Misery [Hates] Company

When I returned to Florida, I was thin but miserable. One of the fun “benefits” of anorexia, I would learn later in life, is depression. Turns out, when you don’t eat, you get sad–and fast. (I didn’t see the correlation then, but it’s more than apparent now.)

Before I left for England, I had begun dating a much older graduate student, and we managed to make do with the Atlantic Ocean between us…but in person, I wasn’t emotionally ready to be in a relationship. In fact, I was scared to death that I was inadequate–mainly because I knew I wasn’t thin enough. He wanted to do “normal” things, like go out for Pad Thai or stay home and cook me an amazing meal. But if I ate those things, I would have to do extra exercise to make up for it. And then I’d have to make a choice between exercise and going on day trips to amazing places like St. Augustine, or even simply staying in and reading poetry.

A day in St. Augustine…

So I broke up with him.

I was miserable. I dropped all but my required classes. I stayed in my room and listened to NPR and Internet comedy radio in bed all day and night. I cried. A lot.

Eventually, I dragged myself to the campus health center and saw a psychiatrist. For the first time in my life, I had to go on depression medication. Unfortunately, the list of “rare” side effects on the bottle decided to manifest themselves as soon as I swallowed the pills–and I tried a few different brands.

That October, I did the only thing I could think of: I bought a dog. Frida (named for the artist, the unibrowed Ms. Kahlo) was (and is) the greatest thing that could have ever happened to me. She gave me a reason to live.

Frida

I was also fortunate to have friends who wouldn’t let me languish in complete loneliness for long. Although we are no longer friends, I owe a lot to a girl named Jo, who refused to let me stay in my apartment, stewing in self-pity. Throughout the fall semester, she repeatedly showed up on my doorstep and forced me outside. For that, I will always be grateful.

Dragged out and costumed on Halloween

That January, she dragged me nearly against my will to a a party at our friend Ryan’s apartment. I ended up having an amazing time (despite the fact that I was the only sober person in the room), and the experience convinced me to step outside of my comfort zone and back into the world of the living.

I started going out more and exercising less. I still refused to eat anything except my regularly scheduled meals, but I was at least more comfortable around other people while they ate. I was asked to be the dramaturg on a mainstage theatre production. I started my thesis. The University’s student-run theatre club accepted the play I wrote in England into a new works festival. I looked forward to rehearsals and made new friends. I also started gaining weight.

By the time I graduated in May, I was back to 125 pounds and off of the depression medication.*

May 2008

ED was lying dormant, and I was moving home.

– K.

*P.S. Do not ever take Effexor, at least if you plan on getting better. The withdrawal included brain shivers, and, yes, they are as bad as they sound.

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One thought on “Misery [Hates] Company

  1. Congratulations, Kaila 🙂 I recently entered a recovery of my own, though for an un-related dis-ease as I like to refer to it, and support your struggle as well as your victory completely! This is tough, cookie, but you are and always have been one tough cookie! I love you always and think of you often. Feel free to get in touch anytime, I’m living in Brooklyn now, and would love to here some good news from the opposite coast 🙂 ~Catesby

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