My preview text is:
So I’ve been told that if I continue to lose weight … lost 400g since arriving … they are going to tube feed me. I said, ‘Like fuck you are!’
‘Sweetie, you are 31 kilos … ‘
‘Yeah 31, not 21. ‘
‘Do you understand that every organ in your body is stressed? You are at risk of heart failure.’
‘Whatever,’ I laugh. ‘I’m the fittest person in this place.’
‘Reality check, you are very unwell. Your body is starving. Emaciated.’
It was at this stage I stood up and walked out of our, oh so boring, doctor’s consultation. Of which of course I was followed by this fucken nurse. A nurse follows me constantly. Like a fucken black shadow … a dark ghost haunting me, repeating over and over, ‘Slow down, Talia. Walk slower. Slower. Sit down.’
I have to walk like a retarded snail and sit like an obese slug. I can’t even stand watching TV or doing the craft activities. It’s like I’m the only one that can see clearly, everyone around me has mist in their pupils and it’s driving me fucken crazy.
Ps … I had a smile as wide as a dolphin when I was told I had lost weight.
Well now I have a fucken nurse on guard outside my room at night. Sitting there hour after hour. Minute after minute. When the hell am I supposed to work out now? I was up to sets of 100 sit ups and 30 press ups. This place is going to drive me cuckoo like every other nutcase here!
Had a visit from Mum and Grant this morning, she refused to bring me in the chewing gum that I asked her for. ‘It’s a laxative and the staff here said it’s forbidden,’ she says, filing her nails: Mum has nails like a film star.
‘Mum,’ I said, ‘I ask you for one thing, one little thing and you can’t even do that for me.’
‘Talia, I would but I’m not allowed.’
‘Whatever. You’re the one who fucken signed me in here.’
Grant puts his hairy and hefty arm around Mum’s scrawny shoulder and says, ‘Don’t speak to your Mum like that.’
‘Don’t tell me what to do … you’re not my fucken father,’ I glare. I mean … who the hell does he think he is … they’ve only been married five minutes. ‘I’m outta here!’ And I storm off with some dark fucken ghost shadow; name badge Julie; screeching, ‘Slow down. Walk slower, Talia.’
I’m down again. Another 200 grams. Relieved?
The doctor said she wants to prescribe some drug, Lorazepam. She wants me to have it prior to each meal.
‘If I wasn’t forced to eat so much it wouldn’t be a problem. And the food, it’s not even the sort of food I eat. Bananas … I don’t care how much potassium they contain, they taste like crap. And what’s with the full cream milk, haven’t you ever heard of heart disease? And yoghurt … full cream yoghurt. I thought this was a hospital! Like healthy and that. And butter, bloody hell … butter on my toast and a whole piece. I only ever eat half.’
And you know diary, she just looks at me through those black rimmed glasses, scratching her wrinkly forehead and smiles, ‘Those are issues you need to take up with your dietitian.’
Like isn’t she the doctor. Oh no not a real doctor, a fucken nutcase doctor!
Well I am not taking any Lorazepam or any antidepressant. What would she know? … she doesn’t even have the intelligence to know what’s good for your heart.
It’s 2am … the nurse is there, some sleety-eyed Asian bitch … sprawled out in that navy blue armchair … like a vicious Asian crocodile about to bite if I so much as climb out of bed (not even sure if crocodiles live in Asia but you know what I mean). I so want to exercise diary, I want to move and move and move and move again. And again. I don’t feel well. I don’t feel well inside.
Well I say fuck the lot of them! If I don’t want to eat, why the hell should I?! I’m sick of arguing every day, every meal.
I say, ‘Can I just take the ham out the sandwich?’
‘What if I just eat half?’
‘Maybe if I just take the cheese out then.’
‘If we made another one that had no butter. Really I don’t like butter.’
‘Can I swap for an apple or even a banana? And I hate bananas but I’ll try really hard today … I’ll try my best to eat it.’
Well as you can imagine I’m so frustrated by now that I inform the unsociable and rather unpleasant bitch of a nurse, Taylor: who should visit one by the state of the clothes she’s wearing, ‘I am not drinking that juice … it’s full of sugar.’ Diabetes as with heart disease is promoted in this place!
‘Talia,’ she says; and I thought she only knew one word! … ‘the juice is on your meal plan.’
‘I’m not drinking it, I’ll have water instead.’
‘What say you just eat the sandwich and worry about the juice later?’
‘I don’t like ham.’
‘I don’t like cheese.’
‘I don’t like butter.’
‘Yeah,’ and she’s beginning to yawn, pulling at a strand of her black hair, ‘I know.’
‘Did you have a late night?’ I ask, smiling.
‘Just eat Talia. Should I ask Julie over there to get a damp cold flannel? You’re sweating.’
‘Maybe if they turned the heating down it wouldn’t be so damn hot!’
‘Julie,’ she calls out, ‘will you fetch a cold flannel for Talia?’
‘Sure,’ says Julie, walking briskly towards the linen cupboards.
‘I know,’ I say, wiping my brow, ‘what if … what if I leave the sandwich and just drink the juice?’
Well fuck no and fuck Taylor who should go on some makeover TV programme to sort out her ridiculous dress sense. Yellow and red just don’t go … what is she? On fire.
And Julie, well Julie she can go suck that wet flannel … either that or I shove it down her fucken throat.
Every day diary, I have to defend my right to eat or not eat. Every day I have to argue with some bitch or bastard of a nurse and I’m over it.
Over and fucken out.
I say to them all … fuck the fuck off. Go on just fuck off and eat it yourself. Yeah that’s it diary, that’s exactly what I say, actually I yell it at the top of my voice,
‘YOU EAT IT!’
I just had a dream … a nightmare, my palms are sweaty but I feel cold. I’m shivering and I can’t breathe.
I’m too scared to tell you what I dreamed … too ashamed. I think this place is making me psychotic like the other poor bastards in here. Maybe that’s it … maybe you go home more fucked up than when you first arrived.
That sleety-eye crocodile is back again in the armchair by my room. I wish she would pull up her chair next to my bed … I’m too scared to sleep. I’m so scared diary … I’m scared of food.
Yesterday I had my weigh in. I drank as much water as I could but I still had lost weight. Another 200 grams.
First thing in the morning the black ghost marches me off to the surgery room. I’m not allowed to even get dressed. I have to walk down the corridor in my blue floral pajamas … totally undignified! Then she takes my blood pressure, pulse and temperature … fuck knows why … some other lady in a white lab coat takes my blood … something to do with electrolytes … then finally I have to stand on these white electronic scales.
‘Another 200grams,’ she mutters, sighing heavily … with the size of that sigh you’d think I’d done something really bad like robbery … ‘Talia … let us help you. You’re …’
‘I’m what?’ I ask.
‘Yes it does what?’
She bites her lip, puts her hand on my shoulder, ‘You are so thin and getting thinner. You’re … your blood pressure is low, too low. Something has to change, Talia. You need to start working with us. The medical team … we are going to have a meeting this afternoon, you can’t go on losing weight.’
‘Yeah I can.’
‘No you can’t,’ she says, shaking her head and rubbing the back of her neck. ‘No you cannot.’
I don’t believe, Julie, my morning dark shadow. Fuck her.
Talia is seventeen, weighs thirty-one kilos, and has been committed to a psychiatric unit. Ever wondered what was inside the mind of an anorexic? This is her journal, Beautiful Me.
About the Author
Natasha Jennings is a psychiatric nurse who has worked with the criminally insane, the chronically mentally ill, and, more recently, mentally ill adolescents (including anorexics). She is also a trained primary school teacher and a mum.