TRIGGER WARNING: This content deals with an account of an individual with anorexia and may be triggering to those struggling with an eating disorder.
It couldn’t be. Those doctors were wrong; they had to be. After all the tests I took, the pain I went through, and the tears that were shed, this was the result they came up with? I wasn’t going to believe them because I knew they were wrong; they were just accusing me. They just said this because they couldn’t figure out the real problem, and they were sick of doing all sorts of tests on me. It couldn’t be. I wasn’t anorexic.
I was sitting there on the now-familiar, old, green, worn-out couches, the fear from so many patients soaked into the cushions it was almost tangible. I was just imagining the waiting room completely full with sick kids, teenagers and adults waiting to be treated, to get cured.
Not me. I wasn’t there to get cured. I couldn’t be cured just by inserting some intravenous in my arm which allows the proper medication to flow through one’s body. I wasn’t one of those people; I was different. I wasn’t ill. I was not anorexic.
Then why was I there and why were my parents’ eyes swollen and red, constantly wiping the tears that were so crystal clear yet seemingly glaring at me, judging me? They were only tears, just little tiny teardrops, so innocent to most people. But to me they represented fear. They represented the sadness and danger that my parents were trying so hard to hide. These tears scared me. They scared me because I saw a reflection of myself in them. These poor tear drops were now an enemy in my eyes, just like I was an enemy to myself.
Tear drops. That’s all they were, yet I felt like so much more. I felt like I had been slapped in the face, like my brain was unclogging: all the memories rushing back in, like running water from a busted pipe. The pressure was too much. I felt the blood traveling through my veins, a stark blue contrast to my pale skin.
Memories started coming back. I didn’t want them to. I just wanted to go home or wake up and realize that everything is just one big, terrible nightmare. That didn’t happen though. I wasn’t in control anymore. Everywhere I turned, all I saw were horrific images of the past two years.
It started off so innocently, with such pure intentions. Healthy: that’s all I wanted to be. Or maybe not? I never truly felt comfortable in my own skin. Growing up in an ultra-Orthodox community didn’t help much. My skirts couldn’t be short, yet too long was out of the question; it was considered nerdy. Nerdy. So I wore skirts, but it was a struggle everyday. It couldn’t be too loose, it couldn’t be too tight. Bright colors were out of the question, so black it was. Black, reflecting my emotions. It always bothered me how my community was so obsessed with the required dress code. It’s not like we ever have any interaction with men, so what were they worried about? We were forbidden to talk to them. Feeling that restriction caused a knot to form in my stomach, a knot that seemed to get tighter every time I left the house. There was so much pressure, too much pressure for a fourteen-year-old girl to handle.
As humans, we feel the need to look presentable. Going to an all-girls school was surprisingly more pressuring then being in a co-ed environment. I always had to look perfect. My sweaters had to have visible designer logos. My tights couldn’t have any holes in them, god forbid, and instead of being greeted in the morning with a smile, I was greeted with a demand: to close my top button and pull down my skirt. Whom we had to be so covered up for I never understood. It’s not like a bunch of girls will be attracted to my collar bone. But it was the school rule, so everyday I went to school feeling suffocated. I felt huge in so many layers of clothes. I had no room to breathe. It was a daily struggle that I had to pretend didn’t affect me. I felt fake, always putting on a show, constantly wearing a mask. I felt lost and out of control. I love looking good; fashion is a part of me. I believe fashion is the most beautiful art that represents personality. I could never do that though. Whether I looked good or not was up to my community to decide, never me. I started focusing on being healthy to distract myself from all the tension, pressure, and confusion.
My meals of the day consisted of fruits, vegetables, and proteins. There was absolutely nothing wrong with that; in fact, I was quite proud of myself for having the ability to say “no.” For the first time in my life, I felt like I was in control – in control of my own body. Or so I thought.
Slowly, secretly, and shrewdly, a monster started growing inside of me. It was a monster of irrational thoughts and anxieties. That monster, so cruel, starting taking over my body, started to control my thoughts and my actions.
I was fat, I definitely was. Why wouldn’t I believe that, why would the mirror lie? But the mirror didn’t lie, my mind did. Why would my mind do that to me? Why would my body try to kill itself? Irrational thoughts invaded my brain, like a siege around a country once so strong, once so independent.
That feeling of having control over my body, over my desires and cravings, kept on growing. It felt good to have that power. In reality, though, I didn’t have control over anything. I was a prisoner to my own body. This monster came to power so fast, but unlike a king who takes care of his country, my monster, my king, chose to neglect my body and its needs.
I soon looked like a holocaust survivor. My once beautiful, long and silky hair turned knotty and started falling out. My strong body, mind, and will took a turn for the worst; I became weak, I became depressed, and all I wanted to do was lie in bed and cry. I didn’t know why I wanted to cry because I felt like I had it all. I was in control, people acknowledged my body, the compliments kept on coming, and I was “healthy.”
Yet, I felt absolutely no satisfaction. That vicious mirror (or was it my mind?) still told me I was fat, I had to lose more weight. I was ugly. I wasn’t worth it. Most of all, I had no identity of my own. I became a person controlled by anxieties and lies. I was no longer that carefree, bubbly, loving person everyone wanted to be around. I was no longer the loving person I once was. My life was filled with darkness and I saw no light peeking through.
As I was sitting there, watching my doctors whispering to my parents, with worried looks on their faces, all those memories came back, and those tears I despised so much started rolling down my sunken face. Instead of hatred staring back at me, I saw a reflection of what I was really going through. These salty teardrops were so crystal clear and continued flowing. They were unstoppable. Right there and then I decided I would be unstoppable as well. I was going to change. I had to change, because I was anorexic. Yes, I was anorexic.