Anorexia gave Ellie a daughter, her name is Anxiety.
She used to be called Insecurity, but she became spoilt.
She wasn’t created this way. She wasn’t always so unstable, so random and rabid.
Anonymous adopted Insecurity and fed her up to make her strong. Together, they starved her into Anxiety.
She wasn’t always quite so cruel.
Anonymous feasted on Ellie and let Anxiety scavenge. She nourished her prodigy by throwing her bones to fetch, and gradually trained her to be a monster.
Insecurity had already achieved so much in her friendship with Ellie.
She lay the foundations for me to see that Ellie was weak and worthless.
She reminded me that I needed to be sorry.
I’m sorry sorry for stealing air that would better serve other people.
I’m sorry for taking up this space, I’m sorry for being in the way.
I’m sorry because it must have been me.
It must have been my fault: otherwise, why would you treat me like that? Why would say that to me? Why would you do that to me?
I must have provoked you. It must have been my fault, because you told me it was. I provoked it by standing here, breathing air I had no right to.
Apologies burn like bleach on my tongue, cleansing me of shame only I can feel, because you make me feel that way.
“Ellie, stop apologising.” – if I had a lb for every time someone said that, well.
Insecurity made Anonymous’ job easy. She tricked me into thinking she could help me, and make me stronger. She told me she could protect me. That I could take “sorry” to a whole new level.
I let myself overdose on the painkiller that was starvation.
Anxiety’s training programme was structured around Anonymous’ rules and fuelled by my submission.
Together, they put me on a leash and took me on a walk away from threat. We wandered blissfully calm towards a sorry wasteland: free from thought; free from shame; free from feeling and free from food.
We followed time around the clock face, and Anonymous told me I was escaping it.
I was controlling time:
“Get up its 5am.”
“Run, move; don’t stop.”
“Is it 8pm? So why are you sitting?”
“Keep to the routine.”
“You’re lazy. You’re so greedy.”
Anonymous now sends Anxiety to do her bidding.
Their methods are different. Whilst Anorexia uses wars of attrition, Anxiety uses guerrilla tactics: surprise ambushes are her speciality.
She hides in Ellie’s shadow and waits until the threat is close enough. Then, with a war mongering spasm of relish, she rises like bile. She sinks her fangs deep into my nerves and holds me in place as Anonymous watches, whispering.
“How dare you.”
“You waste of space.”
“You worthless, useless child. How dare you.”
Then I’ll hide. Ellie tells me to turn off her phone. We shy away from everyone: they might hurt us. Together, we hide.
She attacks Ellie when we both least expect it. Mostly, it’s when I dare defy one of Anonymous’ rules.
I slept in by 15mins, and Anonymous sent Anxiety.
I stood next to a plate of food reeking of rich aromatic spices, and Anonymous sent Anxiety.
I ate breakfast 20mins late, and Anonymous sent Anxiety.
The telephone rang at lunchtime, and Anonymous sent Anxiety.
Fear should have murdered me long ago. It is Anorexia’s greatest ally, because it is anonymous.
Ellie is trying to reinforce her defences against Anxiety attacks, and she tells me prevention is the best policy.
I carry sedatives around in my pocket when I leave the house, lest I should discover a minefield littered with triggers.
I try to anticipate obstacles before they trip me up, that way I stunt Anonymous’ element of surprise.
I shut my eyes and try and stop time is I spill me milk, or if there is a pause in the hum of the ECG machine. Fear is less of a shock if it manifests slowly.
Mainly, I say sorry. That way, I can acknowledge the the point of my own weakness, and consider it.
Why Ellie, are you always apologising?
Most of the time, I need help defending myself.
My parents know there is an extra person living in this house with us: they know about Anonymous. We fight her off together. Trust is our most efficient tactic, because neither Anorexia nor Anxiety understand that.
They are my most treasured allies. When an attack is launched against Ellie, they rally at my side.
They talk me out of hell.
They hold me until Anonymous’ screams subside.
They let me climb into bed with them when I’m scared, and I’ll sleep soundly. There isn’t room in that bed for Anonymous.
She isn’t welcome in my family.
Anonymous’ reaction to threat is fear.
This recovery thing is really, really hard.
I know she feels frightened, because she is fighting harder.
Every effort I put into recovering: eating, chewing, breathing, terrifies Anonymous.
And I’m sorry – but I’m really not sorry for that.