I grabbed the sack of chicken nuggets and headed for my closet. My shoe rack was just the right height for a seat when I swept the top row of shoes off it and onto the floor. I could lean back against the wall and be comfortable. I kept an old comforter in there all the time, for the comfort it provided, as its name may have given away. I didn’t bring anything to drink, but I never did. I didn’t need to, because this wasn’t going to be that type of binge. This was just going to be me sitting in my closet, reading a book, wrapped in a comforter, eating enough chicken nuggets for six people.
No big deal.
I kept forgetting that I lived alone; I tried to muffle the sound of the paper bag rattling as I pulled out the first box of nuggets. After a lifetime of never being alone, it was hard to break old habits.
I tapped the light stuck to the wall, and it came on, illuminating just the right area for me to read peacefully. I leaned back, cracked the book, settled the nuggets on my knee, and took a deep breath. I smelled leather and fried food and the pages of my book, all the most comforting smells in the world. It was almost enough to put a smile on my face.
But I didn’t need to feel happy; I felt safe, and that’s what really matters the most. Safety. I leaned my head to the side until it reached the adjoining wall, and with that support, I flipped pages and stuffed my face for the next hour.
I don’t remember when I started to binge eat. I really don’t. It’s there, somewhere, as far back as I remember eating. I don’t really remember that far back, though. I mean, I don’t remember much with any consistency until I was around eleven or so. Sure, there’s bits and pieces from when I was two or three and up, but that’s all it is, is bits and pieces. I can’t string days together, or weeks. I can barely string an hour together—I think the only time I can do that is when I remember watching a movie, something that lasted over an hour with a coherent story. It’s just weird to think about the people who can remember so much of their own lives. I can’t wrap my head around that, at all. And then those who can remember everything? That’s way too much for my brain to handle. I don’t think I can tell you what I had for breakfast a week ago, and that’s remembering food.
If I can remember anything, it’s food. Eating food, and cooking food, and serving food. So much food in my life. And I remember so much about it. The taste, the smell, the texture, the sound in my ears as I chewed it in my mouth.
When the chicken nuggets were gone, I didn’t hate myself enough yet. I closed the book and set it down on the floor in the closet and closed my eyes just for a minute. I didn’t know yet whether or not I was going to cry. The first minute passed, and then another, and eventually I knew that I was not going to cry. This time. I got up and went to the kitchen.
It’s hard to eat ice cream out of the container while sitting in a closet wrapped in a comforter and reading a book, but I’ve worked out a system for it. I finished the half gallon, and it wasn’t enough . I knew it wouldn’t be from the first bite, because I focused on the act of eating instead of even pretending to myself that I was reading.
I dropped the spoon into the empty bucket, and the tears began to fall.
Yesterday was the first time I heard about the kids in New York with ‘mysterious tics.’ I’ll admit it, the very first thing I thought was, ‘they’re full of it.’ But I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, until they keep reaching for fantasy instead of facing facts.
If the story is news to you, 16 teenagers in Le Roy, New York have developed Tourette’s-like symptoms. Their parents are pretty upset at neurologists who are saying that it’s an episode of mass psychogenic illness, due to more likely explanations being ruled out.
Heaven forbid their children have any kind of *gasp* mental illness. Environmental contaminants that only affect teenagers, almost exclusively female, would be a much more sensible explanation. Really??
That’s the part that pisses me off. People so terrified of being stigmatized with any kind of psychological disorder are refusing to accept a reasonable diagnosis, and are instead trying to blame their problems on a train wreck that happened in 1970.
But professionals aren’t saying that these kids are faking it. They’re trying to explain their illness. Why doesn’t it make sense to these parents that because one of their children’s peers developed an exotic disease, their kids got nervous?
Guess what, guys. Psychological discomfort can cause physiological problems. Have none of these people ever seen a rash and started to itch? Have they not seen a guy get hit in the junk and winced in sympathy?
I’m willing to bet that the more media attention this thing gets, the more widespread it will become. But what do I know, right? I’m not a doctor. Oh, wait, all the doctors are wrong anyway. Okay.
I just hate that a purely physical problem is so much more welcome an explanation than anything having to do with the taint of mental illness. Not to mention the fact that a bunch of silly girls somehow deserve so much airtime.
Maybe somebody should call Erin Brockovich’s attention to infertility. That’d raise some awareness.
*I’m not apologizing for the title. Just pointing out that sometimes mass hysteria gets you burned at the stake, sometimes it’s headline news.