Trigger warning: The following contains an extensive discussion of self-harm and anorexia and a moderate mention of depression.
I was having a pretty good day, all things considered. For the whole morning, my head was clear and I was only tired, not fuzzy, not sad. Not depressed. I could function. I made it to counselling, to university, back home.
Then I went to training.
I hadn’t eaten lunch that day, because there’s a voice in my head that whispers pretty girls don’t eat pretty girls don’t eat pretty girls don’t eat so I didn’t eat. The voice is hard to ignore when you’re not sure it’s lying. It was hard to throw myself into my workout, but I did. I needed to, because my head was beginning to cloud over and the voices were getting louder and there wasn’t a lot I could do besides one more pushup, one more squat. My muscles burned and my head spun but the voices were dampened for a moment, just a blessed, peaceful moment.
That is, until they weren’t. I was doing mountain climbers when it happened. My head plunged into the freezing waters of the anorexia I’ve tried so hard to leave behind and I was left gasping for anything resembling oxygen.
pretty girls don’t eat pretty girls don’t eat pretty girls don’t eat pretty girls don’t eat
but honey pretty girls don’t eat
I shook my head in an attempt to clear the voices, as if the simple act of twisting my neck might fix the problems in my head. I wanted to scream, wanted to pull my hair out, wanted to cry. Wanted someone, anyone, to tell me that it’s okay to eat, okay to feel human, okay to feel less than human. Then, as quickly as it came, it was gone. I was left shaking, exhausted, scattered.
I was limp for the rest of the evening. I usually have enough energy to put up a decent fight during my martial arts class, but that night I would have found it exhausting to lay on the floor and moan. The pathways in my head were on fire, jumping from one incomplete thought to another.
but what if
maybe I should
get up lazy pig
pretty girls don’t eat
pretty girls don’t eat
don’t let them know there’s something wrong with you
GET OUT OF MY HEAD
oh darling I’m not going anywhere
I ended up stopping early and talking with my friends, because my head wasn’t right my head wasn’t right my head wasn’t right. I couldn’t focus, couldn’t think, couldn’t get out of the sticky pit of my blunted mind.
I took an elastic out of my hair and wrapped it around my wrist, then snapped it against my skin. Snap. Snap. Snap. Each sting distracted me, cleared my head, reminded me that I was still alive, still human. Snap. Snap. Snap. The skin around my wrist morphed from beige to faded raspberry.
One of the guys was staring at me, but I hadn’t noticed.
“Are you alright?” he asked.
“Yeah.” I sighed. “Just a long day.”
“Why don’t you fight me instead of self-harming then?”
I blinked and my fingers stopped grasping for the elastic. I stuttered some excuse, it’s only a distraction, something for me to do. I hadn’t considered it self-harm. Self-harm was me starving myself, me binging, me refusing to sleep, me picking at my skin, me bruising my legs. This wasn’t self-harm. But it was, and I hadn’t even noticed.
I nodded, stood up and put in one last fight before I went home. I did terribly. I was exhausted, I was soul-weary. But I stopped hurting myself, and that’s what mattered. You called me out on it, and I stopped because I hadn’t even realised I was doing it. Thank you.