Last Wednesday I was the cellophane man, dressed for an interview. And I interviewed well. I was labelled: resourceful, reflective, independent, methodical, rational, self sufficient. A shame it wasn’t a real interview. It was a mental health assessment. I have never felt more fraudulent as I did at hearing that “less is more” with my treatment, that any programs may only bring back memories of past treatment, that maybe if I lose anymore weight I should come back in but for now, I’ll be just fine.
Perhaps what struck me most, after the internal dialogue of did I not communicate myself well enough? Did I not explain how frightening I find myself, how horrified I am by myself, how little I recognise myself, how psychotically I behaved on Saturday?, was how everything kind of rang true.
He deemed the severity of my history as undeniable. It put right now into a harsh perspective. I realised what I looked like: a desperado. Falling, ever so easily, back into a routine so associated with university. Things not going well? Body’s fault. People don’t seem to like you, not a high enough grade, relationship rocky? Body’s fault. When you put so much weight on sex, on the physical, on number and sizes and measurements, then it seems like the logical scapegoat. Logical is a poor choice of phrase. Nothing about this is legitimately, ever logical. It’s a twisted and sick logic, currently being manned by someone who is perhaps twisted but is really no longer sick.
I realise now that I have not been properly sick for a long time. I am no longer bulimic, really in any way, but that is still something that I heavily associate with myself. I haven’t binged as badly as I did in Melbourne since pre-program, and whilst I was bingeing last year I wasn’t throwing up. I’ve thrown up maybe four times in the last six months. I haven’t touched laxatives in almost a year.
So what is right now? What am I. How do I factor myself into all of this. I’m not really eating, I’m exercising and running on a calorie deficit. But I don’t count anymore. I don’t count calories, I deleted fitness pal. Sure, I avoid looking, won’t eat at a place that publishes the calories on the menu. I’m far closer to my lowest weight than my highest. You know, I’m not even EDNOS: I’m socially acceptable.
Anxiety and depression is real. But the one thing I utterly clung to, that I associated myself with and identified so strongly with is gone. I’ll tease myself with the idea of throwing up, of taking the laxatives that I have hoarded: and there is no appeal. This frightens me more than I can describe. Something that was a compulsion, that absolutely and utterly controlled me and my life and my relationships, has gone. And I don’t explicitly know why. Because I don’t need it anymore? Maybe. That void that the food was meant to fill, the purity that purging was meant to bring: maybe that particular void has been filled, and that cleanliness of self and soul has been attained. Am I … recovered?
That word sends me into panic mode. No, no I can’t be recovered! It took me an hour to eat most of my salad and I haven’t eaten anything else even though I got an hour at the gym in. Why this need to prove sickenss, why is being worse better? In part, historically at least, it means you’re taken seriously. Maybe that’s the void that’s been filled: I am being taken seriously here. I have a class and professors and lecturers that respect my opinion and value my intellect. I have a boyfriend who loves me and respects and values me full stop. I have made wonderful friends. My family is at the right distance, right level of trust and support.
Unhealthy behaviours that have become social acceptable, health professionals limited to diagnostic criteria, comparison and reduced funding, and the goddamn DSM are my current issues with my world. I’m struggling in general, struggling with depression (chemical) and some of the worst anxiety I’ve ever experienced (mental, with physiological effects), and struggling with the diagnostic labels we’re taught to frame ourselves in. I am frightened. By the changes I made so naturally – as naturally as they started. By myself and the dark and dangerous places of my mind. By my own damn heartbeat, by my own existence, and by my own sudden will to be alive.