One Day in My Anorexic Life
I wake up in the middle of the night because my belly is gurgling and making weird noises; they are so loud I can’t concentrate or go back to sleep.
I’m starving, I have been starving all day, and although I skipped dinner, I still danced the night away until midnight. It was hard to refuse those warm croissants outside the club.
Everyone had one. Even two. I chewed my gum, terrified at the idea of giving in, pretending to be drunk when I wasn’t, so I didn’t have to explain why I didn’t want to eat.
I was so cold, dressed in a puffy jacket, with bare legs battered by the night chill, chain-smoking as if my life depended on it.
When we finally drove home and I crashed in bed without taking my make up off, I just wanted to sleep, to rest, to obliterate my mind with thoughts of all the foods I hadn’t tried for the past 5 years.
And now here I am, struggling to silence my appetite, unable to go back to sleep, feeling the protruding bones underneath my pj, and wondering for how long I can keep up with this.
Unable to resist the temptation, I finally stand up and head to the kitchen. I take out the packet of low-fat crackers and low sugar jam. I place it on the table, along with a couple of slices of low carb bread and low fat, low sugar tub of yogurt. My stomach keeps on growling, and I’m feeling sick because of the pain in my belly.
The first bite of jam on bread is heavenly. I have 8 slices. I then move on to the crackers and I polish off two packets, crumbling them in the yogurt.
Normally I’m good, normally I can contain the amount of food I eat, but today there is a mix of hunger, desperation, and overwhelming tiredness.
By the time I finish, I know I have only 1 hour left to sleep before getting ready for Uni, so I lay down on the couch and I drift off while the telly is on.
When I wake up, I smoke and drink my first coffee; I have already eaten, and I have likely reached the caloric limit for the day, which means that I have to organise my day in a way where I can avoid eating more food. I have to make up appointments, excuses, lies. Another typical day in my happy life.
I leave the house early before my flatmate wakes up, and before the street vendors open their shops; there is a pervading smell of warm croissants and freshly brewed coffee in the air. The city is covered by an icy blanket of fog, the streets are quiet, and it looks like is going to snow soon.
I walk inside a Café’ to warm up my shaking bones, I have to walk at least 1 hour before sitting in class, but it’s so cold I can barely feel my feet, and I’m hurting everywhere. I’m still hungry and scared as hell.
How can it be? What’s happening to me? Why can’t I control what is going on?
I look at the pastries in the display, at the crunchy croissants recently taken out of the oven. There is a girl next to me reading a book while sipping a cappuccino and enjoying a jam cookie; she looks sleepy and so peaceful and relaxed. I envy her incredibly, it seems that food isn’t even part of the picture, and she is fully immersed in the pages she is reading. Will I ever be able to do the same?
“One espresso please” I shout at the guy over the counter.
I have a strong urgency to weigh myself, but I don’t own a scale, and I won’t know if I lost or gained until I go home next weekend. “I can definitely skip lunch and dinner today,” I think within myself “And I can make up an excuse for tomorrow night, so I can join everyone after dinner, and pretend I was out on a date”.
I instantly feel better. I make a note about all the food that I ate just a few hours before, and I realise that I need to walk at least another couple of hours throughout the day. I can do it.
I have the coffee while standing at the bar, and flicking through a magazine that displays the skinny body of a celebrity holidaying in Seychelles. Why can’t I look like her? I wonder.
All my friends and family are concerned about my weight, and yet I don’t seem to be able to see myself with their eyes. I walk out for another cigarette and I take the long way so I can walk past the bakery and see what they are selling today.
It’s 8.30 am when I arrive at University, I find my friends, and we take a sit in the front row.
I’m aware that today is going to be a tough day, where I will need to battle with my urges, where I will need to deprive myself of what I want the most, but I have to do it.
I have to be skinny; I can’t disappoint myself.
It will be ok, I just have to drink coffee and smoke cigarettes, and I will be ok.
This was a brief moment in the life of a younger me; I was 21 back then, studying at university and away from home, in a city that I loved. That was the year before I became bulimic, I was constantly hungry, tired, cold, and anxious. I remember going home to my parent’s house once a month and spend two days wearing a pj and eat whatever I could find. I was so hungry and depleted I could barely function. I didn’t have a menstrual cycle, my skin was pale, I didn’t feel I deserved.
I felt lost.
I felt I had no power.
I felt that the only control that I had, came from restricting my food intake.
I was shit scared, and although I was having fun, I was constantly miserable.
Do you recognise yourself in my words?
If so, please reach out and let’s talk.
Claudia is a Qualified Nutrition & Dietetic Consultant (BHSC) specialised in hormonal balance, women’s health, and disorder eating behaviors. She sees clients online and in clinical practice; you can find more about her or the Hypothalamic Amenorrhea recovery program by following her on Instagram, Facebook, or by checking her website.