Competition

"Okay, don't freak out. I have to tell you something," I said to my best friend, Jessica. "I think I have an eating disorder."

"Why do you think that?" Jessica asked.

"Well sometimes I don't eat. And then sometimes I eat so much and then I go make myself throw up. I hate the way I look. I look so fat even though I kind of actually know that I'm not really fat. I know that doesn't make sense, but I don't know how else to put it."

"I see…"Jessica said slowly, "do you think it's out of control?" I shrugged, not really sure. I'd never tried to stop, so I don't know if I can. "Well if it's not out of control, I think you'll be okay. Just be careful. Don't go too far."

I'm shocked. I had been expecting more of a reaction than that. She almost seemed like she wasn't even surprised. Does she not care that I have a potentially fatal disease? Whatever I guess, at least I know that she's not concerned enough to tell my family.

Nearly a year later, I decide to stop. What's the point of doing this? I started out trying to lose weight but it's not working. These frequent binges are keeping me at about the same weight I've been for months. I should just stop and try to lose weight the healthy way.

A few hours later, I got a text from Jess. It said, "Amanda, can I tell you something?" I get stressed out about this. Whenever I get a text like that it never says anything good. It's always something about how she cuts and can't stop and wants to kill herself. Maybe she gets the same feeling when I say something like that too since I have started many of the same confessions that way.

"Sure," I quickly texted back.

My suspicion was confirmed. She told me something bad. Very bad. Jessica admitted to me that she might have an eating disorder too. She told me that the only meal she eats each day is dinner because her parents wouldn't let her skip. She said that some days, if her parents aren't home or something, she doesn't eat at all.

I'm scared. I'm shaking and my heartbeat is too fast. I tell her to never make herself puke because it's awful and disgusting.

She tells me that she has tried before but nothing happened.

I am so scared…and mad. This is the one thing that I have that she doesn't. Without me being the eating disordered on, then what difference is there between us? We have many of the same problems; we both cut, we are suicidal and depressed, and we have families that knock us down and expect too much. I had always been the one who is the most messed up of both of us. I was the one who needed to be worried about more.

Not anymore.

If anything, it's me that should be more worried about her. I'm just bulimic. I'm just going to tear my esophagus or rupture my stomach along with have some milder side effects like yellow teeth.

But she sounds on the way to anorexia. That's worse. There is a nine percent chance that she will die.

Plus, and I'm sorry to say because it confirms that I am a horrible person, I'm jealous. There. I said it. I'm jealous of her.

Bulimics are usually normal to overweight. Anorexics are usually eventually underweight. That means she will be skinny and someone will have to acknowledge that she has a problem and I will continue to be fat and no one will suspect anything.

I'm naturally competitive. Normally it's a good thing because it causes me to push myself harder. Not now though, now it is a very bad thing because I am trying to compete with Jessica to be thinner.

I vow that in two months I will be 120 pounds, officially underweight. Now I am 127. Only seven pounds, I can do it.

Two months comes and goes and now I am 126. No, I have not, as you might have expected dropped one pound and kept it off and have reached a plateau. I have been constantly up and down since reverting back to bulimia.

Jessica, on the other hand, is thin. She was never fat, but not quiet thin either. I saw her body as perfect. Ideal. She was what a 15 year old girl should look like. She had breasts, a butt, and a small amount of fat around her midsection that didn't look fat, it looked just right.

Now, however, she is too thin. If she were to wear tight clothes or something that showed her stomach, I would see her hipbones protruding and her visible ribs.

I cry all the time because of her. Partly because I am scared for her and sad that she is unable to see that she has always been just the right size, but also because she is much thinner than I am. I have always been the thinner of us, but jealous of her body, and I am not used to this type of jealousy over the way she looks.

I used to be jealous at how normal she looked. Now I am jealous of how thin she is, with her visible bones and thighs that don't touch.

If I lose a bit of weight, I am quick to tell her of my success. She usually responds with her weight, around 15 pounds lower than mine.

Every time, I vow to lose weight, to stop eating and see those beautiful bones that are buried underneath disgusting layers of fat. And every time I go hours without eating and suddenly binge.

Soon, I just give up on losing weight, knowing that I can't do it.

I tell Jessica to stop too; she is getting near a dangerously low weight. I beg her to stop, threaten to tell her parents, even tell her that she's too skinny and looks gross (even though I wish I could look just like she does now). But nothing will stop her. She sees herself as fat. Even fatter than she thought she was before.

On and on, this goes for nearly a year. I go back to my old habits or binging and purging.

I begin to lose weight. It goes down and down and down. I get to 120 and keep going. Down to 98. This is the weight I have always wanted to be. Perfect and delicate. I tell myself that I should stop now, but I can't; not until I am as light as Jessica. She is 70 pounds.

I tell her she is killing herself, that she needs to eat. She tells me to shut up and go eat like the pig I am. Yes, Jessica has gotten mean lately. But what she says is true. I am a pig. I am a fat pig that does not need food. I need to stop eating; I have enough fat on my body to live for a year without eating a bite.

One day, as I am running on the treadmill to rid myself of the calories from the apple I ate that day, I get a phone call. Jessica is dead. She died of a heart attack.

I don't believe it. It's not true, she can't be dead. The person at the other end, I realize it's her mother, is lying. Jess told her to; she's making fun of me for being worried about her. That's all.

I tell her so and the woman starts to cry. I slowly start to realize that no, she is not kidding. It must be true.

Jessica is one of the nine percent. She has died from anorexia.

I realize that I could die too. Maybe I want to. Maybe if I die it will mean that I have, at last become successful. Jessica will not have won. It will be a tie. Maybe I will be good enough.

I start running again, even faster than before. I run and run and run. Three hours later I get off the treadmill and collapse onto the couch and lose consciousness.

When I wake up I realize that I am not dead. I thought I was dying before when I was passing out. I was so happy. Now I am severely disappointed. I'm still alive. Still not good enough to die.

I go outside and run around the block again and again. I am determined to outrun the ghosts nipping at my heels.

I get home and prepare a salad with no dressing. I sit down to eat it but then realize that this will only keep me living longer. I don't want to live.

I throw away the food and start doing sit-ups. I can do this, I can do this, I can do this I think to myself. I can. I can starve to death. If I do that I will have won. If I die of a heart attack or something similar we will have tied. Every minute I live is losing.