My stomach was trying to eat itself, my legs wobbled, my head spun. My parents were asleep, and I wasn’t allowed to use the stove. No cereal. No bread. No peanut butter, leftovers, nothing that didn’t require cooking, and there wasn’t much of that either. I found a box of frozen fish sticks, sat on the kitchen floor, and ate them one by one. They tasted awful, shards of ice mixed with frosted breading, but I was so hungry I kept eating them.
When my parents found out about my fish stick feast, they laughed and laughed. They told my grandparents who also laughed. My goodness, it was so funny that a little child would up and eat half a box of fish sticks straight out of the freezer. They didn’t realize that I never got enough to eat. They didn’t know that my little body ached from the lack of food. They didn’t know that the tomato soup they’d fed me a few days ago was the last thing I ate.
I told my grandma there wasn’t any food at our house. She went over and looked through are kitchen. Sure enough, hardly any food. She yelled at my dad about not providing for his children. She called my mom names. When she left, my dad beat me. He screamed that I would get far worse if I ever told anyone else about things that happened in our house. I kept my mouth shut for many years after that.
My bipolar, schizophrenic, epileptic mom was on disability. What they paid her was nowhere near enough to support us, and things like food became a luxury item.
We received food stamps, but they didn’t last. The beginning of the month was a miraculous time of cereal and pop tarts filling the shelves. Hot dogs and hamburgers sat in the fridge, waiting for the flames of the city park’s grill. We had slices of cheese and bread for all occasions.
Around the middle of the month, our pop tart and cereal supply dwindled. We were left with potatoes and ketchup. By the end of the month, it was rice and bouillon cubes.
Then the first of the month came, and the cycle began again.
(This makes me sound like one of those people. I don’t think I am, but draw whatever conclusions you like.)
I have major depressive disorder, severe anxiety, an eating disorder, temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), debilitating headaches, and aches and pains all over my body that the doctors have dubbed Fibromyalgia.
I have tried to hold a job. I desperately want to hold a job. I don’t want to be so poor that buying toothpaste is a major financial decision. Sadly, the crazy and the pain stop me every time. I ultimately fail at everything I attempt, and I despise myself for it. Why can’t I just function like a normal human being?