BOOK EXCERPT: “Will I ever reach rock bottom?”

“It’s January and I am still at the clinic.

In the following weeks I am steadily approaching my new goal: 45 kilograms. I have never felt that weak before. I faint several times daily and I can only walk leaning against the walls. Sometimes even this is not enough support and I fall to the floor. I often don’t feel my legs at all, or my knees go numb and weak and I simply collapse. The nurses are getting worried because it’s obvious that I am going downhill.The scales show 47 kg. I am proud of this accomplishment, but when I look in the mirror, I still don’t like what I see. I could still lose some fat here and there. I look at myself with resistance. Even though I managed to reach fortysomething, I am far from satisfied. Extremely far: I am more and more disappointed and my self-loathing is increasing. Each lost kilogram uncovers more of my faults. Looking in the mirror makes me want to cry. I was expecting to look thinner with this weight.

The tears roll down my cheeks. I am desperate to slim down, but I don’t have the strength to lose any more weight. The daily fainting fits. The overeating sessions followed by the monstrous, painful vomiting that takes ages as it happens more and more frequently that the food refuses to come out. I vomit blood and my throat and gullet burn. My stomach aches in a strange and pitiful way. My teeth are changing, they are becoming glassy and yellowish. My hair is thinning. Nevertheless, all of this is not enough for me to consider changing my ways.

When there are no group therapies, I spend most of the time asleep. The friend with bulimia comes to my room a lot. She likes to talk; she sits on my bed and starts telling me stuff while I fall asleep. It’s not that I find her boring, I just can’t keep awake. I am utterly exhausted and I only dream of food.

Jane brings me copies of her school notebooks. I’ve been absent for two months; this is a shitload of copies and I haven’t got the energy to look at them. Even if I did, her handwriting is illegible and her logic of making notes is totally different from my own. I am frightened by the amount of information I am supposed to learn. I don’t really understand what I’m reading, but truth be told, I am not trying too hard either. It’s only January but I have already accepted that I will fail the year.

Soon afterwards I am released from the clinic and I come home weighing 45 kilos. My parents haven’t a clue that I’ve lost that much weight. I wear several layers of clothes so that they wouldn’t notice. I celebrate a bitter victory, since I got what I wanted and it doesn’t feel like what I want at all.
It’s not until I put on some old clothes back home that I notice how much thinner I’ve gotten in the last months. I think I could fit both my legs in one trouser leg and it would still look like a baggy. Maybe I am not that bad after all, I think I might deserve some credit after all.

Unfortunately my father notices this too as soon as I enter the living room. He cannot suppress a sigh when he sees me walk in. His eyes open wide and he winces at the sight of me, looking thoroughly scared.

He stares at me with disbelief for a while and then something snaps in his eyes and he starts yelling at me – for the first time since all of this began.”

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