K is a great one for new words. She routinely scans the internet for interesting words and reads them out to see if we can guess them. One such word is La Sombresa, a Spanish word, which refers to the period of time after a meal when people sit and chat. A perfect time. Except in the house of an anorexic.
Today has been a tough day. In a tough week at work and at home. L loses nearly a kilo. Work is exhausting. Severe headaches bring on symptoms of what my doctor calls Serotonin Syndrome, where my high dose SSRIs clash with codeine, bringing on flu type feelings, along with dizziness and nausea. At breakfast today I decide to challenge L to eat more. As usual, my determination to do this is propelled by sleepless nights, worrying about bone density, crying quietly so as not to wake anyone. Real change needs resilience and strength though. Within a short time, I lose it. I am so fucking tired of this illness. C and I never have any time together, K’s anxiety is unmanageable, yet all our time is allocated to meal, snack, meal etc. We have been in this stage of nearly restored weight for about ten months and it feels as if there is nothing left. I am sick of anorexia. Eventually, something is eaten and L goes to college.
I go to a meeting of such pointless tedium I feel that if it were filmed, no one would believe it to be real. At lunchtime I takeK to the GP. We discus her anxiety and sense of worthlessness and I see the shock on the young doctor’s face as she tries to communicate with a deeply uncomfortable girl twisting a hairband repeatedly around her wrist. My eyes fill with tears at this sight. We are referred to CAMHS. She explains what it stands for and falters as she sees my weary look.
Tonight we eat dinner and have bought dessert. C has made meatballs which K and I love and L endures. W e eat the main course and then I cut slices of Lemon Meringue Pie. I hear Ed’s whiny little voice saying please, just a yogurt. I ignore the voice and pour cream on the pie. In the house of an anorexic food is not just food. It is medicine, a weapon against Ed, to be handed over defiantly as a challenge rather than an act of care.
We sit and talk over dessert. For everyone but L, dessert disappears. She puts her head in her hands and weeps silently. I stroke her arm while scrolling through Twitter. The latter activity is to calm and prevent me from shouting again. K tells jokes and we laugh about her favourite film as a child Anastasia and recall my attempts to put the revolutionary side of the argument. She tels C in mock horror, that her mother told her, “Sometimes, t might be the right thing to do, to shoot the entire Royal Family, that’s what happens in war”. We laugh so much at my clumsy attempts to make a six year old Disney Princess see both sides of history and I put my head in my hands and wail, “No wonder all my kids are so unhappy” and we laugh some more.
Except L. She continues to weep, while I stroke her arm, She begs for yogurt and I refuse. She asks for the cream to be removed and I refuse. We clear plates and pour wine through the weeping. Today is a unique day, just as all days are. It is a day stolen by anorexia, by K’s anxiety and my depression. It is a day we will never see again. In a year’s time, we may still be here. Today L sobbed in my arms and told me she wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for me. For the first time, I wondered whether here was a place anyone would really want to be