placeholder: "about" paragraph
So, you are slowly learning what it means to become a disease. Waking up more illness than person with illness. It’s not so bad though, is it? It’s hardly something to be considered a disease. You get to witness the process of evolution. You get to see yourself transform into something your mother is afraid of, and that your dad tries to ignore in conversation. You will become something that your sister can’t even look at half the time. At least that’s how it was for me. But don’t worry, I’m going to walk you through it. By the end this will feel as if it’s all you have ever known.
Stage One: time becomes altered. The days will become years and the nights decades. Your mind becomes a chasm of everything and nothing at once. There is a screaming voice stuck at an infuriating whisper. The voice in your head is always at the same volume. I read that somewhere, maybe online. No matter how much your brain attacks you the sound will never rise or fall. I don’t even remember the beginning of it in all honesty— those first stages of egg to larvae to hospital trip to diagnosis. It’s been so long now that it all blends together, but not completely. Your memories of what actually happened and what you think happened will become like oil on water; you think you can discern them but you’re just not sure. Up close you can tell the two apart: reality through an outsider’s perspective and fantasy through your now faulty memory. Step too far back and the two will begin to bleed. Now is not the time to be confusing fact and fiction.
Stage Two: your body is not what it used to be. It will start small, you’ll feel your spine pressed against the back of your chair one day, like the spikes of hostile architecture. You know, those spikes you see along certain buildings to keep the homeless from sleeping or sitting on them. They are meant to push people away. You’ll unspool the small intestine from where it will become tangled up in your ribcage the next day. I swallowed my tongue on the third day—I needed to choke down my pride so I could tell them I was wrong. There are still so many people I have to tell that to. I was wrong about everything. This does not make me feel beautiful, this does not make me more confident. If anything I am more afraid now than I was before. I dread having to say this, the words will taste like defeat. Soon you will discover that you are becoming the skeleton in your own closet. You are becoming a dirty secret and a literal skeleton. There won’t be enough sweaters shoved in there with you that can possibly keep you warm. (I still shiver all the time. I don’t think my body will ever recover from such a dramatic change that it will be able to keep itself warm again. I don’t know if my body will ever forgive me.)
At this point in the process your transformation may go through a few different name changes. People will call it anorexia, bulimia, EDNOS. Those are the modern terms for it these days. That is what I am told I have, some variation of a chemical imbalance in my brain that tells me that eating is wrong. And yet no one has ever tried to cure me of this affliction clinically. I think the concept of actually addressing the situation only made it more real, and gave people more motivation to try and breeze over it. Instead of a doctor I was passed extra plates of food, asked if I wanted seconds, thirds, fourths. If this happens don’t panic, they only mean to help you.
In a few weeks you’ll find yourself waking up in the strangest places: stuck inside the child-lock Advil bottle in the medicine cabinet, in the middle of the highway during rush hour, hanging from the ceiling fan, buoyed in your bathtub with the water long since gone cold. Your body will be like a bloated pool floaty.
This is all part of the process.
It will feel like you are hearing a eulogy every time someone talks about “how you used to look.” As if the old you was not simply shed or reshaped. You will imagine your baby photo on a missing person’s report, with a reward posted for the safe return of a daughter at a healthy weight. Or your graduation-picture-turned-mugshot on the news, highlighting the story of a girl committing a crime against herself. An APB will be posted alerting people to remain on the lookout for a suspect with bony hands, too-visible cheekbones, who shrinks away when the sun is too bright. (I am the prime suspect of my own murder-suicide.)
Talking about yourself in third person will become natural after a while. You won’t really be able to talk about who you used to be as if you still are that person—you’re not. You’ve evolved, did what they all said you couldn’t do. You are now one of the most popular figures in western media. You have finally become the creature that everyone romanticizes, what was once a ghastly monster is now no more than a taboo love interest. Your every warning sign is now blatantly ignored, your identity as dangerous is rewritten as desired. Sure, you can try to separate yourself as much as you want, but this is a marriage that can’t be divorced. Believe me, I’ve already tried. When I tried to take it back I couldn’t. I look into the mirror every day and don’t know who I am seeing—there is no reflection of me. My mother’s child has been lured away and seduced by an offer of temporary immortality. But I know the truth, this “immortality” is actually a speeding up of my death. I am trying to accelerate the process and reach a permanent sleep. But this is your story! Everyone’s experience is different, you don’t have to worry.
Anemia will become a side effect that you need to be aware of. Don’t panic if you start bruising at the lightest touch. It will become a bit hard to explain to people why you’re always turning blue when your lungs can’t hold enough oxygen under the weight of your chest, but this just means you are halfway there!
This is all part of the process.
Your complexion will also start to change. Expect to become paler, your face turning the shade of your now dormant, dried out veins. (My body became a haunted house with cobwebs.) When you reach that point it will be too late to turn back. You most likely won’t even have the energy to turn back. It is common for transformees at this stage to become bedridden, lying under bed covers that feel as if they weigh more than they do. This is the final stage before your graduation into greatness.
My bedroom became a coffin, the bathroom was a foreboding castle. The kitchen still feels like holy ground I cannot trespass upon. Have you ever heard of a vampire that feeds on nothing? Feeds on green tea and anxiety. The last full meal I had was a mint before walking through the door to my therapist’s office, I didn’t have to ask permission to enter because she was already expecting me. If anyone were to accuse me of vampirism there would be no fangs to convict me; my teeth are too brittle from a lack in calcium to be anything but decoration. I am still identifiable as one though—the sickly skin and pale complexion are rewards for completing the transformation. I also was given hollow and sunken eyes, nails cracked from being chewed on—you gotta gnaw on something to distract from the hunger pains. It’s the worst in the summer. Sweltering weather means my self-diagnosed agoraphobia is overruled for family outings and friendship-driven interventions. But there is no intervention for this. My skin sweats like tears from the eyes of someone cutting an onion. It is now an uncontrollable bodily function. Oh, to be able to sink my teeth into a bloody steak. Or sink a stake deep into my body and pull it back bloody. Either way, I don’t think I would recognize the taste.
Well, there you have it! A world of possibilities await you. Are you ready to begin?