Three months is all it takes to walk from the realm of the living up onto the doorstep of death. Those months become blurred, out of focus. Hard to recall. Three months living on the bare minimum food intake is all it takes to become a skeleton.
Three months is all it takes to ruin everything you have worked towards in your life.
The correct phrase is ‘body dysmorphic disorder’ [noun – a psychological disorder in which a person becomes obsessed with imaginary defects in their appearance].
A person. Psychological disorders should be contained to inside your very own skull. The bones thick enough to keep any of the black substance from leaking out and leaching onto those you care about.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. And I didn’t realize this until it was almost too late.
If you were to ask me what my view on myself is, my answer would be ‘I don’t know.’
I avoid looking in mirrors in fear of finding a reflection staring back that has a quality to it I can pick apart. Every reflection provides my brain with another opportunity to play a trick on me. It keeps images of past, dissatisfied looks, and replaces what I really see with the flawed image. I haven’t been able to feel comfortable in my skin for the longest time.
The stories you hear of mental disorders, never relay the truth of everything. The disorder does not just affect those who are stuck with it in their heads. The disorder is not a choice.
Three months is all it takes to bring a dad who would stand against a bullet for you to be brought to his knees in tears. In the fear of losing yet another baby.
The media advertises it all. Thigh gaps. Jutting Collarbones. Flat stomach.
What about the sallow look of death that hides around your eyes. The inability to walk because you have wandered into a world that is constantly spinning. Not being able to stand up for long because spots dance across your eyes. The dizziness. The fainting.
I just want guys to like me.
But no one wants to like the look of death. The girl in discomfort because she can’t leave her stomach unguarded. The hip bones that jut out so far hitting them on the edge of the counter is enough to bring you to tears.
I have lost three months of my life to anorexia nervosa. I have lost more months of my life than I want to count to a disorder that causes me to see imperfections in places that don’t really exist.
But three months of looking like a model must have felt amazing.
I couldn’t feel anything. The constant claw in my stomach combined with the critical voice that had wrapped itself around my head and whispered in my ear every time my face appeared on a reflective surface is not ‘amazing.’ It is death. It was a disease that was slowing killing me one skipped meal at a time.
But everyone knows that about the disease. We all know it. No food will lead to lack of control, lack of memory. The real damage is done to those around you. Your body will eventually heal itself. The people around you don’t.
I threw away every meal that came before 6:00PM. Control. I hid it in every place you could think of – and every morsel eventually ended up in the trash. My mom knew. Moms have a way of knowing things. The battle that went on in my head as I tried to coax myself to eat an apple is nothing compared to the look of pain I had to see in my mother’s eyes every time I came home. Daily threats of hospitalization glazed over, as I didn’t see anything wrong. I didn’t see anything wrong with plowing headfirst to the floor when getting blood drawn. I didn’t see anything wrong with my vision suddenly clouding over, and waking up on the floor. Her first child died at birth. Watching another one slowly slip away, and become nothing but skin pulled taunt over bones, and spewing automated messages out of her mouth was enough to make her depressed.
I was the one with the disease. I was the one who pushed my mother into depression.
The most important things in my life were slipping through my grasp for 2o pounds. I was losing control because the little weight I tried to lose was inhibiting my ability to function as a human being.
My dad broke down and cried. My brother concerned. He came up to me, hugged me, and whispered to me how he didn’t really want to be an only child.
Friends dragged their zombie-like friend class to class. Concerned, but too proper to say anything. We are raised on lies that skinny is good.
I had the disease. But it was the cocky, sly retorts from others that triggered it. I was the one with the disease, but it was those around me who were the ones who were really suffering.