The Scale in the corner



Pexels Green Apple

I wait alone in a room, staring at a desk with a computer, post-it notes and stress balls. There’s a wooden shelf of leaflets on safe sex, sexually transmitted diseases and hotlines next to it. The white paper covering a blue, waxy bed crinkles under me as I fidget impatiently. I can hear the clock ticking — I wonder why I’m even here. 

An older woman with gray hair finally comes into the room and hands me a light-blue medical gown. She smiles at me and introduces herself as Dr. Chapell. She instructs me to change into the gown with nothing underneath. I’m left alone again to undress, my heart is pounding.

I shouldn’t have come, I think as I slip out of my baggy jeans and fuzzy socks. The gown is stiff and too big for me. I’m drowning in a sea of blue polyester. It puffs up to my face when I move to fold my clothes and place them on a spare chair next to my backpack. 

I feel so cold, alone and bare. I had managed to wrap the blue monstrosity completely around my body, covering myself, but there’s no warmth from the glare of the LED lights shining above me.  

Chapell re-enters, and I see the pity in her eyes when she looks at me. I wish I could disappear, let the big, itchy gown swallow me whole. She notices my discomfort, and gives me a starchy, white blanket. It’s itchy, but it feels nice to have the chance to cover myself. She goes to wash her hands and then walks to her desk, asking me how my day is. 

The computer hums as it loads, and she pulls up a generic medical chart. She starts to go over the basic questions. 

“How old are you?” 

I tell her my age, “I’m 20 years old and I’m feeling really silly that I’m here today.”

 “Where are you from?

I’m from Long Beach.” 

“Yes, the weather there is amazing.”

“How much do you weigh? 

“I don’t know.”

My roommates hid the scale from me a few weeks prior, and I had given up walking to the gym just to weigh myself in the women’s locker room after I ran into a friend and had to lie about working out.

She walks me to a scale placed in the corner of the tiny room next to the hospital bed. It hurts to move, my legs have been sore for weeks. My precious blanket is taken from me and I slowly step onto the scale. She tells me to turn around so I can’t see the weight. I feel empty hearing the scale beep, as she scribbles an unknown number onto my chart. 

I’m shivering and as I stand here I can’t help but feel judged. Chapell smiles at me and I can see the wrinkles around her eyes and mouth. She must smile a lot I think to myself. I can’t help but wonder if it ever becomes tiring for her.  She wraps me back up with the thick blanket tucking it under my chin. She puts her hand on my back, leads me a few steps back to the cold bed, and helps me lie down.

“Are you always this cold?” she asks. 

“Yes, I’ve been this cold for months now.”

 She goes back to her desk, and I hear the clicks of her typing my unknown weight onto my chart. 

She then goes to a machine on the other side of the room, pulling it next to the bed. She uncovers one of my arms and tells me that she will use the machine to get my blood pressure. I lie there for three minutes with a band velcroed across my arm. Then I sit up and wait three minutes, and then stand for three minutes.  The whole time she talks to me about her life and recent vacations. It’s oddly comforting to hear about this stranger’s life as I’m strapped to a new, strange machine. Finally, I’m unstrapped. My arm hurts from being compressed for so long, I feel like a caged animal being released. 

Chapell then gives me privacy to redress. I free myself from my polyester prison and take a minute to look at myself and reflect on a reflection I’m not sure if I recognize. There was so much praise when I first started losing weight. I was never overweight, but I had always felt bigger than my other friends. When I started working out, I felt better and more confident. 

But somewhere along the way that confidence got entangled with how much I weighed, and it just kept getting worse. I constantly felt weak and cold. Just moving a little bit made me tired — my legs ached and I felt empty. I look down at my hands and feet, I look like the ghost of my former self. I walk over to a small mirror glued to the wall. I’m pale and my eyes are sunken. My chest hurts and I feel beyond hollow, just a shadow of my former self. I know I need help and I am finally ready to try to save myself. 

My experience with an eating disorder is only one story out of thousands. There isn’t a straightforward path to recovery, there are twists and turns and at times you feel like giving up. But, and I can’t express this enough, the outcome is worth it. Everyone deserves to eat, and feel comfortable in their own skin. There are many different forms of treatment available and it’s perfectly fine to try multiple different things so you can find what works best for you. Don’t be afraid to speak out about your eating disorder; it doesn’t own you.  For professional help look at some of the resources listed below, we all deserve to be happy with the person we are. 

Resources for those struggling with an eating disorder:


National Eating Disorder Association Hotline

Better Help




Eating Disorder Therapists in Chico

Wildcat Counseling Center 

Meara Hain can be reached at [email protected].