I’ve been thinking a lot lately about everything I’ve gone through and the things I continue to struggle with. Endless strings of white lies and half-truths cover up my past and hide pieces of my present. I am ashamed of myself and afraid to open up about what I’ve been through and the emotions that still suffocate me.

When I was sixteen years old I was hospitalized for anorexia nervosa. Right off the bat, my parents established it was to be a secret. They told my track coaches my hospitalization was for dehydration when I wasn’t at practice. When anyone asked what was wrong or how I was doing, my parents would speak quickly in white lies to hide my true condition. When I returned to school, my mom made it clear that the attendance office didn’t need to know my reason for hospitalization, and to let her know right away if they tried to question me. My parents were only trying to protect me, but establishing my eating disorder as some sort of deep dark secret hurt me more than they would ever imagine.

My treatment didn’t help much either. I listened to my doctors and did what they said, however I still wasn’t trusted and honestly I felt like more of a prisoner than a patient. I often found they would test the limits of my emotions and even more often I would find myself ignored when I cried. I was required to have a constant one-on-one, therefore I never had a private moment to express my emotions, nor did I have a single person I felt comfortable enough to confide in.

My outpatient treatment wasn’t much different. My therapists sat me down with my parents on either side of me and scolded me: I was bad, I was guilty, I was responsible, I was unworthy. Righteous and unsympathetic, my therapists established themselves as figures of authority. I became ashamed, depressed and even more broken. More so, I became even more unable to open about my eating disorder.

Ever since, my weight has fluctuated up and down, but the shame remains constant. I am ashamed of every extra pound and soft curve of my body, as well as every dark depressed crevice of my broken mind. Today my eating disorder resembles bulimia a little more closely than anorexia; after years of starvation I guess my iron willpower finally gave out. 

I can’t bring myself to seek out professional help. I still have nightmares about returning to treatment three years later. I can’t talk to anyone about it. I get so upset and moody and friends, my parents, coaches and professors will practically beg me to open up to them and I just sit there in silence. It feels like I’m physically incapable of forming the words. I just can’t talk about my eating disorder-let alone admit I have one.

That’s how things have been for the past few years: mood swings, weight fluctuations, skipping social events and shying away from clothes that reveal my figure. I’m not exactly sure what I look like anymore. I don’t know if I’m skinny or fat or muscular or just plain average. I don’t know if I’m eating too little or too much. I don’t know what normal is. I don’t know what confidence feels like.

I feel trapped in a life of abnormality. I can’t go a day without counting calories or exercising or scruntinizing every curve and contour of my body in the mirror. I can’t open up enough to get help. I can’t even open up enough to get sympathy. I can only remain closed- I can only be silent.