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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12. The Discovery

After school the next day Mum came to pick me up. I sat in geography looking out of the window, not focusing on the map we were supposed to be annotating. It was because of this that I saw mums car arrive outside the school gates at three o’ clock and sit there for half an hour until school finished for the day and I got out of the lesson.

This gave me long enough to work out of a strategy to escape college without her noticing me. I didn't want to go and see this doctor. I hated doctors’ surgeries and hospitals. I had to find a way to avoid it. Unfortunately Mollie was talking to me as I left geography and as we usually walk together I subconsciously headed for the back gates where mum was lying in wait for me. As soon as I left the college grounds she pounced upon me, lowering down the window and hissing at me to hurry up and get in. I said goodbye to Mollie and got into the car. Mum drove away as quickly as she could. Anyone would have thought we were going to be late. Mum drove in silence. She clearly wasn't in the mood for talking.

 When we got to the doctors surgery I signed myself in on the interactive screen. It’s fun to press the numbers and for it to know who you are just by the information you provide. I guess it’s sort of like a version of twenty questions. I got out my book and read whilst we waited to be called through. Great Expectations was an amazing book. In my opinion About a Boy and Of Mice and Men should be removed from the GCSE syllabus and replaced with good old fashioned books. Real literature. So engrossed in the novel did I become that Mum had to nudge me twice before I realised that we had been called to go in.

 It was a small claustrophobic room which would have benefited from having the windows opened. The operating bed was covered by a sheet of blue toweling and the two chairs laid out for me and Mum to sit on were exact replicas of the ones Brookhill had in the school hall.

 "Hello. I'm Dr. Lydia Chapman." The doctor introduced herself even though I was perfectly capable of reading her name badge. Surely they didn’t think I was illiterate?

 "Hi." I felt it was necessary to reply.

 "You’re Bryony, correct?"

 "Yes."

 "And could you tell me your date of birth and where you live, please?"

 Why did doctors always ask the same questions? They already knew the details, and health and safety couldn't be that much of an issue. That’s what I thought anyway.

 "I was born on the sixth of April nineteen ninety seven and I live at sixteen Bramble Heath, Fernhead Peterborough."

 "Thank you. Now, Mrs. Thornhill? Why did you wish for this appointment?"

 Mum blushed faintly before giving a brief description of the previous day’s events and the phone call from the nurse.

 She finished by saying,

 "And so I believe it would be a good idea to get her checked for being strong, healthy and normal. Especially mentally as well as a physically."

 I groaned at mum’s outright nature. She could be so embarrassing.

 "Okay Mrs. Thornhill. Bryony, will you take off your jacket and come and stand on this sheet so that I can measure your height."

 I stood as straight and tall as I could, knowing that I was tall for my age.

 "Goodness me," the doctor laughed, "you're much taller than I am. One hundred and seventy seven centimeters!"

 We went on to measure my weight which was, in my opinion way to heavy, at forty seven point five kilograms.

 She took my blood pressure too. I'm not sure what the numbers meant but I don't think it was very good because she enquired whether I had been feeling stressed recently and asked if I felt good in myself. The wording of the question was so strange that it made me want to laugh. It was such a stupid question. But I had.to tell her yes, what with mum sitting at right angles to me, monitoring everything I said. She was sure to analyse it and decide it had some subverted meaning which showed by supposed demise!

 When she asked me to leave the room so that she could talk to mum alone for a bit I began to feel worried and butterflies began to bob around in my stomach, doing flips and somersaults.

 It was five minutes later when mum reappeared and led me out of the surgery. It felt like five hours for the amount of panicking I had been doing.

 "What did the doctor say to you, Mum?" I asked desperately.

 "Oh nothing much. She wants you to go back for another appointment at the same time next week.”

 "Seriously? Another appointment?" I gasped in shock. It couldn't be true. Not another appointment.

 "I think she is slightly concerned for your well-being. It really shouldn't bother you this much, darling. It’s just a simple and straight-forward doctor’s appointment."

 "Mum, you know how much I hate surgeries and hospitals."

 Mum frowned at me as we reached the car and turned the radio on as soon as we got in. The conversation was over. She always ended them. It was never me.

 That evening I worked like never before. I needed to get the doctor and all things related to her out of my head. They made me feel too stressed.

 The rest of the week went well by my standards. I didn't faint again, I ate as little as I possibly could, I played in two matches for the netball team and I worked hard, even scoring thirty nine out of forty in a chemistry test.

 Unfortunately, this wasn't impressive to the doctor when I went for the appointment scheduled for me. Thankfully Mum was unable to attend because she had a meeting with work. I didn't need her there anyway. It would be less stressful or so I hoped.

 The doctor went through all the same procedures as before but this time instead of sending me away she got me to sit down.

 "Bryony you're quite a mature young woman now so that is how I am going to treat you. You're BMI is low, very low in fact, for your age. You have lost weight since we last met; this is worrying but it may have a logical reason behind it. There may be sense here still, I cannot rule that out yet."

 I looked at Dr. Chapman out of the corner of my eye. No way was I going to look her straight in the eye. I couldn't do that with anyone.

“Tell me, are you sure you’re eating properly?”

I sat in silence, in my head I made a silent vow not to answer any of her questions for fear of giving myself away.

“Okay, you’re obviously not going to answer that one. How are you feeling right now? Describe what you’re thinking if you want.”

She looked at me expectantly. I played with the piece of cotton hanging from my sleeve. There was no decent way to do this, whatever I di it would be rude and impolite.

“Bryony? Are you okay?” Dr. Chapman was looking concerned now, maybe she could read my thoughts. Now, that would be creepy and mysterious. Probably a fantastic skill for a doctor though.

Suddenly my mouth opened all of its own accord. It began to speak and say things I didn’t want to be heard by anyone. I tried with all my might to make it stop, to shut it up but the strings would not be pulled and my mouth could not be bound. I sat in my seat, cringing and wishing I could die on the spot. I watched Dr. Chapman as my mouth voiced syllables I never knew I was capable of saying to another human being,

“I suppose I’m not exactly okay, no. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here, would I?”

I paused and Dr. Chapman nodded and murmured, “No. No.”

“I feel lost and insecure. There’s so much I want to do but if I am to succeed I know I need control. This is my way of being in control. My way to cope with life and get through every day. It makes me feel powerful in a world where I am treated as inferior and seem to have no say in anything that happens to me. Mum says I’m a perfectionist and should take things easier but that’s not easy. I guess I am very OCD about hundreds of things.”

Dr. Chapman was picking up her pen and her notebook was at hand. Oh no, I took a deep breath in and continued, even though I knew she was going to be writing half of the words I spewed out down.

“I hate myself, the way I look, the way I behave and the person I am. I don’t even understand my identity anymore. Every time that I look in the mirror I get a distorted image of myself and I see fat, every part of me is covered in a gross thick layer of elephant fat, and it is disgusting. I can feel bones but my mind twists it away, turns the feeling into that of something else. It’s like I’m in control but at the same time I have even less control than I have ever had before. It messes with my mind and makes me feel like I am in the centre of a battle ground with no idea when the battle is going to end.”

I stopped. I felt worn out, completely drained. I closed my eyes and began imagining I was somewhere else. Perhaps this was a dream. If not then this was the most embarrassing moment in my entire life. Had I really just said all that? And to a doctor? I must have been the stupidest person alive at that moment.

“Bryony.” Dr. Chapman’s voice brought me back to the present, assuring me that it was not a dream, not in the slightest. “I think it is best for me to contact the hospital. They can assess you and will either take you on as an inpatient or outpatient, depending on what happens in the next few weeks. I want to see you again next week and we will discuss what you have told me. I think it would be best if your Mum didn’t come. Do you agree?”

“Yes.” I said in a small voice, sounding as if I were being punished for a crime I had committed.

“Right. I hope this week goes well and if you take a look at this,” she handed me a leaflet entitled ‘Eating Disorders: All you need to know!’ “Then I would be very grateful. It is not your fault, Bryony, remember that. Stay safe. Goodbye.”

And with that I left the office and ran all the way home.

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