What Living with Anorexia is Actually Like

By: Zeinah Hesham

Trigger Warning: angsty, if you’re easily triggered or having a hard time, don’t read.

I trace the visible collar bones while staring at myself in the mirror, I feel them under my ice cold fingers but I can’t see them in the light of my mirror’s reflection of the body that I no longer feel welcome in.

The skin on it is no longer just skin, it’s now flesh of fat. It is an immense amount of countless numbers of calories. It is the thing that is standing in my way of perfection or is it death? I don’t think I recall the difference or maybe the empathy of life has escaped like the last breeze of cold air that ended in winter.

Some days I try to tell myself that skinny isn’t everything, that all bodies are good bodies and mine is perfect because it’s mine but I can’t. How can I when with each time the number goes down, my happiness consumes me? Happiness – a feeling that is a mere stranger that smiles at me when I mention their name; that beautiful stranger that I admire from afar but can never talk to because sometimes it feels like they don’t even exist and it’s just a hallucination that I created to calm myself.

Other days I know that skinny is all I can think of; scouting the media for images of frail and dainty girls that could inspire me to do better, looking at pictures of bones that send chills down my covered spine, drinking water until my stomach hurts, smoking cigarettes until dizziness is a second nature, shivering because the cold is all I know, crying because it’s the only act of emotion that makes me feel alive, smiling because I need the practice, putting a hand over my mouth to cover up my sobs, stripping out of my clothes because I feel fake, running boiling water on my body and closing my eyes to make me feel like I can disappear, opening my eyes and realising I’m real, holding on to the sink and losing my balance, wiping a tear to recognise that I’m still breathing, regretting the day that I was no longer a 50kg girl, scolding myself for ‘getting better’, watching myself bleed because I know I deserve it, being scared that I’ll alway be like this, writing this and trying to control myself, hoping the day would end forever and finally, knowing that sometimes we cannot escape the addictions that bring us comfort.

Occasionally forgetting about the eating and remembering the other things which only bring me back to that disorder. That addiction cannot be escaped, because I go to sleep in hopes of having lost weight and I get excited to see how much I’ve lose but petrified that I could’ve gained. I wake up and I hope that today is better than the last in the way that I might actually continue to lose weight rather than develop some healthy habits and finally overcome this problem that has consumed me in every possible way.

The days when I don’t care – the days when I feel numb – are the most successful. These days are the ones that bring me the least pain and they’re the ones that I remember when I think of any progress. These are the days that are obvious, the days that clarify my disordered thoughts and behaviour.

This disorder affects so many people in this world and it’s no longer a matter of ‘just eat’ or ‘go to the gym’ and ‘love yourself’ quotes , it’s more of care about the world and those in it enough who care for you to choose survival instead of a slow death and that is the worst part of having the most selfish disorder.

I blink and I see myself tracing my collar bones, they still look the same , they’re still covered in layers of fat. I look at my fingers and they’re still as big as mozzarella sticks. I spot my legs and the whale is still very much present. I bring my wrists closer and I see spots of crescent shapes of my nails – I realise that I’m stuck, I realise that I’ve done this before, I realise that I’m never going anywhere.

And for the first time – I scream.

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