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A Night Out With Ed: An Allegory for My Eating Disorder, Anxiety and Panic

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Editor’s Note: If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

I’d rather be home, warm and safe, surrounded by the things that are familiar, simple, comfortable. This isn’t really what I want to be doing. But, I want to do what other people do, I don’t want to be isolated from the world. So, I walk into the club.

Loud music, flashing lights, people everywhere.

It’s hard to see, hard to hear, hard to move … It gets hard to think straight.

Everyone seems to be having a good time, so I should too. I shake it off, introduce myself to a man who appeared nearby. His name is Ed. Something about him makes me uneasy, yet something makes draws me close. I feel safe near him, and that feels good. He gets me a drink. As we talk, it seems like we’ve known each other for years. I begin to feel numb, and it doesn’t feel too bad. People are talking, and I’m not really sure what’s being said; things start to feel hard to keep clear. I start to get warm, itchy. It hits me — something has been put in the drink. I shouldn’t be here.

I begin to panic, I’m claustrophobic, overwhelmed. I want to get out. I don’t know where to go, what to do. Things are getting bigger, louder — the room is dark yet the flashing lights seem blinding. Everything is closing in.

I spin, see people passing things around. More drugs, in various forms. The people taking them seem fine, having a good time, yet their smiles and laughs are twisted, distorted. Should I do what they’re doing? They are fine, I’m not. Do what they’re doing. I don’t know what the drugs are. I try to ask, but can’t understand the answers. It’s getting worse. Things are spinning, I can’t breathe, my heart is racing. I desperately look around for someone to help, to pull me to the surface. Suddenly, Ed is there. He’s beside me. He tells me it’s fine, to follow him, he’ll take care of me. I panic, look around for someone who may know how I’m feeling. I try, but I can’t show it, can’t explain it. Someone offers me a drug, someone says to take another. Ed declines — he keeps giving me drinks, telling me they’ll help. I stand in place, wanting desperately to scream out, yet I can’t say anything, I can’t do anything. I push everyone away; their drugs aren’t going to help, it’s just going to things more out of control, scarier.

The drinks aren’t helping, I’m not feeling better. I’m just spinning. I’m numb, it’s dark, I’m unsure of the things happening around me. I can slightly recognize faces, I can hear some distant voices, but that’s it. I pray if I just mimic what they’re doing, although I can’t cry out, maybe I just won’t be left behind, lost.

Everything goes black, silent.

I wake up. I’m home. I’m tired, weak, but I’m OK. I don’t have the strength to move, to even think. I don’t know how I got here. Did I find my way home, did someone help me? I’m scared. I stumble out; everyone else is fine, acting like nothing happened. They look at me kind of odd, talk to me like I’m distant, somewhat unfamiliar, but they smile at me and carry on like nothing’s changed. I go back to my room. I don’t know what’s happened, but I’m just happy I’m back home, warm and safe, surrounded by things that are familiar, simple, comfortable.

My vision is blurry. I stumble to the mirror. He’s there, Ed’s reflection. “Ready to go out again?”

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

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Thinkstock photo via MarinaZg

Originally published: May 9, 2017
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