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I am a victim of a Muncher

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I am a victim of a Muncher

Postby constantinova » Sun May 16, 2010 11:22 pm

Hi, I'd like to introduce myself. I've just joined this group, in desperation actually, trying to find others like me, who went through the same experiences -- being the victim of a mother who practiced Munchausen's by Proxy, remember them, and are trying to heal from them.

I remember everything that happened to me from the time I was three, and told everyone I could what my mother was doing to me and to my brothers and sisters every chance I could get. No one believed me. My mother's family knew what was happening: in fact, my mother's sister was also a Muncher; but all of her family chose to protect my mother rather than to protect her children.

None of my brothers or sisters remember anything: they only recite the "stories" my mother told them about all the "accidents" that happened to them and how she"saved them". I told my brothers and sisters, too, as we were growing up that it was our mother who was doing those things to us (of course I didn't know that what she was doing had a name), and they all said "Why would she do that?" first, and then, second, said, "You're crazy."

It was only when I was researching female serial killers for my fourth novel that I discovered the category of Munchausen's by Proxy, and as I kept reading, I kept saying aloud, "Oh, my god, this is my mother." When I went to my next therapy session, I told my psychologist that I thought my mother was an MBP, and my therapist told me to tell her something I'd never told her before that made me think that. She turned whiter than flour during my story, then told me to go collect as many medical records as I could, from my birth on, insisting that they would "prove" or "disprove" my theory.

I did collect my medical records from before birth (she kept trying to abort me), birth, to age 4 (all the while not understanding how medical records could possibly prove or disprove that my mother was or was not an MBP since I was born in the 1950s and medical personnel didn't even recognize that syndrome then).

What I found horrified me. When I collected one set of records, the nurse refused to charge me for the copying fees, holding me by one hand as she passed them over, saying, "I'm so sorry, dear, but I'm afraid you're right: your mother was a Muncher [which I learned is the medical and law enforcement establishment's shorthand for MBPs]."

That nurse worked at what is now an internationally famous children's hospital, but which was, in the 1950, a children's hospital, still famous, treating poor or lower income families' children for free. (My hands are shaking even now as I type this) I took the records, went downstairs, meaning to read the records in the car, but never made it there. I only made it as far as the first floor waiting room, which had child-sized chairs and table, toys, etc. I sat down on one of those chairs, my knees to my shoulders, pulled out the records, and read them.

Line after line, each in a different doctor's handwriting, said things like this, "Child seems healthy, but mother insists that... Treated child at mother's insistence... No evidence of mother's claim that child is ill but treated child anyway ... Child seems healthy and normal but mother insists that child is ..."

Final entry reads, "Although mother still insists that child is ... refused mother's request to treat child... Child seems normal and healthy... Argued with mother who claims that child is ... Refused mother's request to seek another opinion with another doctor on staff... Refused to treat child ... Child is normal and healthy ... Mother increasingly angry and abusive to doctor and other staff..."

My records for that hospital end there. I was four years old. The treatment I'd been receiving was for my legs and could have crippled me for life. When I went to a doctor for a running injury and he x-rayed my ankles, he noted aloud that I have a huge unusual space between the lower leg bone and my foot, but in both legs, which he could not explain. In fear, I asked if it had anything to do with wearing steel leg braces which locked my heels together, toes out, in a ballerina's first position, when I was a child.

He looked up at me in horror. "Oh, no," he said, "The doctors didn't do that to you." I nodded. He said it was a "fad" in the 1950s. He said that many children who were in those braces for even a month were permanently crippled. He asked me to stand and place my heels together, turning my feet outward as far as I could. He gasped. I can turn my legs beyond the furthest that a trained ballerina can.

He then asked me to do the opposite: turn my feet inward as far as I can. He gasped again. I can almost turn my feet inward until they point backward, with my heels facing forward. The doctor, a relatively young man, and apparently a decent one, tried to hide the tears in his eyes as he asked me to sit back down in the examining chair, asking me how many months I'd been in the braces.

"Four years," I responded.

He wept.

"My mother did it," I told him. "I didn't need those braces, did I?"

He shook his head.

"I never needed those leg braces, did I?"

He shook his head.

I wept.

He told me that those braces, which my mother had insisted that the doctors at that famous children's hospital put on my feet and legs, from the age of 2 months to 4 years, "because I couldn't walk straight," had permanently deformed the muscles of my legs -- calves, knees, hips, pelvis, etc, into a ballerina's first position. He said that when I tried to run, straight, I kept getting injured, because my legs had been deformed into a ballerina's. He also told me that the unusually large gap between my lower leg bones and my feet were no doubt a result of the "torture" of those "monstrous braces" which crippled almost all the children who were subjected to them. He said he didn't know how I could even walk at all. He told me I had to give up running and switch to walking, and would, from that point on, learn to listen very carefully to the muscles in my hips, pelvis, knees, ankles, calves, etc, and learn special stretches because I would, without a doubt, continue to get injured and that there was no way to cure the damage that my mother and those braces had inflicted on me.

And that is only a minor part of the damage that she did to me.

I have panic attacks just going into hospitals, going to doctors, even just visiting my psychiatrist to get my medicine for panic attacks/post-traumatic stress syndrome. My psychiatrist says I need even more therapy than the 20 years I've already had. My husband suggested that I try to find people who'd been through the same experiences I had.

I know there are many more of us that have survived Munchers, but I also know that very few survivors know what is happening from the time they are young, and that most survivors "recover" their memories after experiencing trauma as adults. I am trying to connect with any of those other victims for emotional support, since I still dissociate during times of great stress, even "good" stress, like buying a house, as I'm now doing (closing next month). And my loving and supportive husband suggested that I look for a support group with people like myself since other kinds of child abuse, no matter how horrendous, simply cannot compare to the violence, viciousness, brutality, and cruelty of that inflicted by a Muncher.

Is anyone else out there? I know I'm not alone.

Can we talk?

Constantinova
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Re: I am a victim of a Muncher

Postby CTandMT » Mon May 17, 2010 10:30 pm

Hi constantinova,

Just wanted to say hi and say how sorry I am for all you have endured.

I have experience with factitious/munchausen disorder, but not at the hands of my parent.

None-the-less, I can say that my experience effected me very much, in a way that is hard to describe.
It was emotionally devestating at a time I was very vulnerable and it triggered past events and sent me to a bad place.

Well my thoughts are with you and I hope someone comes along with whom you can share your experiences.

Best wishes.
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Re: I am a victim of a Muncher

Postby constantinova » Mon May 17, 2010 10:51 pm

Thank you for your best wishes.
I am sorry that you experienced it, too, no matter who did it to you.
How have you learned to cope with the grief and rage that it brings up?
Healing on your own path,
Constantinova
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Re: I am a victim of a Muncher

Postby constantinova » Tue May 18, 2010 2:01 am

Wow. 8034 views, yet fewer than ten replies.

That's sad.

I was so happy to find this group, but I suspect it's the Munchers themselves who are viewing the victims' posts, to jerk off to them, much as jailed pedophiles and serial killers do to pictures of their victims or to other inmates' family members.

The site on Munchausen's is absolutely huge: no surprise since Munchausen's, like Munchers, need tremendous attention.

It's sad, though, that no one here is writing, since I found, in some of the posts, some of my own experiences that, I think, even my own husband, loving and supportive though he is, found difficult to believe.

I hope this won't be my last entry. My husband is encouraging me to wait a few weeks longer before I give up hope, and I'm trying. But I'm already down to hopelessness and almost daily dissociation, so it's very difficult to continually feel so alone.

Is anybody else out there who can hear me?

Constantinova
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Re: I am a victim of a Muncher

Postby CTandMT » Tue May 18, 2010 7:40 am

Hi again,

Please don't give up trying to find help. A parent hurting a child is very difficult to comprehend on any level, be it physical, mental, sexual or munch by proxy. Munchausen is probably more prevalent than is recognized, especially now with HIPPA laws and all, these people can hide and manuever enough to keep it hidden, especially with children, who are at the mercy of their parents whim and mental state (or lack of).

All's I can say to you is unless you experienced it at some level, it seems hard for others to truly comprehend, but I know from my own experience it was a difficult time. These people do require tremendous attention and they will go to extreme length's and plan maticulously to persue this behavior and to cover it up.

I hope you find help to heal from all that was taken from you.
Best wishes.
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Re: I am a victim of a Muncher

Postby constantinova » Tue May 18, 2010 9:05 am

Thank you. I'll try to hang in there. Some days are just harder than others.

It seems that I've exhausted all the coping skills I already learned in my twenty years of therapy, and now that I'm so "healthy" cannot return to my old, unhealthy ones (anorexia, compulsive overeating, cutting, etc.).

The only one that still happens is dissociation, and that one doesn't happen by choice.

I actually prefer dissociation over the rage and overwhelming grief and suicidal thoughts/plans since I am at least able to function when I can't feel anything (and function on a very high level), but my psychiatrist keeps telling me this is not good because I'm only "surviving" not "living".

I don't know what to think.

The stressor that's brought these recent episodes of dissociation on is that I'm buying my first house (at age 54, hurray) and I already took early retirement (on disability)

I was one of those university professors threatened, on a written "death list" by a student, who walked around "pointing a gun" to his head with his hand, and whose administration, out of fear of being sued by the student wouldn't take any action against HIM. All the other teachers on the list quit -- their husbands could support them, but my husband and I couldn't live on one salary.

I thought I could handle the stress, despite the kid's following me all around the school pointing the hand-to-head-gun and "firing" it constantly and drawing "hanged bodies" on my classroom chalkboards (freaking even my students out) until the day I had a breakdown.

My doctor said the situation too closely resembled my childhood situation: being tortured, being trapped, afraid of being killed, telling someone, getting "punished for telling" (office with door taken away etc, threatened by administration with being fired if I went to police -- I did: they knew exactly who the boy was!! He'd done the same thing in high school).

The strangest part? I'd never even had this kid as a student. Didn't even know him. One of my friends had had him in ONE of her classes and he'd stalked her. That was the only reason we could ever figure out for my being on his death list. Because I was a friend of one of his teachers. She was also on the death list and quit the day after the death list came out.

The breakdown presented as panic attacks -- so serious that I couldn't remember my name, where I lived, couldn't get out of my car, etc. Somehow, crying hysterically, I remembered where my dr's office was, and after numerous injections of tranquilizers, she was able to get me to tell her what had happened. She told me to go on disability immediately or she'd put me in the hospital (and she knew how hospitals terrified me because of what my Muncher mother had done to me).

But now I have severe PTSD and Panic Disorder since the bad coping skills which I learned by surviving my Muncher mother seem to not work since, after so many years of successful therapy with nurturing and sensitive therapists, I'm too "healthy" to use those bad coping skills (darn -- keeping it clean for the public here), and I've exhausted the ability of the healthy coping skills my therapists taught me. Now I live on the other side of the country from them, and I'm trying to learn new healthy skills.

With health insurance that does not provide mental health/ behavioural health coverage, and living on a fixed income, I am unable to afford a therapist. The few "free" ones I've tried at the clinic were so far beneath my level that one of them actually answered the telephone-- twice -- while I was sobbing with grief in her office telling her exactly why I needed help. The second therapist kept nodding, saying, "I hear you, I hear you," then told me to go home and draw "my family with crayons". WTF? When I asked if she was serious, she asked me if I needed money for crayons, opened her cupboard and pulled out a "mercy box" of non-brand name crayons. I left the office immediately.

I think my only hope is to find others like me who understand what I've been through so that I can safely release the rage and the grief that seem to be coming up once again, only more intensely. I thought I was all done with it, but a new well-spring seems to have been tapped. Perhaps because I am planning to revise my memoir (I've had six books published, all genres), perhaps because I'm buying the house, perhaps just because it's time.

That's why I've come here. In search of fellow sufferers, looking for healing, like I am.
I'm a vegetarian, I meditate, I exercise, I practice Buddhism, I'm Jewish though I don't believe in god, I'm intensely spiritual, I believe my purpose in life was to write and to change my personal suffering into art (otherwise my life becomes nothing but a senseless tragedy) to help others understand good & evil and everyday happenings whose morality changes with the circumstances (using my art to do it), I don't believe there are any easy answers to anything, and I believe that there's no black or white to any situation/person etc only variations of grey.

But I do need more help, I guess, since I happen to think dissociation is a good thing, but my psychiatrist says is not and doesn't want me to "slip away from reality" whatever that means. And lately I don't think there's any point in living anymore, which is different from saying I want to kill myself. I just don't understand the point of my existence any longer.

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Re: I am a victim of a Muncher

Postby jasmin » Wed May 19, 2010 9:01 am

Hi, constantinova! You've been through awful stuff. You know, even if there aren't a lot of survivors of MBP that will reply to your threads, you can still talk to us. We will listen and give you support.
It's so painful when your own family won't recognize what happened to you, even when it happened to them as well. Some people just don't want to change or see the truth, it's too much for them and they'd rather stick to their comfortable existence. You made a life for yourself in spite of everything that happened, you should be proud.
That kid who put you on his "list" should have been arested. It's very disturbing.
There are a lot of bad therapists out there and it's a shame that people who really need help are exposed to them.
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Re: I am a victim of a Muncher

Postby constantinova » Wed May 19, 2010 1:13 pm

Thank you, Jasmin.
Your loving response made me cry.
It's so hard, even after all these years, to have no one to listen.

I thought I'd purged myself of all the grief and rage against my Muncher mother, my incestuous father & stepfather/adopted father, but it seems I haven't since all the drugs I'm on, which used to help me control the panic attacks, depression, etc (along with the healthy coping mechanisms I'd learned during the 20 years of therapy), have stopped working.

My psychiatrist thinks it's because it's buying the house, but she also thinks it's because of the memoir.
She doesn't want me to write it.
But it's already written: I'm just going to revise it. She does NOT like my vision for rewriting it. She actually argued with me about it!

And she's read my previous books (about the Holocaust, Alzheimer's, assisted suicide -- all novels ) and said I was a "genius" and didn't understand how I could so poetically and lyrically relate some of the most violent scenes she's ever read. She asked why the most beautiful writing was in the most violent parts of the books. Because I want people to examine how we deal with violence. Duh.

I entered my memoir draft into an international contest whose purpose was to get feedback from several professional writers and critics. All said it was brilliant, with the caveat that it was horrifying to call it brilliant since it dealt with such a subject and was not fiction. That being said, the book deals not only with my life, but with other famous Munchers, as well as with the legal, medical, and psychological research about them, scattered throughout, so that the memoir can be used as a teaching manual for medical and law enforcement personnel to help them recognize the signs of MBP.

In other words, I did the same thing that I do with all my books: I begin with a question, then research absolutely everything about the topic that I can find, then attempt to answer the question through the book. As in real life, however, the reader has to provide his own answer, and they sometimes find that troubling since, as far as I can determine (and from my teaching university literature and creative writing for 31 years), they want me to "tell" them the "right answer" and get upset with me when I tell them that whatever answer is supported by the book itself can be a "right" interpretation, even if it's the opposite of someone else's "answer".

The critics who read my memoir in the contest had only one complaint: the book seemed to be divided into two sections, even though, physically, it wasn't. They wanted me to find a way to integrate the personal and professional sections more seamlessly. I think I've finally discovered a way to do that, and I want to revise it. I think that's why the grief and rage is coming up again so violently. The memoir wants me to work on it.

Whenever I write a book, no matter what genre it is, there comes a point when I'm emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually "finished" with it, and all that remains is the polishing of it. At that time, the characters of the next book begin clamoring for me to "do them", so to speak. That's what's happening now. I'm almost finished with my latest novel, just putting the final touches on it, and the new vision of the memoir keeps popping into my head all the time, by which I mean, the actual voice of the new vision of the memoir keeps coming in, waking me up, singing to me, almost.

I'm not surprised by it: it's happened with every book I've written (I have 6 published, the latest are about to come out) and two more under consideration, but this is the memoir I'm talking about now. The story of what my Muncher mother did to me. And to my siblings as well. I thought, after first writing (and rewriting and rewriting and rewriting some more) the first time I did it, that I'd freed myself from the grief and the rage. I thought writing my serial killer novel (which needs to be revised) also purged some of the grief and rage as it portrays both the killer's and the victims' perspectives.

The only thing I can figure out is that these are the very things that are allowing the rage and grief to surface again, but the intensity of the rage! The violence of the grief! It's caught me completely off-guard. It's so stunning that I'm dissociating for days, sometimes weeks at a time. I often don't recognize myself in the mirror, I'm so dissociated, which freaks the f*** out of me. I mean, I'm going to be 54 next month, and I can't recognize myself in the mirror, for Christ's sake?!?!

Is that how bad my Muncher mother f***ed me up?
Now I'm crying again.
No, grieving.
I'd better go -- can't see the screen anymore.

thank you for your loving and supportive words.

constantinova
did I say thank you? I hope I did because I'm so grateful for what you said.
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Re: I am a victim of a Muncher

Postby jasmin » Thu May 20, 2010 8:02 am

Constantinova, I'm glad you're getting a little comfort from what I wrote. CT is a wonderful listener too, by the way :)
Maybe you're going through a sensitive time in your life as well, approaching a new stage so memories from the past are coming back. How did you decide to make the two "parts" of your novel blend more easily? Maybe once you're done with the book, you'll get a break from all these feelings and memories.
You know what you could do? Make a little nest for yourself. Put stuff that makes you feel safe or cheerful all around your house, where you're most likely to spend time.
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Re: I am a victim of a Muncher

Postby constantinova » Thu May 20, 2010 2:23 pm

Once again, Jasmin, I'm so grateful for your encouraging words.

Thank you for suggestion of a "nest". I'd never thought of that before, and no one has ever suggested it. I'll "build" one in my office, where I write, since there's so much good energy there. That will ensure that my "nest" will exist in a safe haven, one already filled with good, positive energy that already connects me to the Universe.

I also have my meditation altar in my office, which is where I do my prolonged meditation sessions, as opposed to my 5-10 minute emergency meditation sessions. So, having a nest near my altar in the space where I write will increase my sense of security, safety, connection with the Universe, etc.

OMG, thank you so very much, Jasmin. You've just given me a support/coping mechanism I can use during this very stressful period of my life.

As to my memoir, I will answer that privately.

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