Anorexia Ain't Fun
Being cold in a student house isn’t unusual, as the money saved on heating bills can be better spent on cheap beer and late night pizza. As my alarm goes off, I get up and put on 2 pairs of socks and a pair of tights under my jeans. Vest, t-shirt, polo neck jumper and I’m ready to go downstairs.
No one else is up yet, so I creep around and put the kettle on and pop a crumpet into the toaster. I drink my tea super fast, grab my crumpet, shoulder bag and I’m out of the door. I walk along to the Uni lecture theatre eating my crumpet slowly, bit by bit and wishing there was butter on it. I used to love hot buttered crumpets that drip butter down your chin when you bite into them. But I don’t bother these days, I have just got into the habit of eating them dry.
Photo by Cheryl Lee
I get to class on time and can’t wait until the break so that I can go and get a cup of tea. Am still freezing cold but I must be the only one, as most of the students are just in jeans and a t-shirt which makes me feel cold just by looking at them! I get a drink from the canteen and join my friend who is having her daily fried breakfast. “Do you want some of my toast?” she asks, “No thanks, I had a bacon butty earlier and will grab some lunch soon”. I drink up and go back to the lecture theatre where the tutor starts putting us in groups for the next task. I don’t mind this as I make small talk with who I am grouped with and enjoy chatting away.
One of the guys looks at me in an odd way, like I have two heads. I don't recognise him so he may have switched courses and just joined this one. He is quite outspoken and I’m not surprised when he opens his mouth to say something inappropriate. “You look so cold, why don’t you get a burger down you?” I laugh, as I always do. Inside, I am thinking how much I’d love a hot burger, with a soft burger bun, a bit of relish and a portion of chips. I’m not really a burger fan, but just the thought of being able to do something normal would be a huge step. I switch off from the group talk and wonder what I will have for lunch. I wonder what I had yesterday and what those around me will have. I wonder what the canteen’s specials are today, maybe I will brave their pasta dish of the day. My mind gets stuck thinking about this, and I notice people leaving the lecture theatre and the tutor packing up his things. Must be time for lunch.
Difficult to be 'normal'
I let everyone go before me and I gather my things and walk up to the canteen. I pick up a tray and join the queue. I read the menu board again and again. As I get nearer to the service staff, I start to sweat. It’s almost my turn, I’m re-reading the menu again, then………... I put the tray back down and walk out. I was so close to ordering something. I’m so angry at myself this is ridiculous. There are so many people queuing up, chatting with friends, ordering food and being normal. Why is it so difficult to do such a normal thing? Why me?
I take myself off for a walk around the town and do a bit of window shopping. I can’t remember the last time I went clothes shopping, it must have been ages ago. I’d love to be able to buy a size 8 dress and fit perfectly into it.
I get back into the student area and decide to head into the library to do some research for my next assignment. I walk past a group of girls chatting and laughing. I used to be able to join in but now I’m not too bothered about what people are up to or what the latest gossip is in halls. I used to in my first year and part of my second year. I was the one encouraging my housemates to join in the vodka drinking games, or stay out until 4am even though they had a 9am lecture. Not now, I was often in bed by 10pm and I find it hard enough to get through a day, never mind a day with a hangover.
I try to get my head down to study and I manage half an hour, then I think about what I should have for tea. Are there any leftovers in the fridge I should have, or shall I cook something for all my housemates, it must be my turn soon am sure. I struggle to focus for the next hour, but stay there regardless, reading the same page over and over.
I get up and leave the library, taking the name of the reference material on a scrap bit of paper with me. As I walk home, I decide to take the long route home and go via the supermarket hoping to find some inspiration for tea. I walk up and down the isles picking up tins from the shelves, reading the labels in full, then more often than not, replacing the items on the shelves. I tell myself I wouldn't like it because it’s not home-made, or not something I have had before, whether it’s true or not. I am in the supermarket for almost 20 minutes and finally leave with a box of slim-a-soup, a packet of celery, a large orange and a KitKat chunky. As I walk back home, I open up the KitKat and re-read the label. Come on, you’ve had one crumpet so far all day, I tell myself, you need some food. So I smell the KitKat and it smells divine. The chocolate smell makes my mouth water. I go to bite off a mouthful, but don’t. I try again, I go to take a bite, but can’t do it. I nibble the edge of the chocolate off, then put it back in the wrapper and put it in my bag. I’ll eat more later.
I get home and my housemates are sitting around watching TV. They ask me if I’d like some pasta and garlic bread they’ve just put in the oven. “No thanks, I’ve just had some tea at the cafe in the supermarket, it smells yum though”.
I go up to my room and know how much I’ve walked today as I struggle to lift my legs up the last few steps. I get to my room and sit down by the radiator which is just getting warm. My phone rings, it’s my parents. If I don't answer, they’ll keep trying later, so I pick it up and cheerily say “ Hi, how are you doing?” I tell them about my latest assignment and of the social events on the planner this week. We chat a bit about family and home, what they have been up to and how the pets are. After 10 minutes, the call ends and the tears start to fall down my cheeks. Why didn't I tell them how hard I was finding it? That I didn’t sit with my housemates for tea or go out with them to the bar last night. Why did I tell them I might go out with them tonight instead when I know in reality I will be making a low calorie soup that lasts about an hour then chopping a large orange into segments and taking my time to eat each one.
Who said staying in wasn't fun?
I chat to my housemates as they are getting ready to go out and begin to feel a bit better, a bit more me. I stick to my decision to stay in, and feel relieved when I hear the front door slam. I go downstairs and flick the kettle on. I make a sachet of low cal soup and stir it many times. As I sip on my soup, I clear up the mess they have left in the kitchen and keep reheating my soup when it falls below a drinkable temperature. My drinks have to be hotter than hot for some reason, as I’ve developed an asbestos mouth these last few months. I get a bit carried away cleaning and I get through my evening. I have a bruise on my arm from bashing the book shelf hard and feel another bruise coming up on my leg from the fight I had with the hoover on the stairs. Who said staying in wasn't fun?!
At 9pm, I make a drink and fill a hot water bottle. I sit and hug the hot water bottle and read the supermarket magazine cover to cover. I tear off some of the recipe’s and pop them on my desk to think about making next week. I got a text from my friend, “Hey, you’d love the music this evening, why don’t you come out?” “sorry, just having tea then got to finish an assignment - have fun though!” The house feels really quiet for some reason. I don’t want to be sitting on my own, I want to be out having fun like I used to.
How did it get to this?
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