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Skin and Bones

Updated: Mar 22, 2023

This is not a choice that I made. I don't enjoy being afraid to listen to my body. I don't like skipping out on family dinners because I didn't make the food myself. I hate being judged for the way I eat.

but I just. Can't. Stop.

Do I fear becoming too ill to live at home? Do I worry my hair will fall out? Am I scared my bones will become so brittle, it would only take something so minor to shatter them? Yes. But, I am also scared for the zipper on my jeans to not go up one day. I am afraid to look in the mirror and despise what I see, even more than I already do.

Watching the number on the scale drop week after week has become some sort of sick addiction. I imagine seeing the number get smaller makes me feel the same way a drug addict does once they've had their fix.

I can only dream of what it's like to not worry about what I look like in my favorite dress. I fantasize about going out for dinner at a restaurant, without having picked out what I'm going to eat beforehand, only to find out they don't have it that day, and being sent into a world of panic.

I am told it's "worth it" to let go and be free. I am told life is so much better when you can go on spontaneous ice cream dates or picnics in the park. I could save so much time if I didn't have to track every gram of food that I eat on an app, they say. But my mind is convinced that it is better to have a smaller body than to be happy.

Most days, I hardly have the energy to leave my house, so I stay isolated in my darkened bedroom for hours. Every time I stand up, I have to pause for a moment until my vision returns to normal. Sometimes, when I'm standing, I'll suddenly get dizzy and have to sit down and put my head in between my knees, because I think I'm about to faint.

I am NOT afraid of food. I am afraid of losing the control that I have. Please ask yourself, why would anyone choose to live this way? Personally, I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. So why do I do it to myself? You might be wondering. I feel as though I have lost control in every aspect of my life, so I cling to anything that brings me a sense of comfort and security. That's right, I am comfortable in my illness. I feel safe in my disorder.

Anorexia nervosa is the most deadly mental illness, and I know that one day I'll be strong enough to fight her and win. But the truth is, that takes dedication and commitment, even on the most excruciating of days. I know I'm not there yet, but someday soon I will leave her behind, and set myself free from the prison that is my mind.

Niamh Sullivan

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