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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21. The Final Card

"Bryony, where are you going today?" Apeksha asked. "I was wondering whether you would be coming up to Lancaster at any point. It would be great to meet up."

 "It would. And I heard that Becca has gone to Uni in Manchester so I could meet up with you both."

 "Do you have any dates?"

 "Not yet but I'd like to come, I haven't seen you for so long. Will any time in March do?"

 "Yes."

 "Cool. I'll text you when I get it sorted. Hopefully it'll be soon. I can't wait!"

 I hung up the phone and breathed deeply. Since I'd come to university everything had changed. Some of my friends were gone from my life forever whilst others had stayed or randomly reappeared after having lost contact for a while. Despite my desire for perfection and control that had worked tirelessly to govern my life for so long my life at university was much more relaxed. I had, with the advice of Dr. Wakes, learnt to put my worries and burdens in a bag and tie it up when I got home so that I had time where I was relatively stress free. In a way it was a further method of his to prevent a relapse which I had feared and dreaded. I had often felt that university would be the one time I could finally have my own way and limit myself of all food consumption but since being admitted to hospital I had never seen university as a way to secure my perfection, it was now somewhere I feared to be in case I lost control with no one near me who could save me from whatever action I was compelled to carry out. The memory of Rayne and others from the ward remained fresh for years after I had left. I didn't want to be like Rayne. She was so fantastic but utterly ruined and messed up at the same time. No one can want a brain suffering such torment and confusion as Rayne's.

I'm much better, or so I believe anyway. I've just finished my second year at university. I'm studying for a History and English joint honours degree at the University of Sheffield. It's amazing. Sometimes I still struggle to understand why they gave me an offer and how I earned my place. I managed to scrape an A* and two A's in my A level exams as well as an A at AS level. I dropped German after Year Twelve because it was difficult and I didn't feel that my language skills were up to such an advanced level. Getting an A at AS was enough for me and it meant I was satisfied with my near perfect array of grades without a B spoiling it. (If I had kept up German I sensed this may have happened.) Libby was awestruck when I told her about my A* in English Literature. I was shocked too. Tess of the D'Urbervilles was not my favourite book by any stretch of the imagination but that may be the reason I felt able to analyse and judge it. Good books don't deserve picking apart, it destroys the joy one gets from reading them. Libby has gone to Cambridge to study geology but we still meet up in all our holidays and some weekends as it isn't too great a distance between our universities.

 I am very busy though. I haven't been idle in my time at university. Each week I go into a high school or college in the local area and tell my story to help raise awareness of eating disorders and to help those who are secretly and silently suffering. I'm also offering counselling services at the university for members of the public, anyone really, to drop into for any information they want regarding eating disorders. It feels like it wasn't a complete waste of time suffering and losing weight and mentally torturing myself. At least I can give assistance to others.

 Dr. Wakes is pleased with all the progress I have made and he supports what I do. Jem is a key player too, it was her who gave me the initial idea to run the sessions when I met with her and Becca at the hospital. I still have two meetings with Dr. Wakes each year to check up on how I'm doing. He feels that being at university is a vulnerable time and he is concerned that I'll recall my own negative feelings by talking to others about them. Doctors always seem to think differently to most human beings! But maybe that's why they're doctors. Think outside the box and that kind of thing.

The amount of time I have tried to help those in danger is uncountable, many people seem to be thankful for my help in supporting children and raising awareness of these issues close to me. I've begun to write a book about it all too so that others can see what it’s like to be suffering from an eating disorder and if they don't want to seek help for themselves then they can read what I did and maybe they'll feel inspired. An inspiration to others, that’s what I'd like to be. A role model. It would be lovely to hear people thinking of me in such a way. Now I feel it is time to move on and experience change once more, despite the success. I currently receive. There is less of a choice for me now as I have finished my degree, received a first for it and finished all my scheduled talks and support sessions. I need money to survive so my volunteering will have to be sacrificed. I'm going to head out into the world of work. A world that I have very little experience of and may struggle in. One thing that I have learnt from suffering with an eating disorder is that I'll never be perfect because my definition of perfect changes so that it is forever unachievable. Why Can't I Be Perfect? It's a stupid question and it's an overrated idea, trying to be perfect. In my opinion, perfect is a myth. Something to dream of and maybe even hope for but perfect is rarely a feature of reality. As long as I find happiness I will survive. That's the least one can ask for.

 

 

And One Final Message…

 Thank you for your support in reading this novella. If you are struggling with an eating disorder I would encourage you to tell someone as this can change your life like it changed mine. There will be doctors like Dr. Wakes everywhere who are willing to help you and, as I know helped me, take a list along so you can show them your feelings if you lose the ability to explain them. Thanks, Bryony Xxx

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