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.
See what you think and please give any suggestions you may have for the story.


14. The Diagnosis

I slept well despite the strange environment and the crisp clean sheets which were so different to my worn, soft cosy duvet and blankets at home. I didn't even have my teddy bear, Sam, with me and he always went everywhere I went. I hated having to sleep without him.

The following day was test day. I had to be given a diagnosis. After they had given me a breakfast of mushy porridge, which was disgusting, I was allowed to wash. A nurse stood outside the wash room to check I didn't regurgitate what I had just eaten. I had never done so before but that morning I had to resist the urge to vomit. I would have had stewed fruit and banana any day compared to that porridge. As soon as I felt suitable I was escorted to another area of the eating disorders unit. The doctor I had seen the previous day was there as was Dr. Chapman. She had clearly been notified of my state.  I should have had an appointment with her that afternoon originally, before I was rushed into hospital.

 My insides turned into carrot and swede puree as I entered the assessment room they sat in. My breathing quickened and my heart thumped like a tin drum on my rib cage. I could tell this was going to be dreadful.

 "Hello Bryony!" Dr. Chapman smiled at me cheerfully. It was beyond me why she was acting so happy and enthusiastic when she was about to destroy my life.

 "Right, we need to take your blood pressure and measure your height and weight." The doctor, whose name I had learnt to be Dr. Wakes, informed me.

 The hospital gown I had been given for the morning was perfect for these tests, obviously the reason I was made to wear it! As the data from the tests was being collated both Dr. Chapman and Dr. Wakes asked me questions. In my knowledge it was just like an air raid must have been, constant bombardment with painful emotions triggered. I felt sorry for all the people who had lived through the world wars.

 "Bryony, having seen your school reports we understand you are a talented, intelligent young lady. Do you feel you have any problems at school?"

 At my silence Dr. Chapman tried to prompt me.

 "What we mean is do you get stressed, anxious, bullied or is everything fine?"

 I weighed up the options in my head, as I did every time I was questioned regarding this personal topic. I was in hospital, they thought I was ill, was there any point denying facts? Probably not. They would emerge sooner or later.

 I breathed deeply, inwardly sighing and resigning myself to the fate I had brought.

 "I suppose the pressure stresses me and the fact that I have hundreds of exams. I generally manage to work myself into a panic, butterflies and feeling sick et cetera."

 Dr. Chapman and Dr. Wakes exchanged looks as I finished speaking.

 "And has the situation ever made you feel like crying and screaming or hurting yourself?"

 My tummy flipped in a triple somersault. Were they telepathic or mind readers? I had already been online to do tests for depression, anxiety, stress and eating disorders. I was well educated in the fields. None of this was new to me.

 "I cry sometimes, yes, and occasionally feel like screaming and shouting from the rooftop. And by hurting yourself, I take it you mean self-harm? Well, I have done that too."

 My mouth had suddenly opened of its own accord and I hadn't been going to admit about the self-harm. I was embarrassed about that and slightly guilty for messing myself up with scratches and cuts.

 "Bryony, when was the last time you harmed yourself? Please be honest with us; we are only here to help you and protect you."

 Protect me? From who, I wondered to myself. I was the only one who could be blamed for the hurt, the pain and the suffering.

 "About two months ago. Just under." I grimaced as I recalled the incident.

 Dr. Wakes had finished making notes on the paper before him and was looking at me critically.

 "I need to speak to Dr. Chapman alone please Bryony. I'll call you back in when we're ready."

 I left the room and stood awkwardly in the corridor. Every so often I was passed by a nurse pushing a trolley of goods and supplies but that was it. This unit wasn’t popular, most of us probably didn't believe what we were told. It was like a prison. I knew I had been right to diet and the safety pin, the scissors, the knife, they all relieved pain, they didn't create it.

 A hand on my arm guided me back into the present.

 "Bryony, you can come back in now."

 Back in the assessment room Dr. Wakes handed me a sheet of paper.

 "This is a summary of your notes, you may keep them."

 I glanced at the paper, my eyes scanning for recognizable words but I couldn't see any. I was in foreign territory. I had never experienced such things before.

 "We have concluded as to what you suffer from. Our diagnosis is complete. Umm," Dr. Chapman scanned the screen of the computer. "Bryony Thornhill, you have mild anorexia nervosa, moderate anxiety levels, and severe depression and stress levels. Here at the hospital, help and support will be provided for you to improve your health, both mental and physical."

 Again she smiled at me. It was more sympathetic this time, from the smile I read that Dr. Chapman or someone she knew had once been in a situation like mine. She understood what I felt. I'd never felt that with anyone else before. It was a reassuring feeling, it made me feel safer.

 I was left alone for the rest of that day. It was meant to help me recover from the shock of being diagnosed as mentally ill, of being singled out as an anorexic when so many people in my position never did because, like me, they were too scared to go to the doctor.

 It was late that evening when I found the note on my bedside cabinet. The envelope simply said 'Bryony' and inside there was a single sheet of paper. There was a title of 'Understanding' and what looked like a poem beneath it. It read:




I understand, do not fear

That I will mock

And reduce you to a tear

When all you wanted,

All you desired was a peer

To tell.


I understand, do not panic

For I was once there

Feeling just as manic;

All I wanted

Was to stop being frantic

And talk.


I understand, do not worry

That I will think you stupid

And make haste to hurry

You away, so you'll see

Sense when eating a curry

And relax.


I understand from being

In the same position

As you are now seeing

And all I want to do

Is help you and not by ringing

You home.


I understand and

This is why I will

Support what is planned

For you to ensure

That you reach land

More safely than I.


I read it twice more, knowing who it must be from and what they were trying to tell me. I half smiled and half groaned in contempt. I was unsure of how I should feel. I lay back on my bed and let myself fall into a magical, perfect land where I could be free and do as I wished with no precautions. The land of dreams soon approached me too.

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