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I cautiously entered a room filled with men and women of all ages, heights, weights, and ethnicities. Immediately, I felt the sharp needles of judgment pierce my skin. The counselor announced my name and sat me down in a chair that was uncomfortably close to a girl half my size. The group uniformly replied, “Hello Theresa”. It was a warm welcome, but not enough to shake me from my lethargic state of mind. My thoughts were racing, and they all seemed to come to the same conclusive question: what have I done? Somehow my sick mind could not process the fact that I was in a mental institution.
The therapists, dieticians, and counselors led us through the stark white hallways in a single file line to the cafeteria. We were uncomfortably seated around a large table crowded with other eating disorder patients. My mind was focused on comparing myself with them and judging the others based on their looks and appearances. “Hi. I’m Katie,” a skinny bug-eyed girl continued “The first day is the hardest.” I blatantly stared at her gaunt face and over-exposed bones. Another girl introduced herself to distract me from the boney figure, “Hi. I’m Emma, I hope you’re doing okay today.” They seemed nice, but I remained speechless. Katie ended the awkward silence and said, “So why are you in here?” I quickly reviewed my thoughts over the past few hours and answered, “Anorexia”. She was taken aback by such a straightforward answer. I felt completely powerless in the uncomfortable silence.
Finally, the dietician called us to lunch and I went to the line. I picked out fish, bread, and an apple. I figured it didn’t matter what I chose because I wasn’t going to eat it. I sat down at the table and focused on the food. ED, my eating disorder, provoked anger, a fury so deep within me that I was uncontrollable.
“IT’S JUST AN APPLE!!!” Theresa screamed in frustration.
ED sternly replied, “YOU ARE FAT!!!”
Theresa paused for a moment to gather the courage to fight ED; then answered, “I don’t care, I just want my life back.”
“Why would you want to ruin everything you worked for by eating an apple? You can’t trust that apple. If you put anything in your mouth, you will be fat and worthless.” ED said convincingly.
Theresa stared at the apple and did not respond. ED won this battle, and has been winning for months.
Emma and Katie exchanged glances of concern as I sat in a silent battle with the apple. Emma kindly encouraged me to eat it. She said, “Theresa, you should try to eat something. It’s not that bad.”
Tears accumulated in my empty eyes. I slowly dropped my heavy mind into my lap and prayed for inner peace and strength. I held my head close to my heart and reflected in solitude. I maintained this position in order to keep myself safe from ED and the apple. Tears continuously fell from my eyes. I hugged my knees in great fear that the apple was going to kill me. Soon enough, the therapists unraveled my twisted body, but could not unravel my mind.
My twisted mind had created an entire being of irrational thoughts and behaviors that were out of my control. The apple brought me to a point of realization: I am sick. In my safe position, I reflected on many things and came to the conclusion that change is needed, but I was stuck. I was stuck between survival and self-destruction. I was stuck in an internal world of warfare, anger, and frustration. This was the beginning of a bitter relationship with the apple, ED, and myself. For my safety, security, and physical-well-being, I must fight the apple and destroy it. In the future, an apple will not control my life. In the end, I am a survivor.