British journalist Woolf documents her struggle with anorexia.
Expanding on her weekly columns for the Times (London), the author chronicles her affliction and her work to overcome it. By her early 30s, she had stabilized after 10 years of starving herself, rising from a frighteningly low weight of 77 pounds to a merely painfully thin 105. She yearned to start a family, and she knew her boyfriend was right when he told her she needed to give up running and start eating more if she wanted to get pregnant. But she just wasn't sure she could do it. In this heartfelt look at the causes of her eating disorder, Woolf emphatically states that her anorexia was not the result of striving to look good based on unrealistic media images but rather a mental illness based on her need for control. She admits that, deep down, a part of her wanted to remain sick: “I needed to be visibly thin; in some strange way I needed the chaos inside my head to show on the outside.” Woolf reveals how she avoided food or any social situation at which she might have to eat, while at the same time obsessively exercising and never slowing down. Step by step, she changed her behavior; she frankly discusses which therapies worked for her and which didn’t, though she declares herself open to the potential merits of each for other anorexics. As Woolf walked through her personal process of self-discovery and change in her newspaper columns, she touched a chord with fellow sufferers, their families and their therapists, whose responses she includes here. Her perceptive and articulate account is frank about the mental torment she endured without being morose.
Insightful and informative, with fresh insights into the nature of eating disorders.