okay, sometimes it’s been a little strange.

Sometimes she lived in the city and sometimes she lived in the country.  Once, I went to see her in the city.  I don’t know exactly, but what I recall is that there was something, this drive in me…I needed to run out of the car and into her place to see her.  I didn’t lock up or bring everything in.  I had to see her right away.  There was this urgency.  She was at the window and I saw her, too.  I ran up the stairs and inside and she was there and we embraced and we were together and this was all that mattered.

We spent a long time together, lying there.   It had been dark out for hours.  Eventually, I went back outside to get the rest of my stuff.  It had been stolen out of the car.  We reported it, but it never got recovered.  Just an old, chewed-up pair of hiking boots and a vest inside a knapsack, that was all.  I guess I was lucky.  I guess I was the luckiest person in the world.

I don’t know how many years it’s been.  Ages.  Like, twenty years, maybe?  Has it been that long since I’ve heard from her, since her last letter?  More?  Dang!

What is she doing now?  Does she know I’m alive?  Does she ever think about me?  Where does she live?  Google, Facebook…how can I find her?

This afternoon, while I was walking to the bus, I was thinking that I must, must get in touch with this woman, that I was desperate to do so, to at least say hello or something.

Maybe she has already Googled me, and thinks I’m really weird.  Dunno.

Just have to find her.

A woman I loved

I am not going to be able to complete this post while here on the bus, but will write while I can until I am underground.

I need to express this right away cuz I feel like it. I need to. I am bursting with it. Otherwise, I will sit here and tell the story to myself and myself alone, and sit here on the bus and cry. These are tears of thinking of the way I felt when I was with another person, something I had never felt before. I think that many people go through their lives not knowing what it is like to be close to another person. Sure, they can have plenty of physical sex, I suppose…dang! How dare they? What kind of marriage is that? It is trap for one or the other or both. Again, I am rambling.

Anyway, let me trace back how I got to thinking about this angel. I opened a can of veggies that I found, lucky me! at the food pantry…these were unsalted! Of course these were the ones I chose, rather than the ones with crap in them. You can indeed find organic canned soup at food pantries, which sometimes receive these foods as donations. Last time I was there, I found soups that were the 365 brand, which is the Whole Foods Market brand. Don’t let these guys fool you. Read the labels. They have everything under the sun in these so-called organic foods, and things that someone will end up allergic to. That plus sky-high sodium content that will do your heart and blood pressure (never mind if you have edema) no good. (next)

Regarding my divorce from both the mental health system and my primary care physician, what this means, and coping with what today has brought me

I’ve just looked at my watch, and it appears that I’ve been out of the hospital a month now, as of tomorrow.  Wow, I’ve had a lot of adventures, and I’ve done fairly well, I think.  I made a bunch of decisions, one being to move away from the mental health system and find my own path.  I think many people didn’t think I dared to do this, or thought I didn’t mean what I said, or maybe they thought I’d change my mind.  Heck, I say one thing one day, another thing another day.  Nope, I have not backed down on this one.


I wrote that bit earlier and then realized that I needed to get on with my day, shower and get Puzzle out, etc, and then get back to this after I’d fed her and taken care of necessities.   A few things happened that distracted me.   No, I didn’t say “delayed.”  I used the word “distracted.”  Neither is a crime, when you think about it.

People with ADHD, or ADD, about which I know very little, talk about distraction a lot.  I don’t have ADHD or ADD.  One of my blood relatives has been diagnosed with one of these (I haven’t a clue which one, and I don’t know the difference) by a professional, I assume a specialist.  I do know that the “A” stands for “attention” and “D” stands for “deficit.”

Sometimes, I go off on a wild tangent in my writing, and then return to my subject matter.  Sometimes I delete the off-topic paragraph; sometimes I don’t.  There is nothing morally wrong with going wildly off-topic.  I don’t see anything morally wrong with saying things in such a manner that no one can follow my train of thought.  In fact, I see nothing immoral in speaking in a schizophrenic word salad.  If you don’t know what a word salad is, google it, or look it up in the DSM-whatever.  I’ll take mine with no salad dressing, please.  I don’t want the calories.  Better yet, a completely empty bowl.  Silence is golden, as they say.  Fifteen karat.  You do hear about guys that swallow rings.  Talk about increasing one’s self-worth.

While walking Puzzle, I realized that I cannot stay with my present primary care physician.  I cannot walk into her examining room and immediately be handed a johnny, and once I am changed, be ushered to the Throne.  Yes, you know what the Throne is.  No, Dr. K, I am not merely “x weight,” and this all-holy number should not be your number one concern.  I am here for help with my body itself, not the number that represents weight of my body.  I am Julie Greene, human being, in case you didn’t know.  What about my kidneys?  What about all the other organs?  This is what is going on in my body.  Why am I now telling you these things that happen in my body, and you don’t even believe half of what I say?  I suspect my kidneys are working at half-mast, and my digestive tract isn’t digesting very much anymore.  You can choose to listen to what I experience with my body, or you can lecture me about the Throne number, threaten me just like my T did, and tell me to come back next week weighing x, and threaten that if I don’t weigh x, you will section me.

Of course, Dr. K (addressing her now), you are, or were, shall I say, in cahoots with my T regarding the state hospital.  My T stated this, in fact.  I’m guessing you were all in favor of getting me hooked up with DMH, which would make it oh so handy to drag me, kicking and screaming, out of my home and into some “group home” out in the middle of nowhere, stuck living with a bunch of chronic mental patients who are just out of the state hospital and stuck in the system.  And now I would be stuck as well, buried and digging myself out.  Would I even have control of my own finances?  Would I have Internet access?  Would I have access to public transportation, and ability to get to church? And yes, you were all in favor of committing me to the state hospital as well, and being in the DMH system would not only send this commitment via Overnight Express Mail, but would put a seal on the envelope as well.  Nice and handy.  Nope.  She’s gotta go.


Lots of other things floating around in this head of mine.  I get so many ideas.  Some people say they can type as fast as they can think.  Really?  Either they are slow thinkers or very fast at typing.

Then again, I don’t remember what time it was today that my mind ceased to work properly.  This happened yesterday as well, but it didn’t last for long.  Maybe fifteen minutes and then I came back.  Today, I don’t know…it has been worse and I can’t do things properly.  I got into it a little while ago, not sure when, and then never came back, or shall I say not yet.

Something is going on also with eating, drinking, and output (peeing and pooping) that isn’t right, that and energy and metabolism and how I feel physically in general.  I mean this completely aside from how I feel mentally about ingestion of food and drink.  My body is just screwed up.  My brain is part of my body, too.  I don’t think my body is sending the nourishment I consume to my brain.  It’s just like January.  Stuff shutting down.

Earlier, I tried to pack my things, maybe make an attempt to leave and go out for a while, but it was taking so long.  I kept on mixing up what I was doing, so I decided to take a break, wait till later, and then try again.  So I’ll do this now.  Wish me luck.


News about me!

I have been meaning to write here for days but for whatever reason haven’t done so.    I’ve been spending time writing in pencil lately.  I worked on a couple of stories and I’m ambivalent about both.  They are both memoir stories.  One happened to me a long, long time ago, and the other happened less than a week ago.  In brief:

The first is about a creepy experience with an aunt who spent time in a concentration camp.  I haven’t a clue which one or where, or any of the details.  They did talk about it…sort of.  Maybe I just didn’t want to hear, not because it was too painful, but because it happened before I was born and I had no interest in history.  I thought history was irrelevant to modern times and didn’t see myself as having any influence on the larger goings-on in the world, anyway.  It was all parent stuff, even when I was an older kid.  Parents read newspapers and I was a lowly high school student, just a puppet in society, kicked around, teased, bullied, enslaved…oh, I could use all kinds of words that meant I had no control, nothing, a non-life…all I wanted was to be free…move out and have a life of my own.  What I didn’t realize was that it was inevitable that I, too, would very soon become an adult myself.

So this aunt took me aside.  That was as far as I got.  She was damn creepy.  Anyway, if I had continued with the story, she took me to this creepy part of the mansion where my bossy, domineering grandma lived (my mom’s mom), and gave me a lecture, saying that of the three kids in my family, I was the one who most obviously “looked the most Jewish,” and therefore it was my obligation, as Jew, to carry on the Jewish tradition.  This, and guilt-tripping because I had not done this, had quit Hebrew school, had not chosen to travel to Israel and live on a Kibbutz, or study at a…forget what it’s called but it’s a Jewish school thingy that is very intense, hold on a sec.  Yeshiva.  That’s it.  It’s not a seminary, but kind of very religious school.  And she guilt-tripped me because my parents hadn’t brought me up Jewish enough, like it was my fault…my dad had blown it by not sending us kids to a Jewish day school…our friends were not Jewish…we had mingled with non-Jews…on and on and on…even comparing me to the other cousins.  Then she started talking about the concept of Jewish suffering.  That got me going, that is, I started crying, but she didn’t see.  Maybe she had bad eyesight…yeah, I guess that was what it was.  I fled out of there as fast as I could.  I rushed down the stairs, dying for fresh, cool air.  Then (I was going to fudge this part of the story a bit) I saw one of the younger cousins, drunk on all four glasses of wine (this takes place at the Passover Seder) puking in the front bushes.  I guess the story ends there, but I  can’t recall exactly cuz of course I never got around to writing that far.

The other story is about my brother, Ned, that is, who showed up at my apartment on Saturday.   I felt good about the visit at the time that I was writing the story, but now I feel shitty about it.  I did some thinking.  He was in town for a while.  Sort of.  He came up to see my mom, then he went skiing for a bunch of days, then he came back.  When he called, the first thing he did was to indicate surprise that I was out of the hospital.  Well, heck.  The least he could have done was to come visit.  He damn well knew what hospital I was in.  I had told him clearly the name of the hospital, the location, and the name of the unit, and he had written it down.  This was about a week into my stay.  I had also given him the number to the nurses’ station in case he hadn’t been able to reach me on the patient phones.  He didn’t even call the hospital while he was in town to find out visiting hours.  I also found out my brother Phil spent an extensive time in town a few weeks ago and made no attempt to contact me.  I have not heard a word from him since the sixth or seventh of February!  He figuratively dumped me off at the hospital, and left me there to rot, saying, again figuratively, “That’s taken care of,” and wiped his hands clean of me.  That’s how I see it.

Dang.  I had tried.  On Saturday and Sunday, when I had started writing this story, I felt that my attitude toward my brothers had turned  around.  I thought that the doors I had knocked on repeatedly for maybe twenty years, doors that never, never opened for me, would maybe open for me if I presented to them a person free of the mental health system at last.  Like I was going to do this chameleon act and be this changed person, no longer institutionalized.  Then maybe they’d love me.

I had mixed feelings about this story anyway.  It was too rushed.  Way, way too rushed.  The thought was nice.  But it was fiction.  Fiction is a lie and an exaggeration.  That is fiction in a nutshell.

I feel crappy today.  Wicked crappy.  Mentally, I’m fine.  I’m not depressed at all.  But I think I’m dehydrated.  I can’t beat this.  I drink plenty of fluids.  In the past, I have had, say…I am clueless as to the exact amount, but at least a half gallon…definitely more than a half gallon of fluids at night, and in the morning, ended up with a blood test indicating dehydration.  This, of course, was not in my recent hospitalization.  They never allowed me that much water.  I am drinking fine now, reasonable amounts, spacing it throughout the day.  I carry a water bottle with me most of the time, and fill it up periodically whenever I can.  Sometimes, I forget the bottle, though.

I don’t know what it is.  I have no appetite.  I kept looking in the fridge, and then looking in the cabinet, back and forth.  This isn’t my ED keeping me away right now.  I’m fairly sure of it.  I have no appetite even for my black coffee, which has no calories.

Change of subject.  I wrote a reading list and have this list written up at the library’s site with the call numbers, etc.  I put a few of these books in as requests.  One of these is by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk who has written a lot of books that have been translated into many languages.  I believe he won the Nobel Peace Prize quite some time ago.  Another book I found in the catalog, and this one I have on my list.  A third has ended up missing within the library system and is not obtainable in any system I’ve searched around here.  Coincidentally, I found it on Amazon and at the same time, managed to pay under$5 for it including shipping.  I read the reviews to make sure it was something I was seeking.

Another writer that piqued my curiosity is Stanton Peele.  He has an unconventional view of addiction.  I was unable to quite ascertain what exactly was meant by “unconventional,” but my best guess was that maybe he believes the American media is paying too much attention too addiction and society is placing too much blame for its ills on this ailment, focusing self-help on curing addiction.  We shall see.  I googled him and went roundabout, ending up at a site that protested forced attendance at spiritually-based addiction meetings, stating that these meetings, in some areas in the country, always used the Lord’s Prayer and were consistently attended entirely by Christians.  This forced attendance that this site mentioned happens when a person is on parole for breaking the law and has an alcohol or drug problem.  The parole officer, apparently, checks up on the parolee to make sure that this attendance requirement is being met.  The folks at the site stated that it was illegal to push Christianity or a specific religion, or even belief in a Higher Power (actually, this Higher Power is soon after specified as God) on a person, that this was against the First Amendment.

Hmmm.  While I feel that the folks at this site are absolutely right, that the law should not require that the meetings or treatment HAS to be one of these groups, and leave as the only option groups that are all spiritually based, I don’t think the only options should be groups that are non-spiritual.  Hardly.

If you can prove that standing on your head will cure 90% of cocaine addicts, I mean really prove that this will work, tell those law guys, show them the statistics, and convince them that the parolees should do this in order to better themselves.  If they are convinced by your presentation, then perhaps this will be a new requirement for those capable of standing on their heads.

When I was a kid, I did headstands all the time to impress people.  Right now, the last thing I want to do is to stand on my head cuz I feel so lousy.  I am so glad, also, that I never did cocaine.  This saves me the headstand cure, should it ever be discovered that it does indeed work.

Oy, I want to keep on talking to you but I want to lie down.  I will keep going and then stop when I can’t go any further.  I feel great after stopping therapy.  It was the right thing to do.  I feel freed up, no longer scared that I’m going to end up in the state hospital.  So mostly, I am relieved.  Just like my whole self is sighing, “Phew!”   What’s weird is that I feel like I’m getting out of the house more and that I’m more active all of a sudden.  I don’t know.  Energized and motivated, focused on self-improvement and self-everything.  I’m in charge now.

I went to see the acupuncturist yesterday and it was a fabulous experience.  This approach is like nothing else I have ever experienced.  First of all, my number one beef with “traditional,” and might I add “Western” medical method of treating eating disorders, that is, the one and only option (“team” approach, “step-down”, etc, and all that these entail)  is that the practitioners of this “traditional Western” eating disorders treatment, or perhaps I ought to broaden this and say ALL mental health treatment in the Western world, treats the patient with disrespect, sometimes subtly, but often very blatantly.  It is clear that Eastern practitioners and the whole Eastern treatment philosophy has a different take on what treatment is.  You don’t glean this from any website, and you won’t learn half of what someone with an eating disorder can get out of acupuncture treatment.  Let me say first off that it would be different for each person.  Why?  Duh.  I’m not a height and weight, nor are you.  I am Julie Greene and I have certain things going on in my body, mind, and spirit.  I described what these things were.  The acupuncturist pointed out a few other things, and you know something?  I didn’t even know these things were going on with me, and she’s absolutely right.  Not only that, I told her some stuff that I’ve been trying to convince medical people for months now, and not only did she believe me, but she said that all put together, these things make a very, very clear and believable picture.  We were entirely straight with each other.  She is referring me to the school where she used to teach, where I can get inexpensive or possibly free care.  She explained thoroughly how treatment plans work, what takes place in an acupuncture session, and what to expect.  She even told me which supervisor to ask for at the acupuncture school, and told me that she would speak to that supervisor, whom of course she knows, and send over her notes.  As far as seeing an improvement, she said that the patients she has treated with eating disorders have seen marked improvement, but in my case I will probably see less improvement since my case is so advanced, however, she feels that it will certainly be worth my while to follow through with this.  I agree!

Okay, let’s see…what else.  I have decided that since I am so absolutely disgusted that I was unable, after a long, long search, to find any “group” for people with eating disorders that would accept me, or that wasn’t ridiculously expensive, I will start my own!  This, of course, will be therapist-free!  So this will not be a “therapy” group.  I am kind of sick of the word “group.”  It is so mental health cliche.  So it will be called a “gathering.”  I will find a meeting space, one that is accessible with accessible bathrooms, and I will check the space out myself to make sure that yes, accessible means accessible.  Renting the space…maybe asking for donations from members…whatever they can afford.  I haven’t decided if this is “drop-in” or if you have to “join,” but for certain this gathering will be welcoming, that is, anyone can be there regardless of where they are at ED-wise, male or female, welcoming to anyone of any race or religion or economic status or sexual orientation or how they choose to identify themselves sexually, or body shape or size or what or how they eat and there is no requirement that they be in any sort of “treatment” while they are attending this group or be at some minimum weight or minimum medical condition…how can we not serve those most in need?  People choose to refuse medical treatment for many reasons, and often, are refused medical treatment, turned away due to non-insurance, or kicked out of residential treatment for stupid reasons, or homeless, or suddenly jobless.  You can’t assume anything.

What we would talk about and what we wouldn’t talk about in this gathering…hmm…I guess it would be a really positive thing to say what works for you, and the positive things you are doing to help yourself.  And also what you tried and didn’t work.  Books you read that impressed you that you would recommend.   No pro-_n_ talk or pro-mi_ talk.  How, specifically, would this be defined?  This would have to be laid out.  Maybe we could have writing time and reading what we wrote.

Maybe, as an offshoot of this gathering, an eating disorders writing group.  As a culmination, or perhaps ongoing project, we would do a public reading of our works, or joint writing project, or mixed media project, slide show with artwork and readings possibly.  So unlike going to those eating disorder conferences and hearing “recovery stories,” from people who had no choice but to do “traditional” treatment, you’d hear writings and possibly all types of art of all types from people at all stages of their eating disorder, and this would be in many genres, not necessarily autobiography.

Me personally?  I want to be “out there” as much as possible.  Let’s face it, I know more about eating disorders than most medical professionals do.  I don’t know a thing about what it feels like to self-induce vomit because I’ve never done it, but I sure know body dysmorphia first-hand.  A lot of eating disorders specialists don’t know eating disorders.  Training means nothing unless you “get it.”  Like the feeling I had when I thought the diet cola I’d bought wasn’t really diet.  This was in February, not long before I went into the hospital.  I thought I’d been tricked by the generic cola company and that they had mislabeled the bottle, and that they had switched them.  I searched on the Internet to see if there had been a cola recall.  I was terrified.  So I told them this when I went into the hospital.  Dang!  They wanted me to take a freaking antipsychotic.  I was wise enough to tell the admitting shrink that no, I don’t need your pills, thank you.  My brain is starved and I haven’t been thinking clearly for months, can’t you see?  No pill will FEED the brain.  I have had more first-hand experience with eating disorders than many medical professionals have even been in the medical profession.  Not only that, I’ve had round-the-clock experience.

So I feel perfectly confident, competent, and qualified to write about eating disorders and read in front of an audience about my first-hand experience.  I know a lot of places around here where I can arrange a reading.  I am lucky to live in an urban area where there are so many opportunities and venues and nonprofits and interesting 0rganizations to explore.

Okay, what else…the acupuncture school called me back, and I have an appointment in a week!

Mass General suddenly called me yesterday.  They found my running shoes and clothes!  After all this time!  They were lost last July, that is, taken from me in the psych emergency room and never returned to me.  I was told that I was reimbursed.  I pursued this, as I mentioned before, and was given the runaround of course…pass the buck…so I was disgusted, meanwhile had had to replace them, having nothing else to wear, and saved the receipts, but to no avail.  I had lost out, in the hole not only $117, but the cost of the flip-flops I’d had to purchase in the gift shop just to get home on the subway, having nothing to put on my feet for the journey.  I’m going to be picking up this stuff tomorrow.  They have it at the medical floor I was on.

Okay, I’m going to get going.  I can’t think of much more to talk about.  I’m surprised that I stayed up this long.   I have this pile of laundry on the floor.  The least I can do is to pick it up and put it in the laundry bag.  I’m surprised that Puzzle isn’t lying all over the pile of laundry.  You’d think that Puzzle would settle herself among my filthy, stinky socks and have the time of her life.

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