Soon, soon the flesh
The grave cave ate will be
At home on me
And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.
This is Number Three.
What a trash
To annihilate each decade.
What a million filaments.
The peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see
Them unwrap me hand and foot
The big strip tease.
These are my hands
I may be skin and bone,
Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
The first time it happened I was ten.
It was an accident.
The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut
As a seashell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.
Is an art, like everything else,
I do it exceptionally well.
I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I've a call.
It's easy enough to do it in a cell.
It's easy enough to do it and stay put.
It's the theatrical
Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
That knocks me out.
There is a charge
For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heart----
It really goes.
And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood
Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.
I am your opus,
I am your valuable,
The pure gold baby
That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.
Ash, ash ---
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there---
An extract from Lady Lazarus- Sylvia Plath
The past few days have been stressful and anxious. I caught a stomach bug.When someone struggling with anorexia catches a stomach bug however, it
is not simply a duvet day in bed. It is my mother making anxious calls to
various medical professionals, resulting in the final conclusion "Get her to
casualty as quickly as possible". So we went. As I was bundled into the car mum tried to joke "Car, take us to Ealing hospital" she said, making light of the fact that considering the amount of journeys we have made too and from the hospital, our little Yaris should know the route off by heart. I forced a smile. She held my hand and started up the car. When we got to the hospital I was shivering violently. We proceeded into the Accident and Emergency unit, it was, as usual, busy. The fact that it was a bank holiday seemed to make little difference to this fact. We went to the desk and were greeted by a friendly looking man, he looked over at me and smiled, the way you smile at a young child. Clearly my lack of makeup and normal clothing had led him to believe I was much younger than my twenty years. The man and mum both looked at me, expecting me to say something. I stood, mute. Looked at mum, giving her the message that I sure as hell didn't feel like explaining things, nor did I want to be there, so she could do the talking. "My daughter, Maya, she's got anorexia, she's currently being treated, but she's been sick all this morning and we were advised to get her to accident and emergency". "Self induced?" The man said accusingly. "NO" I offered forcefully. I knew they would all assume this. It made me angry. Mum held my hand "No, I've been with her, she can't control it. We're just worried about her electrolytes, specifically her potassium levels and obviously her heart". I could feel the silent waiting room full of people listening. I shuddered, hating that they all knew my horrible title "anorexic". "Right- take a seat and someone will be with you in a minute". We moved to two empty seats. Compulsively mum pulled off her coat, carefully folded it and put it down on the chair for me to sit on, recognising the hard hospital chairs were not make for my small bony bum. Within two minutes we were called in to see the nurse. The eyes of the waiting room burned into us. We'd skipped the queue. The little boy with a bandage around his head was crying steadily. Yet again I flushed as we scurried into the nurses office. My vital were taken. Very low blood pressure. Very high temperature. I was quickly swept into another room, bundled into a hospital gown, laid on a bed, wired up to a machine to check my heart. Pricked, prodded, blood taken. The nurse fumbled and blood oozed all down my arm. A procedure which once threw me into hysterics has now become routine, however, this blip brought on a wave of terror. I sobbed and sobbed. They forced another needle into my arm, much more painful than I knew it should have been. Quickly I was hooked up to a drip. I put on my iPod and closed my eyes. I lay down. With my right arm hooked to the drip I was scared to move it. My left was soon also assaulted. A second attempt to get blood. This time successful. With my eyes closed, my other senses were sharpened. I knew the drip was not yet on, I had not felt the cold liquid starting through my body. I turned and saw a group of medics fiddling with the machine. "It's saying there's an air bubble". I waited. More people came, fiddled, left. Still no rush of cold. Then, suddenly, I felt it. It was not just cold, it hurt. I breathed in sharply and turned to the doctor "It hurts" I told him. "It's the potassium, it will a bit". He said unsympathetically. So I lay there and fell asleep. Mum by my side reading Harry Potter. Every inch of my waif like body despising the foolish girl who had got it into this position. I woke up suddenly, needing the toilet. "I'll grab a wheelchair" the doctor said "I can walk, I walked in here". "Are you sure, your blood pressure is so low, I don't think you can". "I'm pretty sure I could skip there if you wanted" I told him. He did not laugh. Instead of a wheelchair a large porter was summoned to walk behind me, his arms held in front of him slightly open, shuffling along as a nurse guided my drip. We must have looked absolutely ludicrous. I'm pretty sure if I had seen this performance I would have been hysterical, however, I wasn't, I was pissed off. I was pissed off with the porter, shuffling along as if I needed to be carried. I was pissed off with the doctor, for not allowing me to push my own drip. Ultimately though, I was pissed off with myself, for getting to such a state that a slight stomach bug could lead to such hysteria.
Hours and hours passed, me, lying in bed, drip pulsing through my arm, mum sitting patiently, reading Harry Potter and stroking my head periodically. Every now and then a nurse would appear, take my temperature, blood pressure, frown. "My blood pressure is ALWAYS low" I pleaded with each one "It's never going to get up to normal, however long we wait". Mum seconded this, until they told her the reading "Bloody hell, that IS low Maya, even lower than usual, lie down". I do as I am told and lie and lie, drifting in and out of sleep, thinking about how the hell I ended up here. Wishing that someone could have shown me a photo of me now, lying in a hospital gown with a drip hanging out of my arm. That someone could have showed me a photo of myself last summer, upon entering the eating disorder unit. That someone could have poignantly drawn my attention to the fact that prior to me developing an eating disorder there were new photos of me every week out with friends and having fun. Since anorexia entered my life however, these photos have slowly dissolved into just shy of nothingness. Kate Moss' mishap line "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels" is held up as a holy motto among many wishing to lose weight, as well as those suffering from eating disorders. My response is this...compare me, two years ago, to me now. Skinny does not feel good. I thought it would make things better, that i'd be more confident. That i'd be happy. I have achieved none of this. In fact, quite the opposite. Anorexia is full of such contradictions. People say we are searching for control, ultimately, we end up puppets to the disorder. People say we are vain and starving for attention. We end up wishing we could just disappear. People say we are searching for happiness. We plunge ourselves into hell. So, I know all of this. I am totally aware of the fact that starvation has not made me happy. That it has not been a magic cure to my problems. That ultimately, this lifestyle will lead to my demise. So, you must be wondering...why the hell isn't she sitting eating anything she can get her hands on right now? Well, that's the trick. Anorexia is an addiction. When starving, your body produces huge amounts of adrenaline. This means many of those suffering with anorexia will literally be waifs, as high as kites. This is why even when I was completely empty, literally starving, I was still managing to run like a maniac. This is why I have sleepless nights. You become a manic insomniac, and you are addicted to it. However, you are not a happy manic insomniac. I MUST stress this. There is a reason there has been a noticeable change in my character in the past two years and that is, whilst my body is getting lots and lots of adrenaline, I am not able to produce serotonin, i.e. the happy chemical. It needs food to get into your brain and fill it with happy happy rainbows. No food=no rainbows. This is another thing no one tells you before you begin starving. There is a reason Beyonce looks a hell of a lot happier than Keira Knightly, Posh and Kate Moss. So, the moral of the story? Happiness does not reside at the bottom of an empty stomach, biology tells us this, but if that isn't enough, I am walking proof.