Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Life Story: Chapter Forty

I found myself in a sad and desolate place. But I did my best to make the best of the situation. I dutifully participated in my counseling sessions. Each morning and evening I took the various anti-depressants that the heartless psychiatrist prescribed for me. Once a week, when the dietitian would come by to let me choose my meals, I did so under the mindset that I would force myself to eat those meals, whether I was hungry for them or not.

I was still anorexic. At least, I was what the doctors labeled as anorexic. As I sat in the eating disorder group meetings, I got a look at what true anorexia looked like. Since male eating disorders are a rare occurrence, the only other people in the meetings were girls, including the counselors. In meeting these young women, I realized that whatever was wrong with me had nothing to do with the textbook definition of anorexia.

I knew I was sick. I knew that I was grossly underweight. I knew that I needed to find a way to gain weight or my body would eventually just give out. The girls in the group were insistent that they were fat. That's how they saw themselves. I've mentioned before that, when I looked in the mirror, I saw nothing but skin and bone. Whatever psychological switch it was in my head that told me not to eat, it wasn't because I thought I was fat.

But I was doing pretty well. The days went by and I started having little successes. There were a couple of guys that worked with the kids named Kevin and Hank. I'm not exactly sure what their job titles were, but they were very encouraging to me. As were the other kids on the unit. It may sound corny, but for the short time we knew each other, we became a makeshift family.

At one point, Kevin decided that he would publicly keep track of the meals I completed. In the beginning, one completed meal was a huge step for me. There was a time when I could complain that I was full after swallowing only a few bites. But these guys would sit at the table with me while I ate. It was like having Apollo Creed in my corner, backing me up and pushing me on when I started getting punch drunk.

There was a small chalkboard on the wall near the table in the adolescent unit. Once I finished that first meal, Kevin walked over and wrote a big number 1 on it. As the days went by, that number grew. As I completed consecutive meals, the number grew to over 50. Things were finally looking good for old Aaron.

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