In cleaning up the house, I saw a picture of me from twenty-five years ago. I picked it up and stared at it as if it were an artifact from a different lifetime. I was in the middle of my first anorexic stage, and I had a perm and was wearing makeup. I searched my face for anything recognizable, and there it was in my trademark smirk. I don’t smile easily, and I always feel fakey when I do, but when I looked at the picture, it wasn’t terrible. Only I could see the pain behind the smile because I was pretty good at masking it while I was out and about.
I can’t see much of the current me in the earlier incantation, but it’s more the mental and emotional changes. Even though it wasn’t readily apparent in the photo, I was at the depth of my depression, and I struggled to get out of bed every day. Those were the days when I exercised seven hours a day in order to support my ED, but then I didn’t do anything else. Once I stopped exercising so much, I spent a lot of time on the couch, wallowing in my depression.
It’s hard to overstate how much I loathed myself at the time. My head was constantly filled with negative voices, the main one whom I dubbed The Dictator because he was always telling me what to do, and calling me horrible names in the meantime. I would never call other people the things I’ve called myself. It’s not even just the epithets. I was so cruel to myself. Telling myself I was worthless and not fit to live. I really thought I was toxic and the world would be better off without me. I called myself ugly and fat and lazy, and it was a constant narrative in my brain.
I believed that every day I was adding more poison to the world, and any good deed I did just moved me one step closer to neutral. But, because the negatives were more numerous than the positives, I was losing ground every day I lived. I have no idea why that belief solidified in my brain, but it was firmly intact by the time I was twelve or thirteen.