That’s why it’s called a disorder

In the last 24 hours I’ve eaten an almond croissant, a banana, a few nuts, a piece of dried pineapple, and drunk a cup of Earl Grey with some half & half. A little over 500 calories — isn’t that quite a lot already? Yes I counted them with a website that takes the input of all your food and activities and judge whether you have eaten healthy each day — a dark part of myself last summer that I never thought I would return to. I feel the hunger — the hot, rumbling sensation return to occupy my stomach, and now it feels familiar and comforting. Like home.

Every time I look in the mirror, still, the monster that stares right back demands to know why I have not tried harder, why I have not looked different, maybe in a way that others will accept as good enough. Is there such a thing as good enough? Surely there must be — he reasoned, bloodshot eyes glaring through the cold glass — otherwise why are you hearing my voice?

Now anything I eat will feel unpleasant and too much, and that’s good in the demented way my insecurities love to tie me. At least now I won’t have to struggle between it and the social justice I have assigned to myself anymore. I know how it works now, so it’ll be okay. I’ll live. Hopefully.

Oh, is it because of Puerto Rico? Is it because of Mariia and Marta? How come I did not notice this earlier? Dear lord, I wasted too much time convincing myself in the wrong direction, just to get slapped across the face.

And then here comes the grogginess, and the inability to focus, and the feeling of distance from reality. You wish for things to regain color and for the prospect of chewing and swallowing to have some taste, but no, it was all just disdainful to think of. Sometimes you wonder why humans need to eat when you’ve gone on basically nothing while still doing so much. You lose sense of what is too little to survive because everything is too much now, everything will be too much as soon as you reopen that gate.

Every single bite you allow through your mouth — with difficulty — chokes you in guilt. You wish to lock yourself in your room and be buried deep, so deep you can’t ever bring yourself to enjoy any basics of human pleasures again. Because you deserve to be punished like that, for not being perfect.

One of these days your friends will look at you with concern and insist you take that bowl of soup. You thank them, take a few sips, then discreetly dump it all in the trash can.

Your days are reduced to sleep — work — being absent-minded — work — then sleep again. Short walks to the office or the grocery store feels like miles. A game of ball may as well knock you unconscious. Every laughter pouring into acquaintances’ ears stretch the slim fibre of your being. You look at them and he laughs at the hollow insides of your skull: “They’re normal, unlike you, so they can be happy.” You hate what he says but craves to obey — he’s your voice of reason when nothing you do can be reasoned.

But it never goes anywhere, it’s all a lie. You look in the mirror again and again and again and each time he’s bigger and more hideous in the hollows of your cheeks and the bags under your eyes and the grey of your skin. Every breath you take feels like he’s poisoning you even deeper, to the point where escape sounds way too scary to even try. You wince at life and steps into death’s embrace, letting it caress your cowardice and shame.

He’s everywhere, after all, in the glances people throw at you on the street, in the comments your family has always made about how your legs have gotten bigger and your wrist gotten smaller, in the suggested videos on YouTube that instruct you how to draw a new face on your ugly old one. Sometimes he likes to suffocate you by jumping from the mouths of people you lay bare to the most: “You should go to the gym”, “Nobody likes a fattie like you”. And your tiny voice gets lost even before you can hear yourself.

Yesterday somebody you haven’t seen in a while complimented you. Along with a smile, your mind responds: What does it matter? I don’t believe you. I’m still much worse than I could be. Far from perfect. I have to keep trying. See? What I’ve been doing so far works. Keep doing it. Keep squeezing out every last drop of your essence until your flesh-and-bones machine no longer bears any trace of your sin, so that nobody can blame you for not working on it. So that maybe in some split seconds you will feel validated by their gaze before plunging into fear and emptiness again.

And the cycle continues.