The Itch


It starts small and then builds like a crescendo.

I wake up, still groggy from the week I've had. I put in 60 hours this week, and while I love being at a fashion magazine more than anything, it's hard work. I'm constantly moving, constantly getting things done. I'm calling clothing samples in from designers to use on our photo shoots. I'm packing the clothes, making sure to keep record of everything that comes in. I'm wrestling with PR managers all day on return dates, getting the correct accessories in, getting a proper ETA so I'm not running to Fendi at 5PM, praying to God I can make it back to the office by 6 so I can send the look to set. 

In my down time, I'm still moving. Maybe there aren't any shoots going on that week and my boss isn't giving me much to do, but I'm still running around the closet picking up stray pieces of tissue paper and bubble wrap. I'm looking, always looking, for ways to make things even closer to perfect.

It's Saturday, and I wake up, still groggy from the week I've had. My body feels too weak with fatigue to think about all of the errands I have to complete, so I go to the kitchen and make myself breakfast instead. I lay back down and watch Netflix, munching on peanut butter toast and spooning yogurt into my mouth while I do my best not to think about a thing. And then I notice it's hot, and my armpits itch a little.

I tell myself not to worry about it - after all, I'm in the middle of breakfast and I'm laying on a bed. It's not like I can't wait until I'm finished to apply deodorant. But the nagging does not acquiesce. The itch grows stronger and stronger until I can't take it anymore; I get up and hurry to the bathroom to grab my stick of coconut Secret. 

In the bathroom, I realize the sink is dirty. This isn't any real surprise to me - it hasn't been draining properly in weeks and our landlord is taking his sweet time in getting someone over here to fix it. But every time I look at it, my entire body feels uncomfortable - like I want to leap out of my own skin.

I rub the deodorant under each arm and put it back under the sink, feeling satisfied. Until I notice things are a little out of order in the cabinets. I sit on the floor and begin pulling everything out so I can rearrange it. Seven minutes later my chest feels a little looser, like I can breathe again. I lean back, satisfied. And then I go back to my room and finish my breakfast, which is now cold.

After I finish my breakfast, I immediately pause my show and take the plate and silverware upstairs. I have to clean it right away, or else I won't be able to watch my show in peace. I bound up the steps, determined to get it done quickly so I can go back downstairs and relax. It's then that I notice the state the kitchen is in.

There are crumbs all over the stovetop, crusted over the burners and peppering the steel wiring. Dirty dishes are strewn about the sink, wet food casually clinging to them. I feel my heart rate start to quicken as I aggressively scrub down my plate and fork with scalding-hot water, soap and a handle sponge. I sigh, sighing because I know this is my day now: cleaning the apartment. I'll start with the kitchen and I won't be able to stop. I'll do all the floors, I'll do the kitchen, I'll get on my hands and knees and work until my entire body aches, because sometimes that's the only way I can fathom getting rid of the anxious voice in my head telling me to GO.

I'm recovering and I think I'm doing a pretty kickass job, but I'm not perfect. What many don't consider is that anorexia rarely stems from the simple need to be "skinny" or "attractive." We know our bodies are repulsive and we know we are killing ourselves. That's the point; that's the fix. 

What I'm trying to say is, I may not starve myself anymore, but the anxiety and OCD still live. On certain days, so does the depression. Recovery is not perfection; recovery is not complete absolution from all things ED. Recovery is being honest and open to the idea of change and self-love. It's a second chance, or a third or a fourth, at real life.

I used to have anorexia, and I still have anxiety and OCD and sometimes I suffer from depression. But what matters is that I'm trying. I'm making an active effort to love myself and treat myself with the respect I know I deserve, and that is something we all must do for ourselves every single day.

I choose to look at my anxiety as an asset. While it possesses the ability to drive me crazy, it also makes me great. It puts my attention-to-detail on another level. It lands me jobs, it gets me good grades. It is what has driven me to post on this blog 193 times! Most importantly, it is what pointed me to recovery in such a dogged, irreversible way that relapse never stood a chance.

Put in the work to contain your insecurities and doubts, but never think that you need to succumb to the idea that whatever is afflicting you is 100% bad. Even the most taxing of mental strains can conjure up a great amount of beauty and strength within you. We write our own stories - don't let anyone tell you differently. 

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