She sits outside her psychiatrist’s office while he’s on the phone. He didn’t close his door and she can hear him speaking.
He’s talking about you. He’s saying you don’t have the resilience, that you might never get over the self-esteem issue. They think you’re hopeless. They’re right.
She starts panicking. She wants to leave; to say the hell with it and never come back. Instead she goes inside. He barely lets her speak.
“You’ve been seeing therapists, counselors, doctors and you’ve been in treatment for 5 months, but it doesn’t seem to be helping you. Nothing is getting much better. You are on this emotional roller coaster and you never seem to be able to be okay for any significant stretch of time. You’re either not eating or bingeing and you have these really low lows.”
Thoughts start rushing through her head, “I knew he didn’t want to treat me anymore. He is giving up on me. No one wants to help me. I don’t listen to them. I’m not getting better like they want me to. I want to just go away.”
“It’s like you’re not getting the support you need. You need something more along the lines of a crisis intervention team, or a day program. In addition, your counselor and I will be away most of the summer. You’re going to need something more concrete. I would like to call your counselor, talk to my colleagues here and speak with your therapist at the treatment center within the next two days and figure out what will happen as we move forward … if that’s okay with you.”
She doesn’t even know if he’s asking a question. It seems as though he’s made up his mind for the both of them. He decided what she’s going to do without even asking her. She sits there confused, anxious and sad. She is back to where she was. Not eating and being bossed around. No one asking what she wanted, how she felt, or what was wrong. She didn’t even get the chance to say anything. How could they just keep taking things from her? Making plans and assuming they knew what was best for her?
“I guess I can’t even make my own decisions anymore,” she whispers.
She wakes up and everything hurts. She’s sick again and doesn’t want to move. She remembers how she used to love being sick. Being sick meant that she didn’t have to eat. She knows she should though because she hasn’t eaten in days.
“I just really don’t want to feel this terrible right now.”
She gets up to answer the door and has to sit down again. She sends the visitor off and closes the door. It comes over her like waves crashing into rocks. She feels the buzz and darkness throughout her whole body. The hallway to her room gets longer and she doesn’t think she will make it. She pushes open the door and falls onto her bed just missing the floor. Her heart is pounding.
She wakes up and her head is killing her. She knows she needs to eat. She goes to the kitchen and opens the fridge. There is nothing she can consume. She tries to eat some fruit, but doesn’t manage to eat very much.
She goes back to sit on her bed with her head in her knees, pulling her legs in tight.
“I can’t do this. I feel horrible and there is nothing I can get myself to eat. I can’t eat anything. Everything scares me. I’m afraid of how afraid I am of food. What am I going to do?”
As the day goes on she gets sicker and sicker. She calls her father.
“Dad, I think I need to go to the hospital.”
She arrives in the emergency room and everything is hot. She’s sweating and dizzy. The nurse takes her pressure and heart rate. 164 bpm. Her heart rate keeps spiking higher.
“My heart feels like it’s pounding”
“Come over to the stretcher dear and lie down”
They pull her into ambulatory care. She gets connected to machines, her blood is taken, an EKG is ordered and she sees a doctor within minutes.
“They brought you back here because your heart rate is too high and we need to bring it down now. You said you’ve been sick for two weeks. Have you been eating?”
“I’ve been eating but not much. I haven’t had an appetite.”
She is only telling a partial lie. She has been too afraid to eat. She’s afraid of almost everything now. She panics if she has to eat anything other than toast and crackers. She doesn’t tell them that.
“It’s likely you are very dehydrated so we’re going to put you on fluids and check back with you when we get your test results.”
Her mind is racing. She was never supposed to be in the emergency room for anything that had to do with her eating disorder. It was her eating disorder that exacerbated everything else. She would have been fine if she had nourished herself back to health.
You fat pig. Look at yourself. Are you happy now? All these doctors know you have an eating disorder, but when they look at you all they see is fat. They are laughing at you and you can’t even see it. They are going to put bags and bags of saline in you. They are going to swell you up like a balloon and make you fatter. Stupid, stupid girl. You should be smarter next time.
She drops her head and whispers ”I’m sorry. I’ll do better.”
The nurse is an hour late. She sits in a waiting room thinking. She thinks about how she would get out of being weighed if the nurse asked. She thinks about how everyone says she’s better and that they only wanted to help so they could make her fat.
“That’s all they wanted. That’s all they ever wanted. I’m fat now. I’m recovered - cured- there is nothing wrong. I’m just a fat person who needs to lose weight.”
“Hello,” she answered.
“Hi, I’m calling from the eating disorders clinic. We have an appointment slot open. Are you still in need of our services?”
She cannot believe this is happening. After all this time.
“Are you free January 15th?”
“Yes, that works for me.”
“The appointment will be two hours. If for some reason you can’t make the appointment or no longer require our services, call us. You aren’t the only one who’s been waiting.”
“Okay, thank you.”
She wonders if the secretary said that because her psychiatrist had called them insisting she start at the clinic. She didn’t even know if she wanted to go. She was better.
“They’re just going to make me fatter.”
She hates herself more than ever. She has been gaining weight. More weight than she was ever supposed to gain. As the number get higher, she hates herself more and more. She is almost at her highest weight and the thought make her want to die. The different possibilities of how to end her life keep passing through her head.
“I can’t do this. I really can’t do this. How did this happen? Why did I let it?”
It seems as though the more she gains the more she loses control. No matter how hard she tries not to eat, she can’t control how much she puts into her mouth. She’ll eat when she isn’t hungry and binge when she is. She no longer has control over anything.
“They don’t get it. They see this person at a healthy weight. They don’t see how much it hurts. They can’t see how much pain I’m in.”
They can’t see it because you’re fat. You’ll always be fat. You’re back at the beginning and you have to listen to me all over again. Back to step one. Just you wait and see, the second time around I’m not as nice.
The doctors keep telling her things she doesn’t want to hear.
“As a psychiatrist I have to asses your risk, and your health is becoming a real risk very quickly. With anorexia the mortality rate is high. So where are you going to draw the line? How bad are you going to let this get?”
This isn’t something she didn’t already know. She knew this was dangerous. She knew all the negative symptoms she was having were because she wasn’t eating. If it was as easy as being scared out of restricting she would be better already. She leaves the office shaking. She fears what might happen. Not necessarily the death part because she already wants to die, but what her psychiatrist and her therapists have planned.
“What if they want to hospitalize me? I can’t be hospitalized, I’m too fat. There is no reason to put me in a hospital bed when my weight tells me there is nothing wrong. I’m at a healthy weight, so I don’t understand why he said anorexia. It’s been two years since I was classified as anorexic, so why use it now when I’m EDNOS.”
Her therapists have been expressing their concern and keep mentioning that she should call the eating disorders clinic to find out how long it would be until she was at the top of the waiting list. Her psychologist asked for permission to talk to her counselor and psychiatrist. She knows they are going to be planning things behind her back and she doesn’t like the idea.
“I don’t know what they’re worried about. I have EDNOS, a pathetic excuse for an eating disorder. At least if I still have anorexia I’d be skinny. Now everything is the same except I’m fat.”
If only you had listened to me all along you wouldn’t be in this mess.
She was scared being in her apartment, sacred of what she might do. She didn’t feel safe and knew she had to leave before she did something stupid. She grabbed her bag and ran out the door without knowing where she was going to go. As she wandered she began seeing everything as a weapon which she could use to end the 15 years of pain. Cars, bikes, overpasses, sharp objects and water.
“The water looks so peaceful. It’s calm and beautiful. It flows without worry or hate.”
She takes in the view and starts to cry.
“I am everything water is not. I am a mess. I’m sad, I cry all the time, I’m ugly and fat, and I hate myself so much.”
She puts her legs over the side of the railing and sits with her feet hanging over the deep water. She gazes and wonders if this could be it.
She hasn’t weighed herself in a whole. She feels herself getting larger and she’s afraid to know how bad it is. The meal plan was supposed to help her, not make her feel worse. With every bite she feels like she’s expanding without end. She takes out the tape measure and circles it around her waist. Only confirming that she’s getting fatter.
She opens her log journal and starts reading. She’s three inches larger than last year. She steps on the scale and starts to cry. She’s gained more than she expected. Almost all of what she lost. The urge she feels to leave this place and disappear is stronger than it had been recently.
“I want to die. I want to die. I want to die.” she repeats over and over in her head.
You fat ass. This isn’t a game anymore. You’re going to lose that weight if it’s the last thing you do. There are no excuses. Absolute restriction. It’s all your fault.
She stares at it with thoughts rushing through her head. She’s used it before, but this time is different.
“I need it to hurt more. I need it to be a cleaner cut. I need this to be over.”
She puts the push pin away in her medicine drawer and looks at her pill cutter. It’s sharper than what she’s used to, but then again she doesn’t feel the way she used to. She feels more and more helpless as the days go by. She is endlessly searching for something to make it better even if only for a little while.
She takes it out of the drawer and examines it. She makes a small cut on the inside of her left wrist. She doesn’t cry. She barely felt it and she sits there looking at it mesmerized.
“I’ve broken my rule. Three scars. That’s what I said, no more than three scars. I have four. Four dark red lines.”
She thought she’d feel better. She thought it would take her mind off the food, the calories and her body. The only thing it did was make her realize that breaking the rules wasn’t so bad.
“Maybe purging wouldn’t be so bad wither. It would only be a few times when I’ve binged. It can’t be that bad right?”
She sits on the bus home from the hospital and stares out the window. She wonders if she can let this go. It has been almost three years that she’s been living in a never ending cycle of restricting and bingeing.
Two and a half years since her highest weight, and two since her lowest.
She lives in a state of limbo, slowly gaining it back. Despite her best efforts, she can no longer control her eating. Her body’s rebelling, refusing to lose weight no matter how little she eats. Recently, eating has become less foreign and her weight has been steady. She thinks about recovery, wanting only to be normal.
“What will I do without it?” she whispers to herself as a tear rolls down her cheek.
She sits in his office, talking about her past.
“There was one fight that my parents had that was different. It stuck with me and I will never forget it.”
She begins to describe what happened. How her and her sisters were young, and that her parents were fighting about sending her to private school like her older sister. She thinks back.
“It was weird. My mom was almost emotionally detached a few minutes after the fight and seemed to be unphased by what had happened.”
He said that it must have been hard to see and that it was no surprise it stuck with her. She stares off to the side, remembering the fight vividly. She knew that’s not why she remembered it. There was something else. Something that changed her forever.
“What is it?” he asked.
She shook her head, and came back to the present.There were just some things she couldn’t share, and that was one of them. No matter how much it haunted her, she wasn’t able to vocalize it. There were no words to describe what had happened, and she wasn’t going to try.
She looks into her broken eyes. In that moment she doesn’t care about the future, she doesn’t care what potential people say she has. In that moment she forgets about everything she has ever hoped for; all her dreams and plans gone. She stands before the mirror with tears in her eyes.
You’re a pathetic excuse for a human being. Look at yourself. You’re exhausted. You have circles under your eyes. You are so huge and disgusting. You let yourself be weak. You are hopeless.
She feels weak. She’s been holding on for so long that she feels she is only holding on by a thread. She feels as though she is standing on the edge and she doesn’t know how to stop the pain.
She opens the cabinet door and takes out her sleeping pills. She pours them into her hand and she counts. 340 mg. More than enough to do the trick. She stares at them and looks back in the mirror, tears rolling down her face. She slowly puts them back into the bottle. She looks into her fragile eyes with disgust.
You coward. You can’t even do that right.
She returns to her room exhausted, wanting only a bit of rest. Jen has been ruthless and she no longer knows what to do. As she sits down at her desk she sees an envelope. She picks it up and examines it. There is nothing written on it, and she hadn’t left an envelope on her desk. She opens it and finds a letter.
“You aren’t the only one who can do research. If you want to talk, I’m here for you.
At the bottom of the letter are two websites. Both of which lead to information about eating disorders and anorexia. She is speechless and scared. Her sister knew her secret. “How does she know?” she asks herself.
She looks frantically for her journals. When she finds them she thinks, “Thank God … wait are they in the same position I left them in? What if she read them?” She becomes more and more anxious and she doesn’t know what to do with herself.
You did it now you stupid fatass. She knows and it’s all your fault. She’ll tell you know, and they’ll make you eat. They will stuff you like the pig you are.
She all of a sudden becomes filled with furry as she looks down at her agenda. not her everyday agenda, but the one that holds her secret. Every calorie ingested, every calorie burned, and every weight she’s ever been. She wants to throw it against the wall. “This is all your fault!” she yells in her head, and falls to the floor in tears.
“The music isn’t loud enough,” she whispers through the tears. She tries to drain out the sound, the sadness, the little voice in her head that tells her she can’t handle this world anymore, but it doesn’t work. She is too broken for anything to work. She sits in a corner, tears rolling down her face, completely helpless and alone. She only wants to feel okay again. She wants to be normal and happy.
“Why won’t it go any louder!” She is crying louder now, desperate to find relief. She looks down at her wrist. The three dark lines, evenly spaced across the bone. Through blurry eyes she tries to get it right. A fourth line, perfectly parallel and equally spaced as the others. Needing it to be perfect for the pain to work. She uses her nail to create the initial line, knowing that it will only go down hill from there.
You fucking failure. Look at yourself. Not only are you fat, but now you’re ruined. No longer clean. Marks on your skin forever. Everyone will know. All because of your lack of self-control. Failure.
The pills sit behind a closed cabinet door. She thinks that if she doesn’t see them she’ll be safe. Safe from the thoughts. Safe from the ideas. Safe from the pills.
All she can do is sit. Sit and wait for the feelings to become less overwhelming. She knows that if she moves, she might regret the actions she takes. “I’ll be okay,” she tells herself. “If I don’t think of the pills, or open the cabinet I’ll be safe. My thoughts are not in control. My mind is simply tricking me into thinking that I’m suicidal. I’m not. How can I be? I’m not sick.”
These lies she tells herself, will only last her so long. Sooner or later she will break, just as she always has. That is the day things will change. Whether for the better, or for the worst. She simply needs to decide whether those pills are worth what she will lose.
Defeat is not something that she accepts lightly, but recently that’s all she feels; defeated.
“I simply cannot do this. I want to disappear. I do not want to move and I do not want to be seen. I’m just too gross.”
The depression has consumed her and she fears that there is no way to stop it. She has tried everything she can think of, but nothing helps. She feels weak admitting that she lost this battle and that she has let it take over.
“This was never supposed to happen. I’m supposed to be strong. I’m supposed to be smart and happy. I’m supposed to enjoy my life and be the person everyone says I have the potential to be. But I’m not that girl. I’m stupid and weak. I have no potential. I need support and for that I don’t deserve the titles of ‘strong’ or brave’. I’m supposed to do great things, yet here I am doing nothing. Concerned with me and me alone.”