No Longer a “Cassie”

skins-cassie-10This time last year I was back in residential treatment for my eating disorder. During that time I wrote a blog post entitled “Life as a Cassie,” talking about how I related to the Skins character of Cassie Ainsworth and the struggle with her anorexia.

Skins romanticized Cassie and her condition and her “I didn’t eat for three days so I could be lovely” and her savior Sid who wooshed in her life and inspired her to eat. I was so desperate for my own Sid I didn’t begin to think that maybe I needed to be my own savior. I didn’t need someone texting me “EAT” or spelling the word out with French-fries. I needed to fight back to that voice in my head telling me not to. It’s time for me to stop looking for my Sid externally. It’s time to turn that inward.

I openly admit that I glorified my eating disorder. It took me nearly two years for me to acknowledge that being a diagnosed anorexic made me feel special. I felt powerful. It made me unique. But most of all, it was something that I was good at. Life as a “Cassie” isn’t pretty. It’s hell. It’s only eating enough to stay out of the hospital. It’s lying to yourself and others 24/7. It’s lonely. It’s sad. It’s nothing anyone would want. I have no enemies, but if I did I wouldn’t wish this on them in a million years.

I’m sitting here in quasi-recovery, sipping my signature Americano with sugar-free vanilla syrup, trying to convince myself that I didn’t want that chocolate-covered graham cracker square I saw at Caribou. I’m fighting the urge to go to the cupboard and grab a handful of chips. I’m scrolling through Instagram and seeing the photos of those I met in treatment who are now living full, happy lives. I’m so jealous I can’t even describe. I hate how weak eating makes me feel when it should make me feel strong.

I’m no longer a “Cassie,” and I’m equal parts happy and sad. My eating disorder isn’t fun anymore. It means spontaneous ER visits and weekly weigh-ins. It means a loss of trust from my parents and those who care about me. It means crying over that scoop of froyo or fighting hunger cues even when my stomach is screaming at me for nourishment.

“I’m not where I used to be, but thank god I’m not where I used to be.” I’m no longer in denial and every day I’m clawing my way out of this hole. I’m no longer a “Cassie,” I’m a Kate, and I’m trying.

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Life as a “Cassie”

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Fasten your seat-belts kiddies because I’m about to throw you ball out of left field. That’s right, I’m actually going to talk about my feelings.

As a kid, I basically had to light someone on fire to get attention from my parents. I was a well-behaved, A student with the average moral compass of a straight-laced teen . I generally flew under the radar and due to my handy-dandy perfectionist personality, rarely approached the parentals for help. Their attention was mainly focused on my tornado of a sister and as someone who generally thrives on being a wallflower, this situation worked to my advantage.

Due to the lovely economy and the thrifty thing known as the journalism field, I became unemployed in January 2013. And in its absence, my body decided that it needed to create a new profession, a new way to pass the time, and it surfaced by way of an eating disorder.

I’m the girl who had to run out of her psych class because she couldn’t handle the video where the bulimic listed everything she ate in her last binge. I’m the girl who looked at pictures of anorexic models and scoffed at how anyone could think that was healthy. I was the girl who basically thought, “I’m way too smart for that to happen to me.”

Well, it did. And I spent six months in and out of rehab in an attempt to kick ol’ ED out for good. My first rehab facility should have been subcategorized as a prison because their no phone/laptop policy nearly killed me. As someone who hates to be inside their own head, music, movies/television, have always provided the perfect outlet in which to escape. I can safely say that these three things have helped keep me sane. I was officially diagnosed with anorexia (binge/purge subtype) and orthorexia in July and it’s been a downward spiral of misery.

A character I’ve been relating to a lot lately is Cassie Ainsworth from generation 1 of Skins. The oldest, mostly forgotten daughter, Cassie is introduced as fresh out of rehab for her eating disorder and still struggling with her urges to not eat. She goes as far as hallucinating the boy she likes giving her messages telling her to, “EAT!” Eccentric and stubborn, she would later flee to New York after the death of a friend. She’s always been my favorite character from the series, and one of my favorites in general. Her eating disorder is romanticized (which I don’t agree with, beeteedubs), she claims not to have eaten for three days so she “could be lovely” for a date. But I appreciate and understand her struggle.

In her centric episode in season two, Cassie voices this to her exam proctor, I stopped eating and then everyone had to do what I said. That was powerful…I think it was the happiest time of my life. But I had to stop before I died because otherwise it wasn’t fun. This exchange has been in my head for several days now and I’ve been working through why it’s resonating with me. I don’t consider myself a petty person, but I am stubborn as all hell. And as much as I hate to admit it, I got more attention from my family this summer than I’ve probably gotten in my entire life. This attention was completely warranted, and as an independent person I found it irksome, but underneath it was appreciated. Greatly appreciated. I am not suicidal. I do not have a death wish. And yet I still refuse to make the changes that will save my life. I’ve had enough therapists, dietitians, doctors, etc. giving me countless reasons over the course of the past year, but nothing has cemented. Nothing has permeated this shell. And it’s a thick shell. Cassie’s relationship with Sid helps her to focus on her recovery. I don’t have a Sid nor do I want one at the moment, but I haven’t found my symbolic Sid either.

Hi Kate’s Symbolic Sid Jenkins. It’d be great if you’d make yourself present. I’m a bit clueless these days so I’m going to need you to wave neon signs. I’ll be right here waiting.

[EDIT: As of April 16, 2014, I am making the decision to check myself back into inpatient treatment. Maybe my Sid is closer than I thought…

Follow-up: No Longer a “Cassie” ]