The first condition of mine that was ever acknowledged by a medical practitioner was my prominent acne-ridden skin. And I have to say, it was quite horrible. I don’t clearly remember ever being terribly concerned with my appearance due to acne; the thing that bothered me the most about it was the incredible pain and itching plaguing my sensitive face.
Simply based on memory, I would have to say that the issue began around age thirteen, preceding my eighth-grade graduation. Of course, over the following year as the problem worsened, I was asked many, many times by adults in my life if I was ashamed of my face (this question being repeatedly paraphrased with so many varieties of synonymous implications). There were certainly times when I began to believe that maybe I was supposed to feel ashamed and it was unnatural for me not to be insecure.
Come the beginning of ninth grade, my loving mother decided it would be absolutely appropriate to start me on a strict elimination diet. This resulted in nearly a year spent avoiding all dairy, meat, gluten/wheat, spices, condiments, starches, refined sugar (and later, any sweetening additive at all), any further animal by-products, and of course any fruits containing a high level of fructose.
My usual breakfast generally consisted of a multitude of supplements containing Vitamin A, Vitamins B6, B12, and B-complex, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Omega-3 and Zinc. I still remember the reasons why each one of these supplements was necessary, yet feel that it would be a waste of energy to explain each one. My usual school lunch consisted of a Tupperware container filled with about one cup of plain chick peas straight from the can.
After some time of loyally continuing this regimen — despite also trying to keep up with, and later quit, a dedicated practice of kung fu and other extrenuous activities — further issues also began (along with the worsening of my acne). I began having stomach issues, which I did not speak of until I was sure I had experienced them for a full year, as well as extreme dizzy spells which often resulted in a temporary loss of vision and spacial awareness (and these, I did not mention for years).
My mother insisted that the new stomach symptoms warranted a week-long cleanse, and not-even-fifteen-year-old me took up a honey + cayenne pepper + lemon juice + water beverage following her command. I clearly remember coming home from school one afternoon to my mother’s fawning over how beautiful I was becoming, to which I blatantly responded, “Really? Because I feel like I am dying.”
It’s only clear now, in hindsight, that these things contributed to the more harmful habits that followed: namely, my decision to spend each and every day of tenth grade living only on one shot-glass of orange juice in the morning and the occasional bowl of instant ramen or kraft dinner in the evening.
Now I have to really buckle down on focusing on the chronological order of events in my story — I apologize if it becomes confusing, unclear, or overwhelming. I will do my best to maintain a clear articulation of what transpired.
Roughly mid-tenth grade, the following happened:
- a teacher informed me that I likely required glasses, after witnessing my utter shock at the beauty of my surroundings upon trying on his glasses;
- one of my coworkers caught me sobbing in the stairwell as I was mopping the floors, due to the constant pain I had been feeling in my hips, which later placed me on light duties;
- compulsive habits of straightening the locks on the hallway lockers and intrusive images of mind-numbing violence often left me feeling either frantic or frozen, which my friends at the time found hilarious;
- I was informed by my GP at the time that my worsening stomach issues were probably being caused Irritable Bowel Syndrome and found that, realistically, very little could be done to treat it;
- and the number of teachers gently trying to suggest that I see a psychologist for my ostensibly obvious signs of depression continuously grew until I began to snap at every one who approached me.
At this time, I am growing increasingly exhausted and overwhelmed by trying to write these things out in a satisfactorily comprehensible fashion. I am going to take a break now.