Two people walk out of a building. The tall redhead, that’s me. The girl next to me, well that’s the issue. She’s really more than one. That’s the reason she was in that loony bin. My story starts a little bit in the past. So, let’s start there.
March 28th, 11:42 PM
My name is Allie Jenkins. I’m 17 years old and weigh 91 lbs. When I came to this mental hospital, the told me to write, mostly to get my feelings out. Sometimes I think it’s some thing to do in this boring place. Anyway, I came here about three days ago. My parents checked me in because they’re worried about me. I was surprised they even noticed something was wrong, when all they do is care about each other because they’re still so madly in love. I wouldn’t care as much but to them, I’m invisible. I am the daughter they never had. Maybe that’s the way I am. I don’t know. Part of it was my hunger for popularity. My best friend, Sam, and I made a pact that we would be the most popular by the end of the year. I wanted to be skinny, I stopped eating. I just said I’d do it until I was the size I desired. That’s where things went wrong I guess. When I got to my goal, I set another. I was hungrier and hungrier to be skinnier… skinniest. To prevent my parents from realizing it, I ate when they wanted me to, then I’d go to the bathroom and throw it all up. Point is it went to my head. The eyes that fell upon me in hallways were worth my stomach aches and pains from no food. To keep myself motivated, I looked in the mirror and thought: Fat. So I got skinnier.
March 29th, 3:12 PM
This place is living hell. I have to see a psychiatrist every day to discuss my state.
“How are you today?” he says through his spectacles.
I don’t want to talk. He is here for his paycheck. So why should I give him satisfaction when he doesn’t even care? They don’t really care. They care about money. If they don’t care, I don’t care, and they won’t make me.
A guy comes in to watch me eat. Its not that I like it, but something warms up inside me a little, because his attention is on me. It’s the thing that my parents have failed at giving me my whole life.
I’ve gained three pounds. I’m turning into a fat cow: 94 lbs. It’s…discomforting… in a way. My stomach isn’t hurting for the first time in years. It’s strange. I want the pain. Without it, my mind panics about other things. With it, the pain consumes me, till it’s pure ecstasy.
March 30th, 10:15 AM
Get. Me. Out. Of. Here. I think I’m going insane. (No pun intended.) I thought I heard screaming last night and when I woke up I realized it was me. They think the stupid therapist would help. It doesn’t, all this place is doing is making me worse.
“How are you today?” They ALWAYS ask.
“Paycheckly Fine… woops, I mean perfectly.”
I’m stubborn. And all they do is make me mad. I can’t even sleep well without the pain of hunger hindering my thoughts. Get. Fat. Me. Fat. Out. Fat. Of. Fat. Here. Fat.
March 30th, 7:56 PM
Who ever said “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” was a real whack-job. Whether it’s the words that people say or what they don’t say that hurt is, they’re all words. I had my first group therapy lesson today. It’s the kind of thing where if you write down all your problems and put it in a pile with everyone else’s and pick a random other’s, you would want your problems back.
Remember the girl from the beginning of the story? She’s sixteen. Her name is Joanah Parker. At first glance, you’d look at her and suspect nothing was wrong. That a shadow was just cast upon her body. But if you take a close look, her skin is dark and bruised and swollen. All. Over. When she was seven, her parents divorced, Her mom had one miss-hap night and now she’s stuck with an abusive man living with them because nothing of Joanah’s fault. And Joanah despises her mom cause she doesn’t have the strength to get up and leave him. For eight years she has been abused, which led to multiple personalities or Dissociative Identity Disorder. Guess she got the sticks and stones.
Another girl, Karen Kavitris, is in for suicidal thoughts from being teased in school about being overweight. She had been overweight since her twin brother died in a freak accident on a rainy night. I noticed the rubber bands and bracelets that run up her arm along with the long sleeves to cover her wrists so hopefully no one would notice. But it doesn’t really matter if people notice in a mental hospital, right? Here, the scars stand for anybody. It could be the symbol for this place. You could fly a flag with a picture of the scars high above this place and it would be totally normal here. But to those people that made fun of her, sticks and stones weren’t even involved (hopefully) but somewhere there was a crack. C-R-A-C-K. A word.
March 30th, 10:48 PM
I don’t know why, but I can’t stop thinking about Karen. Something about her makes me….jealous, I guess. You could say I “envy” her. I could never be able to cut like that.
I used to write all my problems down in washable marker on my arms and legs and stomach. Then I’d take a shower and hope that while the ink goes does the drain and washes away my problems off my skin, my problems would go away, too. It never really worked that way. But the way she cuts, it’s like relieving the pain for herself. But I can’t seem to find anything just for the purpose of solving my feelings. She’s stronger than I can ever be. Even when I thought I was strong, anorexic, it’s something else other than crying. I think crying makes me weak. It makes me vulnerable. So, there really is nothing else. The problems never washed down the drain with them. So, what can I do? I know this is a stupid question to ask while I’m in a mental hospital: what can I do to get better? Well, yeah, DUH. But I don’t think that works for me. I can’t be forced to get better if I don’t want to and trust me, here, I don’t want to. So, what else is there?
March 31st, 9:05 AM
“How are you today?”
Should I? No. Remember, they don’t care about you. …. But they wouldn’t get into this field of work if they didn’t care, right? Wrong. The paycheck is good. But they had to go through all those years of school just to get a good work pay check? Lawyers remember? They go through all those years of work just to lie to get a pay check. Yeah…. Okay, no I’m not giving into myself. I haven’t for as long as I’ve been this way, and I’m not going to start now.
April 1st, 11:12 AM
I realized I started wishing at 11:11. Like I just did. Even I’ve noticed a sudden change of mood toward this whole thing. It may be the burning passion to get out of this place. Or maybe the way I saw Karen and Joanah, it made me want to prove to myself that I have the strength to get better too, the way Karen tried to do other things even if it was cutting herself, and the way Joanah’s mom doesn’t do anything good for herself like leave the guy. I see how abhorrent that is. Maybe I’m trying to prove to my self that I’m not repulsive. That was the point of becoming anorexic in the first place, right?
April 2nd, 7:00 AM
I’ve wondered why my parents and friends (Sam mostly) haven’t written. I wouldn’t be surprised if my parents forgot I was here. I HATE that. When I get out, my goal won’t be to be the most popular one in school. It will be the most popular one at home….. I was walking in the hallway today. On the Receptionist’s desk was a pamphlet for this hospital, an advertisement for the people who stops by to see their loved ones who are patients. It had the “hallmark card” kind of family on it. The family I always wanted but never got. I didn’t even have a family, really. I had shelter, food (even if it was a lack of) and clothes but the pain from being anorexic replaced the love. And your parents are supposed to love you a lot. See how much pain that is?
May 2nd, 6:28 PM
I know I can get better. There’s no “if” factor anymore. When I came here, I was at rock bottom. I was like the words of David Bowie’s “Changes”: “And these Children that you spit on, as they try to change their worlds, are immune to your consultations. They’re quite aware of what they’re going through.” But I see now that there’s nothing more to this anorexia than to be liked. The problem is I didn’t like myself. I blamed my parents for my problems. And that’s when I hit the bottom. My parents are happy the way they are. And the people at school’s lives aren’t going to change because I’m skinny. I won’t change. But the reasons I am skinny will change me. I started hating myself when I wasn’t good enough, when I’m anorexic. And I know a way to change that.
May 3rd, 11:27 AM
“How are you today?”
“I’m…better,” I say. I’m really talking for the first time.
He scribbles down on his notepad. It’s probably something I say. Or that I’m actually speaking, like you see on the Cheez-It commercials where they wait for the cheese to mature, proving that they’re ready.
“Tell me how you are better,” he says.
Everything spills out to its entirety: from my parents to David Bowie, and all in between. How I made a pact with Sam, how I wake up screaming at night. I talked and talked and he listened. I even talked about how much I hated it here, including him. He flinched a little, but I’ve never had someone listen to all of my problems. I didn’t even have to talk fast, like I did before to try to get as much in as people would listen to.
“Another way I’m better,” I say with a smile, “this.”
I think this is the first time in a while that I’m really genuine. And I can see that his eyes light up, just a bit, too.
June 18th, 10:22 PM
It’s been over a month since I’ve written in this. I haven’t really needed to lately. New friends I met have filled the hole of nothingness from when I first got here.
Karen and Joanah have actually become very close. And I have other friends, like Paul who’s in for drug abuse. And Jerry who is in for anger issues like when he used to take it out on his mom and sister. In a way, I feel like their role model. I feel like I’m almost an employee here. I help out in group discussions, and express ways I got better to plant a seed in the heads of people so they can improve, just like I did. Just like how I can finally leave today. Anyways, life is too short to be angry all the time, or high all the time, so you don’t know what time is passing. In my case, it was pain all the time. When I tell my story to the group, and hope they can some day say this too, no matter what, I always end with: “Time may change me, but I can’t trace time.”
Reilly Haskins is a soon-to-be college student from Connecticut writing in her free time. She is a mathematician with a deep love of short narratives.