Your Failing Frame
Trigger Warning: Eating Disorders, Self-Harm, Suicide
It’s starting again isn’t it?
As my head lays across your chest, your heart beats slowly under my ear. You graze your hand across my cheek, but pull away when you start to shake. This subtle sign is one of the first that I notice. The next is a roar within your stomach. You ignore it once when I ask if you want breakfast. Twice it’s ignored, then three times, and then slowly I lose count. Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, but three times? That’s a pattern. I can tell that there is a part of you that wants to give into this yearning. Why won’t you give it more?
I watch as this pattern continues and you grow sicker. The sicker you get, the further your eyes sink into your skull. Meanwhile, your focus shrinks. It falters, your head floating into a vacuum of space. There is a vacuum in your stomach. It is a motel with one too many vacancies, falling into destitution; you are falling into destitution. You lie awake at night, tossing and turning away from the thoughts that plague you. It’s no wonder you are so tired. Energy is pouring out of you, leaving behind an absence that was once filled with warmth.
You’re shivering, goosebumps creeping up your arms. No matter how many layers you wrap yourself in, you still say you’re cold. No number of layers can assuage it. The cold cracks your nails and their shine wanes. You are slowly being chipped away. Your eyes are hollowing, their light is fading. You falter as you put one foot in front of the other, the stars in your eyes no longer bright, but dizzying. I hold you tighter, balancing your swaying frame. You try to play it off, thinking that I don’t notice as you fight away the encroaching darkness.
I do notice. I notice how your favorite jeans hang low, threatening to slip down your sides. I can see you fighting a civil war within your mind. Your mind leaves little room for compromise. It offers no treaty. It has become an oppressive dictator, enforcing strict discipline and control. This constant compliance to the rules imposed on you has evicted your peace. You are always analyzing and overanalyzing the food that you should and should not eat. Your mind tracks the calories, the sugars, the fats, the portion sizes. Yet you still protest, in small ways. You resist the darkest urges, managing to keep something, anything, within you. I know there are consequences for an unsubtle rebellion. There is screaming and torment waiting for disobedience. You aren’t allowed to eat enough, but still just enough. You make sure that no one notices. No one can know. Why won’t you let us help? Shouldering this immense weight on your own will crush you. Let us help you. Are you afraid to be a burden; to infect our joy and our laughter?
But I do notice. I see you staring a few seconds too long in the mirror, analyzing your volume. Don’t you know that you have the right to take up space? You deserve every square inch of it. You criticize the perfect contour of your curves and I would hate to see them cut away. This isn’t the way. I know that other people contextualize your curves into their binary thinking. They force you into a box, leaving no room for your breath and it is suffocating. It is impossible to escape. You are not defined by the boxes that others place you in. They only see what is on the surface, but I know what goes on below it.
Lean into me, into my warmth. Let me shine its light into your darkest corners, casting out their shadows. I’ll chase out the cold and usher in joy and laughter. You deserve joy and laughter. You deserve the world and everything good within it. You deserve to pursue what you love. This darkness has eclipsed your passion, leaving dread and unease in its place. The dread and unease have grown into anxiety and turmoil.
The darkness is all-consuming, threatening all that is good within you. You have become increasingly unrecognizable, racing away from your former self. You were so full of life and the darkness has drained it from you. This darkness has pulled you under its current. Your lungs are screaming for reprieve and your head threatens to implode from inflating pressure. You are drowning in the deep end of a seemingly never-ending ocean. I don’t know how to save you. Please, break the surface tension that holds you captive. Reach for me.
You are withering – shrinking -- away, from the world and from yourself. The darkness has cut the ties that connect you to the world. The ribbon that ties your body together is thinning, weakening. Your shield is cracking. The slightest bump on the corner of the countertop or the dresser results in a bruise beneath your skin. Your mind has folded you in on yourself, pulling you into isolation. It has led you into a tunnel where all you can see is the darkness around you. There is light without the cave. There are people waiting on the other side, holding flashlights to guide your way. We are your rescue squad.
You are being buried alive by the thoughts piling up in your head. You have one foot 6 feet underground, in a hole that your mind has dug for you. Your mind has engraved your headstone and is waiting to pull you down the rest of the way. What if no treatment can pull you from this hole? What if you can’t recover? What if you become the five to ten percent that die from this disease? Or the twenty percent that die from organ failure or by their own hand? I see you turning to dust right before my eyes and I am so afraid that I will lose you to the next gust of wind that comes your way.
Anorexia is the deadliest of the eating disorders, yet only 1 in 10 people seek help. If you or someone you love needs help, contact the National Eating Disorder Association’s hotline. You can chat online at https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/help-support/contact-helpline or call/text them at (800) 931-2237. Choose to break anorexia’s grip, choose recovery.