Not a day seems to go by without a news story about an eating disorder. Most recently, I have read about skeletal and dying runway models, listened to the agony of a bingeing male model and viewed a graphic documentary, Thin, about the horrors of four women, starving, vomiting, and self-abusing at an eating disorders treatment center.
Most of these stories depict a teen or young adult. Most sagas end with adolescence. But life does not. I know this. At 15, I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. So what happens to a person with an eating problem, a person like me, as he or she grows up?
Lying in Weight: the Hidden Epidemic of Eating Disorders in Adult Women tells those stories, from adolescence through marriage, pregnancy, parenting in a panic about childhood obesity, midlife and late life.
Who marries a woman who weighs 85 pounds or one who vomits after dinner every night? Does pregnancy worsen the symptoms of an eating disorder, or the opposite? Can a sudden mid-life fitness regimen evolve into an eating disorder?
If you want answers to these questions and more, Lying in Weight will help. Drawing from my doctorate training in molecular biology, my 15 years as a medical journalist and my personal experiences with anorexia nervosa, I approached the issue by talking with dozens of other adults with eating problems, as well as psychiatrists, psychologists, and eating disorders experts. I combed through hundreds of medical journal articles, for example, some detailing the neurochemistry changes in the brain after prolonged malnutrition. I collected popular articles. I translated the technical to the accessible, the experience to the story, and the questions to reasons that you can take home and reflect upon.
Lying in Weight is for individuals like me, who had been diagnosed with an eating disorder when younger, possibly recovered, but still feel that some demon of the disease lies in wait, never quite gone. The book is also for those who have acquired eating disorders later in life, possibly after a marriage turned rocky, a pregnancy edged into postpartum depression, or a mid-life crisis veered through too many transitions and the feeling of youth slipping away, leaving a terrible void in its place.
But the book also is meant for therapists and everyday individuals without eating disorders. Everyone knows someone who has suffered: a spouse, perhaps, or a sister, friend, or regular at the local gym, the woman who looks like you could break her in half as she works out for nearly four hours every day. The truth is this: those of us with histories of eating disorders have much to say to you who do not.
We don’t eat, we binge and we purge because we cannot articulate the secret that hides in all us. At some point in life, everyone feels like they are not measuring up to society’s high ideals, that what we do will never be enough, and that, unless we reach some unattainable goal, we are worthless. People with eating disorders simply broadcast this secret through their bodies and behavior.
When you read Lying in Weight, the women who told me their stories will teach you what it is like to cope with fear, compulsion, and deep insecurity. And how to transcend it! We can tell you how best to support us in healing, a concept also explored throughout Lying in Weight.
Recovery is a journey, from admission of a problem to seeking help to healing in your own unique way. From the first step to the last, Lying in Weight will be your trusted companion.