A short descriptive account of my close-encounter with an eating disorder
|I remember sitting on the hard school chairs, the bones in my spine painfully digging into the back of the seat, my stomach growling at me angrily. Each day was the same. I can only imagine the number of lessons I missed out on, in order to create colourful and original excuses for why I would sit at lunchtime with an empty table in front of me. My friends were surprisingly unsuspicious, but then I was hardly the only one doing it. At the table I sat on, two girls were bulimic and one had previously been hospitilised for anorexia nervosa, not to mention my best friend who we genuinely believed was going to die of the disease. All of this was known, but not discussed. Silent secrets that enveloped our troubled little clique. So what I was doing was considered nothing more than anything else. Nothing to be too concerned about. We were fifteen.
Breakfast would be the hardest meal to skip. My parents were hyper about each of us eating a good meal as soon as we woke up. Since I was already too skinny, they took note of every thing I ate, praying it was enough. Often they went to work before I got up, so it was just my brother and me at the breakfast table. I would fix my Weetabix and All-Bran and place the boxes in front of the bowl so that he couldn't see me. Making typical eating noises, I would let the cereal dissolve in front of me until I threw it into the sink. I knew he caught on, but he waited a while before he told my parents.
Once I got to school I was fine. Throwing away my lunch, I would endure the sickening hunger pangs, the raw, knotted feeling which threatened to pull me to the ground at any moment. I imagined hot, glorious food, pizza and lasagne and sausages. I imagined that I was eating it, imagined the wonderful full feeling, then felt disgusted at the thought of my stomach expanding, my arms becoming flabby and my magically defined ribs disappearing beneath a layer of malign fat. It didn't matter that I was already too thin to begin with. My weight has been below average since I was a child. I needed to be skinnier. I needed people to think I was going to die, just like my friend Emily, who I cried about in my sleep. I so desperately did not want to end up like her, my hair falling out, my period vanishing, my every thought consumed with this ugly horrifying monster which would take over my life. I did not want to become anorexic. Yet in many ways she was my idol. Everyone in the world worried about her. She was never forgotten about. That was the kind of attention I yearned for.
I wouldn't eat at all until six o'clock in the evening, when my mother prepared a dinner which I could not avoid. I would wolf down every last bit of it, not even having the will-power to savour each bite. I just wanted it in me. I always hoped that the quick inputting of food in my system would take away the 'hunger headache' which gnawed at me all day every day, but it never did. Feeling satisfied for twenty minutes or so, I would proceed to make myself throw up in the upstairs bathroom. When my brother finally told my parents about this, I brushed it off as a joke, as was believed by everyone. No one could think I would ever want to make myself any skinnier, when I was told on a daily basis how thin I already was. How wrong they were.
After throwing up, I would simply drink water for the rest of the day to fill my stomach. I went to bed hating myself, hating food, hating my friends, hating my family, hating the world. The next day it would all begin again.
How long it took to break away from the cycle. Somehow, we all survived the deadly trap that suffocates and consumes so many girls. Over time, each of us came out on the other side, and found other ways of being happy, found other ways of fulfilling our lives. In many ways, it was a ways of growing up. Still, I struggle each day with food. I wonder if it will ever fully leave me. Yet now, it is a managable struggle, which has ceased to consume my every fibre with its deathly grip. Those days were dark and hopeless and the attention I longed for seems weak and needless. I feel bright and hopeful, yet it a blessing that the struggle remains engraved in my mind as a sorrowful reminder. I will never forget, therefore I will never go back.