Wednesday, December 29, 2010
~The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
I often feel like this black hole. needing needing wanting, unable to be filled up or to hold onto anything. Other times everything is too much, it sucks me in and I can't breathe. There doesn't seem to be a middle ground.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
I end every Christmas in tears, whether it's the past hanging over me, the food refused or gotten rid of, an imminent hospitalization, or something unnameable. Yet I don't want the season to be over. I want to walk home at night and see lights around me like hope hanging from wires, walk to the stores and feel like I'm on a mission instead of just wandering. I just want to feel something different. I want things to be different.
Friday, December 17, 2010
"Her bones streak the night
like rising breath in the cold
as she evaporates
from your rooms and life.
photo: Nan Goldin
Why do you gaze in the mirror,
look grave and then smirk?
Something is caught under your nails.
Then it is gone."
I want my bones back so badly it aches. why won't my body obey?
Monday, December 6, 2010
Colder days especially remind me of hibernating in hospitals, months lost to the revolving doors, indifferent to the outside world. Scratchy pink blankets and fluttering white and blue gowns. Dry heated air and cold tile floors against bare feet padding down the hall to scales, or tredded socks shuffling to bathrooms without doors. Wards in winter are safer than in summer, when the windows lock and the restraints on the bed rattle during thunderstorms.
Time measured in meals and staff rotations, discharge dates and tightening clothes. Or how well you can fake a smile.
Friday, December 3, 2010
"Like the Golem, I am makeshift, lumbering.
I rattle and wheeze and my parts
are cannibalized T-birds and sewing machines,
mixers and wheelchairs, hairdryers.
My skin is the paiper-mache` of newspapers
cured with the tears of children
pregnant with hunger. My heart
is the stolen engine of an F-111.
My ligaments are knitting needles, hangers
recovered from the bodies of
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Sometimes it's like other people's lives and pain negate my own existence. Suddenly my own story disappears in theirs, becomes less important. I absorb other people's emotions and stories. Where do mine go? They become hollow, disconnected, insignificant. It's a fading away while I'm sitting right here.
If no one can see my pain or sickness, then it doesn't exist. And that's just it. I don't exist.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Saturday, November 20, 2010
I hold onto fragments of this poem, read it like a prayer.
"...we must not stop here,
However sweet these laid-up stores, however convenient this dwelling
we cannot remain here,
However shelter'd this port and however calm these waters we must
not anchor here,
However welcome the hospitality that surrounds us we are permitted
to receive it but a little while.
Listen! I will be honest with you,
I do not offer the old smooth prizes, but offer rough new prizes,
These are the days that must happen to you:
You shall not heap up what is call'd riches,
You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or achieve,
You but arrive at the city to which you were destin'd, you hardly
settle yourself to satisfaction before you are call'd by an
irresistible call to depart,
You shall be treated to the ironical smiles and mockings of those
who remain behind you,
What beckonings of love you receive you shall only answer with
passionate kisses of parting,
You shall not allow the hold of those who spread their reach'd hands
toward you. "
I want to let go of things, of what is safe and stifling. I want to know what it is to be a living, breathing person and not fragments shut up within themselves, in hiding. I want to not depend on, but just Be. I want to know that I'm okay, that this pain is okay and will end.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
-Kiera Van Gelder
I too feel this rage, of the person caged and studied, men huddled around with their notebooks and closed doors; told your failure to keep yourself alive and functioning is you just not trying hard enough, or just that you're incapable. I know the rage of having your clothes taken away, shivering in a johnnie while some student, bored and monotone, lists off personal questions, deciding who you are with barely a glance in your direction. You have no voice, just tears in your eyes and a scabbed-up arm. I know the rage of a girl in a circle of men who, in the course of a few minutes of her fear and shame, explain how toxic she is. I know the rage of being released with a see-you-soon, a list of diagnoses under your bandaged arm, no explanation, from strangers who only saw symptoms.
I know the ambulance rides where you are stripped of humanity and power, things you never get back all the way. I know what it's like to carry those stares and labels with you always, telling you you'll never be anything more than the lines on your arm, the borderline you straddle constantly. Convinced everyone can see right through you.
You made me hopeless and incurable.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Monday night I went to see Social Distortion play. The last time I saw them was 6 years ago, which is hard to believe. I spent my teen years going to punk shows all the time, but it's been 3 or 4 years since I've even been to one.
This past monday, as I felt my heart lift when Mike Ness stepped out on stage, I couldn't help but feel a loss. A loss of the girl who banged her drums and strummed power chords on her cheap electric guitar. Those things that gave me strength, that I clung to as some way to define my constantly fleeting sense of self, fell away years ago. I can't help but try to find the moment when things changed; when I went from idolizing leather-jacketed men who wore their pain in tattooed sleeves and screamed it out in microphones, exorcising it, to wispy girls exercising it, starving it, puking it out. When I stopped admiring the turning of pain into righteous anger and soul-saving songs, and placed it instead on silent suffering, jabbing fingers and gagging, on mouths stitched tight and days connected like dots by the number on scales and labels; when stomping strong in steel-toed Doc Martens became shaking stick arms and trembling twig legs in children's jeans. Punk is refusing to be silent. Anorexia is silencing every aspect of myself.
When I discovered punk rock I thought I'd been saved from my pathetic existence of emptiness and nothingness, from being a Nobody. I was so tired from screaming on the inside, my face a blank mask of stillness, the best hiding place. Playing Dead was my survival skill, but it was starting to kill me. That summer I was fourteen I built a cocoon in my bedroom, wrapped myself in safety-pinned t-shirts and pictures from Spin's 25th Anniversary of Punk issue. It started with a glimpse of Johnny Rotten's crazed eyes; I felt my insides tremble with something like hope and recognition. He went on the wall beside my bed, soon joined by Joey Ramone, Joe Strummer, and The Damned. That summer, "Pretty Vacant" played over and over on my discman, and Johnny Rotten's memoir became my Bible. It all made so much sense, something clicked into place. This is who I am, this is why I don't fit in. This is how to breath, to be in my skin. This is how to be seen, to find a way out. I can be this fucked up loser and still be okay. There is hope.
By September I emerged a pink-haired butterfly with torn, safety-pinned wings, plaid and studded and on fire. Patches proclaimed my tribe, allegiences to bands and anarchy. This time when I walked into classrooms, for the first time teachers looked at me; not through me, or at my brother's "little sister." I fluttered through hallways on the intensity of people's stares, no longer transparent and insignificant. I was the only one like me there, but there was a name for me now, and I was part of something bigger. There were others, and the ones who came before me, guiding me through my headphones, gabba gabba we accept you, wore their armor of spikes and studs against words and stares, and survived.
I was idealistic, the conviction of a new convert. Joey had stood on my wall on insect legs and told me an ugly freak could be loved. I was sure that others who emerged like me did it for the same reasons, had the same understanding, the same gods of Dee Dee and Captain Sensible. I didn't expect Hot Topic uniforms and the new testament of Green Day and Good Charlotte. Johnny Rotten never spoke of getting sneered at by popular girls making punk pretty and fun.
Soon I fell deeper into destruction. Sid Vicious, dead by 21, hovered over my pillow with "give me a fix" carved into his bare chest. Darby Crash, with broken teeth and cigarette burns called to me in songs about tunnels and being caged, the hopelessness that makes you eventually die by age 20 with a needle in your arm on the floor of someone's garage. Iggy Pop rolled around in glass and stabbed himself, Johnny Thunders sang about being Born to Lose before dying of an overdose before Dee Dee Ramone. All of the people who seemed to understand me most couldn't survive in this world. Even punk rock wasn't enough of a way out. Their pain made them cause more pain just to cancel it out.
Eventually my pain could no longer be contained in mosh pits and jars of manic panic and screams like beautiful stab wounds. my wounds emerged real and bloody on the surface of my skin the summer of my suffocation; when in the heat and rage and nothingness of my inner self caused something in me to finally break, or maybe come alive, inflamed. It was the moment I realized that nothing was enough. Tears weren't enough, and there were no words that could explain or heal. I did what felt like survival, the opposite of my days of playing dead, or maybe no different. But the impulse to attack myself was pure-to grab the safety-pin next to me and drag it across my flesh. To create silence, a space to breathe. To be in existence and to fall out of it.
In many ways I've fallen out of life and into some sort of existence, a limbo-state of psych wards and force feedings amidst school and pretend functioning and trying to allow someone to love me. I live in my head, and I've forgotten the letting-go in the crowd, the bass line heartbeat and soaring vocals, the pure anger and celebration of surviving.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
All you tired human beings
He's got all the things a cripple has
Not working arms and legs
And vital parts fall from his system
And dissolve in Scottish rain
Vitally he doesn't miss them He's too fucked up to care"
Is there a blacklist of patients out there that therapists pass around? Do I sound too desperate when I call, too damaged, too unstable? Why is it that yesterday he was about to set something up with me, than suddenly less than 24 hours after my message he just dumps me with a brief, "There isn't an opening in my practice. Sorry." No explanation. Can you just tell by my voice that you don't want me? At least with the therapist I called before this one it was a bit more clear; I made the mistake of saying 2 words about my history. Suddenly that opening he had stopped existing, the waiting list emerged out of nowhere, and that call he promised never came.
I still think about Sue every single day. I want to call her number, sobbing, get off the bus on the way to school and collapse in her office, beg her and Dale to take me back and rescue me from myself. I keep asking myself, still, did I do the right thing or make a mistake ruled by irrational thoughts and crazy emotions? Did I run away or pick myself up? Is it my fault or her's? And even if it's her fault, am I the one who drove her away?
"For the first time, I wonder: How much of what I feel as neglect has been fueled by the force of my constant need? How much can any person hold onto another who is perpetually falling?"
-The Buddha and the Borderline, Kiera Van Gelder
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Autumn is melancholy comfort. It is naked hope and bitter disappointment, clutching desperately to the old while praying for something better. The leaves start to change and you breathe This year will be different. They fall and die and you are left the same person you were before, left alone to hide in winter. Crushed possibilities in the crumbling curled shreds that you step on in the shrinking light of shortening days. Autumn is beautiful sadness.
~photos by me
Friday, August 27, 2010
Making the decision to say goodbye to my therapist Sue yesterday was one of the hardest things I've ever chosen to do. I don't let go of people unless I'm forced to; I will drag it out until eternity to keep from having to face change or face who I am -if I am- without that person. Whenever I am left or forced to leave someone, it's as though the part of me that was known by that person no longer exists. It honestly feels like a death, the loss feels so extreme.
As much as I deny that I've changed/improved very much, when I look back to that October six years ago when I first met Sue, I wasn't completely the same person I am today. I was scared, even more guarded, had even fewer words, knew even less about myself. Yesterday Sue said, "A lot has happened in these 6 years. Boy, has it-every time we turned around something happened." And it's true; the first few years were spent in constant crisis. ERs, hospitals, programs...there was no time to work on anything other than just staying alive and making it to the next session. Even with as hard as things are now, it's easy to forget that things have been worse. Sometimes it's hard to believe.
My tears flowed throughout the whole session. I talked about how I disappeared this summer, so non-present that it's all a nightmarish blur. Is this how I will continue without her? Sue has been my witness. What happens to my words and experiences without her there, holding onto them with me, caring more about me than I care about myself?
Yesterday and the months leading up to it I believed this was the right decision, that after 6 years this was as far as I could go. Too much had happened, trust was broken, and I was stuck. It would be so easy to stay with her, week after week in the same room, reporting the same symptoms, refusing to budge from the sick little girl I cling to. It would be so easy and I wish that I could.
How do you even begin to say goodbye to the person who has seen you at your most vulnerable, snotty and speechless, hyperventilating, bleeding and weightless? Who has heard your darkest secrets and suffocating fears? Who has witnessed your shame and your guilt? Sue was there when I had no one, when I was crumbling in my bedroom at home, and no one would hear me or question. You can't trust in someone like that, be heard and seen like that, and not be changed.
We decided not to drag it out, that there is no magic way to say goodbye that is complete and painless. That's new for me, someone who is paralyzed by the finality, the crushing feeling that I have to say everything I needed to say. But I realized that a lot doesn't need to be said; it's just known, present in both our tears, our first and final hug.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Thursday, August 5, 2010
"Pain grows and the world shrinks. Loneliness isolates in a different way: rather than destroying the world, it establishes a barrier between the self and the world, leaving the world intact as a torment to the isolated person. Loneliness grows and the world recedes, eventually disappearing over the horizon. Will the world ever appear again? Was it ever there in the first place?"
-Loneliness as a Way of Life
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
"If you're going through hell keep going.". Those words have been playing in my head when there seems to be no way out. I don't keep going; I panic and freeze where I'm standing in the flames, burning alive and unable to breathe. The obvious way seems to move forward, but that means continuing through the flames and darkness, not knowing if it will end or keep getting worse. I could turn back the way I came, but it's been a lifetime of stumbling and falling; the way back was lost a long time ago. I take steps forward, but they are tentative, fearful, and often more painful than staying where I am. What I really want is for someone to reach down and grab me, to pull me out or send for help. I have spent a lifetime with a throat worn raw from screams gone unheard, nails filed down to the quick trying to claw my way out. No help is coming. I know this and yet I can't seem to let it go. It is a frayed rope dangling from my waist, and I cling to it even with the knowledge that there is no one at the other end; no one but the idea of a person, a force, something that will hear me and see me and reach me, giving me permission to let go of hell and push forward.
But maybe that's an excuse too. Maybe at this point it doesn't matter that no help is coming; it's too late. I am the one who can't let this go,who spins around in circles in and out through hospital doors pretending this is better than dying.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
"I wasn’t always a monster, I was a saint.
Now, so broken, so,
Addicted to bad ideas & to the blood that runs
from my eyes and my hands and my throat
Though I have grown older & graver,
the great heart of the world remains ever young.
I wasn’t always a monster, I was a prince.
Now, so broken, so.
Because I can
'Cause no one can stop me
'Cause it makes up for things I lost
Because I'm addicted to bad ideas
and all the beauty in this world"
photo by: Me
I wasn't always a monster, but I was broken. And I wish someone had done something, tried to save me, but no one ever did until I was older and they were paid to do it. I'm not saying I wouldn't have fought off attempts, tried to break free, but at least I would have known I was worth saving. Now I'm too old for that, and there's nothing anyone can make me do. I wish that felt free, but it doesn't. It just feels scary. Because maybe all along I was crying out, even when my scars and cuts were hidden, even when I pretended I had eaten and covered everything up with lies and stories. There was still a part of me desperate for someone to see through it, to just know, without me having to say it.
Now my treatment team is gone. I didn't plan on continuing to see them, but it hurt to be let go of, feels like a slap in the face. 6 years together and she acts like this is nothing more than a business. She knew all my secrets, and I want to snatch them back. I feel alone and abandoned. There were times that they were all I had, the only people looking out for me and making sure I wasn't dead. I didn't want to end things like this.
I failed treatment. I didn't leave better, and I didn't leave dead. Instead I continue floating alone in limbo.
Friday, July 23, 2010
-How It Ends
Share something with me, a small piece of yourself.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Monday, July 12, 2010
I don't hide anymore. But not because I'm suddenly comfortable in my own skin, or have acquired a cool fuck it attitude. I just can't do it anymore, I won't. I have spent years underneath stifling sweaters, secrets covered by bangles and armwarmers. And maybe I'm hoping that if I pretend i don't care, eventually I won't. That eventually I will overshadow my scars and flaws, my past, and it will just be a reminder of survival and strength, not the striped marks of mistakes and shame.
I still burn underneath their stares. I see eyes widen and hear voices cut short or change tone, gazes locked to my arms while I speak. Some days I shrink into myself, red cheeks and hunched shoulders. But more frequently I rise up disdainful and bold. I stop what I'm doing at the cash register, and wait to lock eyes with them: "everything okay?" more a dare than anything else. I dare you to question me, to judge. And some days the judgments and questions never seem to end. They range from puzzled ("What is that?") to concerned ("oh my God, what happened?") to disgusted ("Why do you do that to yourself?" "You shouldn't cut yourself" or the almighty "You should really get help."). I've learned to cope. The puzzled and concerned get a "they're just old scars," or "it's personal, nothing I really want to talk about." I spit back sarcastic retorts to the armchair psychologists, raise my eyebrows at their own cigarette and alcohol purchases.
The other night at work was a new one. I stood there in my new dress, the sleeves just passed my shoulders, where the dark purple-pink scars, thick as worms, seem to glow in the fluorescent lighting. The forearms scars snake around white and gnarled. The man buying cigarettes stares blatantly, his eyes amused and impressed. "Can I ask you a question?" I know what's coming, my eyes narrowed, voice steady. "Ok. What?" "Are you like, into pain? Is that what those are about?" I felt the anger and shame burning in the pit of my stomach, but I stayed calm and said, "Excuse me? do I know you? because you're asking a lot of personal questions." He backed down and left. I stood there struggling to breathe in and out.
For some reason that question has latched onto me more than any of the others, even more than the man who stood in line with his friend and literally pointed and laughed at my arms. Maybe it was the assumption that I seek pain, like a game, while in reality my scars are years of fighting off the pain, of trying desperately to spill it out of me. His eyes, his assumptions, made me feel dirty and ashamed. all those stares and words do, really. they enrage me, they take parts from me and turn into something else in their minds, and I want to snatch it back. It's mine, it's me, it's my pain and my past. I carry it around, but it's not for you to see, it's just for me not to hide.
Friday, July 9, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
I couldn't stand another second in my room last night so I decided to take a walk and get some coffee. I've gone by the old house a hundred times since we left, but going past on the bus isn't quite the same as walking by. As it came into view I got a knot in my stomach; a mix of familiarity and wrongness, like when you think you see a friend in a crowd of people, lift your hand in greeting, only to realize when they turn around that it isn't them, but a complete stranger. I see my house and yet it isn't my house. I think I feel my father's eyes on me, peering out from where he sits in The Chair. In my mind he will always be in that chair, playing his destructive games, long after he is finally dead. The grass and shrubs are overgrown, my mother's flowers dead and rotting. Halloween stickers are still on a window, and I can see the rood of my old dollhouse. I take this in quickly, ashamed. Afraid that if I pause the passing cars will know I shouldn't be there, about how we had to flee.
I continue on past the house, the walk I used to make every day to high school. A silent angry 15-year-old with pink hair and safety pins, legs symbolically tied in bondage pants, a padlock dangling from my neck. No wonder therapists always had such a field day with me, my body perpetually speaking for me, words I hadn't yet even formed in my head.
Like that 15-year-old, I still feel stifled by myself and this town, by my family. I have found some words, others I'm still too afraid to let out of my head. Part of me can't wait to get away, somewhere where no one knows me, where I can be who I was supposed to be. But supposed-to-be me died when I was five. The only me I can gather up in scraps and pieces is the me that others create in their gaze and words. The sound of my own voice is strange to me, my reflection ever-changing, inner world that floats along without any footing; fragile and ephemeral.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
" 'I am all one,' we say, triumphant and desperate. The All One condemns us to being no more than a weed in the wall at the same time as it allows us to be the most powerful of sovereigns. For being alone is not only the worst we can experience; it is also the inevitable moment of some of our greatest experiences. In the solitude of our selves we learn something that is otherwise unavailable to us-how to become who we are. This is no small accomplishment. "
-Loneliness As A Way of Life
I, like probably most people, think of loneliness as the worst possible hell. To be completely alone, either physically or emotionally. Yet I also struggle with being around other people, maybe because of that emotional loneliness, at always feeling so separate from others, hands pressed against the glass surrounding me, desperate to connect and know that I'm okay, acceptable. Sometimes even just to know I exist, because all my life I have felt transparent, like a shadow, or a shell of a person. I don't feel real. So much of my life has been spent alone and in my head that I don't feel like an actual human being.
At this time in my life I am less alone than I have ever been. I have someone in my life who loves me, all of me, no matter what. Yet it's so hard to combat that deep loneliness and emptiness.
My goal in life is to turn this loneliness into contentment, into being peaceful within myself. I think that is the ultimate definition of happiness; not needing anything external.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
"She has finally discovered the brutality is not inside of her however, there are many roses, there are altars there are stories."
i don't know which direction i am running in. some days all i want is out of this misery, other days i bury myself in it. no one wants to hurt, but how to escape it when it feels deserved and almost safe? i am scared of accepting good things in my life because good feels wrong. what would it mean to give up punishing myself, hating myself? to discover that maybe i'm not inherently wrong and broken? i don't know why that feels so sickening to think about. maybe because it would mean facing everything else, things i can't change or fix, letting it all in and letting it go.
photo: chrissie white
"Sometimes you fall, spinning through space, grasping for the things that keep you on this earth. Sometimes you catch them. They can be the hands of the people you love. They can be your pets- pups with funny names, cats with ferocious old souls. The thing that keeps you here can be your art. It can be things you have collected and invested with a certain sense of meaning. A flowered, buckled treasure chest of secrets. Shoes that make you taller and, therefore, closer to the heavens. A suit that belonged to your fairy godmother. A dress that makes you feel a little like the Goddess herself. Sometimes you keep falling; you don't catch anything. Sometimes you fall, spinning through space, grasping for the things that keep you here. Sometimes you catch them. Sometimes you don't. Sometimes they catch you."
-francesca lia block
Monday, June 7, 2010
-nick flynn, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City
I got to Partial pretty early this morning, so I sat outside by the wall overlooking the train tracks, with my coffee, trying to warm up beneath the early morning sun.
Going to the hospital campus makes me dizzy. I lose a sense of time, the past blurring into the present. There is the medical office building, where my pediatrician was as a child. the long connecting bridge where my mother carried me when I was too sick and weak to walk. the hallway where i choked back tears, angry and betrayed, dates for more tests scheduled in my mother's purse.
Across the driveway is the hospital where I was admitted for inpatient eating disorder treatment. summer, winter, spring all blending into one. the apartment buildings of the residential program further down the drive; I walk in each day and the walls spin. I see Michele's scarf turning the corner, catch a glimpse of my 85lb body in the lobby mirror, then look again and it's the me of today, alone, lost.
This is where it started and where I've ended up. This is where I became sick as a child, where I've come as an adult because I've kept myself sick. I am going around in circles looking for something.
I meet with Lauren, my case manager. She smiles at me with her white teeth and keeps saying how proud she is of me, and that after this week I can step down to IOP. That I'm doing so well. But it doesn't feel good at all, there is no pride. Instead there is that old fear that doing well means I no longer matter, and worse, will dissolve into nonexistence, while those who are more sick, more important, will overshadow me as I fade away. Every other time I have left treatment I was not ready. I ran, and they warned against it, they told me I'd be back. I was angry and scared, but I was safe. I wasn't being let go of. There was comfort in the string tightening as I pushed away, a person, a team at the other end, my name in a file, telling me I am here, I need.
In expressive therapy we go around the room, say who we are when we're in our illness. I am the one..."I am the one who needs to be sick to know I exist." There is my sickness, but nothing underneath.
Friday, April 30, 2010
I am not anti-medication, but I spent years being overmedicated on SSRIs, mood stabilizers, and antupsychotics. I'm sick of prescribers handing me things that I shouldn't even be on. Like it didn't dawn on my psych or anyone at McLean that I shouldn't be on Wellbutrin, with the risk of seizures in ED patients, as well as the fact that I have a history of hypomania. There was also the whole Effexor thing, where I was never told about the horrible withdrawal, then when I went off of it my psych was going to stop seeing me, blaming the awful effects on my poor health. I'm done with the trial-and-error, the side effects, and adding other medications to fix the side effects of the others. No more.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
I found this bitterly amusing, and so indicative of the state of psychiatry today. They admit a person to the hospital based solely on what she tells them about how she's feeling. They diagnose her on that basis, too. Yet once she's in the hospital her word is no longer good enough. She has been magically diagnosed, and that diagnosis supersedes her testimony. Suddenly the doctor knows better, even though he knows only what you have told him."
-Voluntary Madness by Norah Vincent
Lately I feel so disillusioned with the mental health system. I don't mean this from a place of denial, that people are telling me I need help or have a diagnosis, and I don't believe them. nor do I think therapists and psychiatrists are trying to wield their power over me and force me to do things I don't want to, or get help when i don't want it. the problem is, it's not the help I need, it's not effective. I feel like this is a natural progression for many people who have been in this system for a long time. I have gone from feeling like maybe being locked up on a psych ward is the best/safest place for me, to realizing that that is actually a place where things get worse.
it's a bigger issue than insurance, and how rushed hospital stays are. I remember getting sectioned, and placed on the "Intensive Treatment Unit" of a psych hospital, the worst of the worst,where apparently I was supposed to be getting help my therapist and psych couldn't give me. What it really amounted to were days and days of sitting in dirty, run-down rooms, with staff who were not trained in the mental health field and barely spoke english. Getting ignored and treated as less than a person. Although it was supposed to be "intensive treatment," it was really just a holding pen for lost causes. "Groups" were a couple optional arts and crafts activities. then 2pm-7pm were visiting hours, i.e. more sitting and doing nothing.
I was followed around by a boy who was constantly trying to touch me inappropriately, while also thinking he was Jesus. There was a violent man who attacked two patients and a nurse, but was never removed from the ward because there was no worse ward to put him in. i didn't shower the almost 10 days I was there because there was no bathroom door, and jesus boy would constantly sneak into the women's room.
To me, psych wards are not a place to get better. They are a place to scare you and depress you enough that getting back to the life that made you miserable seems desirable, enough to keep you on your best behavior for a little while so that you at least can cling to your freedom. Each time I have come out more depressed and hopeless, feeling like nothing more than a diagnostic label, a person who is broken and who can't be trusted.
Have any of you ever had a "healing", valuable psych ward experience? One not caught up in power trips and punishment and restrictions and endless time?
Each time my therapist tries to send me back, I fight it. I have never threatened to kill myself. But whenever things get to the point where she doesn't know what to do with me, where she has no answers or suggestions or no way of helping me, she ships me off. And I feel like that's for her peace of mind, to get me out of her hair and feel like she's doing something.
People act as though psychiatry has come such a long way. I just see more medications with different names and still no science to them, ECT that they're kind enough to sedate you for, and rooms with barred windows, labels based on 10-minute assessments from people with medical degrees but no emotional intelligence, and no rights or voice. That's worse to me than being stuck alone in my messed up mind.
So the question is, what do you do when years of medications and standard "treatment" are not enough?
Monday, April 26, 2010
I'm sick of them. The ones you build yourself, the ones you find yourself in, the ones other people put you in. Every day is made up of so many cages, keeping me confined. My body is a cage, the walls of my room, my stupid job, my lack of words, my lack of strength to move to eat to go out to grow to change.
I realize I've put myself in many of these cages. Not consciously,or if it was, it was while thinking I had the key to get out when I needed to. I guess I never did have that key, and now that the cages keep getting smaller and smaller, I have no idea where to look. I've looked so long to others,and that has been useless. they dangle ideas of keys in front of my face, but they aren't the right ones, or ones I'm strong enough to grab onto. There are too many other things blocking the way. Sometimes I poke my foot out between the bars and find there is no ground beneath me.
Other cages I've been thrown into without a say. Psych wards, treatment centers. Diagnostic categories. And labels that define my worth; weird, freak, loser, nothing. Scars like prison bars across every inch of my arms scream "unstable, stay away." say lost cause, damaged.
Sometimes cages are safe. They are the Known. They keep people out. They are a ready-made excuse for staying stuck, a perfect reason for not succeeding, an isolated little world. But through each bar you see what you are missing, the people and things you can't seem to reach or have reach you, the light that can never touch you fully.
I've become my own cage.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
the only thing insurance would pay for was two weeks at McLean Hospital's day program. I got out and nothing's changed. if anything it's gotten worse. most days I can't leave the house because i feel too fat and disgusting to be seen. i missed my therapy appointment today because of that, because it took me hours to get dressed and i just sat there, time ticking away, clothes strewn around me, my body gross and exessive no matter how many layers. my head is a funhouse mirror, distorting everything. i dont know what's real anymore.
i don't have a life anymore. i had to leave school because i'm so depressed i can barely move, and am so exhausted from starving myself. I have a job i despise that makes me feel worse about myself. i have no hobbies or passions or identity left. i feel like a nothing, a waste of space.
i don't know how i can keep existing like this. nothing helps. i need a drastic change, something other than the same hospitals I'm forced into over and over, in and out as quickly as insurance can enforce. i can't do any more power struggles, deal with one more person trying to label me and pathologize everything I say, tell me I just don't want to get better and aren't trying hard enough. i'm doing all i know how to do, what i can to stay alive.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Ultimately this life is all we have. As meaningless, as agony-ridden, as deeply ridiculous as it is, we have nothing else.
So why throw it away? Why not take some small pleasure in a little blossom shyly hovering to the ground?
This is your chance to rediscover yourself.
What a waste of time if you fritter it away.
-from Biting Anorexia by Lucy Howard-Taylor
I'm trying to keep this in my mind. I've frittered away so much time with the belief that getting as sick as possible is the most worthwhile and admirable quest, taking the most strength of mind and body.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Okay, I realize that's kind of a blanket statement. But I have never met a psychiatrist who is a decent human being or not on a power trip. They are all condescending, emotionless, with poor interpersonal skills, and a seeming disklike for all people. They enjoy pathologizing every action and statement, and hand out prescriptions within five minutes of meeting me. I've had some really scary and damaging experiences with psychiatrists, particularly when I was sectioned at Bournewood.
The psychiatrist at McLean Hospital is slightly less horrible, but at the core really no different. His initial appearance says it all: hair so slicked-back it's all wet and comb-marked. He wears silk ties, and these obnoxious dress shoes that are like little ankle boots with zippers on the side. Definitely the mark of a despicable human being. He is so cold and condescending, and just acts disinterested. At one point he asked me why eating is so difficult, and I tried to explain that I feel like I don't deserve to eat. He asked me if I feel like that about other people, and of course I said no. Then he says, "What makes you so special and unique that it only applies to you?" Really? As if I don't eat because I think so highly of myself. And there's just no need to talk to someone like that, especially someone so clearly struggling and at your mercy.
I met with him again yesterday. More of the same, saying things in his bored monotone voice, "mhm, so you work in a liquor store? Does that mean you drink all the time?" Wow, so insightful. Like that's the most logical conclusion. Yeah, I drink all the time because I'm a cashier at a liquor store. And you work with crazy people. Does that mean you're crazy? He then asked why I worked there, but apparently he doesn't know what it's like to have to work a shit job you hate just to pay the bills.
I would really love to know how his title makes him an expert on me and people in general when he doesn't seem to even like them or know how to interact decently. I guess he's great at reading the DSM and assigning arbitrary labels. Apparently that's all it takes to have power over someone else and have instant respect.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
I started the behavioral partial program at McLean Hospital about a week ago. It's actually kind of cool being there, in a weird way; the buildings are so beautiful and historic, and it's where Sylvia Plath and Susanna Kaysen (of Girl, Interrupted) were hospitalized.
It took a bunch of meetings before they would accept me, as they were worried about my low intake and whether I would be medically stable and get enough out of the program. But after a medical exam the doctor deemed me stable enough, so they let me give it a try. It's been okay so far. Mostly it's a place to go where I have structure and feel safe. But I can't really say it's been helpful. It's like, there are no emotions involved in groups at all. It's kind of freaky. Everyone actually refers to groups as classes. A psychologist stands at the front and writes on the white board; practically everyone takes notes. Words are defined. Diagrams are made. They're huge on "scheduling," planning out your time. One of the groups is called Positive Events Scheduling. Does it get anymore emotionless? It's like, do this, this, and this. Nevermind if you're too depressed to do anything. Just remember MEDS: medication, exercise, diet, sleep. Instant prescription for mental health. As if you can rationalize and schedule yourself out of trauma and suicidal ideation, as if everyone's "illness" is the same. They are very heavy on the disease model of mental illness, which I don't agree with and find very unempowering.
I'm on the mood disorder and Borderline personality disorder "track," which determines the groups I go to each day. They are mostly DBT and CBT-based, which are more basic, condescending versions of the psych classes I've taken, and I find them extremely frustrating. As if it were as simple as learning the triangle of emotions-thoughts-behaviors. There is one cool group called "Self Group," which focuses on feelings of emptiness and lack of self that go along with BPD. I also meet with my case manager and a skills therapist a couple times a week. I just wish there were more support groups, and chances to actually talk about feelings and experiences.
Tomorrow may be my last day, unless insurance decides to be extremely generous and grant me a few more days. Not going to get my hopes up on that one. I will miss the routine of the program, though. The 1/2 mile walk from the bus stop to the hospital was a good way to start off the day. It was peaceful, and a chance to listen to my Ipod or just think. The last couple days were raining, and I ended up taking the shuttle. That experience is pretty entertaining in itself. I had to observe a few times before I knew what to do, as the whole process is kind of secretive. A big, white, van shows up every 15 or so minutes, and it doesn't say anything on the sides, presumably to save everyone the shame of riding in the crazy shuttle. It doesn't pull up to the bus stop, but goes through the parking lot, and suddenly everyone hiding shamefully in the bushes hurries over and crams in. Unlike most hospitals that house psych wards amidst medical floors, McLean is just a mental hospital. The first day there I had to take a cab, and I think the driver felt sorry for me as he refused to accept the tip! Ah, the benefits of being mentally ill. Pity and free cab rides.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
After being denied ED treatment, and with the encouragement of my closest IP friend, I decided to increase my intake. It's still not a normal or healthy amount, but it's taken a huge amount of effort both physically and mentally. I would be lying if I said I was doing this for my health; the goal has really been to try to increase my metabolism, since eating next to nothing has had my weight stuck for months now. But I have noticed that I'm thinking more clearly, am less exhausted, and slightly less depressed.
I'm taking digestive enzymes, as food just sits like a rock in my stomach for hours, and they seem to be helping. I'm also sticking to a lot of gentler foods, like fat-free yogurts and cottage cheese, and Odwalla smoothies. I'm constantly fighting off panic at the amount I'm eating, and feeling out of control and scared of gaining. I also feel an enormous amount of guilt over spending money on food for myself, as well as the amount of time spent eating. Because I'm hypoglycemic, I keep eating throughout the day to keep my blood sugar from dropping too low. I constantly feel shakey and hot.
I know if I were in treatment I'd be eating at least twice this amount. But this is all I can handle right now, and honestly I don't want to recover right now. Or rather, I'd love to recover, but I can't let go and can't allow myself.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
I don't know what I'm supposed to do now. I'm being punished for leaving a program that wasn't helpful. Some asshole who knows nothing about me has decided I shouldn't be allowed to get help.
I'm back to where I started, minus any kind of hope or resources. This is what I left school for?
The program is pretty typical. 9am-3:30pm, 2 snacks and lunch. Wednesdays you bring your own lunch. If you don't eat 100% you get Ensure, and if you refuse that you get sent home for the day. I love that, that the punishment for not eating is to go home and not eat . There are about 9 people in the group at the moment, mostly around my age, though the youngest is 13 (I hate when there are really young girls in treatment with me; so triggering). There are also 2 males. I'm more nervous about the people even than the food. I don't want to be the fat one. I am terrified of having to really eat, though. Even though I can skip breakfast and dinner if I want at home, it's been a long time since I've eaten even one normal meal. I'm so scared of not being able to handle it physically and mentally. I'm worried they won't take that into account, how low my intake has been for so long, since my weight isn't emaciated.
Anyway, I start tomorrow. I'm trying not to think too much about it. I still have to call Sue to tell her I'm going so she won't send the cops to my house, and that I'm not going to therapy tomorrow or probably ever. I didn't sign the release form, so she can't talk to CEDC. I love how I'm apparently such a high risk and a danger to myself that I need to be sectioned, yet when I didn't call her on monday to check in like I was supposed to, she never called me.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
My therapist, Sue was annoyed because she had let a message for me on thursday about getting an intake at Cambridge ED Center, but I never got it because, like I told her, my phone was shut off. But she acted like that was beside the point; like oh i did everything i was supposed to do and you dropped the ball. I tried talking about friday's meeting at school, and my frustration and loss about not being able to return for a whole year. But Sue just pushed my feelings aside and lectured me about basically how I need to get my act together and "do the work this time," whatever that means. When she starts talking like that I feel even more alone, and like a bad child, who isn't trying hard enough. She said i need to do this program. I said I know, but the reason I haven't made calls isn't just me being resistent. I'm really depressed, and everything seems overwhelming. But no one wants to treat my depression, they just blame my eating disorder. So then she started talking about sectioning me! I said, "i don't meet the criteria for being sectioned. I'm not a danger to anyone, I'm medically stable, and my weight isn't critically low." But she argued that she could do it, that my weight is low (she doesn't even know what my weight is) and I'm a danger to myself by not eating.
I started freaking, because I've been sectioned before and had so many bad experiences. At the slightest hint of that kind of loss of power, I lose it. I told her I wanted to get treatment, but with her threatening me and trying to force things on me, it makes me want to run in the other direction. But she didn't take any time to acknowledge my feelings and fears. It was all about her frustration and not knowing how to help me. I don't fucking need to be sectioned; she just doesn't know what else to do with me. Then she picked up the phone and called Dale down, so I grabbed my bag and was all ready to run. i said, "no way, that means ou're trying to section me, and I'm leaving." She told me I'm not leaving in "this state of mind." you fucking put me in this state of mind! Dale came down, and I just zoned out, shut down. Basically they said if I don't call for an intake in the next couple days they are going to section me.
I called CEDC twice, and they finally called back today. I have an intake scheduled tomorrow at 8:30am for their partial program. I'm supposed to call Sue and let her know what's going on, but I feel sick just thinking about it. I'm not returning to therapy. I'm so tired of treatment being a punishment. I really do believe Sue has gone about things all wrong, even harmfully. I have been starving myself for a long time, with 2 years since I've been in ED treatment. Now all of a sudden it's an emergency? Why wasn't it before? Sue doesn't know my weight, my labs are normal, and it's been months since we've specifically discussed my food intake. So how can she gauge whether I should be sectioned? I get that she's frustrated and doesn't know what to do with me. But you can't just section someone because they have an eating disorder and aren't doing what you want them to do.
Everyone is ignoring the fact that everything truly fell apart when I got off all my meds. While I agree that my eating disorder is a big problem and needs attention, the main reason I dropped out of school and am not functioning is that my depression is crippling. This is how it was 6 years ago, before I was medicated, before my ED even started full-force. This is how bad it gets without a medication. But no one wants to treat that because it must be my eating disorder. So they start me on a low dose of Wellbutrin, which does shit, and don't plan to up it until my prescription runs out next month. Before they were all about meds, now it's all "nothing's going to help until you address your eating disorder." The truth is that no one knows what they're doing.
So I guess it's up to me.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Yesterday was hard. I think it was the first time I truly felt a sense of loss from what my eating disorder has taken from my life. I'm used to thinking of failure in terms of not being sick enough. But yesterday I saw it from a more "normal" perspective, of how I'm wasting so much time.
I went to school to meet with this woman Mary to fill out paperwork for a leave of absence. My academic advisor, Debby, wanted to be there too for support. I had her as a professor my first year at Wheelock, when I was at my low weight, and then again a couple years ago, so I feel like she knows me pretty well as a student. Anyway, we all met together, and I had to briefly explain the situation. Debby said she wanted me to know that no one thinks less of me; that going on leave shows my strength as a social worker, to recognize what I need and to take time for that. She said a lot of people in the field have their own struggles, and it can make them better at what they do. She also said I'm one of the best writers they've had in the program.
They both couldn't have been more kind. They listened and were helpful and didn't make me feel judged at all. The situation sucks, though. If I signed the paperwork that day for a medical leave, I would lose my insurance right away, which would mean no treatment. But If I don't fill it out and wait to withdraw, I would be responsible for paying a full semester's worth of tuition. I can't afford either. I filled out a form to apply for MassHealth, but I need to get it figured out ASAP. either way, though, I will be losing money. It's too much to even think about.
But what really hit me was when they said I wouldn't be able to come back until next spring, A YEAR FROM NOW, because the only classes I need to take meet just in the spring. And Wheelock classes are very specific; I can't take them anywhere else and get credit. At that point I broke down a little. A whole year. More lost time. That will make 2 1/2 years of medical leave from school. Even my younger sister has graduated before me. All because I'm too screwed up; it's my own fault. Why couldn't I just stick it out and finish the semester? It's such a mess.
They were kind and tried to comfort me. Said maybe there's a way that I can start my internship in the fall. in order to do that though, I'd have to be enrolled as a student and taking classes (that I don't need to take), and I can't afford it. I almost wasn't able to go back this semester. Luckily my uncle cosigned for my loans (my mom couldn't because she had to file for bankrupcy), but now I'm probably screwing him over too by losing money this semester. ugh. it's all so confusing.
All because of my eating disorder, all because despite all the years of treatment I still can't get my act together. I called Nate in tears, and he tried to help me reframe it. He said maybe it's a good thing. I can really dedicate myself to treatment, then I can just work and save money, make time to do things I enjoy. That it will be exciting, and I'll be in a better place when I go back to school. That there's no shame in not graduating "on time." he himself never finished school, and he can still always go back; there's no time limit.
I hung up feeling better, but now I'm back to feeling lost. It sounds good in theory; take time off and recover, return and be able to do my best. But what will be different this time? I still don't want to gain weight, I'm still not committed to doing better. Part of me is already thinking I'll go to treatment for a bit, then go back to losing weight, only this time I won't have to worry about screwing up school because I'll just be working a shitty job that takes zero brain power.
What is it going to take? How much do I have to lose before enough is enough?
Thursday, February 18, 2010
I had therapy this morning. My therapist and I talked about treatment options, and I tried really hard to stay rational. I'm trying to have more control over my treatment and not have everyone else make the decisions like in the past. My therapist talked to Mclean Hospital, and they won't allow me in their behavioral programs because of my eating disorder. They do have an eating disorder program, Klarman, but besides hearing bad things about it from friends (one of whom had escaped through the window), they don't take anyone over 23. I know that my ED should be the main focus, but I guess I didn't expect it to keep me from being able to get any other kind of treatment, and that scares me.
Now there is no other option except an ED program. My treatment team is pushing for residential, but I don't want to or feel like I can. At Walden they usually make you do at least a few days in IP, and I cannot take that again. IP is the most triggering, and I can't go back at this weight. Residential is much better and supportive, but I don't think I can handle being stuck someplace without freaking out. So Partial seems like the best option right now. Which I know I've been going on about for awhile. I think I'm going to have to try, because my life is completely at a stand-still.
That's really hard for me to accept. While my therapist talks about how I need to take care of myself before I can do social work, I start thinking maybe I shouldn't do social work, maybe I should do something that makes it look like I'm functioning/having a life while still being able to hold onto my eating disorder. That's how I think; I don't allow anything to motivate me toward a better life. It's like I'm terrified of betraying my anorexia. Like choosing life or anything good is a cop-out.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
I keep losing the feeling in some of my fingers. They get ice-cold and numb, and turn bright yellowish white. It happened once a couple weeks ago, then a couple days ago, then twice yesterday. I was scared at first, but now it's just an annoyance.
Monday, February 15, 2010
If I tell someone my weight, I change in their eyes: I become bigger or smaller, better or worse, depending on what that number, my weight, means to them.
I know many women, young and old, gay and straight, who look fine, whom I love to see and whose faces and forms I cherish, who despise themselves for their weight.
For their ordinary human bodies.
They and I are simply bigger than we think we should be.
We always talk about weight in terms of gains and losses, and don’t wonder at the strangeness of the words.
We’ve lost hope of simply being seen for ourselves.
The number of the scale became my totem, more important than my experience - it was layered, metaphorical, metaphysical, and it had bewitching power.
I thought if I could change that number, I could change my life.
Weight is now a symbol not of the personality but of the soul - the cluttered, neurotic, immature soul.
When I say to someone, “I weigh too much,” I hear, “Oh, no! You don’t. You’re just —” What? Plump? Big-boned? Rubenesque? I’m just not thin. That’s crime enough.
Because it is my fleshy curves I want to be rid of after all. I dream of having a boy’s body, smooth, hipless, lean. A body rapt with possibility, a receptive body suspended before the storms of maturity.
I want to be a bud and not a flower.
Sometimes I look in the mirror and see a woman with flesh, curves, muscles, a few stretch marks, the beginnings of wrinkles, with strength and softness in equal measure. But to like my body would be shameless, to be wanton in the pleasure of being inside a body.
If only I could catch a glimpse of myself by accident and think only: That’s me. My face, my hips, my belly, my hands. Myself.
Other times, I look in the mirror and think: Who am I am kidding? I’ve got to do something about myself. Only then will this vague discontent disappear.
Then I’ll be loved.
~ From A Weight that Women Carry by Sallie Tisdale
Sunday, February 14, 2010
I'm feeling so stuck about what to do. the rational part of my brain says it's worth a shot, i can use it as a period to regain some brain function and physical strength. it's not like I have to commit to recovery and giving up my eating disorder. Just the thought of starting to eat again terrifies me. I haven't been in an ED program in 2 years. and digesting? if i eat a bowl of vegetables i can barely move for hours, it's like a rock just sitting there.
the ED side of my brain says I'm crazy to "choose" treatment. yes, everyone has been pushing for me to do it. but there isn't that desperation there was all those other times, of people begging and crying and then forcing me into treatment. Now it's me being the "weak" one, who can't handle it anymore. I can't help feeling like I'm weak for letting anything come before anorexia, including my life, school, Nate, sanity. Like if I were actually sick I would stop at nothing.
but now i am nothing. i can barely do anything. so maybe it's worth a try?
My mom works at an elementary school, and one of the kids gave her a heart cookie she made for valentine's day. it was in a plastic baggie, and my mom took it out and begged me to eat it. She told me the girl who made it reminds her so much of me when I was little. She's a tomboy, with long knotted hair, and her best friend is a boy with mental health issues (i was always friends with the special needs kids). she's already starting to be rejected by other girls. so anyway, my mom was telling me I deserve to eat this cookie, to give something good to myself, and to think of how I wouldn't want that girl Samantha to get older and deny herself things. I rolled my eyes and stuffed it in my bag, but it stuck with me. I can never have sympathy for myself as a little kid, but thinking of that little girl ending up sad and hurting herself played in my mind.
so I ate half of the heart-shaped sugar cookie, which was small anyway, and later on I ate the other half. because sometimes eating doesn't feel as bad as being a hypocrite.