Thinness

Anorexia. Never thought i would personally know someone with it. The first day i laid my eyes on her i jolted visibly. When we made eye contact a few seconds later, i felt my heart skipped a beat. I am not one for melodramatics, but this time the true horror seethed through me. I always had a hunch, but i really did not want to be proven right. Now that my doubts have been put to rest, i did not feel any better.

We were never in the same clique. Personality clash, you could say. But by a strange turn of events, we happened to dine on the same table through mutual friends. She was seated across me; and i seemed to be in the front row seat, treated to a blistering show of anatomy in its purest form. Like a true spectator, i cowered under the might of the impact.

I smiled at her. The first in many years. She nodded. Funny how all animosity seemed to melt away without a trace when someone is in desperate need of help. Perhaps it is the most basic of human instinct. We made conversation. Actually she spoke to me, and i replied when spoken to. The power balance had changed. I knew it and she knew it. I did not pursue the matter because what is the point? Challenging an opponent when she’s down on the ground is ignoble. Yet on the other hand, i wondered whether i was encouraging her self-destructive behaviour by finally giving her the attention she so badly craved.

I wanted to reach out and apologize. The times when i acted so cold and indifferent. Wanted to let her know that it is ok; she did not need to resort to this to gain control. But who am i to be so egoistic anyway? I was never a close friend, but yet i still feel guilty. See how this plays out? Our conscience never lets us go, even over the most minute of things.

She’s not getting better. She has refused all treatment. I know she ain’t going to last. I am still perplexed as to how i feel over someone who is clearly withering away in front of me. So this is what it is like to see someone die in front of your eyes and you can do nothing. How simple but how abstract. Where is the stark sense of helplessness? I feel only horror.

And what will patients say when they see this medical student? What happens when she goes on her psychiatric rotation? Will she be banned from the eating disorder unit? Will the starving girls in the inpatient unit see her and treat her as a role model, as one of their own?

God, this is confusing. This dilemma.

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