Diary of despair

September 2, 2008 at 3:06 pm | Posted in Misc. | Leave a comment

This is so heavy that I’ll probably need to follow-up with an upbeat pop song or something. After discovering Marya Hornbacher’s extraordinary book Wasted whilst on holiday, she’s become one of my favourite Google subjects. I found this extract from her latest (if equally bleak) memoir on surviving mental illness. Below is just a small sample; you can read the rest here:

1984 ten years old

My body disgusts me. I stand naked in front of the bedroom mirror. I pinch the flesh, the needy, hungry, horrible flesh, the softness that buries the perfect clean bones. I pinch hard; red welts appear on my skin. The body revolts me, its tricks, its betrayals, its lies. I starve and starve, and then it happens – the black hole in my chest yawns open, and suddenly I’m in the kitchen, stuffing food into my mouth, anything I can find, anything that will fill me up. I hate myself for it. I want to be thin, I want to be bones, I want to eliminate hunger, softness, need.

I lean over the toilet with my fingers down my throat. I throw up, body heaving, until I’m spitting blood. I straighten up. I am empty. Clean. It’s my secret and my saviour. When I starve, the sinking, pressing black sadness lifts off me, and I feel weightless, empty, light. No racing thoughts, no need to move, move, move, no reason to hide in the dark. When I throw up, I purge all the fears, the paranoia, the thoughts. The eating disorder gives me comfort. I couldn’t let it go if I tried.

14 years old

My moods start to swing almost minute by minute. I take uppers to get even higher and downers to bring myself down. Cocaine, Valium – I get them from the boys who skulk around the suburban malls. I’m an easy target, in the market for their drugs and willing to do what they want to get them for free. I find myself on piles of pillows in their basements, pressed down under their bodies, their lurching breath in my ear. I hate them, and I hate myself, and I swear I won’t do it again. But I do. And I do. And I do.

No one knows about the powders, the pills, the water bottle filled with vodka that I keep in my bag. I slouch in my seat in the back of the room, my arms folded, hiding behind my hair. After lunch I lean over the toilet in the bathroom cubicle and throw up. I wipe my mouth, scrub my hands, sniffing them to make sure they don’t smell, wash them again, wipe them dry, look in the mirror, reapply my lipstick, study my face. I brighten my eyes, paste on a smile and go back out, where the kids teem down the halls.


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