October 1, 2011
By Anonymous

You have dinner and of course that's what drives you to do it. You're thinking of it even as you raise your fork: 'I'll get rid of this later.' You picture yourself, like cinematography, and in that reel of film you're kneeling at the toilet, bent over it, retching. Somehow it's more glamorous in your mind, but that might be only because you can't feel the acid in your throat when you're fantasizing about it.

You eat a third of your dinner at best. Calmly, you put it away and you go to take a shower. The shower lasts forty minutes; ten of it's spent at mirrors, pinching and digging and finding fifty new problems. Nearly half an hour's spent puking far too little of your guts out. You wash your hair and your face in about five minutes, afterward, and you're left clearing your throat compulsively.

The space heater's on. You're cold very easily, so that's a part of it, but you're also hoping that the electrical hum, with the running water, will drown out your choke-coughing completely. That's a paranoia of yours that's beginning to flourish— someone will hear you and, concerned, he'll knock twice and open the door. What he'll see is you, ridiculous and wracking yourself to rid your belly of your own disgust, with the colorful hard plastic handle of a toothbrush jammed down your throat; you don't want to cut your knuckles. Your shirt's off and you're so worried he'll see your bulging spine and skin. It's a strange contrast and you know it has to mean that everyone's bones jut out in such a way. You're really nothing special for it. You should work harder. You can pull your skin away from your bones and that's just gross.

This time, when you first start, you're hesitant. You almost don't do it. You've got one knee on each side of the bottom of the toilet, and your glasses are off, and that lucky little toothbrush is poised and ready to knock itself clumsily against the back of your throat. You think, 'I don't really want to put the effort out.' You think, 'It's going to be a hassle.' More often than not, you were able to talk yourself out of it, months ago, maybe a year plus; the habit blurs the time. These days you sit there and think that it isn't going to feel good and you do it anyway, and plastic clacks against your molars as your bile stays stubborn and your food wants to stay right where it is. That's what you get for having eaten it— you cough and feel like you're about a twelfth of the way there.

You throw up. It's not nearly as bad as you'd anticipated it might be before forcing it out of yourself, so that's a comfort at least, but you do remember with incredible clarity, looking back on it, the moment when you looked down at yourself and thought, 'If puking for hours would get rid of all of this, I'd do it all right now.' Clinging to the toilet, you are nervous, because you can't remember how much you'd eaten and you're not sure when to stop. Eventually you're vomiting mucus, so you wonder if it's safe to assume you've given dinner back. Just to be safer, you do nearly as much of that as you had regular vomiting.

When you stop, you're not really sure what makes you decide to. You often do take pauses in between heaves, especially because working a toothbrush back into your throat is a lot of work and it leaves you trying not to croak while your arms jerk and while you think about how humiliating it would be to be found dead this way, which feels like a possibility with how exhausting it is. This time, though, after you spit into the toilet bowl, you lean back a little bit and then you very calmly wipe your face with tissue. It isn't abrupt; it's like it was planned, although it really wasn't. You stand and flush and wash everything: you, your mouth, your teeth, your toothbrush. There's mint and stinging. Then, you weigh yourself, and, waffling between 118 and 119 pounds at five feet and nine inches tall, you aren't satisfied. It disgusts you to even write it down, in fact.

With almost no sense of accomplishment, but a tiny bit of relief, you get into the shower and scrub yourself quickly. By the time you're dried and on your bed, you realize that you've probably ended up purging the gooey pill you'd taken earlier— the one to help with anxiety and, more importantly, the one to help suppress an appetite. You're cold and awkward as you consider this. Dazed and sore, you type and you think:

Well that was counterproductive.

The author's comments:
Body dysmorphic disorder makes people do really stupid things.

'SWIM' is an acronym. "Someone who isn't me." It's easier to think of things that way, sometime, whilst writing about humiliation especially.

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