My Story, In Prose – by Sarah

Today I am sharing a story. One of sadness, true, but also determination and triumph. This story is not my own, but Sarah’s. Sarah is an inspirational young person and a fighter against anorexia. I hope that you find Sarah’s story as gripping and wonderfully written as I did, as well as it allowing you insight into what it’s like to live with an eating disorder.

My Story, In Prose
By: Sarah
Instagram: @oatsosarah
Written 8/24/2015

August, 2012

Sarah is thirteen and Sarah is fat.

Those are two things that Sarah knows with absolute certainty.

At the doctor’s office, that fateful day in late August, Dr. G says, “Sarah, you are off of your growth charts. Sarah, you must lose weight. Sarah, you must eat less. Start exercising. Something must change”.
And Sarah changed, oh yes they did!

Autumn, 2012

Sarah’s best friends are slim. Athletic. And so are their classmates! In fact, Sarah can count the number of fat people in their school on the fingers of one hand. Sarah only ever wanted to fit in.

“Daily Caloric Intake Calculator
Age? 13.
Height? 5’4”
Weight? xxx lbs.
Goal Weight? xxx lbs.”

It spit back a number and heaven help us, that number was Sarah’s life!

Winter/Spring, 2013

The shower’s water is hot on Sarah’s back but Sarah feels cold inside in an odd, icky, not-so-good way. Brown smoke clouds Sarah’s vision and they nearly fall. Panic. Panic everywhere, and Sarah can’t see!

“I can’t see!” Sarah shouts, hands clutching grey walls. “Help, I can’t see!”

Their mother comes, wraps them in a towel. Spots, static, in front of Sarah’s eyes and a burning pressure right behind them.

“I’ll get you some orange juice? Maybe you’re hungry,” The words cut like knives. Heartless attempt at kindness, that is. Offering her child ORANGE JUICE, while that child is on a DIET?

It’s a waste of calories, Sarah.

“No thanks, I’m fine.”

“Sarah, you are eating /something/.”

Sarah picks up the smallest clementine they can find from the bowl in the kitchen.

“I’m fine.”

Spring, 2013

It’s all your fault, Sarah. Just because it was your mother’s birthday dinner did not mean that you had to eat that. Or THAT. What were you thinking, you fucking fatty? Of course you’ve gained weight since this morning. Of course. Because you fucking pigged out tonight, that’s why! Go. Go do laps and TRY to burn off all the weight you’ve gained. FUCKING FATSO.

Pacing, pacing into the dark, and then jogging, breaking into a run, again and again laps around the house, around the yard, uphill and downhill and uphill again. Sarah tastes bile, sweat drenches their face.

The scale reads lower and Sarah nearly collapses with relief.

Nearly, because only lazy pigs sit down for no reason.

Summer, 2013

Sarah is an overachiever and thus, has decided to take an advanced summer course at school. For the students in the summer session, the dining hall staff were kind enough to cater lunches for the summer session students.

Hot fudge sundae bar! Two of Sarah’s friends, who also opted to take the class, are excited. They rush to the bar— aren’t you going with them, Sarah? They have dark chocolate chips, after all!

Sarah drags themselves up, tears waiting anxiously behind their eyes, ready to run in an instant.

You’re stronger than this, Sarah. Look at you, worthless monster. You’re giving in. Stop. Stop. Stopstopstop.

Sarah gets a small bowl of vanilla ice cream. Passes the dark chocolate chips without a second glance.

Upon arriving home, they begin to exercise, and continue into perpetuity.

August, 2013

“Sarah, look at you! You’ve lost xx lbs! Look at how healthy you are!”

Sarah is healthy. Sarah is healthy.

First day of school, 2013

Sarah, you look so good!
Any tips? C’mon, spill!
Look how SKINNY you’ve gotten!
Wow, way to get in shape!
I’m so inspired by your self control!
Man, you’ve lost a ton of weight!

Autumn, 2013

Sarah’s not studying enough, Sarah has to get up at 4:30 am to study. They can study till 6:30 and then leave for school at 7:30 and still make it on time.

On the weekends, why isn’t Sarah studying for 8 hours a day? Wait, they do? Okay, what about 10? Do you have anything /better/ to do, Sarah? NO. Studying is all you’re good for, after all.

100%.

A+.

You want to get into an Ivy, don’t you! You need to actually work, not sit on your lazy ass all day.

Sarah’s mother is concerned.
“Sarah, why does it take you an hour to eat your oatmeal every night?”
“Sarah, aren’t you healthy already? Why are you only eating x calories a day?”
“Sarah, when will your diet be over?”

November, 2013 Continue reading

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The blade’s lullaby [original poem]

MASSIVE TRIGGER WARNING.

I wrote this last week when I was feeling the most depressed I’ve felt in a long time. Looking back on it is quite shocking, it is a very very dark piece of poetry.

I was in two minds about posting it because I’m worried it is just triggering and unhelpful and doesn’t need to be shared, but at the same time I feel like this sums up why I self harm sometimes? I feel like I have to, it’s not something I want to do but more of a need, like something terrible will happen if I don’t and that I deserve the pain.

Please let me know if you find this triggering or think it’s unhelpful/ best left off the internet and I’ll take it down.

Hush now darling, don’t you cry
The blade will sing you a lullaby
Let your sorrows melt away
Feel the pain in a different way
Drag that blade across your skin
Let lose the blood that lies within
Release the evil, feel the pain
Make up for weight you have gained
Again and again, swift and fast
Grab a bandage, the pain won’t last
Dry your tears, don’t you cry
It’s either this or you will die
Pills and rail tracks, heights and blades
This is your punishment, your fate is made
You cannot rest, or have peace from me
I am inside you, don’t you see?
Use your arm as a canvas to fill
Paint in stark red, and notice that still
With each new cut and bruise you make
All I do is take, take, take
Yet still here you are, listening to me
I am inside you, don’t you see?
You cannot beat me, I will win
I feel your sorrows as a grin
The whispered, haunted hymns of praise
The prayer which only you can raise
Be sure of this, my fellow friend
This is a war that will not end.
Not today, tomorrow, or next week
Your life is the ultimate prize I seek.
So while you fight and I grow strong
Remember you’re the girl who does not belong.
I will bring you peace of mind
Dull your senses, make you blind
Blind to the pain, don’t you see?
With me your spirit will at last be free.
If you decide you want to go,
I’ll help you get there, don’t you know?
I am the devil within your soul
And I’ll only stop if you reach my goal
Lose weight, cut, punish yourself
And maybe I’ll go someplace else
But for now here I am, trapped in you
A force once week, that suddenly grew.
A force so strong, you can’t outsmart
In fact it overtook your heart.

Also please don’t read this and worry about me, I was feeling in a very black place when I wrote it but touch wood things are going a bit better this week.

I’d be really interested to hear anyone’s feedback on this, positive or negative, so do please feel free to comment below.

Thanks for reading.

We’re all like stretchy yellow men sometimes..

I got given one of these wonderful stretchy yellow men by my friend the other day, it reminded me of when I was little, I loved buying little bits and bobs like that or winning them on the 2p machine at the Pier when I visited my granny.

But now when I see it, you stretch them too far and the smile looks like it’s going to break. Don’t you feel like that sometimes? That people are pulling and pushing you and one day you’re just going to snap?

Anyway, I played on this theme and did a drawing last night to distract myself as I was feeling a bit anxious.

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The black words are things we ‘say’ to people and the grey are things we really feel below it. Obviously no, we are not stretchy and don’t tell people to stretch us, but in the way we talk to others I’m sure at times we are making ourselves vulnerable to being hurt because we are sad and want others to be happy.. Or maybe that’s just me.

A poem:

A toy, she thought,
She pulled and tugged
She twisted and yanked
And pinged it about.

A toy, she thought

But when it snapped
She cried and screamed
Ripped it inside and out

The mother came in,
Swept it away
Hugged her daughter
Bought a new one for a new day

But the cracks are already there,
Beginning to show

How long will it be
Until the cracks start to grow?

How long until,
The stretchy man cannot hide
Those fractures and pains
All bottled up inside.

And how long until
The little girl knows
That man is not a toy
He’s the pain inside us that grows?

Sorry for the random post, I’d be interested to see if people agreed with me though, do you ever feel like that?

This week has been tough on so many levels, just want it all to stop but I know if I want that then I have to keep fighting through. Any motivation would be much appreciated.

Thanks for reading.

Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2015: My first video

Sorry for my lack of posting lately, school is very stressful and I have been struggling a bit with my mental state. I am trying hard to stay on track, but food thoughts and self harm urges have been bad so it really is a battle at the moment.

I would never wish an eating disorder upon someone, no one deserves to go through that. I know from personal experience how horrible it is and how hard it is to recover from. But it is possible.

I wrote a song a while ago and decided to edit a video of it to raise awareness for Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2015.

I am not a strong singer so I do apologise for my terrible vocals. It was really hard and anxiety-provoking posting this, but if I want to make a different to how people view mental health I have to be open about it.

So here goes!

My previous post on this poem/ song lyrics: Shadows [original poem]

Thanks for reading

The ‘anorexic’ girl [original poem]

Don’t call me that,
The harsh judgement in your tone.
Don’t use it as an excuse,
Oh she can’t help it, she’s anorexic.

Don’t separate me from everyone else,
Isolate me due to our differences,
Don’t stop and stare and whisper,
‘She’s anorexic

Don’t give me names,
Don’t stare me down,
Don’t treat me any different.
I’m just like you.

Don’t snigger as I mull over meals,
Each bite painful.
Don’t tease me when I’m down,
Don’t judge before you know me,
‘The anorexic girl’

Don’t call me selfish,
Attention-seeking, sad,
We all have struggles,
Mine are just expressed differently.

Stare instead into my hollow eyes,
The girl scared to exist,
See that I want love and support,
Like any other.

See my open arms ready to give,
See the hope in my eyes,
The smile trying to escape,
Help me be me.

Anorexia, now that is an illness.
But there is a girl,
And there is her illness,
They are not bound together.
There is no anorexic girl.

A meaningful goodbye

Today was a hard day, because I had to say goodbye to my psychologist, whom we will call L.

We exchanged goodbye letters and a few tears were shed, but I’ll never forget what she has taught me and I will forever remember our time together. It is so sad and hard saying goodbye, but this isn’t the end: I am still in recovery and on an ever changing journey, and you never know, one day our paths might meet again.

Here is my letter to L.

Dear L,
It’s hard to know where to start.
Thank you so much for everything you’ve done for me, you’ve helped me so much and made me realise that I am not alone. There are two types of people in this world: those who know their limits and accept them, and those who know their limits but do not let that stop them or define who they are. I may be more susceptible to mental health issues than others, but you’ve assured me that things can change and that, although it hard, you can always overcome your issues.
I might not easily find the ‘middle ground’ that we oh so love, but, like anything, hard work and practice should get me there.
I’m not saying all my problems are sorted and I’m going to waltz myself through life, because that is unrealistic. I still have some way to go, but you have helped me open up doors I didn’t even realise were there. You’ve helped me realise things I felt or thought that I didn’t even realise I felt. And most importantly, you’ve been there for me. You never gave up on me and for that I can never thank you enough.
You’ve allowed me to talk through my fears, no matter how small or silly they may seem, and you never judged me.
Goodbyes are hard and I hate them, because you really have changed my path or at least helped me along the right one. Without your incredible support who knows where I’d be now?
Goodbyes are hard at the best of times, but it’s even harder when the person you have to say goodbye to has made such a big impact on your life. I trust you more than I trust anyone except maybe my mum, and it is hard to leave that.
I will forever remember our times together; from laughing about the elusive middle ground to shedding a few tears. But as you say, that only strengthened how close we felt and how we were able to connect.
You must get heaps of patients thanking you and telling y how much you’ve helped them, big I just had to say it because it’s the genuine truth. We all thank people who, let’s face it, we don’t particularly like or value, but my thank you is sincere and I honestly could never thank you enough.
And finally, I hope you have an absolutely incredible time in X. I am sure it will be a wonderful experience and a new and exciting chapter of your life.
I know we don’t talk much about you in our sessions, but I really hope you live a happy and fulfilled life, because you really deserve it. You’ve given me a chance and I’m sure you’ve done the same for many others, so don’t forget to put yourself first and have some fun.
Life is too short to worry about the small things, that’s what you’ve taught me. And for every bad there is a good, so I’ll try hard not to forget that.
Thank you ever so much for everything you’ve done for me, and I wish you all the very best.”

And here’s poem I wrote for her representing my journey through our time together from first day of therapy to last:

Day 1 A scared and frightened girl
Day 2 Another day gone
Day 3 She nervously looked away
Day 4 She cried she’d never belong

Day 5 Scared, she opened her mouth
Day 6 Began to talk
Day 7 Let unleash the demons within
Day 8 Nothing went wrong

Day 9 She finally looked your way
Day 10 Smiled
Day 11 She took comfort from your words
Day 12 The time was worth your while

Day 13 progress began to take its place
Day 14 A glimmer of hope finally found
Day 15 She had a good night’s sleep
Day 16 Their friendship, tightly bound

Day 17 The time came to say goodbye
Day 18 But there was no time for tears
Day 19 For throughout all the pain
Day 20 You were always by my side

One of my favourite quotes from her letter to me:
“I hope you can continue this journey you have taken the courage to begin. If in doubt, be nice to yourself, compassion at the times we feel in pain, have stumbled, made mistakes are important. Practice this new voice, ‘I am nice, good, likeable’ and remember THE MIDDLE GROUND!”

2015/01/img_7309.jpg

I drew her this. It may look simple enough, but the meaning behind it was the important thing. She gave me hope when I had none, and she’s helped me grow in so many ways. I drew this in biro without any guidelines or rubbings out to challenge my perfectionism just for her. I think she welled up a bit then.

If you’re reading this L, I truly hope you liked my essay of a goodbye letter, drawing and poem, and the present. You truly are incredible. I’ll miss you but I’ll be thinking of you and you’ve adventures. I won’t forget you and I hope you don’t forget me. Thank you for everything.

Anyway, so I have a new therapist/psychologist figure who we’ll call S, who I’ve met briefly but not had a session with yet. Fingers crossed things go ok, though even if it all went terribly I am still thankful for the wonderful help and support of L these last 6 months and beyond.

Thanks for reading.

What you’ll never know [original poem]

I’m feeling really down tonight so decided to express it in some poetry. I haven’t checked it and gone back to improve it; I know it isn’t a beautiful piece of writing but I have to share it. These thoughts are consuming me and I am a hollow shell, a carrier of my depression. At least writing poetry, I can feel. That even through this pain, I can still be connected to myself. I am still human.

***

Do you know how it feels
To be constantly checking the time as you wash
Not wanting to stay too long behind the bathroom’s locked door.

Afraid of your mothers knock,
Her nervous voice as she asks if you’re ok.
She thinks you’re cutting.
Dragging that razor blade across your skin
Again and again.

You’ve stopped that. For now.
But the pain will never stop for her.
You open the door, wearing short sleeved pyjamas so she can see
You’re ok.
Her relief she tries to hide
Plastered on her expression like a newspaper headline.

You go off to bed, but through the night she stands and listens at your door
Checking, again and again, that the silent, choked tears aren’t falling.

At breakfast as you sit picking at your cereal,
She sits watching, pretending to be interested in her own food,
But all the time scared of the demons that are hiding in you
Out of her control.

At school you’re confident.
At least that’s how you appear.
The smile and laughter does the trick,
The silly games and jokes,
Why would anyone guess that it was all an act?

Your mother goes to work.
But all the time thinking, ‘I wonder how she’s getting on today’
Never knowing what the answer will be.

The breakdowns have no countdown,
Nor time limit or reason,
They come on all of a sudden,
Consuming you and taking your mother with you in a cloud of doubt and fear.

But you keep going.
You plaster on that smile,
Do your homework.
Be a good girl.

Who would ever guess all this was going on in your head?
This is why it will never get better.
No one knows you.
And no one ever will.