Ten-year old school girl becomes anorexic

Young women become anorexic for many reasons. Here is how it started for me. I hope that this story will help parents, doctors, educators, and most of all young anorexic people. In retrospect, I think my body reacted to the situation I was in: when some feel emotions in their head or their heart, I feel injustice in my oesophagus.

That summer before I entered secondary school, I had considerable hopes. There wasn’t much sun. Summers were often grey and rainy here, except when we would get the odd heatwave. But that used to be, indeed, very odd.

I would wake up, shower, get dressed, make my bed, and then keep myself busy during those days without school. Also, I had to keep myself safe. My sister would often come and fight me. She was quite short, but very muscular, and not that nice. She would bite my belly, hit me in the head with wooden clogs, or simply have tantrums, rolling herself on the floor, jealous and exasperated by my very existence. I couldn’t do anything about it. No one would listen to me anyway. So, when I was not reading, or watching TV, I was mostly feeling miserable. At the time I thought that domestic sadness was normal.

I had an older sister too. She would come over for the holidays. Even though there had been issues in the past, it was important for me to always forgive and never hold a grudge. I was happy to welcome her. It was quite magical for a ten-year old to be granted an older sister, even for a short time. However it didn’t really work out. The more I would forgive, the more she would do, and the more I had to forgive. I got punished so many times. I guess it was easier for my father to pretend that I was the bad one, than to punish the little girl he lost when he divorced. I knew he loved her. I knew it was hard. I would take the blows, keep quiet, and go hide on my own. So, yes, domestic sadness was normal to me.

I thought that domestic sadness was normal.

I was really looking forward to going back to school.

I expected secondary school to be different. More rules, more assessments, and much more interesting lessons. Summer lingered a bit, there were a few nice sunny days. As I was busy copying the blackboard in classrooms that smelled of dusty old brooms and chalk, the trees turned orange, and red. I spent considerable time waiting throughout the school day. It was such a long drag. Writing, waiting, writing, keeping my hands up forever, never been picked by the teacher to answer, unless no one knew, more waiting, more writing.

One of the problems that I had to handle was break time. Break time was not about waiting. There was quite a delicate toilet situation. Boys would try to look at girls as they went to the toilet. Even though there were rules to forbid this type of behaviour, there was always a bunch of boys trying to peek at the girls while they were urinating. I decided not to go to the toilet at all. It wasn’t fun. I was thirsty, but couldn’t drink in case I wouldn’t be able to hold it. I was probably dehydrated during the 4 years I spent in that school.

Break time was also bullying time.

Break time was also bullying time. It wasn’t bad everyday. On normal days I would just be insulted. I was mostly called “sl*t” or “wh*re”. I was also told that my mother was a “prostitute working in Pigalle” or that she would “suck d*cks in the bois de Boulogne”. Interestingly enough, those ten-year old children knew much more than me about the locations where one could get sexual gratifications in Paris. Some kids were more inventive. There was this one girl who would brag about having stains on her lung x-rays because of her smoking. She was calling me “smashed-ovule face”, “sh**face”, or “d***face”.

PE was probably worse than break time. During break time, since the schoolyard was big, I knew there wouldn’t be any adult to protect me from the bullies. But in PE, even though there was a teacher present with us, I would still get loudly insulted, right under her nose. She wouldn’t do anything. I would keep quiet, obedient, respectful, and still, bullies would go on. That teacher, by not taking a stance against bullying, could just be seen as one of them. Kids would spit on my clothes, but there was just nothing to do or say.

There was just nothing to do or say.

That’s probably when it started. By the time the last leaves had fallen, I wasn’t able to swallow anymore.

I wasn’t able to swallow anymore.

At first I was scared. I was at the dinner table, and I kept choking on my food. It would just not go down. I couldn’t swallow. Even with sauce or water. Nothing would go down. My oesophagus would hurt. Food would stick. It was terrifying. Choking and more choking.

I would masticate, and it felt like the bits of food were still huge. Still choking and spitting out.

My parents were absolutely mad at me. I tried to pretend to eat. I would masticate, and keep a ball of food in my mouth. When my parents were looking away I would put it on my lap, or give it to the dog. I also tried to stick food under the chair. Unfortunately, after a while, my mother found out, and forced me to eat the rancid food I had stuck there. My father hit me a lot at first. At some point, he got used to it and stopped the beating.

The problem was mentioned to my family doctor. All she had to say was that I was afraid to grow up.

This was such a preposterous statement. I was not afraid to grow up. I was convinced that I would not be allowed to grow up.

I was convinced that I would not be allowed to grow up.

And everyday, before going to sleep, I would search my soul for any bad actions I had done during the day. Then after saying my Pater Noster, Ave Maria, and Credo, my face red with tears, I would beg God to let me live a little longer so that I would find love. My prayers were only met by the foxes and owls in my garden.

I would beg God to let me live a little longer

Months later I still couldn’t eat much, except for very liquid mashed potatoes or melted chocolate. At times it would stop. Then it would start again. Over the years, I developed strategies. When I couldn’t swallow any food, I would call it dieting, and everybody would buy it.

Despite the bouts of anorexia, I completed my mandatory schooling.

Eventually I recovered.

Often, in times of injustice, my oesophagus starts hurting again.

When some feel their emotions in their head or their heart, I feel injustice in my oesophagus.

When some feel their emotions in their head or their heart, I feel injustice in my oesophagus.

Some things can’t be said, won’t be heard, and simply will never go down, be they words, or food.