Okay, I’m going to go way off on a limb here, and say some wild stuff.
First of all, I am a person who has dealt with anorexia nervosa and binge eating since 1980, that is, before Karen Carpenter died, and when I first got this disease, I had certainly never, ever in my life heard of eating disorders. Why did I go on a diet? I did it because I thought losing weight (yes, losing is spelled with one “O,” all you folks out there in WeightWatchers land, I do get very tired of the typos, in fact, you will never lose weight if you spell it wrong) would make me closer to God. Yes, 22-year old me, quite secretly went on a diet and really never told anyone. It’s only in my journal. And in my memory of being very, very cold and alone with my dog, Hoofy, on this very secret mission. I got what I wanted, covered myself in winter clothes, my periods stopped, and no one even knew.
I was terribly malnutritioned. And yes, I do recall the day the binge eating started. Some binge eaters do not recall their first binge. I do. Afterward, I said to myself, “Hey, what was this?” It was like something animal had come over me, something Other. It was not my head that had done this, but my body’s desperation. No, not hunger, but specific nutrients that my body was craving, right at that moment.
Most binge eaters do not start binge eating just off the bat. There is a prelude to it. There is some diet first. Their bodies are initially lacking in nutrients. This, my friends, is key. You binge because your body is telling you something. Binge eating is a body thing, not a mind thing.
Have you heard of the disease pica? Binge eating is just like it. I’d like to propose, in fact, that it is very, very much like pica. Only binge eaters eat real food, and folks with pica eat stuff that I guess doesn’t fall into the food category, such as pieces of the wall, or stones, or chalk. I guess there are the classic stories of pregnant women who are starved for calcium and doctors wonder why they are eating non-food items like animals. Is it a good idea to therapize these unfortunate pregnant women? Or rather, perhaps they are better off with maybe some financial and practical assistance if they need it, some help managing their other children if they need that, and most importantly, some immediate help getting calcium to themselves and so they can bear healthy children when the time comes.
So say you are a binge eater. I would like to propose that you are just like this starved, pregnant woman. Yes, you are starved. I don’t care if you weigh 90 pounds like I weighed in my teensy apartment back in August of 1980, or maybe if you now weigh 300 pounds and you have been on a binge for the past three days. You are starved.
Your body, not your mind, is talking to you, crying out to you. The pregnant woman has no clue why she turns into an animal and goes after the wall and grabs it and shoves pieces of it into her mouth. It is knee-jerk behavior. It is her body crying out to her. Of course, we binge eaters know this behavior very, very well. We ourselves turn into animals. We try so hard to stop it, but we can’t. It simply happens to us, often late at night. We have the best of intentions. We aren’t even hungry. We have followed our meal plans or been on our best behavior, but we snap all the sudden and bam! We’re off.
Yes, we’re off. Maybe it’s that extra bite of something, or we’re in a store and we see something. Or, “Okay, I’ll put on my other coat now,” and off we go. Or we eat what we have at home, we eat the house out. There’s the whole ordeal with the cashiers, and if you drive, there’s the driving nightmare. Yes, you hide the trash, I’ve been through that, too. You hide the food, you hide the evidence, you hide the fact that you are eating, you hide all the evidence.
See, I know. I’ve been through it, and I myself know how it goes. And yes, I’ve had all sorts of therapists try to “help” me with it and therapy has been the least helpful solution of anything I’ve tried.
If your insurance will pay for it, I would suggest trying a nutritional approach. Problem is, just about every nutritionist on the planet has no clue about binge eating. They only know the very, very basics about the food pyramid or diabetes or something. Find one that does not put you on the exact same stock meal plan as they put everyone else on, the one they learned in school or copied off the Internet or ripped a page out of their textbooks. You might even find one who was inspired to go into the field because they themselves used to have an eating disorder and got better. Be very careful because some of these folks charge gigantic fees and ask first how much the charge is and make sure they are totally upfront about future charges and how much you will have to pay out-of-pocket. Really lay it on the line with these people. I went to one person and had to cancel the initial appointment at the last minute because suddenly I found out the fee…$300! For one session? And yes, it would be charged to my credit card. I was so stupid, I had given them the credit card number, and had to make sure that it was perfectly clear over and over that I was not coming I had given plenty of notice, I am a low-income person, this is totally ridiculous and there would be absolutely no charge on my card. I guess you live and learn. I was not charged, and breathed a sigh of relief. Anyway, if you can find someone like this, go to them, but not for an arm and a leg.
I told you that binge eating is, in fact, a form of pica. So your body is talking to you, forcing you to do something you don’t ordinarily do and don’t want to do in a million years because it desperately needs a nutrient or group of nutrients. This nutrient might be anything. Who knows what you have, over the years, deprived yourself of. It might be a longstanding nutritional issue. You might be dehydrated. Dehydration means your body is deprived of a nutrient: water. There are so many things it could be and the body is immensely complicated. You might have a food allergy. As a matter of fact, you may be binge eating on a food that you are allergic to and making yourself miserable.
I’ll tell you a very, very funny story. It happened a long time ago and it only goes to show how silly folks can be. My dad was an only child, and for a while, he kept getting sick. His mom kept him home from school and gave him chocolate milk, thinking this would make him well. She wondered why he got sicker and sicker. So she took him to the doctor. The doctor made scratch marks on my dad’s arm, and a few days later, said to my dad’s mom, “Your son is allergic to chocolate and peas. If you keep giving him chocolate milk, he will get sicker, not well. Stop giving him chocolate milk, and he will get well.” Sure enough, this was the case, and my dad was back in school within days.
Of course, this happens all over the world. We do stuff that doesn’t work, and in fact does the opposite, and we keep doing it, and we get sicker, and wonder why. Not that it was my grandmother’s fault. Of course it wasn’t, and it wasn’t a moral issue. She didn’t know. She thought she was doing the right thing. But of course looking from the outside in, we can see that what she was doing, giving my dad chocolate milk was not going to work and once her eyes were opened, it was a non-issue once again and everyone was happy.
So, you, too, want and need your eyes to be opened, so just like my grandmother, this binge eating problem can be put behind you once and for all, and it can be a non-issue in your life and you can, yes, move on. Just like my dad and his chocolate allergy, you won’t be sick anymore and you can go back to school and actually have a life. My dad graduated top of his high school class and I’m damned proud of my dad.
I have been in therapy and had, get this: a total of 20 therapists. Of these, I’d say three, or maybe four have been decent, but two of the four were temporary ones. None of these were “eating disorders specialists.” My very best therapist told me one day that she felt she wished she knew more about eating disorders and felt that someone else might be a better person for me. At that point, I told her that she was the best therapist I’d ever had, and in no way had she ever been inadequate. This was so long ago. Unfortunately, this excellent therapist was being laid off. She then handed me over to an “eating disorders specialist” who I swear knew not a thing about eating disorders, and the next five years were a complete joke. I’ve had one good one briefly, but a lot of horrible ones too, and I’m happy to be therapy-free right now.
Okay, here’s where I go off on a limb. They tried to therapize gay people to make them not gay anymore. Or do this moral thing, throw (pardon me) Jesus at them. Tell them Jesus will turn them into straight people and convince them to be straight and make them stop “sinning.” Now we all know that this in fact is an absolutely horrible thing. Therapizing a gay person will not make them not be gay anymore. This is 2013 and fact is, therapists and preachers are still doing this all over the world. This, to me…I don’t know, it’s genocide. It kills people. It kills their spirit. And it leads to massive suicides. We don’t even know the numbers over the many years that these practices have been done. I am bisexual I am quite surprised that I have escaped it all, but then again, I live in Massachusetts, not the Bible Belt.
So where is my parallel? Can you therapize a binge eater out of binge eating when the cause is physical and not mental, not, in fact, “poor coping,” but the binge eater’s body’s desperate nutritional need, a form of pica? Of course not. So the binge eater continues to be told, over and over, “You need to learn better ways to cope. Hold onto a frozen orange!” and the binge eater, of course, binges on the frozen orange instead one late, late night, and then goes on to buy a tub or two of ice cream. Do frozen oranges work? Do they solve your body’s need for, say, calcium? No. Do they solve your body’s need for water? No. You will feel rotten and no coping skill will work, and that therapist will tell you how poorly you are coping, and how badly you followed their advice. Maybe they will tell you you have a personality disorder, or that you are binge eating to manipulate others. Wow, that will really make you feel great. If you lose a friend, they will tell you you have terrible social skills, that you need to go to day treatment, and now you are stuck in some “program.” Oh lordy, you will get more addicted.
So the therapist will tell you, and now, of course, it’s therapists plural, a whole group of them hammering it into you, that you need to sit around talking about your problems day in day out. But you don’t. I am telling you, you are starving. Go get off the merry-go-round. Go feed yourself.
Meds do help, and I’m telling you why they help. Binge eating is a body thing, but the brain tells the body to do the pica behavior. There is a necessary link. Something has to be there so that the body will do this necessary knee-jerk behavior, so that the pregnant woman will get the wall or chalk material into herself and the necessary calcium she desperately seeks. Of course, science hasn’t caught up with all this yet, and they don’t really know which meds to use on people yet. Honestly, the research is so new. They were doing stuff in the 1980’s and everyone poo-pooed it and knocked it down. I honestly can’t remember her name who said using meds was anti-feminist. That exercise yoga lady who supposedly “recovered.” Anyway, be careful, ask questions, and know what you are getting yourself into. Meds can be a lifesaver.
Yes, I am going to go out on a limb again and suggest that not only you get tested for allergies but look into brain allergies. Yes, brain allergies. This wacko, crazy research done at the Brain Bio Center and other places like it. Folks think these guys are nuts but I am telling you, they are not. They are dead-on. A simple dietary change can radically fix a behavioral problem or “mental illness” better than “meds” if the cause is a brain allergy. All you have to do is go to their site and read what they have to say. Do just this, and that enlightenment alone may help you radically. It did for me.
So anyway, you are not “not listening to your therapist well enough” or “not following Jesus well enough” or “not being a good enough wife” or any of that. You are plenty good enough. You have tried and tried and tried and trust me, you are doing those things just fine but they won’t help binge eating. They will tell you how awful you are and you will only feel guilty and horrible about yourself. It’s time to get free. Find the key, and open the door.
I feel that I am very close to the truth. This is what happens to people. It becomes very big and raw and deep and real. So much so that you can’t tell anyone anymore. You can’t communicate it anymore.
Some people stop speaking altogether. Outsiders call it aphasia, or Alzheimer’s, or folks say they’ve gone mad. Or they are lying inert on their beds, on life support.
Me, I don’t know what will happen next. There is this wall thing, this barrier I can’t get past. But me, here where I am in this place, I can very much see the Truth, and it’s ugly.
What do I do with it?
The world is turning upside-down as we speak. Tables are meant to be turned, after all, otherwise they might get bored.
It’s rather quiet here in this ER, actually. I was sent here by my DMH case person to get medically checked out, that is, get my blood tested, get an EKG, and whatever else people get in ER’s to see that their bodies are at least going to survive another miserable day. In case you don’t know, eating disorders do a number on a person’s body, and these things have to be looked into to make sure the person, namely me, doesn’t drop dead, right?
I am not dead yet and these words are proof of that. (Actually, don’t believe anything you read on the Internet, okay?)
So they are keeping me here for, like, no reason, overnight. It’s kinda ridiculous. I mean, if I was here overnight having a bone set or getting chemo or getting, you know, something like treatment, that might make sense, but no, I am just being held here against my will, a show of power I guess. They said they’d let me go in the morning. I mean, this delay makes one helluva lotta sense, right?
I worry about my Puzzle. She’s probably really wondering where Mama is. Someone is coming to rescue you, little one. You look so cute in your haircut. You charm the world.
I just added a new page to this site describing the way I try to live my life or want to live my life or am living my life. Go up to the “pages” part of the blog (in its current format, these are the tabs at the top of the page) and there is my My Way of Life page.
Here’s part of what’s on it:
I am different.
They say everyone is unique. I have a history of being persecuted because I am different. Either I stand out in a crowd or others find reason to single me out for a difference that is merely perceived. Over the years, I have made efforts to blend in and be like everyone else. I did this in order to avoid being teased, bullied, discriminated against, excluded, labeled, stereotyped, imprisoned, censored, brainwashed, enslaved, and assaulted by my peers.
I am considered to be very short in stature. I walk with my feet turned out slightly, and carry myself a certain way, mostly because of the way my body is made, but also to avoid falling and out of habit. For this reason many people have said they can spot me from afar. As a child I was considered to be a poor athlete because I ran slowly, had difficulty hitting a ball with a bat, and when I tried to kick a soccer ball, I missed.
From the beginning, I always spoke much more slowly than others. This made me appear unintelligent, and I found difficulty asserting myself because my speech was slow. It is easy to interrupt me mid-sentence. In my thirties, my speech became slurred because of certain medications I took, but this was a temporary condition. Over the past year my way of speaking has changed dramatically. This is most likely connected to the vocal tic I developed.
For whatever reason, I was born with far above average intelligence, for which I was persecuted. All my life, I tried to hide my intelligence, disguise it, lie about it, or eradicate it to be like other people.
The way I think is different from the way most people think. My father recognized this in me when I was very young. He wondered if I would become a great scientist. When I told him I preferred to compose music, he was disappointed at first, but then accepted my wish. At school, teachers observed that I day dreamed often, and noticed that I thought differently from others. Some disciplined me, some sent me to the guidance counselor or sent notices home to my parents, but many teachers enjoyed talking to me.
I tried to dress in clothing that was like other people’s clothing. I tried to act confident during times that I was pretending I was someone I was not, but it was difficult. Every time that I have held a position of employment, I felt like a fake. It was extremely difficult to keep up the act. I tried desperately to fit in, and was usually fired because my efforts failed. I am not surprised that at the few jobs I held, I wore make-up on my face. Make-up is not becoming on me. This act of “doing one’s face,” which comes naturally to many, was for me an act of desperation.
Because I was persecuted for being different, I learned to hide myself and keep secrets. When the pain became too much, I turned to the mental health system. The mental health system tried to fix my pain by making me more normal. Mostly, they tried to change my thinking, which they considered “sick,” by doing therapy on me and giving me pills. The mental health system often uses the word “normalize.” Now, I understand why.
In the process of all the efforts to make me just like everyone else, the mental health system, its institutions and personnel teased me, bullied me, and discriminated against me. I was labeled, stereotyped, imprisoned, censored, brainwashed, enslaved, and assaulted. I was often excluded from care because I had become poor, and also because I had grown older and more worn out. Eventually, I excluded myself, and declared myself free of the system.
Today, I enjoy being different. I don’t want to be like everyone else. One drawback to not hiding or disguising my difference is that I face severe discrimination on a daily basis. Most people don’t want to associate with me because of who I am. I try to accept this, and move on.
No, I haven’t actually made it yet, but I’ve been thinking about making one for a long time. It’s now in the rough planning stages and I’ve made a couple of decisions about what I want in there and what I don’t want in there.
Why now? I feel that I need to do this very soon and not wait. I find that I am losing my ability to converse out loud with other humans. It’s not because I’m shy or scared having a panic attack or agoraphobic. It’s not because of low IQ and I am not autistic or on that spectrum. I’ve never been diagnosed with a learning disability or communication disability and I’ve heard that everyone has their own “learning style” and “communication style” and that there is nothing inadequate about mine in either respect…or used to be. My hearing is fine so it’s not that, and I don’t fit into any of the dementia-type categories. I haven’t had a stroke (guess that would go under communication disorders) and last but not least, I’m not dead.
This inability to converse properly may be from nutritional deficiency as it influences brain activity.
Let me remind the world (and the mental health establishment) that the above isn’t “fixed” with antipsychotic medication.
My body weight is not “dangerously low” according to any chart. So low body weight is not the cause of this speech problem.
I am devastated over my recent weight gain, by the way. I am suicidal on and off. My level of despair and feelings that my life is not worth living and that my body is ruined like this…it’s just awful. I don’t care for myself, don’t go out anymore, don’t shower, don’t put clothes on, don’t brush my teeth or do anything with my hair.
I dread the day someone tells me how much better I look now. And then what do I do? Fucking murder this person?
Just look at my life. I mean, really look at it. What is this well-meaning person looking at? My fucking weight? Do you even see the tears in my eyes and my expression of desperation, and hear what I am saying?
Can’t murder the person. It would be messy. Guess I’d just walk away.
So anyway, I am so, so isolated right now, completely alone all day long for days and days on end and that is another main reason, I think, why I have become conversationally-challenged.
And another thing is that at this point I lose myself in a lot of gibberish thinking. I was told by a freaking expert that “There is no such thing as psychosis that turns on and off.” Well, fuck you, here I am. Remember It? Last year? Sometimes It was there, and sometimes It wasn’t there, and yes, I was taking antipsychotic medication, and no pill fixed It. Remember The Thing? Sometimes, The Thing was there, and sometimes, The Thing wasn’t there. These were both disabling experiences. I had a bunch of tests such as MRI, EEG…they suspected hormones and then decided maybe not.
At the end of 1996 they told me there was nothing that could be done and that I would have The Thing for the rest of my life. They would teach me to live with disordered thinking the best I could.
I cried. I cried and cried. But you know something? It wasn’t for the reason you think. I cry now when I think of it. All of my treatment was centered at idiot McLean Hospital at the time where many of them were all haughty big-wigs that had a lot of money and not much regard for the chronics. The person who told me this was speaking from his heart. He was a lowly medical student, that is, low on the totem pole, a seeker, perhaps, very much seeped in academia still. He didn’t know what medical field he would end up in, if it would be psychiatry or some other. He didn’t even have to be spending this time with me. He chose to do so out of the goodness of his heart.
I knew he was being straight with me, eye to eye. We were out in the open, in this cafeteria type place, and no one else was around. He told me plainly and simply so that I could understand his reasoning and how he had come to think this. And I’ll tell you why I cried. I’ll tell you exactly why.
It was because someone, finally, believed what I said, treated me like a dignified human being, and took me seriously. I mattered. What I thought and felt mattered. I wasn’t disposable. I wasn’t garbage. I wasn’t a freak. Someone cared about me. Someone wanted me to have a better life.
All the rest of them, by that time, were so damn frustrated that their “treatments” weren’t working, including shock treatments, that they had told me that The Thing was my own fault and that I was “doing it to myself.” Yep. They couldn’t fix it so they said I had made myself that way.
They can’t get away with treating cancer this way or there will be a lot of backlash, won’t there? Okay, let me break this down some. They do. I’m going way, way out on a limb maybe. But don’t they blame the victim in a lot of ways? Like, “It’s your own fault for smoking.” Or, “You weren’t responsible with your diabetes care.” Or, “You didn’t exercise.” Or, “You were always overweight.” Or, “You didn’t practice safe sex.”
Or, “You shouldn’t have gone into his apartment.” Or, “It was your choice to hang out with the wrong crowd.”
Judging. Uh huh. It isn’t going to cure anything and it’s not helpful to anyone.
So when my insurance ran out for certain types of care, they suddenly said I didn’t need this care anymore. Makes sense, right?
The only thing my insurance covered was the state hospital. They said I needed the state hospital.
So…square one, square one, square one everywhere you go. This is where I’m at once again.
And my You-Tube. With gibberish threatening to set in and getting worse and worse as time passes, I need to do this soon, because I want to make sense when I speak on camera. I don’t want to be reading from a script because I can just post something here. I want to have notes and I want to have it planned out, of course.
I do not want to talk about the medical definition of anorexia nervosa because you can look that up anywhere on the Web. It’s not helpful and the medical definition of anorexia nervosa is not what it is. Go talk to someone who has it. We know more and can tell you a lot, lot more. Go read a memoir if you don’t have direct access to someone who has it. Talk to me or read my blog.
I don’t want to talk about my weight or past weights. You can find this all over the Internet. I do want to talk about the experience of wanting to be ridiculously thin and what that feels like.
I want to talk about what it feels like to have everyone scared to be around me.
I very much want to talk about all this and what it’s like to experience anorexia nervosa AS A WRITER. BEING A WRITER AND THINKING AS A WRITER.
Because you see You-Tubes of skinny people all over the place, and You-Tubes with shock factors in them, and You-Tubes telling people there is hope, and so on.
Nope, mine will be none of these, just something done from the heart.
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.
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.
My therapist and my primary care physician concur that whatever is going on with my brain is caused by malnutrition and cannot be solved by medication. Today I went to see Dr. K, and she said that if there were a magic pill for this, surely the problem would have been solved ages ago.
I went web-surfing a bit ago and I wonder if what is happening to my brain is what happens to the brains of alcoholics due to malnutrition, specifically thiamine deficiency. I am noticing certain patterns. A lot of patterns in fact. This thing comes and goes, though, and seems to vary as to how much I am aware of it, how fast time flies by, how fast I forget things, how well or poorly I can concentrate, how long it takes for me to make simple decisions and perform simple tasks (such as getting dressed, preparing Puzzle for her walk, etc). I never, never feel well physically anymore. I always seem to either have a headache or strange feeling in my head, or am nauseous or crampy in my stomach or intestines, feel weak and faint and lightheaded and wobbly, and am sometimes deeply depressed to the point that I am unable to get out of bed. Here is the link:
Dr. K had me get my blood tested and did all the usual examinations. They are all very worried about me. I didn’t hear from her later today so I assume nothing came out super urgent (my kidneys haven’t failed, in other words). My next appointment with her is on Friday next week.
I think that I have been able to make a fair amount of sense while speaking today. I spoke with the minister, and he said I was making sense. It was hard to tell. I forgot the beginning of a sentence by the time I got to its end. I was able to write, but I’m not entirely certain of this, either. At one point at the library, I felt faint, and again, confused, but about what I don’t recall. I make a point of being polite. It’s very, very important to be polite and kind.
Humans. What a nuisance. If you saw the way I act around my neighbors, surely you’d know that this is the way I think. I live in an eight-story building on the second floor, which is the ground floor. I’m guessing there are twenty apartments here on the second floor and I know by name only two of the second-floor residents. I know the name of one fourth-floor resident and there’s another resident whose name I used to know but now forget and I haven’t a clue what floor she lives on. I have lived here since September 2008. Over three years, eight stories, three and a half names. Since September 2008, I have conversed with only one of the three and a half people. Twice, I think. Add one or two other people to the mix for good luck whose names have escaped me now and that about sums it up. Most of my private thoughts and things I say here in my blog about my neighbors are spiteful and bitter. Sometimes, I get needlessly worked up in my spitefulness and bitterness and hatred and end up in a bad, bad negative space over this. I have heard, “You should be nice to them. You should treat the elderly with respect,” but I cannot feel sympathy for people who sit on their behinds and gossip, gossip, gossip all day long. They don’t know my name even. They haven’t asked what my name is. They haven’t asked me what my dog’s name is. They aren’t friendly to Puzzle or ever pet her. This was established very, very early on, and I began the habit of sneaking in and out the back hallway to avoid walking past them and their gossip. It’s very handy to have this back door my apartment door. On my way out, I can walk down the back stairs and out the back door and be completely invisible. Simple arrangement. On my way back in, however, it’s a bit trickier. I can’t enter through the back. I have to go in through the side and then either up the elevator, or slide through the “community room” and up the back stairway again. If I travel up the elevator, I might have to put up with some nosy person in the elevator with me, and then, the elevator exits into the main hallway, where I have to walk out where everyone can see me, and it just plain sucks. I try to avoid the elevator routine, but I can’t always cut through the “community room” either. Puzzle isn’t allowed to walk through there, for one thing. I don’t go through there when they are serving “community lunches” in there, certainly not, because this is can be awkward as hell with my former neighbors in there, who make their indiscriminate comments about my weight. I am not kidding you. You wouldn’t believe the things they have said, or not said. Maybe they just look me up and down. That is bad enough. At night there are the card-players I tend to avoid, building residents, gossipers I assume. I look for a darkened room. If it’s dark, then no one’s in there and it’s safe to walk through, go up the back stairs, and make a quick dash to my apartment door. All this extreme effort just to avoid being seen by my gossipy neighbors. Yes, I am rude, unfriendly, cold, aloof, stick to myself, not neighborly, the works.
My phone. Yes, it does ring, but who calls? Telemarketers and “professional fundraisers” on behalf of bogus charities that prey on the elderly and anyone else they think they can snare. I get these calls about twice a day, maybe more. Being on the National Do Not Call List hasn’t gotten rid of them. What I am saying is, my phone is no longer a tool for useful, intelligent human conversation anymore.
Therapy. I normally see my T twice a week. Surely, this is intelligent human conversation. But this week, I canceled not one, but both sessions. Monday I was sick. Thursday I was sick. I screwed up somewhat the week before as well. I can assure you that my T is very unhappy with me right now. I can assure you that my T has possibly even fired me. So much for further opportunity for intelligent human conversation.
Not that this is the only reason I go to therapy. But the lack of human out-loud conversation this week has been so extreme that if it weren’t for the fact that I babble to myself non-stop every night as I’m headed to bed, I’d probably wonder if I still had a voice. I had one phone conversation all week, and it was a good one. I think this was Friday, at least I am fairly certain that it was. Also on Friday, I stopped at the church and spoke with the minister. I told him, very excitedly, about my new book. I asked him what this Sunday’s sermon was going to be about, but then told him that I was going to be there Sunday, and that I’d wait and find out and be surprised. So that was intelligent conversation #2. The third was with my primary care doctor when I saw her Wednesday.
You know, I will go for days, sometimes, days and days, without talking to anyone intelligently. Maybe a word or two to a store clerk. Or maybe I’ll talk to people, but I’m so insane that the words just float around, or I fake my way through a conversation and I’m out of my head and pretend my head’s okay, I just smile and nod but I can’t even concentrate on what’s being said. I haven’t been Stark Raving Mad, as I’ve come to call it, for a number of days now, thankfully. I am hoping that this stays at a minimum.
Last Sunday at church I was Stark Raving Mad. I was completely out of my head. But I was still me, and church was still church, which meant that I was still just as welcome there and church was still just as wonderful. I did have to fake my way through conversations during social hour, nod and smile and stuff, but I wasn’t connected enough to be scared. I’d say it was so weird and interesting that I didn’t get a chance to be scared, not at all. The Director of Religious Education read a story to the children during the service, while all the children gathered up front to listen. I heard the title of the book, then the rest just went off somewhere. I told myself that if this was going to happen with a children’s book, then the sermon was going to be really tough for me to understand. But I wouldn’t say that this was exactly the case. The sermon was simply a different experience. I didn’t hear the sermon the way I usually hear sermons. I saw it laid out before me. Kind of like a puzzle or a skeleton or a graph, something bare-bones that had to be put together. As is the tendency when I’m Stark Raving Mad, I get a thought, and then the thought completely leaves my head as soon as it comes into my mind. So all this was happening with this skeleton before me that I was trying to assemble. I heard the congregation laugh periodically. I heard snatches of words here, then gone. I felt a heat rise in my chest at the end of the sermon and I felt the warmth of the words as the flowed and spun around, and I thought that something was there that had to do with being held close and protected and loved. Something happened in the congregation just then, a bubbling, and then a release.
It wasn’t until much, much later, that night, or maybe the next night, yes, probably the next night, and I think it was in the shower, that I looked back, and suddenly I was able to recall the entire sermon! Yet I couldn’t comprehend any of it while I was sitting in the church last Sunday. Why this recall? Memory is a very, very strange thing indeed. As I sit here right now I realize that it is late, and I am truly exhausted, and at this exact moment, my memory of the sermon is only vague. I have yet to read the online text of the sermon. These are generally available shortly after Sundays, usually Monday or Tuesday.
Tomorrow is Sunday. I am not thinking of having the opportunity for human interaction tomorrow. That’s not really my primary concern in fact. I think what I’m more focused on is showing up for church on time and remembering my name button. That’s very basic stuff. Church is church and I’ll get to sit there and be there and that’s the important part. The music will be awesome and everything will be awesome because it always, always is.
Showing up is awesome. Remember this.
Oh yeah, the coffee afterward is a great bonus, too.
No one has told me otherwise.
When I was a kid, they talked about punishment. They said God punished people who were bad. I got punished when I was bad. Punishment was everywhere.
Well, now, I am getting my reward. I have suffered long enough. This madness is a gift and it is mine to keep.