Why can't I be perfect?

I have issues. I have lots of them. How will I survive?
This is the story of Bryony James. A 16 year old girl who is struggling with anorexia and depression.
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15. Life on the Ward

When I woke up there was a timetable pinned by my bed. It basically described the activities the hospital were assigning me. My timetable for the following week looked like this:

 

Wednesday: personal counselling

 Thursday: group counselling

 Friday: meet with doctor to discuss progress/management

 Saturday: free time/personal sessions

 Sunday: free time

 Monday: see psychiatrist/psychologist

 Tuesday: group counselling/ personal sessions

 

That looked like so much fun. The doctors clearly wanted me to get better in a depressing environment where my problems were probably going to be magnified. Did they have no consideration of inpatients feelings? It certainly didn't seem like it.

 I lay back down on my bed and let the feelings that were pent up in my mind flood through my body. I shook with anger at being in a hospital and fear of what ordeals I would be forced through to cleanse me and cure me. Tears leaked from underneath my eyelids, warm and sticky against my skin, running to comfort me in my grief at being unable to control my life.

 I couldn't even lie on my bed, wallowing in self-pity, for long. A nurse came up to me ten minutes later and told me my counselling session was about to begin and I'd better get a move on. I stared at the nurse, then glared at her. She couldn't force me to do anything.

 "You're the new arrival, aren't you? It's Bryony, yes?" the nurse seemed unperturbed by my resentful, hate filled glare.

 "Yes, I'm Bryony." I replied in a non-conversational tone.

 "I'm Beatrice, but it's Trixie for short, which is what all the other patients call me. We use first names in here to help you feel more protected and loved. It seems.to improve the recovery rates and your happiness." Trixie smiled cheerfully. "Now, we better get you to the counselling session or we'll both be in trouble!"

 Trixie coaxed me off the bed and we walked to the counselling room together. I'll come and see you later, she promised me as I opened the door for my personal counselling, it's allowed for me to do that Trixie added reassuringly.

 The counselling room was large and airy. It would be great for group counselling sessions because of the vast amount of space it offered. The walls were pale green and there were lots of windows. I could see firm locks on them all though. Protection was obviously a major thing, it had to be with potential suicide committers in the unit.

 "Hello Bryony. I'm Camilla. I hold personal and group counselling sessions. There is also a man, Benjamin, who does group counselling sessions too. How are you?"

 That was a stupid questions. What did she think I was doing there, playing around? The rest of the session was like that. The questions irritated me, I was reminded of why I had never seen a counsellor since the time I screamed at one and stormed out of the room. Everything about it made me tense, on edge and irritated. All I wanted to do was get back to the ward and lock myself into a world of fantasy through the door of a book. Instead i had to endure an entire hour talking to this Camilla.

***

 It was finally over after forty five minutes of torture, for both me and Camilla. I guess Benjamin will be holding my group session. Camilla probably won't be able to face it. The fact is, I won't willingly talk about what I've been through and that's what I'm being asked to do. I hate this hospital with a burning passion. They are ruining my life by forcing me to be here.

 "Bryony, you look a little stressed out. Do you want to come and have a coffee with me?" It was Trixie coming towards me with the purpose, I presumed, of collecting me from counselling.

 "Yeah. That would be ok." I replied half-heartedly. I wanted to talk to someone and Trixie was willing to listen but the thought of food and drink immediately led me to mentally calculate the excess, unnecessary calories I would be consuming. Calories were evil and I should try to avoid them at all costs. It had been one of the most steadfast and truthful of my mantra. I couldn't drop it now, whatever Camilla had said.

 Sitting in the hospital cafe with Trixie was a welcome relief, as it turned out. Trixie told me about her boyfriend and hobbies which was really interesting, not just because the focus had been removed from me. When we moved onto me it was discreet and Trixie made it easy. She should have been the counsellor. I would have loved her. Everything came out to Trixie. All about how awful Camilla had been, her constant questions, her derogatory statements which made me feel stupid and small and as though the illness were all my fault. Trixie was reassuring and put my mind at rest. She also said she would talk to Camilla.

 Trixie and I strolled slowly back to the unit where we entered through a door I hadn't seen before, into a lounge area where two girls were sitting playing tri-ominoes. Both were very slim and looked ill, even with my distorted vision.

 "This is Elise and this is Cara. I think Becca is in her room and Amy, Rayne and Margaux must be out. You can sit in here with them if you wish. They won't bite!" Trixie walked over to Elise and Cara and spoke quietly to them.

 "Bryony," Elise called. "Come over and play.  If you don't know how to play I can guarantee you'll pick it up quickly."

 I glanced at Trixie who gave me an encouraging smile, passively telling me this was a chance to make friends and have support in recovering.

 "Okay." I replied hesitantly, taking a chair over to the table where Elise and Cara were playing.

 We played until lunch and I found out a lot about my two companions. They enjoyed dance like I did and loved to read. We watched similar programmes on television which, according to Cara, was brilliant because there would be less arguments over what to watch in the evenings. I also discovered that Elise had had bulimia and was on her third month in the hospital eating disorder unit. Cara told me she had been classed as EDNOS but was leaving soon as she been cleared as almost fully recovered and that meant being an outpatient. I was happy for Cara but I was also jealous of her recovery. I wanted a miraculous recovery so I could go home. But at the same time I wanted to remain how I was. Life was simple and I knew where I stood with anorexia. Normal life was so much tougher.

 At lunch I met the other girls and a few of the guys. Elise and Cara sat on one side of me and Becca was on the other. Margaux, Rayne, Amy and two boys called Uriah and Charlie were also there. Trixie and another full time nurse in this unit sat with us to monitor what happened, open the routine of regular mealtimes and keep peace.

 Becca was an anorexic too but I couldn't tell. She was funny, sarcastic and quite serious. The only negative point about Becca that I noticed was her lack of self-belief and self-esteem. Maybe Becca was like me, brilliant at hiding away her real feelings. That was probably it. Camilla had mentioned that to me. I had thought it a skill, a strength but Camilla said it was a flaw in my character. But at least Cara, Elise and Becca liked me for who I really was whether I had flaws or strengths in my illness. Here at the hospital I could be honest without being judged.

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