Monthly Archives: May 2012
This morning I berated myself for breaking promises I make to myself. I promised myself quite a while back, several times,in writing that I would commit suicide if I ever returned to binge eating.
I am still alive, and pissed that I never seem to commit myself to anything at all. The number of unfinished projects lined up is staggering. Just take one look at the mess in my apartment and you can see one huge example of postponement, lack of motivation, procrastination, and a reflection of the fact that my entire life is in ruins.
So this morning, I said to myself, “This is it. I’m going to do it, or do something else drastic.”
For a few weeks I’ve been going to sites all the time trying to find the best way. Obviously, the people who could write “suicide success stories” are now dead and cannot write these stories or post tips and tricks. People post on Yahoo! Answers now and then questions about “how to,” and are inundated with reasons why they should not do it. If you Google this question and click on the links, you will be redirected to suicide prevention sites.
And yet when you read about people like Virginia Woolf or David Foster Wallace, people seem to think it was okay that they committed suicide because they had suffered long enough. I suppose it’s silly for me to put myself in the same category with such brilliant writers, but I think I’m suffering, too, and at the end of my rope.
For a couple of years, I’ve spent time and energy creating scenarios, bits of dialogue, stuff folks might say about me if I died. Of course, people will make every effort in their power to put me out of their minds as quickly as possible. Actually, this is happening right now, while I’m alive, isn’t it? People purging their lives of “negative people,” myself among them.
It is becoming a bigger and bigger struggle to be polite, sweet, and kind in public. The image of that quiet girl in Apartment __ is turning into a picture of a nasty, hostile crazy lady. You could say that I’m rather shocked, because I am such a proponent of good manners, believing that this is the most important thing you can teach a child, for instance.
It’s very easy to teach a child to say “Please” and “Thank you.” Saying these things at appropriate times will get you a long way in this world. Plus it elevates self-esteem to be polite to others, and gives a feeling of self-worth and self-respect. Helping a person in need instead of walking on by…this, too, is a good thing to do. Picking up after yourself. Being an accepting friend. Sharing. If I had a kid, I’d teach him or her these things, I think. The basics.
And yet, I have thrown all my manners out the window, my standards of cleanliness, a lot of common sense stuff like sleeping…it’s all gone now.
I don’t think it matters whether I choose to be like this. I’ve been driven to it. The amount of effort I’m putting into fighting back is nil.
Well, no, I do go to acupuncture, I have shown up at church lately, I have occasionally put forth effort to find a therapist. These things are supposed to mean something.
Joe always said I was resilient. I truly appreciate this compliment now more than ever. Wish he were alive so I could tell him that.
Doctors have told me that my heart, as a set of muscles, is very, very strong, and that’s probably why I made it through the past year. I’ve been brutal to all my organs, particularly my kidneys, but nothing seems to hurt in terms of my insides, no sharp pain, nothing’s ruptured or anything. Just these freaking headaches.
I sleep at random. When I wake up, I’ve got no clue whether it’s night or day, or what day it is, or whether what I dreamed was real. It’s all just kind of a spacy nether-world.
I’ve tried to will my heart to stop. It doesn’t work. I wonder if I could use biofeedback techniques to accomplish this.
Last time I was lying on the acupuncture table, I felt like I was going to stop breathing entirely. I felt like I was drifting off somewhere. I “came to” with a start. I inhaled. I was back on the table again, right where I’d been lying. I wonder what that was. It happened twice during the last session. I’ve fallen asleep on the table, of course, which is a common occurrence. This was different.
I’d like to step out of my body, and leave it behind. Just walk off, and say goodbye, or maybe not say anything. I’m sure it would be a big relief, maybe not just for me, but for a lot of people that see me as a burden. I guess, though, I wouldn’t be relieved, or shall I say, I wouldn’t be alive to feel it.
I suppose I’m going way out on a limb by writing this.
If you can identify with what I’m going through, I don’t have any particular advice.
“She was only 54. Too young to die.”
“Where was her family? Why didn’t they do something? Didn’t they care?”
“Such talent gone to waste.”
Anyway, for whatever reason, the DMH suddenly discovered that yes, I’m on their rosters. And no, they were clueless all along due to negligence on the part of my worker. She stopped coming. I hear bits and pieces of her being on “sick leave,” and yet the boss guy was surprised that she hadn’t seen me since December, the day she suddenly announced that she was going on a six-week vacation. She made hints that international travel made her ill, and hinted that she’d be sick when she came back…like she was planning this. She was due to return January 20 and show up here. I cleaned the place, and waited. No show. Next week, no show. Next week, I was in bed and miserable. I blew her off, telling her I had a cold. She didn’t ask how I was doing or anything, just hung up the phone in her customary manner, that is, click, her voice trailing off, without saying the word “goodbye.” I don’t think she once ended a phone conversation with “goodbye.” The line would just go dead.
So over the past week, I’ve met with the boss guy twice. I was honest, and said that J never did her job, was always late, and often didn’t show at all. At first, this was an inconvenience to me. Now, I realize that her being irresponsible like that was a serious thing.
I have a new worker. The boss guy said he wanted his best person working on my case now. He said she was the best. She came Monday, and to my dismay kept on saying that she was “interim,” maybe only for a few weeks. I’m kinda shocked, because the boss guy sounded like he was going to do right by me and really put forth an effort on my behalf by assigning this specific person to me. Not only that, but this person emphasized that she doesn’t really have room on her schedule for me. We made another appointment, but not for another two weeks. Geez. I feel betrayed, to say the least.
So anyway, let it go on record that this is a case of gross negligence on the part of DMH. The boss guy was apologetic about what had been going on with J, and said it shouldn’t have happened. But now what? Am I still invisible?
I used to think that if I died on a Friday night, and J called Saturday, the day she was supposed to show up, to let her know she was on her way, and it turned out I did not respond…I assumed she would get to the bottom of it, and my death would be discovered very quickly. So they’d get the body out of here and get some assistance for Puzzle. I was under this false impression that she actually gave a shit about her job.
How long would my body have been rotting here?
What do I do now? After I’m dead, I can’t just call someone and say, “Hey, I’m dead, send the coroner.”
You bet I’ve thought of putting e-mails on a timer, or posting some sort of statement in my blog here, and setting that to post well after I’m dead and there’s nothing anyone can do. I was thinking about that this morning while walking Puzzle. Actually, I obsess about this suicide stuff nonstop.
There’s nothing anyone can do, either. Just throw your arms into the air. Say a prayer or something. Or wash your hands clean of me and put me out of your mind, for your own sanity’s sake.
Lew Olson, the author, is not a vet, but holds a degree specializing in dog digestion. She is a dog breeder and dog show judge. She also is president of a couple of kennel clubs. You can bet she’s seen a lot of dogs and the ins and outs of feeding them. In case you’re curious, her specialty is Rottweilers. I trust this author.
Inserted into post.
I’ve just had to return this book to the library so I thought it would be fitting that I review it, since I think it is a very good book….
Title: Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs: The Definitive Guide to Homemade Meals
Author: Lew Olson
Copyright Date: 2010
Publisher: North Atlantic Books, Berkeley California
Available through bookstores. If your bookstore doesn’t have it, it can be ordered, or you can order it yourself from an online bookseller.
Also, chances are you’ll be able to find the book in your local library, especially if the library has access to other libraries through InterLibrary Loan.
I found out about this book by painstakingly going through the zillions of “how to make your own dog food” and “dog food recipe” and “dog nutrition” books on Amazon, and reading the reviews.
A word of caution on online reviews: Amazon’s reviews have been infiltrated with “fake” reviews, that is, reviews that appear to be by everyday readers, but are not. Many of the reviews written by real readers have been inundated with comments from folks accusing them of being fakes. A lot of the reviewers don’t understand that they’re supposed to be reviewing the book, not how fast the book arrived at their doorstep. For books that have accompanying online message boards and information websites, reviewers tend to review these sites and forget that they are supposed to be reviewing the book. And you always get the occasional person with their own agenda putting up crap that has nothing to do with the book and is not helpful for those of us deciding whether to purchase.
Despite this, I do read reviews, but I read between the lines. People have whatever reasons they have for giving a book a star rating…read between the lines here, please, because a lot of people will adore a book and only give it three stars. Are they naturally stingy with stars? Heck if I know. Then you’ll get the reader who gives a book five stars, and says, “It was great, but it gave me a rash,” or whatever.
When I read book reviews, mostly what I’m looking for is:
Who found the book useful, and why?
Does it contain the material I’m looking for?
Does the book have a particular slant that may turn me on or off?
What makes this book unique?
If the book passes the test, I look it up in my library’s catalog, and get this: Chances are, your local library’s catalog is available to you right at home! Google your local library, find its website, and then find the link to your library’s catalog. At my local library, I can request books from home, see what I’ve got checked out, renew books, and even pay (ouch!) library fines. Check into your library’s available services for text or e-mail alerts reminding you when a book is due. Another thing you might want to do is to ask at the library if there is a book drop return box super handy for you so that you can return a book with ease.
Anyway, just a plug for libraries…I look the book up in the catalog and see if it’s on the shelf at the moment we speak. If it is, awesome, I go have a look and decide if the book is what I’m looking for. If not, I look over what my library’s catalog site offers for information about the book.
In regards to Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs, I found the following publisher’s description:
In the whirlwind of information about local, organic, and whole foods, it’s easy to forget that our canine companions can also benefit from–and deserve–a more natural and nurturing diet. Preparing Fido’s food at home may seem daunting, but it’s really not, says Lew Olson in Raw & Natural Nutrition for Dogs. Olson discusses canine nutritional needs and explains the research on how home-prepared foods, particularly raw foods, can meet pets’ needs better than commercial, processed dog food. Step-by-step instructions and recipes make preparation easy. The book includes charts with the recipes, instructions on keeping diets simple and balanced, guidelines on preparation, suggestions for finding ingredients, and how much to feed a dog by body weight. There are recipes for healthy adult dogs as well as guidelines for puppies, senior dogs, and dogs with health conditions including pancreatitis, renal problems, gastric issues, allergies, heart disease, liver disease, and cancer. Pet owners seeking to give their dogs a better coat, better skin, and healthier teeth and gums, as well as longer lives and more stable temperaments, are sure to welcome this book.
I would say that this description is completely accurate. Here’s a link to my library’s links to Table of Contents, Author notes, etc:
Lew Olson, the author, is not a vet, but holds a degree specializing in dog digestion. She is a dog breeder and dog show judge. She also is president of a couple of kennel clubs. You can bet she’s seen a lot of dogs and the ins and outs of feeding them. In case you’re curious, her specialty is Rottweilers. I trust this author.
Just reading the Table of Contents tells you that you can find a variety of choices as to how to feed your dog. This book leaves it up to you to decide what is the most practical and healthy option for you and your dog. There are also special chapters on specific health concerns and special considerations for puppies, elderly dogs, breeding females, etc.
Please note that there is no chapter on feeding your dog a vegetarian diet. There’s a reason for this. I’ve looked at seven instructional books on how to feed a dog something I make at home from scratch, and the consensus is that dogs and vegetarian diets don’t jive. Many dog recipe books do contain vegetarian recipes, but these are not meant for everyday feeding.
My two cents would be to reserve vegetarian dishes for “treat” foods. I don’t know about your dog, but Puzzle loves both raw and cooked vegetables. You can freeze a vegetarian dish in an ice cube tray (mini-cubes if you have a teensy dog like Puzzle) and then give them to your dog in nice small bits. How yummy. You can also freeze canned dog food in cube trays for treats.
If I’m going to chop veggies, Puzzle often, but not always, comes tip-toeing into the kitchen to wait for some piece of veggie to go flying off my cutting board. If I don’t want her to have what I’ve dropped, I can usually retrieve it in time, either by being quicker than she is, or by telling her it isn’t hers and keeping my fingers crossed that she actually minds me. It’s very interesting that of all the foods that have gone crashing down to my floor, the food she’s quickest and sneakiest about has always been eggshells.
There’s a reason for this: eggshells are a good source of calcium, an essential nutrient for dogs. The dog food books I borrowed all confirm that many home cooked diets require calcium supplementation. Calcium is supposedly in kibble, but I’m not really sure if the calcium is digestible and in the appropriate amount for Puzzle.
Some dogs can get calcium from raw bones that they chew on. The awesome thing about this is that the dog can use his or her natural body sense to know when to chew on the bone to get the calcium. The not-so-good thing is that some dogs are heavy-duty chewers and will break the bones into nasty pieces that can mess up their insides and cause all kinds of grief. Be forewarned that puppies and adolescent dogs often end up with some kind of digestive woe from swallowing contraband and this can include bones.
This happened to Puzzle once. My vet explained that a dog’s digestive system is very cleverly made to handle bones just fine. The problem was that Puzzle had ingested a lot, lot, lot of chicken bones from devouring someone’s discarded cooked chicken that she found while we were out on a walk. Cooked or not, the sheer number of bones she wolfed down while I stood there like an idiot, helpless to get them away from her, was too much at once for her little tummy. Yes, there were a bunch of vet bills and lots of doggie throw-up on my floor to clean up, as well as special “bland” diets to keep Puzzle’s tummy soothed while she recovered. If your dog throws up a lot and has diarrhea, you definitely should take your dog to the vet to get an injection of fluids to treat dehydration. You also want to stop the diarrhea in its tracks. Whether to give anti-emetic medication or other tummy medications such as antacids varies from vet to vet. Your dog’s stomach needs acids to digest the bones, but too much acid can irritate the dog. I actually had two vets disagree on what to do about the antacids. Needless to say, I, Puzzle, and my credit card eventually recovered, and I caught up on lost sleep.
Well, lesson learned I guess. I must say that ever since then, Puzzle has picked up bones off the street now and then, and it seems that her digestive system is much, much stronger than it ever was before the mishap. Very weird. I really should have taught her to “give up” stuff she’s got in her mouth, but I neglected to teach her this. So if she steals your grandma’s statue of Baby Jesus and chomps on it and carries it around town while we’re on a walk, well, that’s just tough. This has never happened, anyway.
I studied and studied dog nutrition and what would be right for us, Puzzle and I, as a team, given every factor you can think of. This includes availability of food, cost of food, nutritional benefits of various foods, where I can get the food, in what form, how much home cooking effort is required and whether I have the cooking equipment, how much I’m going to concoct at a time, and how I’m going to store leftovers. And…will Puzzle eat it? Of course she will. My dog eats any crap you put in front of her, especially if it’s in her bowl. I’ve seen her turn up her nose at food only once. Rice saturated with Pepto Bismol. She grumbled about it for a while, took little bites and (as far as I could interpret) gave me a questioning look, and then went and ate it anyway.
So I decided on a cooked meat diet for Puzzle. Yes, there’s a wonderful chapter in Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs on feeding a cooked diet. Nothing fancy, just a basic how-to. Of all the dog food books I took out of the library, this one has the most down-to-earth and practical guide for doing exactly what I wanted to do. The chapter is short, to-the-point, and sensible. Nothing fancy.
You won’ t find delicious stews, meatloaves, and birthday cakes in this book. Go elsewhere for those. What you will find are guidelines and how-to instructions. The book will tell you how to transition your dog to the new diet, how much to feed your dog (it’s not the same as kibble) and much more.
The introduction to this book is awesome. It’s called, “The Untold History of Dog Food.” Set aside some time to read this. It’s well-written and as a matter of fact, I’d say this chapter is rather profound, or at least I found it to be. Why? There’s a little message in it for the dog owner: Be aware, be informed, be skeptical, dig deep. By digging deep I mean looking at dog food from a political and economic standpoint as well.
“Why is all this questioning necessary, when all I want to do is feed my dog?” you may ask. Trust me, it pays to learn what went on with the economics of dog food to understand what is behind the kibble in fancy colorful eye-catching bags you see in the supermarket aisles. It pays to understand what the “dog food industry” is doing to our heads with all their advertising. It affects how we spend our money. If you buy a product, you are saying “yes” to that company and all its practices, including the practice of deceiving us and lying to us. Every purchase you make is a political statement. Who are these companies, what else do they do, and who is behind them? This chapter goes into that. It’s what it says it is, a history, an evolution of how we went from feeding our dogs scraps of meat we had on hand to opening a can of god-knows-what and giving the contents to our dogs just because a big business making lots of money told us that this was how to love our pets.
Advertising is just that. It tries to tell us how to become more loved in a love-starved society.
Anyway, this is a good book. I read the chapter on skin conditions because Puzzle occasionally has dry skin, but didn’t read the one on, say, how to feed a lactating dog or the chapter on kidney issues or other issues because these do not apply. I will not hesitate to borrow the book again should I need it, especially when Puzzle graduates from “adult” to “senior.”
Puzzle will be six in November, on the 26th. Since I switched her to a cooked meat diet, she has picked up stuff off of the ground less while we’ve been on walks. This may or may not be an indication that perhaps she is less driven scavenge to acquire nutrients while we’re out. Still, I often think of her as the Trash Queen. She still finds a discarded wrapper full of a half-eaten delicacy such as a bagel or cupcake or pizza crust hard to resist. The object for her is to scrunch it around as much as she can and then extract the goodies. If some of the paper gets eaten, well, so be it. Lately, though, Puzzle has eaten less paper, if any, so there must be something I’m doing right, don’t you think?
Have a nice night. Happy doggie dreams.
Good afternoon! Below is a link to a very interesting post by Billie, to which I responded:
I clicked on the Wikipedia link that Billie provided. I had never heard of Stockholm Syndrome before, although when I was growing up, Patty Hearst sure was in the news a lot.
If you read my response, I mention that my eyes are opened a bit now. This very well might have been what was going on with my “best friend” and I in high school, which by the way, (here, here, Google, I’m not ashamed!) was class of 1975, Lexington High School, Lexington, Massachusetts.
The class of 1975 was huge, but if you are from that class, or were in high school at LHS between the fall of 1971 and graduation 1975, you very well may have seen the terribly awkward girl in glasses, frequently wearing a gray t-shirt that said “SLAVE” on it, walking exactly three steps behind a blonde girl only an inch taller who was bossing her around and insulting her non-stop.
Yeah, I wore the shirt. I think I wore it to make a barely audible, if at all, statement of, “I need help.”
If you knew us, you might remember now. We were said to be “inseparable.” Vague rumors that we were lesbians, but I don’t think this talk went very far. There were a few such pairs. Often, these pairs would dress identically each day, or get identical haircuts, even pay for identical eyeglasses, or rather, get their parents to pay for them, doubly tough to pull off. My memory falters here on names and particulars.
Have there been any studies done on this? Adolescent pairings that go to extreme? There was some secrecy surrounding the one pair I can picture in my mind. Where are they now?
Hint for those of you who Googled LHS and came here: I was in the band. I was a fucking nobody, a loser. I was also part of “H unit people,” or so I think it was called. Was it H? Or G? Something like that. Nowadays, I guess they’d say we were “geeks” or “nerds” or other types of losers. My chapter on high school life in my memoir, This Hunger Is Secret. is called “Locker #47.” (Thanks to my advisor at Goddard College, Paisley Rekdal, who encouraged me to write this chapter. Love ya.) You can go get This Hunger Is Secret and read the chapter, but you might want to wait for the paperback. Anyway, I was known to be talented in music but by no means had “promise.” I wasn’t surrounded by a lot of glitter. The prom and all that baloney? Forget it. High school was no picnic.
You see, LHS Class of 1975, behind those glasses and all the social awkwardness was a desperate, suicidal girl at the end of her rope. Hanging on by a thread. Day after day after day. To cover herself, she smiled a lot, thinking folks wouldn’t guess, and even if they did, wouldn’t really give a shit.
One nightmare day I recall I think happened sophomore year. I show up at school to find that I’m excommunicated by her and she’s talking to everyone about what a jerk I am. Eventually, I came to her begging for forgiveness, but I had no clue what I had done! All I knew was that my heart was pounding all day long from the pressure. I literally shook all over whenever I saw her from a distance, sputtering out nasty stuff about me and saying she’d never speak to me again.
To me, it was the end of the world. Teenagers are short-sighted and of course it was not the end of the world. It wasn’t like the house had burned down. Or maybe it was. For years, I looked back on that day as a turning point. I asked myself, “What if I hadn’t gone begging for forgiveness? What if I just let her be angry? What if I’d let her never speak to me again? I would have been free of her at last! Why didn’t I take this opportunity to be rid of her for good? Surely, I would have had a better life…well, maybe.
But it wouldn’t have happened that way. I realize this now. She would have gone to me and ensnared me again. It was oh so much more than Just Say No.
Slave. Yep. So finally, she tells me I’m a jerk and I don’t care about her.
“I do! I do!”
“Then why didn’t you do something when I said, the other night, “I’m depressed”? Why?
“I didn’t hear, and if I did, I thought you were just saying it. Lots of people say they’re depressed.”
“You are bad because you did not respond in the way that a Good Friend would, a Best Friend. We are inseparable, remember? I said ‘I’m depressed’ to test you. You did nothing. You don’t pass the test. You are scum. You and your Jewish family are scum.”
“So, I was supposed to respond in some way? The word, “depressed” has many meanings, you know.”
“You are a bad friend. I am about to go back to the world and cry and tell everyone that it’s all your fault. See how I cry. See how I hurt.”
And so on.
She used “pity techniques” (my term) to get me to do everything her little heart desired. She was expert at getting people to feel sorry for her, and then when they did, she ensnared them into doing exactly what she wanted. And like any ruler that is sick and impossible to please, she was erratic and hard to predict. You never knew when she would fly off the handle or explode. So my life was spent doing everything I could to prevent these explosions, or shall I say, potential explosions, from happening. I called her “Master.” Yes, Master. Or sometimes, “Yes, ma’am.”
As the four years of high school dragged on and on, the abuse worsened. I saw no way out. I was trapped. My parents, in turn, decided this girl was the best thing that had ever happened to me! They “adopted” her as part of our family, closing the clenches in on me. They always talked about how great she was.
I was miserable and lived in hell. Pretended everything was peachy-keen. Now you see me, now you don’t.
So we got back together. Friends again the next day, just like it had been before. Only a step worse, I guess.
And what role did the teachers play? They should have intervened, but didn’t. My parents? Oblivious.
I’m alive today and no longer her slave. My life is fucking miserable, but I’m not in slavery. Or maybe I am a slave to my eating disorder. Well, yeah, I am a slave to that, if you insist on thinking of my eating disorder as being human-like.
Teachers, wake up. Concerned friends, wake up. God bless the child. Guess that’s all I want to say.
Have I told you I need new glasses? Maybe my computer screen needs dusting? According to the Eating Disorders Coalition, it’s 21 million dollars that are spent on eating disorders, not two billion as I posted on my previous post a few hours ago. I corrected it.
Maybe the “21” appeared to have a decimal point in it. A speck on my monitor screen. I guess specks go a long way.
As we said, “The People…United…Will Never Be Defeated!” To those like me who consider traditional, medically-approved eating disorders treatment violating, oppressive, and abusive
Okay, I just had to include this. What I’ve been looking for is to see just how much NIMH is spending on eating disorders as compared to how much it is spending on schizophrenia, bipolar, OCD etc.
Of all the mental illnesses, the illness which gets researched the most is schizophrenia. I was just on a page at schizophrenia dot com, a fairly outdated page I think, that predicts a CURE for schizophrenia by 2013. A ton of work is being done looking into genetics and new therapies and I’m very happy about this.
This is what I read: As of 2002, 25% of schizophrenia patients recover completely. 25% are significantly improved but not deemed “cured,” and are probably able to function quite well. Another 25% you might say are doing so-so and may or may not be living decent lives, and of that 25% that remain, 15% are in hospitals and 10% are dead (mostly suicide). These statistics come from the book Surviving Schizophrenia, according to schizophrenia dot com, where I saw this data. My fourth edition copy (2001) states that these statistics summarize the outcome after ten years. After 20 years, 15% are dead and 35% are much improved (“managed”). The book, Surviving Schizophrenia, is written by E. Fuller Torrey. He says that because schizophrenia patients have abnormalities in their brains, they cannot be cured by this thing we call “therapy” but have to take medications for the rest of their lives. He states that people who have schizophrenia often die young. The causes of this young death are accidents, diseases, unhealthy lifestyles, inadequate medical care, and homelessness.
Given that Torrey is known to be big on medication, I doubt he’s going to make any statement about the fact that the medications given for schizophrenia (antipsychotics) cause risk of early death. We know about the diabetes risk from Zyprexa is very high, and there is also high diabetes risk with other antipsychotics such as Seroquel is also very high. There is the problem of weight gain caused by antipsychotics, again, Zyprexa being the worst of them, which in turn causes early death and may be mistaken for “unhealthy lifestyle.” There are other devastating side effects as well. Chronic constipation can make you miserable.
Having shaking hands (hand tremors) mars you for as long as you have this side effect. How? The social effects are devastating. Walk into a store, get your wallet out to pay for what you’re buying and suddenly, the cashier sees that your hands are shaking. I went through this throughout my late twenties and thirties. You smoke a cigarette in public, and everyone sees the cigarette shake. You pay your bus fare and the bus driver watches your shaky hands as you slide your tokens or bills or coins into the slot. You sit and eat with someone and your hands shake. This side effect alone gives off an impression of incompetency. Trust me, I lived this way for years and when folks saw the shaking hands, it was all over. You don’t get a job, not even a volunteer job, especially a job with kids. You don’t get a date. What’s going to happen when you appear before a judge with shaky hands? What’s going to happen when you reach for a pen to sign a lease? What will the banker think, when you ask for a loan?
I did a reading of a piece I wrote that won a writing contest. I stood in front of the audience and trust me, every time I turned the page, the paper shook…well, it was rather obvious that it wasn’t just “nerves” that was causing it. I won the contest the next year and they didn’t have me read my piece aloud in front of the audience. It came time for the winners to read and I waited to be called up, and they never called my name. I mentioned this to a friend/teacher who confronted the contest organizer. She said to me, “We thought it would be too stressful for you.” I told her what she had done was devastating to me. I’m glad I had my teacher/friend’s support.
In the case of Clozapine, you get the “dropsies.” I’m sure the drug company has ways of keeping this out of their statistics charts. I mean, what do you call it when half the time you hold a cup of coffee (water, juice, soda, tea, etc) in your hand, and boom! it’s in your lap in an instant? I can only compare it to falling asleep for a split second, and dropping something, only this happens to a patient on Clozapine every single day even when they have had a decent night’s rest. The “coffee in the lap” syndrome is well known among patients. I had it. People would sigh and tell me to hold onto whatever I was drinking with two hands. What the heck else were they supposed to say? I was a chronic, anyway.
So yeah, the “dropsies” and shaky hands (hand tremors) can mar you, and you probably aren’t even aware of it. Everyone who sees your shaky hands, trust me, judges you immediately. Potential friends will decide to stay away and not be friends. If you have shaky hands, a lot of people turned their backs on you long, long ago, folks that you have forgotten about, folks that could have been great friends but your paths were turned apart.
Because of shaky hands I was turned down from job after job, turned down from volunteering, and when I did volunteer, was placed into low responsibility positions in which I felt worthless. I would sit there in a job interview practically sitting on my hands, or clenching them to keep the shakiness from showing, but then, while off guard, a hand would make the tiniest of gestures, and the whole interview would be blown.
Okay, a step further. Tardive Dyskinesia. You knew I’d mention this. I started to get Tardive Dyskinesia but caught it in time and now, nearly a year after stopping the last of my antipsychotics against doctor’s orders cold turkey in fact, I have no signs of TD. I stopped Risperdal 3mgs a day and Abilify 20 mgs a day cold turkey in July 2011, believing that because I ate next to nothing and my weight was ridiculously low, these drugs were not having any beneficial effect and were not metabolizing properly, anyway. No one denied that these drugs don’t work if you’re not metabolizing ANYTHING properly. It was actually not a big deal, looking back. I didn’t go into any huge psychotic episode. Many consider anorexia nervosa to be a psychosis. (Lately, I’ve been thinking that it is.) Antipsychotics have never taken away my anorexia psychosis. They pushed Abilify on me later on and again, looking back, I don’t see that I received benefit from it.
So what I want to say about Tardive Dyskinesia is that if I were to show up at a job interview with Tardive Dyskinesia, say, in my tongue, with my tongue sticking out grotesquely at odd intervals, smacking my lips and jerking my torso, do you think I’m going to get that job? Will I be turned away from housing? Will I be denied access to my children in a child custody case? Will I still be able to drive, having these involuntary body movements? Hey, I highly doubt it.
These are examples of the many ways that taking medication shortens your life. If homelessness, for instance, is the cause of someone dying young, how many people were turned down from housing because of side effects of medication? Oh yes, you may argue that this is flat-out illegal and therefore never happens. Bullshit. It is happening in YOUR town.
Anyway, all psychotic illnesses suck and the known, established, acceptable “cure” sucks as well. I say “acceptable” because taking medication is where you belong in society. Safe from harm. Supervised. With your kind. In the corner. On the fringe. Locked up, either behind physical doors or chemical restraints.
This page at NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) states that 10% of patients with anorexia nervosa will die of the disorder, that is, of the many complications of this disorder including malnutrition, starvation, suicide, heart attacks, etc. Anyway, here’s the link:
There has been a complaint that NIMH spending on schizophrenia research (I believe I read this in Torrey’s book) is about 13%. This is a 2001 book. What kinds of other research is NIMH doing? According to the Eating Disorders Coalition, only 21 million is spent on eating disorders research, including NIMH’s research and everyone else’s.
It’s just so weird that a disease that folks assume affects only the rich is not being researched! You’d think that rich people’s bucks would pour into these research giants and fund all sorts of projects….Hmm, I think the rich folks’ charity bucks are going into finding cures for people who have money to pay for expensive treatment. I can’t imagine that equine therapy, a component of these renowned eating disorders treatment centers, is cheap. What the heck do you feed a horse? Veterinary costs must be unreal. Grooming the horses, housing the horses…yeah. These places even have swimming pools! This is where the dollars are going, folks.
There are indeed revolutionaries out there. People who agree with the stuff I say about eating disorders “treatment” as it is now. I’m not talking just about us LOWLY patients, but providers, too. Many of these are ED survivors themselves, but often they are people who do alternative types of therapy and see the idiocies in the system, just like I do. I have contacted some of these individuals and have gotten some response.
One such response was from a nutritionist, actually an RD, whom I will not name, who was trained, yes, at the giant Mass General, then as soon as she left, rejected all the bullshit and carved out a path of her own. She and I have interacted and I’m sure she’ll back me on a lot of what I’ve said. This person holds a prestigious position in the field of nutrition but of course doesn’t work in a hospital. Hey, she’d be considered a kook! She’s in private practice, which is a tough place to be if you’re going to try to be a provider who accepts insurance. I couldn’t afford to meet with her as a client. We haven’t been in touch for a while.
Another person I know of, whom you will be hearing about I think (if she gives permission) is an amazing revolutionary and also a nutritionist. Her theories are right on. She is also an ED survivor. Well, gee, how else are you going to get such an incredible understanding of this disease than by living it? She is bold and brave and out there. She defies everything you’ve been brainwashed into thinking about this thing “recovery.” One thing that she says is that if it sucks, it ain’t recovery. Well, duh.
Let’s get all these people together. All the people that think differently. All the people that see the idiocy in the status quo. Folks all over the treatment totem pole. Folks who are oppressed in treatment situations, folks who have survived ED treatment. Folks who never had treatment either because it wasn’t available or they refused it. Folks who were told that it’s time to “go home and die” and were turned away for this reason or in some other way told they were “untreatable” or perhaps, a “liability risk.”
Let’s get together with people in the treatment field. People who are activists just like me, but have training and therefore a lot more social clout than I do. People who have broken away from the status quo. Revolutionaries in their fields. People trying new and better therapies that treat the patient as a human being. Trust me, the medical profession is trying very, very hard to shut these people up.
Well, folks, let’s not shut up, okay? What is this called? Occupy Eating Disorders? Naw, that has an awkward ring to it. I’ve got some thinking to do and some calls to make and e-mails to write.
As they said when I was a kid: The People…United…Will Never Be Defeated! Heck, I remember marching around chanting that slogan.
Now more than ever.
The American Dietetic Association is heavily corporate funded…yes, these people train YOUR dietician
This was exactly the page I was looking for. I knew these guys were crooked. I knew those RD’s (Registered Dieticians) were completely brainwashed. You can see it in their eyes…the glazed look, the pat answers, sing-song, patronizing voice, talking like they are reading straight out of a textbook.
Here’s the info on the corporate funding, this from Integrity in Science’s website:
These “nutrition experts” promote junk food and engineered foods because the ADAendorses these products as healthy. Why? Because the organization gets paid lots and lots of money from these “food” giants such as Monsato, king of gene splicing (otherwise known as GMO).
This, my friends, is exactly why YOUR nutritionist is cheering you on when you eat junk food. This is why YOUR nutritionist is telling you that the ONLY healthy eating is to eat lots and lots of meat, a few glasses of dairy milk a day, and so on.
Never mind that you yourself may be grossed out by meat, or object to eating it for religious or spiritual reasons, or simply by person al conviction.
Never mind that you may have grown up in a family or in a culture that ate meat-free. This will be completely disregarded by YOUR dietician. You will most likely be told that eating vegetarian or–horrors!–vegan is actually a form of eating disorder!
What’s next? Is eating Kosher an eating disorder, too? Is being really, really scared to have pork in the house something you were taught by your culture, or is it an irrational eating-disorders-based fear?
I recall something in history when the homes of Jews were contaminated with meat that the Jews considered unclean, that is to say, they were completely grossed out and horrified at this RAPE of their homes. No matter how you feel about the laws of Kashruth, such an act of strewing pork in a Kosher home, in violation of every ounce of conviction that a Jew may have, is disgusting.
The above, the history of the raping of homes of Jews, is part of my history, too. It is my personal heritage. I totally “get” why people of many cultures are grossed out, from the bottom of their hearts, by certain foods.
No, I don’t eat Kosher and never have. It wasn’t what I grew up with in my family. It was my mother’s choice. So I’m not scared of pork, but I totally understand why others are. And no, this isn’t an eating disorder. This is religion and culture and faith and tradition and memory and family and community.
Hey, Registered Dieticians, how dare you deny us what we believe in our hearts for the sake of an arbitrary, textbook-derived “meal plan”! Wake up!
This, in a nutshell, is why at eating disorders recovery centers we are forced to eat Lorna Doones, Trail mix that is some national brand of course and full of added sugar and unhealthy oils, Rice Krispie bars, Nutri-grain bars, Oreos, Sun Chips, Lay’s potato chips, Doritos, two other granola bars that are national brands (one chewy, one crunchy, I forget the name), Ritz Bitz, Cheese-Its, Planter’s peanuts complete with oil and salt and probably GMO, and tons of other shit food. Yes, we were forced to eat this stuff twice a day. I am not kidding you.
They were teaching us “healthy eating,” you see.
And what were they giving us when we were thirsty? Chances are, we were denied anything to drink, but if you pressed them, they sure did push the Gatorade…nothing but sugar water and negligible “electrolytes.” Go to any reliable site on the Internet, or any site about nutrition, and just about anyone will tell you that Gatorade does not replenish electolytes significantly.
Apparently, Pedialyte does, in fact, replace electrolytes. They shove this up our nostrils. In 2010, I saw that they were giving me about a quart of pedialyte in my tube. I asked if we could forgo this nonsense and if I could simply drink it the normal way.
No, they wanted to give it to me in the tube. That is, they wanted to retain CONTROL.
If I am going to hire, yes, hire, a nutritionist, you’d better believe that I don’t want someone that is brainwashed by big corporations.
There are such revolutionaries out there. You just have to look for them. Unfortunately, our Big Business insurance companies won’t pay for people who do not have this RD degree no matter how qualified they are, no matter how much sense they make as opposed to the bullshit crap I was taught at the ED hospital I was at.
Seek out knowledge. Gain wisdom. Listen to what your body says. Act accordingly. Our bodies have had enough of this hyper-control and brainwashing. It is YOUR body, not the body of corporate America. And speak out.
I just wrote this, and am not sure what to do with it, but here it is. It came to me in a flash, while lying in my bed, which doubles as a couch.
May 28, Memorial Day, 2012
WHAT POVERTY TEACHES ME: A MEDITATION
Poverty teaches me to make do.
Poverty teaches me that the biggest isn’t the best. Poverty teaches me that less is more. Poverty teaches me to think big with my mind.
Poverty teaches me the true meaning of downsizing. I have learned that it’s easy to get rid of what I don’t want by giving it away. Poverty teaches me to take pride that I do not need a manicure, pedicure or haircut, nor do I need to adorn my body with jewelry or fancy clothes. In fact, being poor has taught me that I don’t need new clothes.
Poverty teaches me to laugh and cry when they try to sell me a new TV luxury, such as a satellite dish. I appreciate the thrill of telling them, “Sorry, no TV.” When they try to repair a crack in my car’s windshield, I am overjoyed to say, “Sorry, no car.” Without the car and the TV, I am free.
Poverty teaches me that my little dog is just as needy as I am, and deserves the best. I cherish this creature. She is sacred. I need her as much as she needs me.
Poverty teaches me to say, “Yes, thank you,” and also, “No, thank you.” Mostly, though it teaches me to keep my mouth shut.
Poverty teaches me to accept and love the unwanted, the dented, the scratched, the unbeautiful, and whatever is a little too old, too wrinkled, no longer fashionable, and outdated.
Poverty teaches me to accept and love that which has been cast out by others, that which was used and then tossed aside, and forgotten in the corners of the marketplace.
Poverty teaches me to love the second-hand. I have learned to hold these things that I have adopted and brought into my household as things dear to my heart, and when I dream, I try to trace their roots.
Poverty teaches me to settle for what others consider second best. It teaches me to simplify, and embrace what is plain, compact, and practical.
Poverty gives me freedom because material goods give me nothing unless in my mind I am free.
Poverty teaches me to plan ahead, a skill I never had before. It teaches me to consider priorities and pros and cons, to discern between need and want.
Poverty teaches me to appreciate the government that recognizes that I have a need, but also to question this government, because along with these gifts, I must accept that I will not always be respected.
Because of poverty, I’ve lost friends. Because of poverty, I’ve gained friends. God, my inner strength, has always been by my side, even when I have been angry and bitter.
Poverty unleashes my creativity. How can I get this to last?
In winter, when I struggle in my cold apartment, I love to hear the story of the drop of oil that lasted eight days. I know that even if I’m poor, though not born in a manger, I can, and will change the world.
Poverty teaches me that there time to think about debt, and a time to set those thoughts aside. For all my gripes and complaints, the world can truly be a beautiful place, especially now that I have the time, and occasionally, the inclination to sit back and look at it.
I look at the world and I write. I wring out and extract. If I am painstaking, what comes out is something money cannot buy. It is a river of clarity, born of the divine, a glory to behold.
First of all, let me say that having to go to food pantries changed the whole way I look at food, survival, and my life as a person with an eating disorder.
I am 54 years old, single and legally disabled. I am on psychiatric disability.
Last September I spoke with a woman around my age who also suffered from anorexia. We found that we were surprisingly alike. She told me she went to food pantries and what the experience was like for her. She told me how she chose between available foods, and what her reasoning was for these choices. We had met inside a psychiatric facility and were both being treated for our eating disorders.
When I left the facility, I had a staggering dog boarding bill to pay. I emptied out my checking account entirely, but this paid for only half the bill. To date, I still owe a little more to the facility. Fortunately, I had been a regular there, and of course they love Puzzle, but a bill is a bill is a bill and they have to keep afloat and pay their employees.
So I never really caught up with the bills after that. For whatever reason, I dipped into my credit card twice for trips to London. The first trip was last November (2011) and I am flying there again in July, 2012. Both of these trips were to meet with my publisher and other writers around the world with dreams like mine. I took the plunge because as a writer, I want to change the world, talk about mental illness and eating disorders, and make all our lives better. Anyway, I’m in the hole. I might be lucky enough to find someone to have Puzzle in their home while I’m away in July, just keeping my fingers crossed, otherwise I’m further into the hole.
My life is unpredictable because of my eating disorder. One of my big fears all along has been that I’ll be locked up again, meaning another boarding bill. This has been a major factor in decisions over the past couple of years whether to go inpatient. It’s kind of hard to explain to a doctor, “But you can’t section me! I’ve got a dog home alone!” Hell, what if I had kids home alone? It’s quite similar in that we’ve got creatures or people we’re responsible for and can’t just go skipping off to a psych ward to be held for god knows how long. We have to take into account that getting shipped off to Grandma or to a neighbor or to a children’s shelter situation such as temporary foster care on a moment’s notice is going to seriously wreak havoc on the kids’ lives, let alone give society the message that parents who get locked up, for whatever reason, are unfit. In the case of Puzzle, I’m fortunate that she is well acquainted with her boarding place, loves it there, and knows what to expect once she gets there.
So again in February, I ended up inpatient, and at the same time, stuff with my family got complicated due to my mother’s waning health. My brothers have been hostile to me and this situation with them seems endless. I think it was a few months ago that my brother said he’d done some financial wiggling around, and he offered me some money without specifying an amount. I hadn’t told him that I needed money, he just offered it out of the blue. I declined, saying I thought I’d be able to stay on top of the bills and gradually pay them off. Well, I’m not. In the month of May I was able to put into my credit card a decent amount, but it got swallowed up by regular expenditures such as phone and Internet. There’s a cost on there for $40 repeating for six months for an online course I’m not even well enough to participate in, but I have all the materials, so I can do the course in the future. Still, I’m mad at myself for signing up cuz I sure could use an extra $40 a month. It’ll only be a few more months, anyway. Other than that, I pay $10 for a book about once a month on Amazon or whatever if I feel it’s important to have that book and I can’t get it at the library. If a book is going to help me with my eating, it’s worth it. Anyway, next month I’m not going to be lowering the bills. They will go up. My trip in July is paid for…we’ll see about Puzzle’s boarding…but in July Puzzle needs to go to the vet for vaccinations. It’s endless.
What have I learned? How to survive like never before. I cut out everything. I looked at things as scientifically as I could, trying to eliminate as much as possible. The obvious stuff was the following:
Membership in the online service E-music got cut immediately.
I stopped going to coffee shops and buying coffee there, ever.
I stopped going to any restaurant or place that sold prepared food. All prepared food is expensive and you can’t use food stamps to pay for it, let alone tip a food server. The only disadvantage to this is that if I need to use a bathroom at a restaurant, I can’t without buying their food. I don’t buy their food, so I have to plan for no restroom while I’m out.
I found myself unable to stop bingeing. If you have an eating disorder and have been through binge eating, you know how expensive it can be. Don’t ask me how I did it, but I was able to stop buying first of all anything I had to pay cash for and couldn’t use food stamps. Dunkin Donuts, for instance, is out of the question, ever. I ended up cutting out all prepared foods, such as cookies and cakes. I cut out sugar, because all that sweet stuff was too expensive. It’s down to bingeing on oatmeal and other quick-cooking grains, pasta, and cans of soup and stuff. Now and then I buy something like a large tub of generic brand ice cream for maybe $2.50 and wolf that down along with everything else, but not often. I wish to hell this would stop, but it isn’t. Not yet.
As to how my eating disorder is otherwise ruining my life, read the rest of my blog.
Anyway, in addition to cutting everything I could, I started going to food pantries. The many experiences I’ve had at these places have been rather moving for me. When I’ve come home, I feel like writing about the experience of having gone there, the people I saw, and what went on in my head while I was getting the food.
Everyone goes to a food pantry for a different reason. You can’t judge and say that this one has more mouths to feed and this one doesn’t, or call a person greedy because they want more than what they’re getting.
Here’s a scenario I invented, that very well could have taken place:
A woman around my age, or maybe older, shows up at the local food pantry and is delighted to find that there is a bag of chopped walnuts sitting there ready for her to take home. She ends up getting hassled for taking the nuts. She argues that she needs them for a recipe, but to no avail. You can live without walnuts, she is told. You are only allowed one thing from this shelf. You are taking too much.
She has grandkids. The grandkids have another grandma. The other grandma takes the kids to bakeries and ice cream stores. The other grandma serves luscious fruit salad, tahini and pita bread and salmon and tofu, not macaroni and cheese out of a box. But our lady hasn’t got the money to take the grandkids anywhere.
It completely sucks cuz the middle generation is very busy telling the kids that one grandma is better than the other because she has more material goods to offer. The macaroni and cheese that our lady has comes from the supermarket at 88 cents a box, or from a food pantry. It’s very, very easy to get the kids turned against you. Our lady feels like shit and her own grandkids call her names, baiting her and telling her that they love the other grandma more. Yep, kids are cruel, and yep, this happens.
So our lady decides to do something. She’s lucky enough to get a good brownie mix at the supermarket for 25 cents because the box is dented. But if she makes these brownies, the middle generation is just going to put her down and tell her they’re from a cheap mix, can’t she do better? That’s where the nuts come in. The little special touch that means she’s not going to put up with this shit any longer.
I know what the storybooks say, that a hug means more than brownies with real nuts. But these are the same storybooks that tell you everyone lives happily ever after. It doesn’t pan out the way it’s supposed to. Hardly ever.
To further this scenario, years later our lady ends up severely depressed because she is unwanted, isolated, and neglected. The middle generation keeps the kids away from her, saying they don’t want the kids poisoned with her negative crap. She sees them less and less, and when she does, it’s always tough because she’s torn between being honest and being a phony just to keep them from disowning her entirely. She acts sweet and kind, like everything’s fine, and in doing so, feels like crap.
I guess you could say I’m in the same boat in terms of phoniness. I am always torn as to whether to act sweet and kind and say I’m doing okay, which is more likely to keep my friends from running away, or tell the truth, risking the end of a relationship. The storybooks tell you that folks come running to your side when you’re in pain, that everyone loves everyone else, if you’re down and troubled and need a helping hand just call my name and soon I’ll be there is a bunch of bullshit even if Carole King and James Taylor sang and sang and promised that it was true back when I was a kid. It’s funny how one song can set a standard for what friendship should ideally be. We used to sing that song with our guitars and long hair and hold hands and stuff and promise we’d write letters. It turned out that these letters that never got mailed or even written, and to this day, the flowery stationary remains unused.
So I walk around on eggshells with people just to keep them from shutting me out entirely. Guess it’s better to have a phony relationship than to have no relationship, but I’m not really sure about that. I could get a TV at a tag sale, watch it for a few hours a day and learn about movie stars and then maybe I’d have something to talk about that my friends could relate to. I don’t want to spend even five bucks on a TV just to learn how to be boring. I don’t even want to buy eggs so that I can have eggshells to walk on. If I have eggshells, I certainly won’t waste them that way, but grind them up to use as a calcium supplement for Puzzle.
Which brings me to the dog food issue. I never told anyone why I switched Puzzle from dry kibble to real food, or even that I had even done this. It was part of the whole poverty transformation I went through. Like I said, I have an eating disorder that will stop at nothing. I binged on the freaking dog kibble all time. It was like a knife in my side that I couldn’t take out. The stuff was gross beyond belief. I boiled it in a little water, then shoved it into my mouth. Sometimes, I’d add seasoning so it would go down faster. To stop bingeing at all, I had to get the kibble out of the house.
I figured that canned dog food was grosser than kibble and no way would I eat it, so I switched Puzzle to canned. The price is staggering for this shit. Feeding her would cost maybe $90 a month at $3 a can. I looked for cheaper stuff and found some.
Then, I don’t know what got into me. I was in the supermarket, totally mesmerized by the presence of the fancy colorful food packages, wandering around like a dazed idiot when I ended up in the dog food aisle and bought three cans of…I really don’t want to admit this…Alpo. No, I didn’t think I’d go so low as to eat this stuff myself.
It broke my heart.
Three days later it was clear that although Puzzle is the hearty sort, no way could she tolerate Alpo. Let’s just say her stools told everything.
They tell us folks who have eating disorders that we should learn to stop reading labels. Huh? What I learned from reading the label of Alpo Chop House Original Flavor Cooked in Savory Juices changed my life. I have the can right here.
Water sufficient for processing, meat by-products, chicken, beef, soy flour, brewer’s rice, added color…
Huh? Added color? For a dog who supposedly can’t see in color? Further down the label is says, “Red 3.”
…which explained the red stools, of course. I told myself no way. I wanted to wrench my heart out of my chest. In my mind, I fell to my knees. I wept, and begged the world for forgiveness.
I guess that was about a month ago. I’ve fed Puzzle real food ever since. I got rather obsessed with doggie recipe books and doggie nutrition and getting it just right, but I think we’ve got it down now. Feeding her is still cheap, because she’s such a tiny dog. Now and then I spend a whole bunch of time making the tastiest batch of dog food you can imagine. It is an act of love. Just another lesson that poverty, and my eating disorder, taught me.
I’m not saying that poverty exists to teach a lesson to the poor. Poverty teaches everyone. There is no such thing as deserving to be poor because you were bad, or deserving to be rich because you worked hard. There is no such thing as “deserved.”
Winning the lottery can ruin a person. It leads to further gambling, drugs, casinos, drinking, and misery in some cases. You can give away the money to a good cause, but you’ve still got your feelings to deal with and all the guilt of having received something we’re programmed to believe we don’t deserve, having not worked a forty-hour work week to get it.
Needless to say, I’m grateful for what I learned, and continue to learn. Yep, I’m in debt, but the numbers on the credit card bill are only numbers. They don’t cause disease or break bones. I’ve learned to put these figures out of my head unless I’m doing some budget planning, then I shelve all of the numbers and put the issue to rest.
The other day, some tape recording called me telling me, “Press One to lower your interest rate.” For the heck of it, I did. A person got on the line, a woman, who asked, “How much debt do you have?”
I said, “I really don’t care to discuss the exact amount over the phone without knowing who you are. Can you tell me about your program?”
But already, before I even finished this last sentence, there had been a click on the line. The phone was dead. Hmm.
When I go to a food pantry, I’ve got my agenda just like everyone else. No, I’m not trying to be a cool grandma cuz I have no grandkids and no family. I have an eating disorder. I’m scared to death of food. It’s hard enough to get out of the house to begin with, with all the ordeals I go through regarding what to wear, changing clothes over and over because I think I look “fat.” I can recall times that I couldn’t get to the food pantry cuz I was so scared that someone would look at me and think I was a fat pig if I did so much as walk out the door and trudge over to the mailbox down the hall. But hey, I’d get out sometimes, so long as I was covered in just the right jacket to hide whatever shape my body was at at the time.
It’s called survival.
It gets very scary when I go there, but I now know what to expect. I pressure myself like you wouldn’t believe to make the right choices. Scared of this, scared of that, scared to be seen reading a label (though many do), scared to pick something up, then change my mind and be seen putting it back again. Carefully calculating sizes of containers, and scared to get too much.
For instance, applesauce. They say you can have a bunch of four-ounce containers (here I remind myself it’s 40 calories if it doesn’t have additives) or one large container. I get one tiny container and leave it at that. Why? I’m scared if I bring home more, I’ll eat it, and I don’t want the calories.
Beans. Dried, or canned? Well, duh, dried is the way to go. I’m scared that as soon as I open a can of canned beans, it’ll all go down the hatch and I won’t be able to stop myself.
Oatmeal. Sometimes, I give a little to Puzzle. But it’s fatal to acquire a large container of oatmeal cuz yep, it’ll be gone in a few hours and next thing you know, I’m on a three-day binge. So when they have those little envelopes and I can get one that’s just plain oats with no sugar, that’s what I get. One envelope.
One day, I was overjoyed to get a tube of toothpaste. That shit is expensive.
So I lug this stuff home, knowing that it’s rather obvious where I’ve been. I see a handful of my neighbors lugging their groceries home from the food pantry, across the street from me walking in the same direction, toward our subsidized housing building. I try to sneak in the back door and quickly inside if I can sneak through the dining room. This means no one can be in there. I mean, surely some former neighbor, these folks that were constantly harping on how thin I’d become only months ago, have a few words to say about my current body state. The community meals happen in that dining room, and my former neighbors show up for that meal daily. I work my ass off trying to avoid them, avoid being seen by them, avoid the rude comments.
But last Tuesday, coming home from the food pantry, I found that the dining room was empty. I cut through, climbed the back stairs, and slipped through a short bit of hall to my front door, unseen. All the cans and stuff and even meat for Puzzle I laid out on the counter.
I even got herbal tea this time. Lemon Zinger. Memories of Celestial Seasonings back in the 70’s. Pelican Punch. Roastaroma. Red Zinger. Morning Thunder. Back in the days when they weren’t adding “natural flavoring” to the stuff, when it was all herbs.
I remembered sitting with roommates sipping Lemon Zinger, the latest thing, kinda like Red Zinger, isn’t it?
Yeah, how’s the zing?
Dunno, I’m too stoned.
It’s still a treat. I rarely drink coffee anymore. That, too, is just a very special treat. Less is more, trust me.
When you learn that less is more, a whole world opens up to you. The biggest car isn’t always the best in the lot. The biggest house doesn’t necessarily have more love in it than the smallest house on the block. The most expensive education isn’t necessarily the best one for your kid. And so on.
When you learn that less is more, it can change your life. It changed mine.
I had put up information on this organization in a previous post because I assumed they were still running. But it’s a good thing that I tested the link I’d provided, because in so doing, I found out that their website doesn’t exist and the domain is expired. I Googled SERVE and found out that apparently in 2010 there was some trouble regarding a payment they were supposed to send to a farming organization that provided for them, and this payment didn’t happen or there was some sort of trouble with it. The USDA closed down SERVE’s operations. Problem was, folks that needed food didn’t get their food. They had paid into the organization $26 in food stamps or cash and expected a delivery of groceries that never came. Folks tried to contact SERVE and found disconnected numbers and got the runaround. Here’s a link to a document describing what went on with the consumers and then what followed:
I notice that the Watertown town website still has SERVE listed as a resource. This is also listed on the out-of-date sheet they gave me when I went to the food pantry, which listed resources. This sheet is accessible online as well at the Watertown town site. Some of the telephone numbers on the sheet are defunct numbers. Also, the Watertown town site fails to mention that the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry at St. Patrick’s Church on Main Street is available to access twice a month, not once a month as the town website states.
Somehow, I will contact the town regarding the fact that they need to update their listing, and certainly take SERVE off there, as it has been two years now that SERVE hasn’t served.