Chapter Ten- Recovery
Two months later, Bernie was doing very well. The counsellor had told her to continue keeping a record of the foods she ate, but to congratulate herself each time she did eat something, rather than chastising herself for it. It had been hard to do at first, but Bernie was getting used to it. She still rarely ate sweets, chocolate, crisps or any of the junk foods that used to offer her so much comfort. Salad was still her staple diet, along with rice, bread and other bits and pieces that she considered healthy enough. But she didn't hate herself for it, she was just relieved that she was finally able to eat something without feeling guilty for it. Sure, the guilty feelings still came and went, and there were times when Bernie just wanted to run to the bathroom and throw it all back up. But since seeing the counsellor for the first time, she had only made herself throw up once. Another couple of times it had happened and she hadn't been able to stop it, but she was told that was only to be expected when her stomach was trying to get used to regularly containing and digesting food again.
Bernie knew she had been lucky to start the long journey back to normal before it really had been too late. She had done more research, this time steering clear of those brainwashing websites that promoted eating disorders, and she had read such upsetting stories of girls (and even a few boys) her age who had never fully recovered from anorexia, and in some cases ended up starving themselves to death. It was possible to do, and this scared Bernie. Some nights she would dream about dying, and once she had dreamed of her funeral. Her momma had been there, standing with Aunt Elsie.
"I told you she would turn out no good, just like her father." Aunt Elsie was saying. "I told you..." Bernie had woken up in a cold sweat, and fetched a glass of water. It had only been four AM, and she was unable to sleep for the rest of the night.
Seeing the counsellor was helping more than Bernie would have liked to admit. She was a very well trained woman, and knew the right things to say to someone experiencing what Bernie was going through. Bernie was so grateful for all the help, and even more so for the confidentiality of everything. Karla was another pillar of strength, although all she could really do was continue being the best friend she could be to Bernie, because Karla had never been through anything similar herself, and so she was unsure of how to talk to Bernie about it, except in encouraging her to eat when Bernie felt like refusing.
"Anorexics don't hate food." Bernie had explained to Karla once. "We love it. We love it too much, that's the problem. It occupies our thoughts every moment of the day. We are obsessed by it. It's not the food that we hate, it's ourselves" Bernie's wisdom had grown so much it astonished Karla, and little by little, Bernie helped her to understand what she was feeling.
A time soon came when Bernie started to forget to write down what she was eating. Sometimes she even ate things without wondering what the fat content in them was first. She was not fully recovered, and probably never would be, because she knew that once someone had an eating disorder, they usually had it for life even if it lay dormant more often than not. But she had improved no end, and she knew it. She could look in the mirror, and see the now-thin person standing before her, and decide that she was indeed thin enough as she was, and there was no need for her to get any slimmer.
It was harder to climb that slippery spiral than to slide down it, but Bernie had always liked a challenge, and this was one that she was not prepared to back out of.
Afternote: I know it was only a short story, but I didn't feel the need to drag it on, and I think I said everything that needed to be said. Remember that the characters all come straight from my imagination, although the things they experience can sometimes be somewhat close to home. I hope you enjoyed this story.