A 'Friend'

Short Story about a young girl who visits the doctor to speak to him about an imaginary 'friend' who turns out to be a horrible disease. This story describes depression as a person and the girl, who thinks this person is hurting her, doesn't realize she's doing these things to herself.


1. A 'Friend'

She took short, small steps into the reception. Not because she has short legs but because she was nervous. Even though she's already told her mum about him she didn't know whether she'd be able to tell a stranger. She felt strange speaking about him. She felt stupid speaking about him. But her mother insisted that she came.

She felt his presence on her as she sat in the waiting room, her mother by her side, holding her fragile hand. He was so much taller than her so when he was around she felt smaller than she already was. She would normally have felt pretty in her flowery dress which she'd received as a gift for her 10th birthday a few weeks ago. Instead, as she got ready this morning, she didn't look in the mirror and admire the beautiful outfit.. Because he told her not to. 

As they waited to be called she felt her stomach rumble. She'd not eaten this morning, also because he'd said she couldn't. She's too afraid to disobey his orders. He towers over her and can easily hurt her if she does.

"Emily Hunter?" The doctor came through door and her head shot up automatically at the sound of her name. Her mother led her out of the waiting room and they both walked towards to the doctor's office. 

Her mother came down to Emily's height, holding onto both her arms before reaching up and stroking the side of her cheek. "Honey i'm going to speak to the doctor first, can you wait out here a second?" Emily nodded and her mother gave a reassuring smile before going in. 

She waited for what seemed like hours. She couldn't stand still and kept fiddling with the bracelets on her wrist. The bracelets he'd told her to wear ever since the day he first hurt her. Finally her mother came out. She looked as though she'd been crying. She was frightened. The doctor looked down at Emily and he also looked saddened. It made Emily wonder what they'd been speaking about. Her mother then looked at her and motioned for Emily to go in, not trusting that her voice wouldn't break. She needed to stay strong. For Emily.

As Emily looked around the office she wondered how many other people had been in this confined room and for what reasons. She really hoped there weren't many other people who had been hurt or were still hurting. She looked up at the doctor who had brought out a large, black notepad and a shiny pen. This made Emily suddenly feel self aware of everything she was doing and anything she was about to say. 

"So Emily your mother's been telling me you've had a little bit of bother with a.. Friend?" The doctor struggled to say the words, he really wasn't sure how to phrase it. Emily just stared at him and couldn't think of anything to say. "Is this right?" The doctor urged her. She nodded. Keeping her eyes on the floor. "And apparently this.. Friend.. Is hurting you?" She looked up to his eyes and noticed he looked seriously concerned. She didn't necessarily want to tell him but she sort felt like she had to. For her mum. Her mum had really wanted her to come here.

"Yeah.. He just gets angry with me sometimes." She spoke out softly and innocently.  

"And why's that?" The doctor asked when she didn't go on.

"Because.. Because i don't do as he says." The doctor waited a moment, trying to figure out what to say. 

"Why don't we start from the beginning?" He crossed his legs and opened the notebook, making Emily feel nervous. "So when did you first meet him?" 

"Well.. One night.. Well my mum and dad were arguing, i was standing in the hall listening to them, and it was pretty bad. I mean, most of the time they just shout at each other but.." She stopped for a moment to swallow a lump in her throat. She'd never spoken about this before, only he knew about it. "But this time i could hear my mum crying and it made me really upset." She paused again. "That's when i met him." She looked back up to the doctor, fear forming in her eyes. "He was sitting on the fourth step of the stairs, staring at me. I was immediately scared and backed up against the wall. I.. I was afraid he would hurt me." She flinched at the word hurt and looked down at her arm before continuing. "He got up and told me not to be scared and smiled down at me. Did i mention he's tall? Yeah well he's really tall. Three times the height of me. He wears the same thing every time i see him. A black suit. I asked him why he always wears black but he said it didn't matter. 

So he said he was there to help me and i was too upset to think any different. I wanted anything to make me happy. He smiled again before leading me up to my bedroom. He spoke to me for a while. He told me he knew how to help. He somehow already knew everything about me. Everything which made me such a sad person. He knew i didn't have many friends and that people thought i was weird. He knew my parents didn't get along and that my dad was so close to leaving. He even knew my grades weren't very good and that i wasn't the smartest in my class. But he said he could help.

That night he told me to cry. To cry and cry until i had no energy to cry left. He said it would help me get to sleep and i wouldn't be distracted by silly thoughts because i would be so exhausted. Which i was. And that night i did get a good sleep. That's when i really believed he would help me." She looked up to see the doctor furiously scribbling in his notebook, his eyebrows furrowed in concentration. She waited until he was finished. He raised his head to look at her.

"And how.. I mean did he.. Help?" He stubbled on his words. She had to think about the answer to this. She looked down and imagined all the bruises and cuts under her clothes. Were they worth it? She thought. In some ways, yes. He helped her forget about a lot of things which made her so upset. 

"Yeah.. I guess."

"And how did he help?" 

"Well.. He said part of the problem of people not liking me was because i was fat." The doctor raised his eyebrows in surprise. "He said i had to stop eating so i did." That's when the doctor really noticed how small and how skinny she was. He made a note to weigh her later. "My mum and dad didn't really notice i wasn't finishing my meals. Usually they were already arguing by then. But sometimes it was really hard.. I would just be so hungry that i just.. I just had to eat. And i ended up eating loads. He made me feel so guilty for it though and immediately told me to throw it up. He made me be sick. This was the start of his punishments." The doctor almost choked and had to swallow the lump in his throat. 

"He said i had to stop pitying myself and to stop going to other people about my problems. He said my mum was already stressed enough with her relationship with my dad and i was just adding to the stress. He told me i just had to stay quiet from then on.

He started getting annoyed whenever i got upset. He didn't feel sorry for me the way he used to. He told me i had to stop crying, that people had it a lot worse than i did, which just made me feel worse. That was when he started cutting and bruising my skin." She fiddled with her bracelets before deciding to just show the doctor the small, straight lines across her wrist. The doctor felt sick in his stomach as he looked down at her tiny arm.

"Then it got worst. He was starting to get more and more angry with me. The more i didn't do what he told me to do." She paused, trying to clear her voice, tears welling at her eyes. "He said i didn't deserve to be here anymore. That no matter what i did.. No one would love me.. He said he could take me away. Take me away from the world and everyone that i was dragging down. He brought out one of the small blades he used to hurt me and smiled. 'A few cuts and it could all be over?' He said." Her hands were now shaking as she did everything she could not to cry. "But i didn't want him to hurt me anymore. So last night i locked myself in the bathroom and did what he first told me to do. I cried and cried, keeping my eyes tightly shut so i couldn't see him, until i was too exhausted to stay awake any longer." The doctor had to stop a gasp when the realization hit that this little girl could've not been sitting here today. 

"My mum found me this morning in the bathroom, asleep, and started worrying, asking what was the matter. That's when i couldn't keep it a secret anymore and told her about him. She found all the bruises and scars on my arm and said she was taking me to the doctor. She told me that.. That you would be able to make him go away and that's all i want." She wiped a tear which slipped from her eye. "I just want him to leave me alone." 

The doctor sat back and closed his notebook, thinking about all the things Emily had told him. It was hard to believe she was only 10. Only 10 and she was already hating herself and isolating herself from the world. It broke his heart watching her fix her sleeve so she wasn't looking at her skin. The way she looked at her stomach as if it was the most disgusting thing she'd ever witnessed. And she didn't even realize it was herself doing all of this. He didn't want to tell her. He just wanted to help her.

He quickly weighed her and shuddered at the tiny number which appeared at her feat. He told her to sit back down and went to get her mother from the waiting room, who had continued to cry as she waited to be called through. He told her to take the seat next to Emily before going back to his. Her mum sniffed before smiling reassuringly down at her daughter. 

"Okay well it seems Emily's been having a lot of bother with this.. Friend." He still found it hard phrasing it. "I don't know if you'll trust someone again Emily but.. I think i might know someone who'll be able to help. Someone you can go to instead of.. him." He glanced over to her mother, with real sympathy in his eyes, and handed her a piece of paper. Her mother had to clasp her hand to her mouth to stop her bursting into  tears. 

As she read the piece of paper she felt a wave of guilt wash over her. The tiny number stating her weight, how had she not noticed her tiny body? All the scars on her skin, how had she not noticed sooner? She felt so terrible. This piece of paper stated all the things which she should realized sooner. But she didn't. And she had no idea how she'd ever make it up Emily. She looked up to the doctor who also had a bit of disappointment in his eyes. He turned to Emily and smiled. 

"This person will make him stop. She will listen to you but won't ever hurt you. You can tell her anything you want, any of your worries and she will never judge you. This person will be a real friend. Because you deserve one Emily. You really do." The doctor spoke to Emily and passed over a small card with the name  and number of a therapist he knew. 

And for the first time in months there was a hopeful glint in Emily's eyes as she smiled at the doctor and thanked him. She looked up to her mum who looked sad. But she nodded at Emily and smiled to reassure her that everything would be okay. Emily smiled back, feeling relief lift off of her chest. Not just a temporary relief either. A relief she hoped would last. Forever. 

~ ~ ~

'Depression is the most common mental health problem for young people. About one in five young people will have experienced depression by the time they are 25. But many will not try to get help for it because they don't understand it, feel bad about it or don't know how to talk about it.' - Young Adult Health

Emily was diagnosed with depression, anorexia and bulimia at the age of 10. I wrote this to show that depression, anorexia and bulimia isn't just a phase someone might have. They are diseases and struggles people have to go through. They're not something you can control or just get over. That's why, in this story, i described depression as another person. Emily thought depression was her friend and that it was helping her but in fact it was eating away at her, leaving her so she had no control over herself whatsoever. She describes it as someone else hurting her because she doesn't actually realize she's doing it to herself.

I know this story might be a bit confusing but i hope some people will get it. Please comment on this as i'd love to know what you think and i hope you enjoyed. I'd like to also say that if you're going through anything of this sort stay strong and, if you can, please get help and know that so many people care about you and if you need anyone to talk to i'm here, just comment below and i'll send you my tumblr link or something <3

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