I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve updated. I’ve only ever been able to write about what I’m feeling and there have been some distractions lately that were occupying my mind. Stuff spun out of control and had to settle again before I was ready to come back to this. But I’m here now.
Is it okay for me to admit to the internet that I need some help? Because I do. I just do. I don’t have things so together right now. I stretched myself a little too thin, took on too many commitments that all demanded to be my first priority, and it ended up that anywhere I was I felt like I needed to be somewhere else. The result of all of this running around is that I let some things slide- I’d forget to eat, I’d skip sleep to finish assignments or drive hours to meet a partner for rehearsal, and I’d reschedule doctor’s appointments because I just didn’t have the time to head back home to the hospital.
I’ve been getting skinnier. At first it was confusing- people would tell me that I looked great, ask me where I got all my clothes, comment good things on my instagram photos. It was easier to just take the compliment. It felt nicer. I knew on some level that my weight was a result of my Crohn’s and therefore not a good thing, but how could I be so unhealthy if I looked more and more like the girls in magazines?
It took me ten years to get diagnosed. I was a chubby kid. Over my teen years I lost a lot of weight because of my disease – the constant and uncontrollable vomiting and diarrhea, the restrictions on what I could or couldn’t digest. But it didn’t raise a red flag for anybody, not really. Society has made the idea of a teenage girl rapidly losing weight and being picky about what she eats so normal that even though I was suffering from a gastrointestinal disorder right in front of everyone’s eyes, nobody realized it. Even I didn’t know. I thought everybody went through something similar.
After I went to college and got my diagnosis everything finally made sense. But it didn’t get any easier. My mom wasn’t around to take care of me. I didn’t have the time in my schedule to cook, and I couldn’t go out and grab fast food or dash to the cafeteria because of my severe reactions to dairy and gluten. It was up to me to make runs to the health food store and raid the frozen section. And if I didn’t have the time, I didn’t get to eat. It seemed better than being in pain. I lost more weight.
As I shrunk the world told me that my worth grew. And maybe that was nice to believe, for a while. But I can’t do that anymore. Not with all these little girls sending me messages and thinking of me as someone to look up to. Frankly, I like being called pretty. But what I don’t like is this fetishized need to be thin that media shoves down our throats. I don’t like feeling like I’m a part of that. My body is a sick person’s body. I want to be very clear with everyone that I do not aspire to be skinny. I want to be healthy. And I’m not. I’m ill. But I’m working on getting there.
It’s just difficult because there are a lot of extra ways that sick people are supposed to take care of themselves. I get my blood drawn every three months. I get two shots in the leg once a month. I take a pill every morning so I can eat more food without getting sick that day. I take my temperature often, I go to the doctor every few weeks, I have to take every little cold seriously in case it turns into something worse. At least, I’m supposed to. I’m not good at it. I’m not a good and responsible sick person. I’m an optimistic one! I like to talk to people about my illness and I like to try and help them with theirs. But helping myself, that’s another story. I need other people for that. I’m not good at doing things on my own.
I know I should be more independent. I know I can’t always count on other people to take care of me. I’m working on that, I promise. But you know what? I’m tired, and everything is really hard right now and I do need help. I need my mom and I need my friends. And I’m sorry about that, to all those people that I make take care of me. I’m sorry if any time in the past three weeks I’ve texted you S.O.S. (Chloe) or asked you to cook me dinner (Kristen) or made you miss class to give me my shots (Jon) or needed you to bring me lunch on campus (Tiernee) or forced you remind me to slow down and eat (Kiki) or called you and asked for any kind of help (Nathan, Durbin, Adina, Mariana, Mom, Mom, Mom.) I am lucky to have people who know my weaknesses and love me for them. Who will take care of me if I don’t ask or if I do.
Two weeks ago I sat in a steakhouse in the middle of Amarillo on my Great College Road Trip with four of my best friends and watched them put their hands in the middle of the table and make a pact: to make me gain at least five pounds by the end of the school year. Operation Five by Finals. I stared at the hands of those people I loved, clasped together like that- a promise to take care of me in such a simple way. It’s a silly thing, isn’t it, to not be able to gain weight? To accidentally leave yourself behind in favor of other things?
And on the days when other things do seem more important, when schoolwork and rehearsal and meetings take precedence over going to the grocery store, I have these four wonderful people to make me step back and remember to take care of myself. Wake up, wash my hair, eat a meal, live my life. I’m not good at doing things on my own. I do need help. And I have it. With my Five by Finals friends, with the others that I mentioned earlier in this post, and with everyone who supports me by reading this blog. What a strange, strange life, to hurt so badly and still have everything I need. What an incredible thing.