Big Red A
In my 8th year, I was diagnosed with Anorexia. It wasn't until years later that I put a name to it; months faded into years with the blessed amnesiac touch of early childhood. For a long time, the episode was shrouded in mystery. Nobody mentioned it, though stark scenes rose from the mist like shards of glass to haunt me in quiet moments of solitude. Then, at 16, it returned full force, lasting longer and striking harder, perhaps also because I was more lucid for being older, a fact I came to rue. I was shipped off to a hospital unit, deprived of visits my entire time, forbidden to leave a sealed portion of the hospital, poked and prodded, fed and otherwise left alone, treated like cattle. Sundays were the worst. All but two nurses left, and I would haunt the corridors, crossing the gazes of trance-like anorexics, many very much worse off then me. Many had been residents for over a year. I told myself with conviction, I would not be that. I didn't belong here; this had to be a mistake, I thought, I wasn't like them! I made it out eventually. Recovery is undoubtedly, to this day, the hardest thing I have ever had to go through. I can't begin to describe how misrepresented Anorexia is. It has little to do with the physical. It's an exhausting, all-consuming, cruel mindset, and, at the time, a coping mechanism for difficult dynamics of a quotidian. So many days I wanted to die. I was utterly, utterly miserable, tired of hauling myself out of a hole, one that I had dug myself, but also had no part in. In this sense, I felt disjointed; a constant battle raged between my physical, my mental, my emotional, between two mindsets, strengthening my conviction that Anorexia is, in a sense, an autoimmune disease. I felt betrayed by my own self, but also thankful for a means of coping. And so I created a rule. If, in the next three days, something made me smile, I would wait another three to kill myself. This rule in particular taught me the value of kindness. Cliches are just that for a reason. Today, kindness is undervalued and considered a soft quality; endearing, but incompatible with conviction, ambition, and other headstrong traits. Shout it from the rooftops: kindness is perhaps the most headstrong quality of all. Spread that shit like gold, and you may just save a life or two.