You are in class staring at your laptop screen, eyes darting from one classmate to the next until you land on yourself. The lighting tonight makes your cheekbones look pronounced. Your collarbone stands out, even the bones in your shoulders seem to show through the thin grey t-shirt draping over them. You are staring at your picture trying to piece together how that body fits with the feeling you felt an hour ago, when your stomach felt like it was pouring over your jeans. When your thighs felt like they were busting the seams. When you felt so uncomfortable you tore off your belt, angrily tossing it on the stairs.

Your jeans slide down your stomach landing mid-hip without the help of the belt. What just felt suffocating now felt impossibly loose. You are crazy, you tell yourself. To avoid any further turmoil over the likelihood that you cannot see what is real, you change into yoga pants. Those stay on and allow for the fluctuation of inches and pounds you perceive you’re gaining or losing in any given moment.

“If you were a disorder, what disorder would you be?” Your professor asks the class. One by one everyone goes, but you stay silent. The only disorders you can come up with are the ones you’re struggling with in that moment. Just say selective mutism, when it’s your turn, you repeat to your self over and over trying to drown out the louder noise that is saying anorexia. Depression. Anxiety. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. You are staring at your face on the classroom screen trying not to look panicked. Panicked that the entire class can see what you are not saying. Because suddenly that is all you can see as if it is tattooed across your face.

Selective mutism? You didn’t say a single word the entire class. You were the only one. The lively discussion taking place did not include you. Conversation went beyond the allotted class time and when it finally came to an end, you failed. You have the highest grade in the class and yet you are failing. Failing to keep your disorders at bay. Failing to quiet the volume of them. Somehow they became you, squealing with triumph, that you need them. You can’t live without them. That you are them. And that is all. You will never be anything more.

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