The Inner Monologue of a Girl With an Eating Disorder Before a Lunch Date
As I sit here writing this, my brain is flooded with the music playing in the background, reminding me of a beautiful young woman I met in treatment, who recently lost her battle with anorexia. An anxious thought pops up because a portion of the lyrics don’t really relate to the situation, and I had shared this song with some other mourners.
What if they listen and hate me for recommending this song?
Simultaneously, my stomach is growling and a friend is coming over, who I don’t necessarily feel totally comfortable with.
How many calories have I eaten? I need to eat. Crap! Is she bringing food? I need to know what she might be bringing.
What are we going to do? It’s always slightly awkward with her. I wish I could just be alone. Wait, I’m going to have to eat in front of her. Should I eat now? Would that be rude?
More songs play and with each song change, I lose focus. My phone keeps going off and my eyes start to lose focus and blur. My fingers can’t seem to type the words I’m struggling to process because the lyrics are interrupting my thoughts. The anxiety of what the texts may say is overcrowding my brain. Anxiety wins and I check the message. Unfortunately, I was totally right to be anxious. She wants to go to a restaurant I’ve never been to.
What if I get overwhelmed with food choices there? She’s not a safe person. What if I can’t count the calories? I have to eat in front of her and a room of people.
“Sure,” I reply.
I’m losing feeling in my arms and my stomach is churning and not from hunger. The fact that I’m hungry makes it worse. It isn’t an unpleasant feeling, but I fear I’ll lose control because of it. Not only will I be eating at a new place, but I might overeat too. I start to rub my hands around parts of my body I am uncomfortable with. I’m body checking.
Am I too fat today to be eating out? Maybe I shouldn’t have had that extra diet soda. What if I don’t like their water? What if it’s too cold? And while we’re at it, what if the restaurant is too loud? Or the lights too bright or too dim?
My cats keep watching cars drive by in the rain, their little heads turning back and forth. I am distracted by the sounds of the cars’ engines and tires in water colliding with the music, set at a seven of 100 (which is the most I can bear if I’m in the room). Then, I get another text and it distracts me. Then, the music changes and…agh! I’m already overwhelmed from all of this. I’m kneading my hands and wringing my fingers between sentences, pounding the keys on the keyboard way to hard and flexing muscles in my body normal people don’t flex. If I stop, then my anxiety will increase.
What if the people who read this think I’m just too sensitive? What if they don’t believe me? Crap, I’m going to be late if I don’t leave soon.
I pull at my lip and crack my ankles, as they spin in circles with my toes flexed to their max.
I really don’t want to eat. But I must. Because I can’t die from this eating disorder. OK, three minutes to finish up. Maybe this is too long.
My legs are literally at a 90 degree angle because I’m too anxious to let them relax on the floor. I realize I’ve been clenching my jaw this whole time. I wanted to write about a day living with my mental illnesses, but instead I’ve come up with a mere 30 minutes.
I didn’t get to talk about the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression. What if people think I’m making all this up?
I bite the skin around my finger. Feet rubbing together and legs sore from still not relaxing, and now I’m late.
Breathe. You can do this. You’re strong, brave and awesome. Crap! It’s freezing and I’m wearing shorts and a t-shirt. I have to change and now I’m really going to be late. She’ll be waiting for me. Dang it!
I just chuckled and smiled. I wanted to end this with an encouraging, “Look, I can cope and do the things,” but remembering the thing I forgot to do, change my clothes, just threw that all off. But hey, that’s life with mental illness.
I’m going to be just fine — and also very late.