Naïve, by Jenna Miguel

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    “Naïve” – a guest piece by Jenna Miguel.

    I’ve always been a little naïve about the world around me; most likely because of how sheltered I grew up. I’m the first to admit that it’s been sheltered, but not for the reasons one might think. My parents didn’t want my sister and I to see that horrible things happen to wonderful people, and so we lived in our bubble. Our bubble of making good grades, having a small, tight knit circle of great friends, and doing everything in our lives “by the book”… until I got sick.

    This seemed to be the first hiccup in our family story. I got sick and suddenly the family dinners stopped, the friends dropping by to see my parents started to diminish all together, and any kind of social life we once had seemed to come to a halt.

    To this day, I know that my family was not ashamed of my Anorexia, but my eating disorder made me believe that that was the case. When I was sick I became a hermit and didn’t bother leaving the house if I didn’t have to. At this point, I had to leave Carleton University and I was put on the waiting lists of all the inpatient treatment programs in the Toronto area.

    I call this period of my life “The Hunger Games.” Everyday I found a new way to distract myself from how hungry I was and fixated on some activity to occupy my time. Spending time with loved ones wasn’t an option, as I couldn’t stand the looks of pity they gave me when they saw me. Though I can’t remember the majority of what occurred when I was sick, I’ll never forget the stares and the whispers that I got when people saw me.

    And I suppose that’s the thing that separates the headstrong, positive, determined young lady I have become from the lost, sheltered, naïve girl I used to be. A few weeks ago I heard someone describe eating disorders as “rich, white girl illnesses that they bring upon themselves.” The sheltered, naïve girl in me may have seen eating disorders this way when I was growing up, but then having suffered for years from anorexia the young lady in me heard this and was outraged.

    No eating disorder is brought on by its sufferers by their sheer will. They are uncontrollable diseases that some are never able to recover from. They are not “rich, white girl illnesses” as they affect both men and women of all social standings.

    While eating disorders are not thrust upon those of certain societal positions, they do rob all sufferers of the normalcy of their day-to-day lives. When you’re sick doing something as normal as going to the grocery becomes anxiety ridden. There’s nothing normal about life when you have a shadow constantly following you telling you what you can and can’t do, what you should, or shouldn’t eat.

    Anorexia robbed me of my late teen years and some of my early 20s, and I’ll never get those years back. I feel like I’ve missed out on some of the most influential growing experiences because I was either too sick to care and get out of my own bubble, or was in the hospital trying to break free from it all.

    And so I live vicariously through my teenage sister. Off in her first year of university at Western, I can’t help but think of how much fun she’s having and how free she must feel. Though she probably doesn’t even think twice about it as she’s never been clouded by an eating disorder and has witnessed it secondhand through me. She’s not holed up in her dorm room studying all the time because she can’t seem to retain anything because all she can think about it her weight and shape preoccupation. She’s not avoiding her roommate because she doesn’t want to be social and bond with her and go out.

    For that I’m thankful; thankful that if this is what had to burst our bubble that I, her older sister, was the one that had to go through it. That if we were so holed up in our “rich, white girl” world, that we are not as naïve as we once were. My eating disorder robbed me of so much, but I decided to take back my life, and not let it deprive me of any more living.


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