No more carbs. No more fat. No more sugar. No more eating unless I am hungry. No more tea between meals. Nothing over x amount of calories. Nothing to eat if my weight has increased, even if it’s only by one hundred grams. Nothing to eat after exercise until I feel hungry again. Nothing to eat until I am exhausted. Nothing to eat if I have “failed” a test (this means a score less than 90). Nothing to eat if I have made a mistake. Nothing to eat between meals. Nothing for recess except fruit. Nothing after dinner. No eating anything I bake; I will make it for my family, not for myself. And absolutely no disobedience against Ana, the voice controlling me from the inside out.
Thus began anorexia nervosa.
A few things happened when I stopped eating. For the first time, I could see my hip bones. For the first time, I had a space between my thighs. I could now count every rib from my clavicle all the way down my entire ribcage. I could go a whole day on only 1.5 weetbix, a measly dribble of milk, an apple or two, 3 rice cakes and some tomatoes. (And whatever anxiety-inducing dinner my family had prepared, because I needed to keep this secret a secret, and that was the only way I would be able to.) An hours walk. An hours cycle. Possibly more, depending on the day, and whether or not I had school. It didn’t matter, as long as I exercised until I was hungry and exhausted and empty and then a little bit more, a little bit harder, so that I was allowed to eat again six hours later.
I felt successful and fulfilled. I had purpose. I was complimented on my appearance, and on my self control especially. I was finally worthy of a shitty existence known as life.
These things all happened when I lost weight, and when I stopped eating.
I also stopped laughing. Stopped socialising. Stopped talking. Every opportunity for exercise, was consumed by it. Every opportunity for hunger was welcomed wholeheartedly. Every opportunity for weight loss compulsively took over my life.
Sure, I had a space between my thighs. I had collarbones, cheekbones, wristbones… I had a lot of visible bones.
But I also didn’t smile. Didn’t experience joy. I was tired all the time – exhausted, in fact. I lost my childhood to an illness I wasn’t even aware existed, much less manifested itself in my behaviours. I was bullied into oblivion. I broke a finger, while I was walking, which is just kind of sad, and because my bone density got messed up. I could physically no longer run, because I had no muscle. My skin was yellow, not jaundiced, just yellow. My eyes were sunken, the fake smiles never twinkled in my eyes. I communicated in grunts, and groans, and spits of sarcasm. I was alone. I was empty. I was starving and slowly killing myself.
I lost weight. But I lost so many other things too.