Alison and I both joined the Vocal Group at school. A new music teacher started at school and formed the vocal group. There were only a few of us in it, but the sound we produced was incredible. This took up two of our lunch times a week, which did not bother me at all. I really enjoyed singing in this group. It was something I could do and enjoyed doing. It was a small group of people with whom I didn’t feel intimidated by. In fact, music was one of my favourite subjects. Towards the end of February our music class went on an excursion to Armidale for the weekend. This was an excursion to join with other music students over the state to learn more about what is expected of us for the HSC next year. I didn’t know the others from my class very well, and ended up branching off to meet other people. As we had to arrange our own accommodation, I organised to stay with Lyn at her aunt’s place. When dinnertime came I used the superb excuse of feeling travel sick all day therefore I wasn’t able to eat much. Her aunt and uncle were picking on my size telling me I needed to eat more. I told them I was okay, and not to worry.
The following day was a whole day of the music course. It was great fun. We did dancing, singing, writing music, playing music, and also played games. Being the shy person I was, I was hesitant when join in all these games and dancing, being overly self-conscious. I was glad I attended the weekend though because it gave me more of a chance to know the members of my music class. I knew they still perceived me as the quiet little good girl who did nothing wrong. I so wanted to open up and talk and just be natural. It was too hard though, because I felt they already made up their mind about me. I did come out of my shell a little bit though.
I arrived home from the weekend to one of mum’s “fabulous” moods. She informed me that I was to see a doctor the next day about my weight and to tell him I was anorexic. Yeah right. She was wishful thinking. There was absolutely nothing he could prove. I went along anyway just so I could prove her wrong. He asked all about my weight, telling me all the side effects of anorexia. He noticed I was getting thicker hair on my arms, but I told him it was nothing. I somehow convinced him nothing was wrong. He had his doubts, especially after weighing me and it was at about 45kgs. He mentioned that that was low for my age. I told him I did eat and so not to worry.
It was around this time when Mim got her L’s for driving. This was a terrible time of lost self-control on the food side of things. It’s actually shameful to write about, so I won’t write too much. As a result of Mim acquiring her L’s, mum taught her how to drive. This meant a couple of afternoons per week of mum and Mim leaving me in the house alone. I was so hungry when coming home from school that I ate absolutely anything I could think of. It usually consisted of a chocolate bar mum had bought for us each, and probably cheese toast. The chocolate was something mum bought for us every afternoon, to compensate for her purchase of alcohol. Even though what I ate was nothing much, I felt disgusted and ashamed with myself for having allowed that food in me when I shouldn’t have had anything. I then made myself up a chocolate milk drink because I knew that this would help me bring up my food. I absolutely hated to drink milk but I also hated having that food in me and did anything to get rid of it. I then quickly cleaned the toilet, always nervous about them coming home and finding out what I had done. Occasionally I accompanied them on their drives because I knew what was to happen of I stayed home. It was a complete lack of control, yet in way it was also freedom. I mean freedom to eat. I was so hungry, yet so habitual in my eating habits. Time alone meant time to eat because this way no one saw me, so no one knew that I actually ate these foods. I hated what I was doing. It made me feel dreadful in the stomach, and I would end up with constant stomach cramps and wind pain. It’s not like I was even eating much at the time, it was only because it was out of the ordinary to eat that food. I really liked the taste of it but feared how much weight I would put on because of it, therefore brought it all back up again. The chocolates became a weakness in me. I expected one every afternoon from then on. When it wasn’t there I saw red. I’m not sure if it was because I knew mum had bought alcohol and didn’t but us anything, or if it was because I wanted it. Either way I was angry about it.
Dinnertime was still the same where I would run into the bathroom for my shower as
soon as I had finished my meal. I figured out if I drank more fizzy drinks it was easier to bring up the food, even if it wasn’t straight after I had eaten. So, in order for no one to become suspicious of me always running to the bathroom after a meal, I waited for a while and allowed Mim to have her shower first. Meanwhile I would do the washing up, standing in agony with a bloated belly from eating and drinking. Sometimes it felt like I may explode. The only comfort I had was knowing that it would all be gone soon.
It was getting a bit harder at school to conceal not eating. To be truthful I was actually sick of the questions about not eating. One day for some reason I did eat. A few of us went to the canteen to buy something. I was really hungry therefore decided to be brave and eat something little. We came back up to the plateau to eat. The whole duration of eating was becoming horrendous. I imagined all eyes gawking at me eating something. I visualised the food entering my body and sitting in there, clasping onto the insides of my body. I dwelled on this for what seemed an eternity. I panicked and became anxious about this food. I suddenly felt trapped into a routine of eating. I couldn’t eat everyday, I wasn’t even meant to eat this day. I weighed up the consequences of what I just done, and realised I had to get rid of this food and never do this again. I was humiliated at the fact that I had permitted myself to eat and let go of my rigidity in front of everyone else. I made up an excuse that I had to quickly see a teacher. Others offered to accompany me, but there was no way I could allow them, because I wasn’t telling the truth anyway. I bolted off to the toilet and got rid of what I had just eaten. It was such a relief to know the food was no longer there. I returned to the plateau worried that someone may have known what I did, but thankfully it appeared that that wasn’t the case. But I was determined then never to let that happen again.
Academically, school was going reasonably well, but should have gone better. I had the potential to do extremely well, but at the time I only did what I felt like doing. I did concentrate on my studies and did achieve good marks if I concentrated hard. Anything below 80% was not viewed as good enough for me. A few times I topped the History class with almost 100%, and I also did well in maths. Year 11 was harder as there were more assessments to do than there were exams. For Society and Culture the major thing we had to do was our Personal Interest Project (PIP). I was keen to do my PIP on anorexia. My goal was to find out how it occurs, why it occurs, what are the side effects. I even would have liked to visit a hospital and speak to people who were suffering with it. My teacher advised me against this because it was such a broad topic to study. The reasons she gave seemed rational so I decided against it, although it was disappointing.
If only there were a checklist for anorexics then
at least we would know if we were doing it rightIn the back of my mind I was thinking I could get tips from them about being skinny. The factor with people with anorexia is that we all have different ways of doing things. One may eat honey because it actually effects her bowels, the other may eat a slice of bread because it fills her up. The mistake people make is that they assume anorexics eat nil. That may be the case for some, but not for all. It’s like not all alcoholics get drunk on the same wine. Anorexia is about a fear of food and a fear of weight gain. It is also a fear of how others perceive us, especially when eating. We think it must be repulsive for a person to watch us eat because they are thinking the whole time about how we are becoming fatter. We select “safe foods”. It may be that we eat toast all day, or only eat lettuce. If we see a skinnier person it feels important to know of her diet plan. I didn’t have “safe foods” as such while I lived at home. It wasn’t until much later that I developed fanatical and irrational food fads. It was too hard at home because mum and Mim were so domineering. The only thing I could do was work out how not to eat often and then how to get rid of the amounts I had eaten. Despite what has happened, I dwell on the reality that I am a pathetic and failed
anorexic. I gave in to mum and Mim too easily being frightened of saying no to meals. I often reflect on how I should have been more determined, and even be more determined now. How does one believe someone who declares they have an eating disorder when they eat and are not thin? Throughout school I never believed I was “anorexic” because I have never had the mind of a total anorexic. But then I ask myself what is a true anorexic? The only aspect I have really failed in is that I never made it into a hospital bed to be dripped up to be fed. There were times I wanted so much to be there because it was becoming so much harder to avoid food. I was fed up with fighting against food. I was fed up with failing.