Ana Is NOT Invited

Ana is getting more than a little clingy. Last weekend, I went to the fair with Christin and Kerry, our friend from GSA. I love fairs and carnivals. I brought my camera and got some shots I’m really proud of.

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Christin and me being silly while Kerry played with my camera. 

I rode a ride that went upside down, which was something I’d always been too scared to do in the past, and I got Christin a caramel apple even though she told me not to, and it put the biggest, most adorable smile on her face.

Still, I wasn’t as happy as I wanted to be. Eventually, we got hungry and decided to eat something. I was really, really hungry, but I didn’t want to eat. Let me rephrase that. I wanted to eat. I wanted to enjoy fried food on a stick, something I’ve always loved (I mean, who doesn’t?) and not think about calories when I could have been laughing at the powdered sugar all over Kerry and the water he spilled on his crotch when his friend leapt up from the table to buy fried butter on a stick. (No, I’m not making that up.)
But instead, even with Christin’s hoodie wrapped around me, Ana was whispering in my ear that it would be better if I didn’t eat anything, and if I did, I’d better slip away from my friends and purge. “You can just pretend that the rides made you sick,” she said. Ana isn’t exactly the brightest. She tells me lies, like that my friends will like me better if I don’t eat, that I’ll like myself more if I’m half my size.

Ana also showed up uninvited at the GSA movie night/pajama party at my house last Friday. There was pizza and a plethora of desserts, but she kept dragging me away from Christin to remind me that I “couldn’t” eat anything. “I’m having fun with my friends,” I told her. “Who cares if I eat a slice of pizza? That’s half the fun.” Still, she wouldn’t leave me alone.

I’m sick of Ana crashing my parties. On Friday, the GSA is going to Applebee’s to sing karaoke, and even though the event is four days away, I’m already worried about what I’m going to eat. Nevermind the fact that I’m learning a new song and I’m going to rock it at karaoke, the fact that a bunch of my good friends (including Christin) will be there, and the fact that Applebee’s has this amazing chocolate cake I love.  Ana has already tried to convince me that I can’t have the cake. At the fair and the pajama party, I let her win, but she’s actually given me an advantage this time. Since I started worrying so far in advance, I’ve had time to check out the Applebee’s menu and devise a plan of attack. I already know what I’m going to order, and it’s something I want, not what Ana wants me to eat. I WILL get that chocolate cake, and I’ll share it with my friends. Time in college and time spent with the GSA is about making memories and strengthening friendships, not isolating myself in eating disorder hell.

I’m posting this article to keep myself accountable. I’m making a promise to myself that I’m going to order the pasta dish and cake I want, not diet water and air, or whatever it is Ana will try to get me to eat. I have escaped Ana’s clutches in the past, and I will do it again and again and again.

 

It Gets Better

I was told a million different times by a thousand different people, “Just hang on. It gets better.” I never believed them. I was firmly convinced that depression and anxiety would be my normal, that I would never stop hating myself, and that anorexia would rule my life until I ended it. I’ve never been happier to admit that I was completely wrong.

On Monday, I attended a meeting of my college’s Gay-Straight Alliance for the first time. Despite never having been at any of the meetings before, the small, welcoming group eagerly voted me into the position of secretary. In the past, I would have preferred to go unnoticed in the meeting. I would have listened quietly and left without talking to anyone. But, as Demi Lovato puts it, “What’s wrong with being confident?” The answer: absolutely nothing! I’ve gained quite a bit of confidence over the past few months, and I’ll put it to good use in my new leadership position.

As the GSA’s newest officer, it was my job to run our booth at my school’s Club Fair today. This entailed a great deal of talking to strangers, designing and printing fliers, and baking cookies. This is a lot of work for any individual, but my mental illnesses decided to throw some extra challenges at me. Yesterday, I was having a pretty bad psychotic episode. The voices in my head were suggesting that it would be a good idea to set myself on fire, stab myself with a pen, or bite the unsuspecting student next to me. Past experience has shown that hurting myself quiets the voices, but I was not willing to give in to them this time. Instead, I talked the situation out with my wonderfully supportive mom, and eventually the voices went away on their own, leaving me free to bake eighty cookies.

Anxiety has always been a challenge when it comes to social interactions. It can make even the most superficial conversation seem as daunting as a sword fight, and twice as tiring. I thought about making up an excuse not to go to the Club Fair, thus avoiding having to explain to people what the GSA does, when we meet, and so on. I was scared to talk to strangers and act friendly when I really felt like hiding. But, hiding has never been much fun, and I had a job to do, so I told anxiety to take a hike and I headed to the Club Fair with my fearless face on.

The Fair was a success. I talked to lots of people and even reconnected with an old friend from middle school who is now the president of the Democrat Club. I’m learning not to minimize my successes. It’s easy to say, “Oh, anybody could have sat at a table and said ‘hi’ to people,” but I did so much more than that. I overcame huge hurdles to do what I did, and I am very proud of myself.

The GSA has already made a huge difference in my life. I’ve finally found a place where I feel I belong, and I’m thriving. I wish I could go back in time and tell my miserable high school self just how much better it gets. I am so glad to be where I am. I’ve worked hard to get here, and I intend to stay.