My roommate Julie has OCD.
Not the clean OCD. She’s actually the messiest person I’ve ever met. Sometimes I go into her room to gather dishes so they don’t sit in there for months. Last time I went in there, dead cockroaches were just belly up chilling on her floor and she hadn’t bothered to pick them up. I’ve often wished her OCD was the clean type of OCD, because that would be pretty handy.
Julie’s OCD is centered around her being perfect. In my last post, her therapist said it was school-related OCD, but that was just the easiest thing to pin it on. Julie has to be perfect, in every way, and people often see that as her obsession with her grades, but it goes so much farther than that. Julie’s always been thin, tall, and blonde. with huge, clear blue eyes She’s gorgeous. From the outside, she seems perfect. Perfect appearance, perfect grades, perfect family, perfect Christian, perfect boyfriend, perfect life. In the past year, I’ve learned she may seem perfect from the outside, but really, she’s anything but.
In high school, Julie was the star of the cross country team dating the star football player. She was homecoming queen and president of FCA. She never had pimples, but she also never got her period. When she went to the doctor, they said she could never have kids. She doesn’t talk about it much, which is understandable. Flash forward to college and she was diagnosed with OCD our sophomore year after she was hospitalized for extreme weight loss “due to stress.” She refused to take pills for her OCD because she “doesn’t believe in mediation.”
One day this summer, Julie was running by the lake and tripped. She thought she just rolled her ankle, so she refused to go to the doctor until a week later when she could barely walk. She had actually broken her foot and made it much worse by not taking care of herself. She was in a boot for some of the summer and had to cut back on her exercise and couldn’t run every day. By some God-given miracle, AKA science, her period returned. Along with her period, she got a pimple, like a normal girl. But since she has appearance OCD, she couldn’t just deal with it. She went to three different dermatologists and got prescribed three different antibiotics of various strengths and three different topical solutions. She takes and applies these medications religiously, even though she “doesn’t believe in medication.” I guess she doesn’t believe in pimples more.
Around this time in the summer, Julie had a vision from God. I know, it’s crazy. The vision said that she was suppose to break up with her boyfriend of 5 years, Rodney, and marry a guy she had never met, named Stafford Brantley. The Brantley’s are Julie’s prayer parents through our church. They are the ones that told me during my freshman year of college that I had a “dark heart that is filled with blackness.” Not my favorite people, but Julie has been close to them ever since. Stafford is there oldest son. He’s like 25 and just finishing his last year of law school. The weekend after Julie had her vision, Stafford came to visit his parents, met Julie, and asked her on a date. It was pretty freaky that it happened so fast.
So Julie dumped her boyfriend Rodney and started dating Stafford. Rodney was poor, black, struggling to work a job and get into high school, and was a former Texas Tech football player. I’ve met him and his family loads of times doing stuff with Julie’s family. Julie always thought she’d marry Rodney. She used to say that she just never found white guys attractive and didn’t want a guy who’d had everything handed to him. Now she’s dating rich, white, affluent, almost-lawyer Stafford. Like a month ago Julie came home with this huge, ugly, $90 painting of Audrey Hepburn that told me it reminded her of me.(pic below) I’m not the one who dumped my poor boyfriend for a rich guy, but it’s all okay and she’s not a huge hypocrite because God told her this was suppose to happen.
Julie says she’s the happiest she’s ever been.
Here’s where the good stuff starts. My roommates and I have all been noticing our food going missing for almost a year. We talked about it in our roommate meeting last January because it was getting out of hand. Everyone suspected me, so I started just telling people when I was eating there food so stuff I didn’t eat wouldn’t get blamed on me. (I’m addicted to cheese and any time I try to go on a cheese cleanse I just end up eating all my roommate’s cheese and having to buy them more. It’s a real struggle.) Claire, Cassidy, and I all started texting each other when we ate each other’s food. We left Julie out because she’s a “vegan” so she literally eats the weirdest crap that none of us want to eat anyways.
Surprise not surprise, it was Julie who was eating everyone’s food. And she wasn’t eating just a little bit. She’d eat an entire jar of peanut butter or an entire box of wheathins or an entire loaf of pumpkin bread overnight. The weird part was we literally never saw her eat unless she heated up a plastic bag of veggies in the mircowave at night. All of these factors added up to some serious issues. We didn’t really know how to handle it and we didn’t want to make things worse for her, so we never called her out on it.
Sometimes, on the weekends, when Cassidy and I came home tipsy and bored, we would take turns catching Julie eating our food in the kitchen at night for fun. She would scurry from her room, but she’s a door slammer so we could always hear her. We would wait just a few minutes until she’d be eating whatever she was eating and then one of us would go out there and catch her bingeing. We would never say anything about the food, just make small talk until the kettle was ready for our tea or we had finished our midnight snacks. We knew it made her uncomfortable, so we did it to get back at her for eating all of our food under the cover of nightfall. And she never throws away any of the empty containers, which is actually so annoying because I thought there was peanut butter left in the jar and then I opened it and there was no peanut butter and then what was I suppose to eat?? But it wasn’t a nice thing to do and I regret doing it. We certainly weren’t innocent in this whole story.
Anyways, this went on for almost 10 months. We complained and I had to buy a new jar of peanut butter every week but we never said anything. When she started mentioning she was the happiest she’d ever been, we thought the undercover bingeing would stop, but it didn’t. We still didn’t say anything. Until everything got out of hand about a month ago. Hurricane Harvey was about to hit Texas, so we were stocking up on everything. We had botttled water and canned foods and packaged snacks and filled up our bathtubs and every pitcher we had with water to flush the toilets. We were in disaster mode. At the last trip that my roommate Cassidy and I made to HEB, we got a few more necessities: beer and a tube of Blue Bell homemade vanilla ice cream. If you don’t live in Texas, you might not know the heaven that is Blue Bell. And since they only recently opened back up after the listeria outbreak, it’s even more precious these days. We got an entire gallon to last us through the hurricane. We made a deal that if the power went out, we would eat the ice cream first to make sure it didn’t go to waste.
Harvey hit that night. It was a torrential downpour and the wind was blowing trees over. The sky was black. It was incredibly depressing, so the next night Cassidy and I decided to treat ourselves by eating some ice cream. AND IT WAS GONE. Julie had eaten the entire gallon of ice cream in one fucking night. I thought it was funny, but Cassidy blew up. She got duct tape out of her room and started duct taping all of her food closed and writing passive aggressive DO NOT EAT notes on all of it. It truly wasn’t the best idea since it wouldn’t be safe to leave our house for another three days, but that’s also why it was necessary.
After Cassidy the sun came back out and Cassidy took a few days to calm herself down, we had an intervention with Julie on a Thursday. Honestly, I thought we phrased everything well. We didn’t accuse her of anything and we said that we were concerned about her and wanted to know if there was anything we could do. She asked if it was about the food and we said yes and she said “It’s done. That’s done. I know it was excessive but it’s done. It’s done. I called my mom and it’s done.” She just kept saying it’s done and then she walked out.
We didn’t see her for until a week and a half later on a Monday.
She didn’t answer texts or calls. I called her mom the first Tuesday that she didn’t come home and she said she had been with them this weekend and was going to stay with her cousin. Of course she was just avoiding us. I didn’t know what to say to her mom so I just thanked her. The next Monday I went into Julie’s room to talk to her and she told me she was moving out. She was going to try to break her lease and go live with her cousin in Bryan until she graduates in December. I asked her if it was about the food and tried to get her to stay, but she kept saying that her cousin’s house felt like home and our house didn’t. How do you argue with that? I cried. Julie thought I was sad she was leaving, and I was, but I was more sad that she was going to keep running from her problems. I thought I was going to be the one to help her, but Erika taught me we can’t always been what we want to be for other people.
A month and a half later, Julie hasn’t actually moved out. I wonder if her parents told her they weren’t going to break the lease or what happened, but we haven’t talked about it again. I don’t know if I can. She doesn’t eat our food under the cover of night anymore. I’ve been buying a new jar of peanut butter every week out of habit and now I have like 6 jars of peanut butter and I don’t think I’m ever going to manage to eat them all. She still binges every night, but now she eats her own “vegan” food. Julie looks healthier, a lot less like the skeleton that was hospitalized two years ago, but she hasn’t put on as much weight as you would think a girl capable of eating an entire gallon of ice cream in one night should have put on. Cassidy asked me if I thought she was also purging, but I share a bathroom with her and I can hear almost everything that goes on, so if she was purging every night I would be able to tell. I chalked it up to her obsession with exercise and her high metabolism.
Until I did something awful this weekend.
Julie was in Houston visiting none other than rich almost-lawyer Stafford. Cassidy was on dish duty and she needed just a few more dishes to fill up the dishwasher, so we went to Julie’s pigsty to gather her dishes so we could run the dishwasher. We got the dishes and were commenting on how disgusting her room was when we spotted it: Julie’s diary just laying on her bed. Apparently, Cassidy is quite the snooper and has read her diary many times before. I couldn’t help myself. I read her diary.
It was pretty much what I expected. It was more like a prayer journal than a diary, but it was still all of her hearts desires. It was all about being beautiful and praying to stay beautiful and exemplify beauty and for Stafford to see how beautiful she was in every single way and for Stafford to find her so beautiful inside and out that he was incapable of finding any one else beautiful and blah blah blah. I read the best parts out loud to Cassidy. The very last sentence said: Cassidy caught me bingeing again last night. Please God help me stop bingeing. And suddenly it wasn’t funny anymore. That’s when Cassidy pulled the drawer of her nightstand opened and found it crammed with packages of laxatives, most empty but some were half full. She shut it just as quickly as she opened it and we got out of her room.
Now I know how she stays so skinny.
I don’t think my heart has hurt this much in a long time. I’ve always called her eating habits bingeing, but I’ve always refrained from calling it an eating disorder. But that’s what it is and that’s what it has always been. I wish I could go back an unsee the laxatives. I wish I hadn’t snooped that day. But now I’m left with this knowledge and this decision of what I should do with it. Ultimately, it’s my decision and not Cassidy’s. I’m the one that went home with Julie for holidays all sophomore year. I’m the one that would have to tell her mom.
If I told her parents, I’m not sure they’d do anything. Julie’s dad has prostate cancer and he’s doing well know, but that’s taking a lot of their attention. Her parents also believe everything she tells them, so if she says she doesn’t have an eating disorder they would believe her. They didn’t make her take care of her OCD. They put her in therapy but as soon as the therapist said she should take medication and Julie refused, they let her quit and never go back to therapy. It’s not going to go away, it’s something that she will deal with every day for the rest of her life and yet they already told her to just ignore one problem. That this is how God made her.
Would they do anything differently if they new about her eating disorder? Would it put the hospitalization our sophomore year into perspective? Or would it just ostracize me more? If she and her parents knew that I was snooping around her room, would they still want me for holidays? Would Julie still be my friend? Would she move out? Would she never speak to me again?
But what if I keep this a secret and pretend I never saw anything. If everything happens for a reason, I feel like I’m suppose to say something to them. I feel like this is my chance to help her and to maybe change the course of her life. What if I keep this a secret, and her eating disorder lands her in the hospital, or gives her long-term medical consequences, or kills her? When I phrase it like that, I feel like I have to tell her parents. But what if nothing changes? What if they don’t believe me?
What do I do?
I’m not innocent. I do horrible things everyday. But this isn’t about me or my guilt or how this will effect me. It’s about Julie. I’m going to make the best decision that I can make, for her. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do, but I’m going to make sure I’m doing it for the right reasons.
this is literally up in my dining room
my face for scale // I have since been informed her name is Audrey
the roomies @ cass’s 21st // cassidy, Julie, me, claire // more than a year ago