Hatfield Blogs from Treatment Center

 

 

 

On the eve of her
release from an eating disorders treatment center, Juliana Hatfield shares.

By Blurt Staff

 

Music fans obsess over the minutiae behind their favorite
songs, and often get a generic “I like to leave them open to interpretation”
answer. If not that, then a longwinded, anticlimactic and unsatisfying,
sometimes even pompous, explanation. Only rarely does a songwriter share
something worthwhile. Last night, Juliana Hatfield laid down 1300 words of pure
candor about “Universal Heartbeat” from her 1995 album Only Everything.

 

“What a trip; I’m better for it,” Hatfield says, starting
the post with a quote from her song. “That will be me, when I get through this
thing I am going through. This song is all about depression. When we make it to
the other side we can feel triumphant (“landing on a crowded shore,
high-fiving”) and so grateful for having survived. Also we can’t help but
develop an empathy for the suffering of others after going through something so
painful.”

 

She wrote Sunday night from an eating disorders treatment
center she checked into after “unraveling” and hitting a personal low weight of
100 pounds. “I wasn’t fully conscious of it,” she wrote. “Others around me
noticed it before I did. A good friend forced me to confront the fact that I
was in serious trouble. ‘You need to get well’ were his words.”

 

Hatfield explains that anxiety led her to restrict food as a
coping mechanism. “Sometimes I feel like a human pincushion. Every painful
emotion hits me with ridiculously exaggerated force. And the anxiety feels like
hands inside of me, squeezing my guts really hard.” She went to such extremes
as limiting herself to a Clif Bar for breakfast or a handful of trail mix for
lunch.

 

Much more if revealed in the post, which you can read below
and, despite its subject, has a confident tone. Looking forward to her release
today, Nov. 10, Hatfield declares, “I refuse to succumb; to accept that I can’t
fix this. I want desperately to be a better, happier, healthier, saner person
and companion. My will to endure is, so far, unkillable.”

 

“I need to believe this. I need to try and manifest this,
and to live it. If nothing else, I’ve already gotten some kickass songs out of
this latest experience.”

 

Way to go.

 

 

Entire post:

 

UNIVERSAL HEARTBEAT

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

 

What a trip; I’m better for it”: that will be me, when
I get through this thing I am going through.

 

This song is all about depression. When we make it to the
other side we can feel triumphant (“landing on a crowded shore,
high-fiving”) and so grateful for having survived. Also we can’t help but
develop an empathy for the suffering of others after going through something so
painful.

 

Maybe those of us who feel and think deeply, who suffer a
lot inside, who are kind of mental are not to be pitied for our frequent aches,
but should be patted on the back for sticking it out when it hurts so much. We
who don’t ever give up and who continue to believe that things can — that WE
can — be better. We are alive, we are not numb. We fight on and on and on. We
fight our self-destructive urges. We refuse to close up our hearts and become
bitter and dead inside in order not to experience the frequent hurts of an
ultra-sensitive soul/mind/heart.

 

Sometimes I feel like a human pincushion. Every painful
emotion hits me with ridiculously exaggerated force. And the anxiety feels like
hands inside of me, squeezing my guts really hard.

 

For the most part I have not ever been inclined to escape
with drugs and alcohol. In the drugs-and-alcohol sense I am and have always
been very straight. My coping mechanism — or one of them; the one that kicked
into high gear again most recently — has been restricting food.

 

We swim through the deep dark oceans to reach the crowded shore;
lots of people have made it through the same sort of experiences. We are not
alone. It just feels like we are when we are in the thick of it. And after one
of us endures one of these things, she may be transformed into a more humble
and compassionate person, “high-fiving” all the other freaks and
mental defectives and addicts who have continued to survive and to try.

 

I am having to come to terms with the fact that at age 41, I
found myself unraveling. Or, rather, I unraveled. I wasn’t fully conscious of
it. Others around me noticed it before I did. A good friend forced me to
confront the fact that I was in serious trouble. “You need to get
well” were his words.

 

He was there when I woke up in the middle of the night
drenched in sweat — pajamas soaked, hair wet, sheets wet, even the pillow with
a head-sized wet spot on it (where my head was). He witnessed my fatigue; my
falling asleep every time he put on a movie for us at night; I tried so hard to
stay awake with him to watch “Sunshine” and “Network” (for
about the fifth time — I love that one. I never get sick of it) and “The
Strangers” and the DVD with Robert Thurman talking with the Dalai Lama,
but they are all blurry in my mind.

 

I was dehydrated and anemic — anemia caused by malnutrition
— and I didn’t even know it; I didn’t realize the seriousness of my problem
until I had already entered dangerous territory. My anxiety was so great and
all-consuming (funny choice of words considering I was “consuming” so
little) that at some point I lost my appetite completely and it was no more
about restricting food but became an almost inability to eat. My weight went as
low as it has ever been in my adult lifetime.

 

They tell me here at the E.D. treatment center that people
have been hospitalized for being as low (at my height) as I was when I came
here. (I found that kind of alarmist and hard to believe — I was still
skeptical and in a little bit of denial, like everyone is when they first come
in for treatment for anything anywhere — but it scared me anyway.) In this
environment they shorten “eating disorders” — the name of our
problem — to “E.D.,” and say it like a man’s name (“Ed”),
like he is a bad man; an evil man whom we need to cast out of our lives, our
psyches.

 

Before computers you never would have found me blabbing
(blogging [blogging is blabbing]) so openly like this about this. This is me
being modern. Damn these computers and this Interweb and the pressure on us
musicians to update constantly and to communicate. It encourages, inspires oversharing.
It’s so easy to say too much and to feel safe giving away one’s private
secrets. But screw it. I have nothing to hide. I’ve been embarrassing myself
publicly for over twenty years. Why should I stop now? A heart that hurts is a
heart that works. I will shout it from the rooftop (as I contemplating jumping
but then ultimately don’t [jump, that is], and walk back indoors). I am not
dead inside. I still care about right and wrong. I refuse to succumb; to accept
that I can’t fix this. I want desperately to be a better, happier, healthier,
saner person and companion. My will to endure is, so far, unkillable.

 

They make us eat six times a day. Three meals and three
snacks. We all sit in the kitchen together and there is a monitor at the head
of the table making sure we eat everything on our plates and drink everything
in our cups. This is called the refeeding process. It must be done slowly and
steadily, with more food added on as time progresses so we don’t shock our
systems. So we are not in danger of ending up like Karen Carpenter — she
gained too much weight too fast after starving for a long time, and her heart
couldn’t take it.

 

The bathroom doors are locked so the bulimics can’t go in
and puke. (I myself have never been a purger.) When you need to go, you must
ask a monitor to unlock the door for you and after she lets you in she stands
just outside the door and then you must either count while you are on the
toilet, loud enough so that she can hear you, right up until the moment you
exit, or you must let her flush for you after you are done — so that there is
proof that you didn’t vomit your food into the toilet.

 

Every morning they wake us up at seven and we all put on
hospital johnnies, first thing, and go and have our vitals (temperature, blood
pressure) checked and have ourselves weighed. I have gained five pounds so far.
I’m doing well. I’m a model patient, weight gaining-wise. My mental/emo health
is another story — a longer story, a work in progress.

 

All I want is to be well and to have energy and to get back
on track and to have my quiet little life back. It was a lonely and solitary
life, but it was mine. And I was basically healthy-ish. And I was free, in a
sense.

 

I’m going to be released on the 10th, maybe before you read
this.

 

I will play all my currently scheduled gigs, barring
unforeseen acts of God.

 

“When the damage is done, you’re damaged goods.” I
am damaged goods. Truly. But I don’t want to complain. I am what I am. Others
have it worse than I do. In fact, “it could be worse” is my motto and
my mantra.

 

“Dark and repulsive though it is, suffering has been
revealed to us as a supremely active principle for the humanization and the
divinization of the universe.”

 

– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

 

I need to believe this. I need to try and manifest this, and
to live it. If nothing else, I’ve already gotten some kickass songs out of this
latest experience.

 

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