In April 2021, I told my mother that I didn’t care if I died. In hindsight, it was the sentence that saved my life. It was in that moment I realised I was no longer afraid of falling victim to the scales. They had already swallowed me whole and moved on to their next victim. I had watched my mum break down at the thought her eldest daughter was willing to die, I was the reason my dad started therapy, and why my younger sister had relapsed into her anxiety. For my own sake, I was sick of spending $900 on appointments each month and being scared my own body.
It’s one thing to admire the bodies of models sprawled across social media, but it’s another thing to murder yourself in the process of trying to achieve ‘the look.’ Why did I start? It’s impossible to explain. But addiction to having a skeletal aesthetic is the true reason I couldn’t stop.
In November 2020, a fortnight before high school graduation, a classmate turned to me with anticipation on her tongue.
“Everyone gains weight when they graduate, right? I want to do the opposite and just get anorexic,” she blurted without hesitation.
It was as if she was proud to think in such a way. It seemed an obscure thing to comprehend on the spot, yet her lacking emotion made it sound reasonable on second thought. By January 2021, her words had been engraved in my mind. I was slowly adopted her goal and making it my own. In February, it was no longer about going on runs and eating prison-cell rations. My life revolved around sitting on the bathroom floor taking turns between making myself sick and checking the scales. It was about purposely adding more food to the plates for my sister and parents in order to feel proud that I could eat the smallest portion in the house. It was about refusing to shower before completing my daily sit ups on the tiled floor and being petrified of the calories in toothpaste. When March rolled over, I was in love with being sick; obsessed with seeing my ribs protrude from my sides.
It didn’t seem like it, but even during those first four months, when I was denying myself anything, I still cared. It was just buried deep down inside me. It wasn’t until May that dying seemed nothing more than then a simple solution for everyone I was hurting.
My mum, on her way to work, and me: the two of us sitting with the discomfort of knowing I was in the depths of this illness. It wasn’t my purple skin that worried her anymore, nor the fact I cried at the sight of oil or cheese on the kitchen bench. It was my bleeding organs and failing heart. She begged for me to take a bite of the muesli bar that sat in my lap unwrapped. I refused blankly.
“I don’t need to,” I insisted.
“Yes. You do. You’re wasting away.”
“So? Clearly I don’t care. Neither should you.”
“Don’t care about what?” she rather pleaded than asked.
“I don’t care if I die.”
The words made so much sense in my head but saying them out loud felt criminal. Even so, I was telling the truth. They say that the truth will set you free. Ironically, by admitting that I wanted to die, I managed to save my own life.
My biggest turning point, however, came in July, when my mum wished for one thing on her birthday. She just wanted me to stay alive.
Fast forward to today, and I don’t recognise that girl. I used my greatest weakness and twisted it into a passion which could help me grow in so many ways. I wasted too much of my time believing food was the enemy. I learned how to turn fear into something beautiful and began sharing my experiences through writing. I grew the courage to start a website with the hopes of helping others. While adventuring between Brisbane and the Gold Coast to uncover the best local cafes, I endeavour to prevent impressionable young men and women from falling headfirst into the spinning web of diet culture.
The idea of dancing with death to be skinny is glamourised in our generation. As a survivor of the scales, all I can do is fight it with my own experiences.