Sanity and False Assumptions

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The nurses in the psychiatric ward of the hospital like to make assumptions.

Anna, who oversees group sessions, is pleasantly plump, with a full head of blonde ringlet curls and a perpetually sympathetic bubblegum smile. Judging from her smooth, round cheeks and the sprinkling of acne that dots her chin and forehead, I guess that she's young…early thirties, at the oldest.
The girls in the group are dangerously thin, many with fine, graying hair. Few wear make-up. Judging from the protruding collarbones and dark under-eye circles of each emotionless teenager, Anna guesses that we starve ourselves, probably as a result of airbrushed magazine photos and poor body image.

Both Anna and I are wrong. As it turns out, she's a well-practiced nurse, nearly forty years old. As it turns out, I'm not a f***ing anorexic. Assumptions can be dangerous.

--

I want to eat. Believe me, I do.

I never prayed for the nausea that grips my stomach whenever I so much as glance at the steaming pasta that the wart-faced woman in the hospital cafeteria heaps onto my plate each afternoon. I didn't ask to be model-thin, to have papery white skin, or to see my ribcage through my too-loose t-shirts.
I don't skip meals to lose weight, because yes, mother, I know I'm not fat, far from it. I skip meals because the scent of food makes my esophagus close up, makes stomach acid burn holes through my throat and nose and gnaw away at the enamel of my teeth.
The other girls don't eat because they're messed up in the head, some chemical imbalance that forces nonexistent appetites. I don't eat because I can't, goddamn it! That finger went down my throat once, just once, and now I can't swallow a bite of pizza without it coming up five minutes later. All I wanted was to purge myself of sin, make myself holy again. Now, God has as good as told me to give up on ever being clean.

--

My body is rejecting life.
Is that a sign? A warning flag?

Maybe I should just curl up here beneath his sweatshirt, because my skin isn't enough to keep me from freezing anymore, not even in the summer heat. Maybe I should wrap myself up in the sleeves that I wish held his arms, let the sobs tear apart my weakened lungs, wait for Death to take me home.

It's not as if he cares, anyway. None of them care. Anna says that our friends will help us through our treatments, that they'll be the crutch for us to lean on while we heal.
Anna lied. My friends disappeared the minute I did, rejecting my fractured, freakish existence for their homecoming dances and AP Calculus.

--

Blood red teardrops, crimson vomit, a sick, weak mind
Booze is the only thing my stomach can hold down; I let go of life itself as the bottle takes control. Anna doesn't notice that I sneak to the bathroom at night. She never guesses that I keep a sharp nail in my pocket and a bottle down my shirt. She doesn't know about the gashes beneath my sleeves or the bloodstains on my sheets.

--

Who said I was f***ed up? I know how to handle my pain just fine, thank you. No need to drag me away to a psychiatric hospital for treatment. I have a home remedy clenched in my fist, and another buzzing through my veins. Blood. Alcohol. I could keep myself sane, and it wouldn't cost my parents a cent.

--

After all, sometimes two wrongs really can make everything feel right.





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