My counsellor asked me once to think about the eating disorder as a separate being, or person or something. It took a while to think what it actually meant. But I described it as a black plague, getting a grip on anyone it can. To describe it as a person was different. If there was a person named Anorexia, I imagined they would be greedy and possessive. They’d be the type of person who hates seeing other’s enjoying their own life. The friendship me and anorexia had was not a great one. Some people would be best friends with it, or so Anorexia would like to think so. To be best friends with a person means that it has them totally sucked in, doing everything it orders them to do. But for me, it was not my best friend. I argue it, fight it. There was always another friend trying to pull me out. Anorexia doesn’t like it’s friend to spend time with anyone else, it drags people away from their friends, and socially isolates them. When Anorexia is your best friend you are not allowed out with your friends to eat, because those friends won’t want Anorexia there. They will reject it, and Anorexia will get angry. So, then it’s better to stay at home. And the more a person stays home the less they will be asked out. The person will stay at home with Anorexia then, and not have a fun time. Anorexia is a scared friend though. Very insecure about the friendships it has formed. It tells its friends things like “I can get you noticed” “I can make you feel valued” “make you beautiful”, just to keep this friend. It has to make the person believe this otherwise it will lose their friendship. Some people have a friend called Bulimia though. Bulimia is very influencing and deceitful. It tells you to leave Anorexia at home for a day or so, and Bulimia will take you out to eat. It makes you eat, then belittles you for eating. It tells you you are disgusting and fat. It tells you that to get thin again you need to throw everything up. What it doesn’t tell you is that it is lying, and throwing up doesn’t keep you thin. So there’s two horrible friends associated with an eating disorder. Some people swing between both friends, and are caught in the middle. The ideal friend is Healthy. It allows you to eat at proper intervals, keep your food in, and not stuff up any of your insides.
Anorexia likes its friends to get sick. And that’s what I sure did. In the space of only a few weeks a had some sort of flu or cold. They were absolutely rotten, and I couldn’t even go to work. Each time I tried I ended up going home again. One time I was so sick in bed on a weekend when Melinda’s mum and step dad were up visiting. It was awful. I had never felt like I wanted my mother more. Melinda wasn’t too well either, and her mother was able to care for her, give her the cuddles, the glasses of water or whatever else she needed. Meanwhile, I laid in bed with a temperature of nearly 40 degrees, feeling alone and depressed. If mum were alive I would have rung her up and asked her what to do, but I couldn’t. The fact that I couldn’t made me miss her so much more then. The only good thing about being so sick was not being able to eat. The only thing I wanted was juice, I craved it so much, and drank it like there was no tomorrow.
* * *Soon enough Mim found out about the laxatives. That was the one thing she didn’t know I was doing from that book. She went to get something out of my luggage bag, like I asked her to. As soon as she went down to my room I remembered that I hadn’t hidden them anywhere. My heart was in my throat as I heard her come back down the hallway. She was so upset with me, it was like this was the last straw. I had no answers for her, no excuses, nothing. I think I was more embarrassed and ashamed than anything. Mim gave me an ultimatum and it was or either fix myself up when I go back to the mountains, or move back up home. If I didn’t get off them she told me I wasn’t allowed back up there to see Courtney. It killed me to hear her say that, but the anorexic side of me knew I couldn’t give up those tablets. I had a goal to lose weight and nothing was going to get in my way this time. I didn’t think she’d stop me from seeing Courtney anyway, I refused to even believe her. I was pathetic enough to stay on the laxatives, and lied to her each time I went to visit, saying I wasn’t taking them anymore. Mim isn’t stupid, so she would have known the truth anyway.
Mim told me that Melinda knew about the eating disorder, and that they often had discussions about it. So, when I went back home I made a point of talking to her about it. She said she knew from the moment she met me, she could just tell. It wasn’t until I started losing weight again that she became concerned though, and that’s when her and Mim would talk. I have to say it was gratifying to know they were discussing me. I didn’t think to even care that they were genuinely worried about me. All I cared about was the fact that they were talking about my eating disorder. Knowing that Melinda knew a fair bit from Mim I felt comfortable to talk about it with her. What she couldn’t get is why I just couldn’t want to eat to get better. I guess she didn’t grasp the whole head thing that goes with it. In some ways it made it easier that it was out in the open. But on the other hand it was harder because I was paranoid now that she would be judging everything I ate.
* * *Towards the end of the year, things were becoming more difficult with Katherine our flat mate. She then gave us notice that she would move out before the actual lease was up. Melinda had her friend Amy in mind to move in with us. All three of us met up for dinner and to discuss this possibility. It all went ahead, and Amy moved in just before Christmas. I was having too much fun to even worry about food at this time. It was the kind of life I wanted. Fun friends, freedom, laughing all the time. Some nights us three just sat around singing stupid songs and laughing ourselves silly. Work was even so much fun. Anna and I were really good friends both in and out of work, and all we ever did was silly things. This year for the end of year concert we both got dressed up in the kids dress up clothes, and got up on stage to entertain the parents for a few minutes. The funniest part about it was that nobody knew we were even doing this.
Although I was having all this fun and not worrying totally about food, the thoughts were always there. That’s got to be the most disappointing part about remembering fun times - remembering the food thoughts and panic attacks that went with it. When confronted with food in situations such as staff functions, or even a dinner party it always gets freaky. Then there’s the comments that go with it. It was like it was a crime to eat sometimes, because when I did people would laugh and tell me I shouldn’t eat that because it has too much fat in it. I wanted to shout “well shut the f*** up”, but couldn’t.