MTV Voices: Anorexia Is Killing Me
When you’re getting endlessly tortured by a voice in your head, it can be easy, if not inevitable, to neglect your body.
WARNING: This piece was originally published on MTV Voices, and deals with eating disorders and their effects. Some readers may find the content upsetting.
My mum scooped me into her arms and carried me to my bed. Laying me down, her eyes glazed over with helplessness. “I’m fine,” I whispered. I had just collapsed trying to walk the short distance from the living room to my bedroom. My legs could take no more afters weeks of weakening. “Really. I’m okay,” I told my mum again; partly because I didn’t want her to worry and partly because I truly believe I am. My inability to walk doesn’t worry me. Nor does the intense and constant pain in my chest, my low blood pressure and even lower white cell count, my ceaseless headache and dizziness.
It doesn’t frighten me that my body is shutting down because although I can feel it, I can’t see it.
I’m an anorexic. I vowed that I would never identify myself as such, but after five and a half years, I no longer fight it. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’m never going to be completely free. I’m not going to be ‘cured’ as it were. My fight has become one of learning to coexist with my demon rather than defeating it. But it seems I may have come to this realisation too late.
As an anorexic, when you’re getting endlessly tortured by a voice in your head, it can be easy, if not inevitable, to neglect your body.
I became so preoccupied with placating my tormenter that I failed to realise that my health was deteriorating. If I could just quieten the abuse, I would be okay. If I had to starve myself, so be it. All that mattered was that it was quiet. But as he grew silent, I grew weaker. And so I came to find out the harsh reality of my eating disorder; my body cannot survive as many relapses as my mind.
I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve reached a healthy body weight only to then lose the weight again. I never took heed of the danger of continuous relapse because I simply assumed my body would stand by me. We were a team, or so I thought. But how could I expect my body to fight with me when I didn’t fight for it? I starve it. I over exert it. I call it disgusting, fat, hideous. I scratch at it, pull at it, wish it were thinner. I betray it because my eyes betray me.
When I look in the mirror, I don’t see the joints that cause me such agony, the heart that strains with each breath, the voice that is lost. I see a body that is fine, not a body that is unhealthy or underweight. I can appreciate that is hard for some people to fathom that I don’t see myself as I am, and I think of them with envy.
If I could see the daughter that is dying before her parent’s eyes or the patient that the doctor fears is in danger, perhaps I could find the strength to recover. But my perception is my shackle.
It is often said that an anorexic can’t be helped until they want to recover. I don’t dispute this. But what people don’t realise is that to accept help is to relinquish one’s sight. It is for a sufferer to trust the word of a loved one over their own eyes. I have tried, time and time again; and as I sit here, the pain unbearable, I glimpse in the mirror and let the familiar feeling of self-loathing wash over me. How am I to repudiate my sight? Surely I am what is before me.
And so you see why it doesn’t frighten me that this might be my body’s last chance, because although I can feel it, I can’t see it.
My mind can continue fighting, but my body simply can’t.
This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. If you or someone you know is dealing with an eating disorder, please visit b-eat.co.uk or search for local helplines.