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Pragya Gupta

IWB Intern

Aastha’s Parents Try To Save Her From Anorexia, But Each Time, End Hurting Their Daughter

  • IWB Post
  •  July 16, 2017

Voice: 1200 calories. Isn’t that too much Carol?

Aastha: I am hungry, and this won’t really affect me.

Voice: You never know? Why take a risk.

My parents glared at me, and they knew what storms were whirling inside my head. You might be wondering why it is a big deal for me, but you won’t understand this eternal internal conflict. My conscious begs me to gulp two packets of chips down my throat, but my subconscious mocks me that ‘it is better to die than become a person who needs a crane to get him out of her bed.’

They didn’t say anything, and I felt hopeless. I hated it when someone forcefully fed me, but a part of me still desired that normality. I am not here to glorify my anorexic condition at all so do not confuse my skinny jeans and lean legs to be a part of any such campaign; I would hate to see anyone close to me going through this condition.

Recently I watched ‘to the bones,’ and while observing the character, I could feel a connection. I knew I wasn’t alone and there might be someone else too who would understand my routine of counting calories. I didn’t know what her cause was, but it seemed like the character was speaking to me. She, like the rest of us, could hear those voices. I am not referring to any ghost but the voices that guided me through this route.

In India, this problem isn’t pressed enough because half of the people are not aware of it. They confuse it with malnutrition. Okay, let me clearly explain you the difference: These two are situated at the opposite end of the spectrum which is judged by a person’s willing to consume food.

The movie ended with Ellen’s epiphany, but I am still waiting for mine to happen. Every night I sit on the table, my parents hold my hand and sing their prayers ‘thank you god for this healthy food, in the hope that’ and I clench mine in the hope that I would feel the same. Every time I saw that chicken being barbecued, I wanted to snatch and eat it, but hey thin is beautiful. Isn’t it?

Thin is beautiful, thin is beautiful, thin is beautiful. This was what kept me up all night, starving. My parents, my sister they cried. I felt miserable because I was the reason behind it, but somehow it strengthened by choice of dying. I don’t want to imply that death was what I wanted from the beginning, but maybe this is my destiny.

But the movie; why couldn’t I have a doctor as charming? In my life, I didn’t have any Luke to push me out of this. My relationship with my beloved ones was burning into ashes, but I was helpless because that irritating voice won’t leave me alone.

Hey, do you remember the case of Vikram and Betal? I know my references are the 20th century but their relationship somehow tangentially reflects my connection to the voice. My parents want to keep me, and they ask me each day why I do this? Why I can’t eat? But I can’t explain so I say ‘it is hard mom and dad, you won’t understand.’

Suggesting that eating is the solution is an understatement or rather a superficial way of representing it. You fail to understand that I am not exactly under my control, I just obey what my mind asks me to do.

Unlike studies which suggest that generally, the mother of an anorexic daughter acts as a very poor identification model, mine wasn’t that case. My mother was the one who five years back fought with the society for body shaming women and ironically here I am who is utterly obsessed with obtaining a perfect shape. My mother got me; she at least tried to understand what I was going through

My father, he was never there. My mind still rewinds the tape of the day my condition was revealed. He was filled with tension, anger, anxiety, and disbelief and you know what he did that day? He tried to shove some apples down my throat. I revolted, and he realized he was wrong. I know he loves me too much, but his negativity worsens my condition.

The movie depicted how complicated Ella’s relationship was with her stepmother, mother, and sister. I must say that my sister was the biggest motivator; she was there no matter what. You know she never said anything utterly profound, but when I looked at her, I could see life. I wanted the same, and I knew I could if I tried to start eating

I am still on my way to progress, and there are a few days when I smash that plate against the wall. The slightest gain in weight gets on my nerves, and again I have this urge to starve myself, but I don’t because of my parents. The hard reality of recovery is that it isn’t just will power but selflessness too. I understood that my life wasn’t just my own but attached to many and my absence might leave a scar on them.

You cannot expect a motivated therapist to give you a life changing speech which will snatch away all of your pain in just a scoop. Dealing with any kind of mental or physics illness, including anorexia is a process which becomes a little easier when your parents understand you or at least try.

Remember the next time you sit across a girl who is just like me, don’t force her to eat. Instead, ask her ‘why’ she isn’t eating. We like to be heard; we love when people consider us more than just bones.

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