Wednesday, 27 October 2010

It's Official

The trembling walk across the flagstones.

I'm fashionably late.

I don't realise at the time, but the man in the thick designer glasses and the understated floral shirt, watches from somewhere within the brick hexagon and says to his (note scribbling) trainee, "Ah. Here comes a skinny person. This must be her".

This man, I've met him before. About sixteen years ago.
I almost want to gag at the memory of a tortured, teenage me; hunched, shaking in the back of dad's car after a one off meeting with this man, my sister's consultant, in the unit where she was incarcerated.

I remember he was kind to me.
Finally: someone who wanted to know how it was for a sibling.
Muscles held taut in my gut, I clamp my jaw; frightened his listening will force a desperate stream of projectile grief.

My mother, dressed in the small laughter of middle class embarrassment, rolled her eyes and clicked her tongue.
Stupid daughter... Doesn't know WHAT she's saying..! As if WE ever lived in denial..! As if WE would ever overlook such a thing! OF COURSE we knew what was happening! OF COURSE we knew ALL ALONG!

Choking on the words forced back down my throat, I shook all the way home.
Shook as dad glanced apologetically in the rearview mirror.
Shook as dad worriedly concurred that PERHAPS it WAS possible that I had known, long before them, the reality of my sister's terrible death wish.

I didn't recognise the man, even as I tried to remember something concrete about the session we had had all those years ago.

I would never have dreamed I would end up in front of him again. And certainly not for this reason.

At the end of today's assessment: the words, "Anorexia Nervosa".

Every syllable ricocheted off the wall of my chest.

How can I know and yet not know?

"You believe me? You take me seriously?"

I am frightened and shocked and ashamed and relieved and disgusted.

The question is not, whether I believe you, he says. The question is whether you can believe yourself and take this illness seriously.

Again. Bullets.

I'm not well.

I knew that.

I need another assessment appointment. We haven't quite covered everything.

We haven't?

Worst thing?
I double booked it for the woman's appointment next Monday.
THAT'S how screwed my mind was.

Now what?

Before I leave, he comments on the dryness of my hands. Says he noticed as we met and shook hands.
He noticed that? What kind of person IS this?
He suggests creams.
I admit I am frightened of absorbing calories through my skin.
"Not possible", he persuades.
I nod, gritting my teeth and flashing untrusting smile.
"Ok", I lie. "I'll start using cream on the splits".
(I have eczema)
Next he'll tell me vitamins can't make you put on weight, but they can. I read up on water soluble and fat soluble vitamins. I know my stuff.

"I'm seeing ..... (my sister's name...)... this afternoon..."
Something in me freezes over
"I won't tell her I've seen you of course... confidentiality and all that..." He tails off.

"I have no idea what she thinks or feels", I offer, lamely because I am at a loss.
He looks at me, studied, careful.
"I think she's been very worried about you". Somehow, his hand is stretched out to me.
"I think she's been very jealous of me", I sink my teeth into his hand and bite down hard. "Jealous that she's in hospital and I'm not"...
He laughs (uneasily?). Blood drips from my mouth...
"...That's the only reason she gives a toss".
I walk away, my throat and eyes stinging and swelling; the metallic taste on my bottom lip.
He hates me. he hates me. He hates me.
He loves her. He loves her. He loves her.
I want to wring my own neck as I get into the car.
Maybe her neck too.

It's eleven o'clock.
The sun shines bright and I need to do a number of very bad things to get through the despair of the day.

I do all of them but still, thirteen or so hours later, I am sinking.


  1. Wow! Powerful, sad, and brilliantly written! I'm sorry you're in so much pain right now. :(

  2. Wow. You did good today. You're allowed to disagree with me, it is your blog after all :) But part of you knows I'm right, at least for part of you, which deserves this chance. You are as eloquent as always, and your sincerity and expression are humbling. To think that someone else could feel this much, and be able to express it with so much dignity. I wonder if you can ever realize how much you privilege us by sharing yourself in this way.

  3. BTW - Mary Kay extra emollient night cream is a wax-based moisturizer that works on eczema very well. It's a little messy but doesn't absorb. It works by trapping moisture inside the skin and preventing loss of moisture. Dampen your hands with water, then rub the cream on like lotion, or just on the worst spots. It doesn't take much. Applying it before going to bed limits the inconveniences of waxy, greasy hands. Your hands deserve a chance too.

  4. HI WS

    Oh my, this is a desperate and yet hopeful time. You took a HUGE step, a very brave step in going to the appointment. You write so well, so expressive and real - and may I also say that try and remember this illness is not a competition between you and your sister. Please don't compete with her or anyone for anything.If you do your journe will be even more diffocult.
    Loving you and praying

  5. What a star.

    And if he had an appointment available for monday, then he'll have another one available nearby.

    Probably better to reschedule his than miss your time in the little house in the woods.

    Brave? Oh, yes.....

  6. I'm glad you took that step. It is a scary thing to take the first step, but you did it. I proud of you. You expressed yourself so well in this post. I standing there with you so if you need to talk just email me.

  7. I glad you went as hard as it is to hear the words spoken. It takes courage to take those steps and hear those words. I am here listening...

  8. Dear one sorry for your pain....... hugs to you.....

  9. WS....I read this and thought only someone who knows the dance so well can write like this. Your writing...your voice....your heart is all over this post. It makes me remember. I want to reach out and give you the hope I've found..the freedom...I was there....broken...lost...needing to do horrible things just to get through the rest of the day....I'm praying and believing for you to find that freedom too...Stay safe okay....and as strong as you are able....always in your corner....

  10. Soul, you edited your post, yes? I came back to re-read because I worried I had asked a question (next post, comments) you had already answered. I forget details sometimes, even ones I'm interested in, but don't want you to think I read your posts hurridly or without caring. Also, it's easy for me to be mesmerized by your beautiful writing, and I want to not lose sight of the depth of your feelings, behind the flowing prose. So I re-read sometimes for that reason also. I'm sorry if that disturbs you some; I understand discomfort with people being too interested.

  11. Well, you are like your sister now. Let's hope you get the attention you so desperately hope for.

  12. That's harsh
    Really, really, very harsh
    I read nothing here that says WS wants to be like her sister
    And I also read that attention hurts her

    I wish people would be less - dunno, less judgemental?

    Don't know if you've ever struggled, anonymous, but if you have, d'you remember whether comments like that helped?