September 21, 2006

Good voices too?

Like everyone else, I am waiting with bated breath to hear the rest of Kate's story...But until she finishes it, in the comments section, I will continue to add to what I wrote yesterday. But first, an update.

Dr O insisted on getting my weight when I saw her the other day, and we were both surprised to see that I had lost 5 pounds in 2 weeks, (she had weighed me -- but I hadn't looked -- two weeks before at 101) so that I was still down to 97lbs on her scale, which is if anything on the heavy side. I was also feeling faint and light-headed when I stood up and had blurred vision a lot, and was scared by all of it. At this point, I gave up all ambivalence and simply said that I needed help, and did not want to see an eating disorders specialist, did not want to focus on it that way. After all, part of the problem was that I forgot to eat, and found myself simply with no appetite most of the time...I did eat when I was hungry, I pointed out, since I ate when I took Zyprexa, even at 2 mg a day. I don't want to stop the Abilify, which may be taking away my appetite, so what to do? We finally settled on an agreement: I would make and drink a 500 calorie shake or smoothie every day, in addition to whatever I usually eat so that I was taking in at least 1000 calories a day, enough to maintain my weight. I assured her that I would gain weight on that much, but she promised me I wouldn't and that if I did she would find out why -- whether it was an endocrine or metabolic or whatever problem and see what could be done about it. Because no one should gain weight on 1000 calories a day... So with that in mind, I have been making myself shakes for the last two days. But alas, I get so full from them they cut down on what I can eat the rest of the time...So I haven't made it to 1000 cal yet, though I have doubled my intake from 350 calories to 700 a day, which is a big deal already. Tomorrow I'm going to try to drink 1/2 the shake for breakfast and 1/2 for lunch then a snack at 3 and supper at 6 with a snack at 9 and bed at 12am. That way I should be able to fit in the other 500 calories without trouble. Wish me luck, will you?

Now, then, as to the voices that are or were good. Mostly, except for the Little People, it's "were" because I haven't heard from the really good voices in many years. When I was in college, before I got truly paranoid about a pharmacist who controlled me and my mind (which made me walk around his store in a circle with a radius of 1/2 mile in order to evade his influence) I would hear passersby either say to one another, or simply think aloud as it were, "My that's a nice young woman, I'd like to invite her home to have tea with me." or "What an interesting young person. She is just like my daughter. I wonder if she'd like to meet me..." And I'd see smiles from everyone, or hear greetings and see familiarity in everyone I passed by. Not that I thought I knew them, so much as that I had this feeling that they knew me, or knew OF me, somehow, somehow, which made me feel very much less alone and comforted me.

After my first hospitalization, that same semester, when the good voices had transmogrified into evil ones and paranoia had appeared, after that and a six months stay at a psychiatric halfway house, a new person, a new voice introduced himself who would return on and off throughout the years and finally reappear for the last time in the 1990's, or at least that was the last time he came that I recall.

Brother Luke was a spiritual advisor, yet he belonged to no religion and never spoke of any god or higher power of any sort. He -- and I only say "He" because of the name "Brother Luke" but as he pointed out, I gave that name to an ambiguous voice that was neither clearly male or female, so I can't even be sure of this advisor's gender. Brother Luke, when he last appeared, used to spend many an hour talking to me about all sorts of things, from violence in the world, to various ethical matters to issues I had around my body and other more specifically personal problems, which he always related to the universe at large (come to think of it, much as Cynthia and Kate often do, in an effort to let me see my place in it, rightful but small). One crisis center MSW I used to talk with by phone, asked to see what I wrote down of our conversations -- since I took notes after a while, the advice being so amazing and helpful -- and when he did, he showed them to a minister of the church he attended who also thought Brother Luke was extraordinarily wise and insightful. So you can only imagine how helpful he was for me.

Unfortunately, though he first appeared in the early 1970's, by 1990 or so "channeling" was all the rage, and so I dared not talk of him very freely for fear of being thought one of those band-wagon-jumpers-on. I did tell one friend, but she did just that: she assigned me the role of resident friend/channeler and decided I was on a higher plane than the ordinary person. But I am not, of course, I just have schizophrenia. If my brain created Luke, just as it created the passersby and the Little People and the horrible voices, I was not aware of what went into the "wisdom" that Brother Luke imparted to me, until he did, so he might as well have been another person entirely.

I know that some of you do not agree with this assessment. That you prefer to condemn the voices as not-you and/or try to heal them as sicker than you. But this does not work for me, I don't think. I don't know what to do with voices coming from the walls where there is no radio or TV, unless it can be explained the way Dr O explains it, as my brain interpreting a nerve impulse as sound and therefore registering it as something heard when in fact nothing has come via my ears in the first place. And so forth. And others have other different ways to cope with this phenomenon. The more power to each one of us. I truly mean it when I say, whatever floats your boat and gets you to the other side is good enough "water"!

Finally, to finish off this night's post, I want to add a new poem. It is very plain and simple, no flashiness, but for some reason I like it. This one came to me almost whole; I had to do only a little to get to the final version, if indeed this stays the final version, which only time will tell. BD


Thinking to write a gift
I studied the prairie vole
Monogamous, doting parent, tender provider,
A model, literally, for human love.
If I could write of prairie vole attachment
It would be a metaphor for this couple’s devotion.
But the poem didn’t work. Voles, it turned out,
Are large mice, meadow mice they are called,
And she is phobic about the family Muridae
While he detests all rodents for what the beavers
Did to his trees. So while I still liked the analogy,
Prairie voles were out and so was my poem.
I gave up. It was nothing if not voles. (I
Still thought this was all about me.)
A year passed. I wrote other poems,
Some good, others not so. But no gifts
Because none presented themselves
As anything but too hard work. Finally
I had to do something with the voles,
They were rubbing my mind raw.
I wrote everything I knew about them
In a list on a sheet of paper
And read them to myself out loud.
So much about so tiny a creature,
All five inches of peppery fur and tail!
Surely it matters not that the solo spouse
Of a dead vole prefers to remain alone
Rather than mate again. It’s a behavior
They attribute to hormones. But
That made me think. Why hormones?
Why shouldn’t a vole experience love?
It has the same love chemistry we do:
Vasopressin, oxytocin, dopamine--
Who’s to say the widow of a prairie vole
Snatched up in the night by a voracious owl
Is not honoring his memory or remembering
Evenings spent in their moss-lined nest
Making love, then sleeping side by side?

Posted by pamwagg at September 21, 2006 07:37 PM


You bet I wish you luck--all the best, all the time!

Abilify took away my daughter's appetite entirely; in fact, it nauseated her. In pretty short order she had to stop taking it, but she still remembers it, with wistfulness, as a fine weight-loss drug.

Perhaps you could eat or drink things which are not particularly filling, but calorie-dense? Antioxidant-laden dark chocolate, for instance, or juice in place of at least a portion of the water that you drink? If that doesn't seem to do the trick (see how my advice gets better and better?) just butter everything.

Clearly I can never take the place of Brother Luke, but--speaking of our rightful but small place in the universe--I read that the entire population of the United States could readily fit into its automobiles! Doesn't that make a person want to run right out and put on twenty pounds, just to show those cars what's what?

Oh, Pam, this is going from bad to worse. I have been appreciating your posts, very seriously, and I enjoyed contemplating those voles, too. Indeed--here I agree with Sue--why shouldn't they love and miss each other? On the other hand, maybe they never mate a second time because they are thinking, to themselves, "Whew! Thank goodness that's over! I'll never go through that again, not ever!" Probably not, though, as voles most likely don't have as many ways to vex one another as we do--they don't, for instance, sit at their computers late at night writing long rambling replies to lucid and thoughtful posts. It's good, I think, that they perplex us; a certain amount of perplexity is surely beneficial, and Heaven knows, there's a world of it out there.

Enough! Again, quite seriously, I'm as anxious to read the rest of Kate's story as you are, as it has been fascinating so far.


Posted by: Cynthia at September 22, 2006 11:01 PM

As you said earlier, "I seem to be on a roll", in reference to the amount of poetry you have been producing. You also mentioned at one time that you would like to put together a collection of your unpublished poems to submit for publication. I believe the time has come. You need a distraction from your present, all consuming concerns: your weight and eating habits, your concern for Joe and the time you willingly give to him, the writing of your blog, etc. Why not shift your focus to actually and purposefully composing, choosing, and actively working on this book. Open the windows and let the fresh air flow freely. Carpe Diem, my dear friend.
Practically speaking(how rare!)
Your old ET

Posted by: Paula Kirkpatrick at September 22, 2006 09:36 AM

Hi pam, I loved this poem!! yes, i agree who are we to say that animals do not love????? the ending was the best of them falling asleep in their nest after making love. VERY moving for me, especially since i am such an animal lover and yes, my dogs definately LOVE me so why wouldn't they love each other.

hope joe is feeling better. so sorry to hear that he is having trouble with coughing and sleeping. i think of him often and ask how he does it and remains upbeat. well maybe not upbeat, but not totally depressed and unable to get up. he sounds like quite the person and i'm so sorry that he has to be going through tough times.

I'm glad that you have a plan about increasing your caloric intake and i hope you are able to maintain your weight with so few calories. yes, i agree with dr o, it doesn't seem right if you gain weight on only 1000 calories a day!!! When i was a young woman (15-20) i never had an appetite and was very thin (maybe 93-98 lbs at 5'4") It wasn't that i was body conscious and WANTED to be thin, it was quite the opposite, I wanted to gain weight, but never had the desire to eat!!!! It can be quite the problem and i understand how you feel. I wonder why i have such a big appetite now!!! now i am always battling to maintain my weight and NOT put on the extra pounds (I'm 122 lbs). the point i am trying to make is that if i had to choose between these 2 "problems", i'd chose the scenio of being a little heavy over being very thin. it can be quite painful to be thin if you are not happy about it. my friends always said, "Oh i only wish i had your problem!!", but i know better cos it's not fun to never be hungry and have to force food down. hopefully this passes for you and your appetite improves. feel good, love, sue

Posted by: sue marasciulo at September 21, 2006 09:40 PM

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