Living with anorexia

Invisibility hoody

You know those texts you don’t want to send.  The ones where you agonise over each word for hours, close your eyes, press send and then fling the phone across the room, vowing never to look at it again.  Yeah.  I sent one of those this morning.

I breathed a sigh of relief.  It was done.  I could calm myself enough to eat breakfast now.

Barely five minutes had passed when the doorbell rung.

I froze.

Instant panic.

What do I do?

I am alone in the house.  There is no-one else to see who is at the door.

I shrink back into the sofa, withdraw myself into the safe depths of my hoody.

I don’t move.

The doorbell rings again.

Panic.  What if whoever is at the door knows I am here?  I put my hood up, as though it has invisibility properties.  I wish I was invisible.

I shake myself.  To the outside world I am invisible.  No-one can see me here.  I don’t need an invisibility hoody.

Why am I so panicked?

The text I had sent minutes earlier was to an old friend that I grew up with.  She had messaged me earlier in the week to let me know she was back in town for the weekend.  Did I want to meet up?  Go to the pub?

I felt instant fear.  After months of feeling isolated and alone, here was an opportunity to see a friend.  But I can’t bring myself to meet her.  The thought of having to shower, get dressed, leave the house and then sustain some sort of conversation for an hour or so is all too much.  I can’t do it.  I just want to be left alone.

So I invent an excuse and text her back.

And now the doorbell is ringing again.  What if it’s her?  What if she has come to see me?  Maybe she hasn’t got my text.  I want to hide.  The outside world seems so scary and unknown and I feel so small and fragile.  Even the spring sunlight streaming through the windows is invading me, imposing itself upon me.

Then I hear the person at the door call my name.  Relief floods over me.  I recognise my sister’s voice.  She has returned from her Saturday morning run.

Moving nervously I make my way into the hallway and let her in, shutting the door quickly behind her.  Being near the open door makes me feel strangely exposed, as though there are crowds of people outside, all craning their necks to peer at me.  I pull my hood closer around my face and return to the safety of the sofa.  I am invisible once again.  My hoody shields me against the unwelcome intrusion of the sunlight that is still burstining, uninvited into the room.  The light brings a joy that I cannot feel.

Mental illness is so frustrating.  Seeing an old friend shouldn’t be terrifying.  But it is.  I want so badly to see friends, to have a social life, to enjoy myself.  But instead I am isolating myself.  I want to be left alone.  I want to stay curled up under a blanket on the sofa.  I want to be invisible in my hoody, at peace in my solitude, and comforted by the familiar rhythm of my anorexic routine.