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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13. Perseverance

I sat in my bedroom staring at the leaflet Dr. Chapman had given to me. The first question I had noticed said 'So where did it all begin?'

I couldn't say exactly but I remembered Gabrielle coming up to me and saying ‘Bryony, can I ask you a question?’ to which I had replied ‘Sure, if you must’. When she went ‘Why you are pretending to be an anorexic when you clearly aren't?’ I flipped. I screamed at her to get lost and stormed out of the room. Why had Gabrielle Martin ever been born? I hated that girl with all my might. I ran down the corridor and hid in the girls toilets. I wouldn’t come out when Mollie called me and even Victoria couldn’t get me to move. Tears streamed down my face and choked me. Gabrielle had hit a soft spot, somewhere increasingly tender since the fiasco at the doctor’s surgery the previous day. I stayed in the toilets for the next two lessons and half of lunch. I just didn’t want to face the world or Gabrielle again.

***

The next week was a living hell for me. Dr. Chapman's words haunted me and the booklet she had given me sat in a drawer, discarded forever. I wasn’t going to open it and read any more of it. It was too depressing. I hoped Mum would never find it. I mean, she would never have guessed in her wildest dreams that her daughter, Bryony Thornhill, would become an anorexic.

The following day at school I worked as hard as I possibly could, pushing myself to the limit. I remember Mollie asked me why I was so motivated, but this wasn't motivation, this was self-destruction through work. I had been discovered for who I really was by Dr. Chapman and I couldn't let anyone else see the flaws that had been about to break through all the carefully placed barricades and boulders. At break times and lunchtimes I raced to the library where I took refuge and sought comfort from novels like Great Expectations or The Book Thief. I loved both books, they gave me the most perfect detachment from reality and it was a rarity if I was still conscious of my surroundings ten minutes after arriving in the library. Books were my saving grace, without them I probably would have dived under and disappeared forever.

I didn't eat anything all day, not even a tiny tomato. There was no way food would go into me willingly when I had betrayed myself to a doctor. A doctor. Of all the people who I could have broken down in front of and spilled the beans, it had to be a doctor didn’t it. That was just my sort of luck though. I didn't get much of it. Not positive.

***

I didn't eat much for the rest of the week. I think it was because of Dr. Chapman's words that I had tendencies of someone suffering from an eating disorder. That had been a blow for me. The shock of what had happened last Tuesday was, in my opinion, what caused my downfall. If I had never met Dr. Chapman, if I hadn't of broken down in front of her, then I wouldn't be in the position I am now in. Thinking back to Gabrielle and where it all began was scary. Instead of making me stop, rethink and attempt to become more normal, I desired more control. I wanted something that wouldn't stop me or shout at me.

 I made up excuse after excuse to my friends as to why I wasn't eating lunch and why I didn't sit and chat with them at break and lunchtimes. Zoe was so concerned she offered to come elsewhere with me.

 "Bryony, are you sure you're ok?"

 "Yeah, I just have a lot of work to catch up on." I replied, inwardly screaming NO and wishing for her to leave me alone. After a few more attempts at conversation she did go, realising she was failing. My anger at her tries to move me wouldn't disappear so I found my safety pin on my glove. I knew I shouldn't, that it would only bring more pain, but I had to so that I felt better. Dragging the blade across my skin drew notches of coppery red blood. The pain made me feel good. I was fine. I was going to be fine.

 In the evenings, because I ate breakfast knowing it was the most important meal of the day and because I didn't want Mum becoming too suspicious, I made up other excuses. I had stayed late at school and eaten there, Mollie was having a party where I would be having a light meal and even that I had a cold and my throat hurt to swallow so much that I couldn't eat. Surprisingly Mum seemed to buy the excuses.

 The next Monday morning I weighed myself and I was delighted, although I knew I could do better, to discover I had lost five kilograms in the week. It put me on an immense high for the first part of the day. I was no longer a fat freak like Gabrielle had clearly thought. I was in control and closer to reaching the perfection I longed for.

 As I walked to school that morning I thought of the lessons I would have: double Biology, double English Literature then double Geography. It was one of my favourite days.

 "Bryony, you look happy this morning!" Jasmine called to me as I went into form. I sat next to her and we talked until we had to leave for lessons. My class was doing a practical in Biology when, as I picked up a bottle of sulphuric acid, my hands started shaking violently. I put the bottle back on the work surface and lent on it. My vision began to go starry then cloudy before everything went black and I felt a faint pain shoot up my left arm.

 I didn't hear the voices as I fell or the teacher trying to rouse me. When Victoria related it to me later she said that she had been asked to run to the medical room and collect a wheelchair so that they could move me. I don't remember any of that. The school nurse recognised me and phoned my mum. It was agreed that, as I hadn't yet woken up again, I should be taken to hospital.

 My first recollection is of being in an ambulance with a man of about thirty leaning over me to measure my pulse. I opened my eyes slowly as my head ached and felt strangely heavy. Immediately the man asked how I felt and explained to me about the fainting. Once we've checked you over we need to ask you some questions, he told me. This did panic me slightly, after my last few encounters of being asked questions I had failed miserably.

 The tests for my health took longer than expected. I wasn't as simple as they had hoped I would be. I was taken into an office room where they made me a mug of coffee and gave me a shortbread biscuit. I forced it down, promising myself I would never do it again. Fainting was a sign of weakness and so was eating to stop oneself fainting again.

 A man in a suit walked into the office followed by a female nurse who had long curly strawberry blonde hair.

 "Hello Bryony." the doctor said, shaking my hand firmly but politely.

 "Hello." I answered warily.

 "We need to ask you some questions regarding your fainting episode this morning. Is that alright?"

 "Yes." I replied, knowing that no was not an acceptable answer.

 "Fantastic. So, do you think you slept well last night?"

 I thought back to my reading and exercise regime which allowed for three hours sleep or six at the very most. That had to stay secret.

 "Yes, I slept fairly well." i told them.

 "And what were your last five meals?"

 Here I was slightly stumped. Mum had left for work at six and as I hadn't been hungry I had left the house without breakfast. That meant my last meal had been Sunday breakfast of a bowl of stewed apple and blackberry with half a banana.

 "Umm, my last five meals were today’s breakfast, yesterday breakfast, lunch and dinner and supper the night before. I think."

 The hasty addition of 'i think' did not go down well.                                                                                               

 "Bryony, there is one more concern that has been raised to our attention. Last Tuesday you had a doctor’s appointment where you were weighed in at ______ kilograms. Today you are at ______ kilograms. Does this concern you?"

 I felt too tired and worn out to care what I said by then but whatever words escaped from mouth were the wrong words for Mum was brought into the room and the doctor told her that he wanted to keep me in hospital  under supervision because I was supposedly acting suspiciously.

 I was admitted onto the eating disorders ward, in the EDNOS unit until they decided what I was suffering with. They had told my mum 'anorexia' in the corridor when they thought I had gone. Dr. Chapman could probably tell them that much though. And that was how I ended up as am inpatient in an eating disorders unit of my local hospital, all because I fainted in biology. That night I curled up in the crisp starched hospital sheets and cried myself to sleep. I had lost my control and my freedom to a place that shouldn't be allowed to keep me.  My fainting wasn't the issue, the people preventing me from working and reaching my ultimate goal were the problem.

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