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My room served several functions.

“Dorothea, more chocolate?,” I said as I pulled out another candy bar from my dresser draw dedicated to chocolate, sweets, and sugars of all kinds.

I was a healthy weight and was never a big candy person, but Dorothea loved sugary sweet confections of all shapes, sizes, and flavors. My dresser draw of candy served different purposes at different phases of our relationship. To be honest, it started off innocently. Dorothea and I were setting up the room and had just moved in to the house. We needed groceries, food, everything.

Walking around the grocery store with Dorothea was one of my favorite pastimes. I didn’t like her cooking, although I pretended to enjoy it, particularly since the timely meal preparation process absorbed a great deal of our time together. Always looking us to spend time together, I encouraged her cooking, and horded snacks for us to have in the house. For Dorothea, chocolate and cookies and cake meant the Beginnings house was her home. Since I supported that thinking, I supported snacking, and, ultimately, a giant dresser drawer of sugar sweets.

Sugar was Dorothea’s pain reliever. Whenever we argued, she would bake a cake, which my friends would later call “Sad Time Cake,” to suggest she bakes as means to resolve conflict and improve her mood. At the beginning, Dorothea was very happy, and few cakes were baked at the Beginnings house. But as time unfolded, the frequency of sad time baking and sugar consumption rose dramatically.

“I’m putting on weight,” Dorothea said as she looked in the mirror.

“You’re beautiful, Dorothea,” I would always respond. I was beginning to realize that all the sugar consumption might be serving another purpose.

As my self-esteem dipped toward the end of that semester, I realized I was less independent. This is when I knew what psychology I had to apply to the relationship. For Dorothea to cling to me more, I had to chip away at her self-esteem. Candy provided me with the means to do just that. From March until the end of the semester, I pushed sugar products of all kinds. The drawer was a cornucopia of sweets, and I would stop at nothing to encourage Dorothea’s weight gain until she felt too uncomfortable with her appearance to look for love elsewhere.

About the Author

J. Peters

Max Guttman '08, MSW '12, is the owner of Recovery Now, a private mental health practice. Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, therapist and disability rights advocate, Max fights for those without a voice in various New York City care systems. He received a 2020 Bearcats of the Last Decade 10 Under 10 award from the Binghamton University Alumni Association.

Guttman treats clients with anxiety and depression, but specializes in issues related to psychosis or schizoaffective spectrum disorders. He frequently writes on his lived experiences with schizophrenia.

"I knew my illness was so complex that I’d need a professional understanding of its treatment to gain any real momentum in recovery," Guttman says. "After undergraduate school and the onset of my illness, I evaluated different graduate programs that could serve as a career and mechanism to guide and direct my self-care. After experiencing the helping hand of my social worker and therapist right after my 'break,' I chose social work education because of its robust skill set and foundation of knowledge I needed to heal and help others."

"In a world of increasing tragedy, we should help people learn from our lived experiences. My experience brings humility, authenticity and candidness to my practice. People genuinely appreciate candidness when it comes to their health and recovery. Humility provides space for mistakes and appraisal of progress. I thank my lived experience for contributing to a more egalitarian therapeutic experience for my clients."

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