I bought groceries three times a day, an ectoplasmic effluvium three times a day. I did not sleep or work. Food detritus bloomed in lavender plastic bags around the room, cautioning against visitors. The day and night were textured with throwing up in bags or toilet or shower — water running, viscous puke swirling and clotting the drain — and then lying migrainous on the cold white tile. I learned the tedious pain of filling up and emptying out. With bulimia, your behavior doesn’t necessarily manifest your appearance the way anorexia does. A sufferer is often very sick and technically normal weight or overweight. Upon learning of my eating disorder, a psychology professor trilled, “What was your lowest weight?” assuming that I was in recovery, gaining, clearly not that sick in the present. Out of humiliation, competition, shame, I of course manufactured a shocking small number.

Upon homecoming, learning to… More…


I’m trying to lose some weight. Do you know of a poem that can help me? — Candice P., Newport, Rhode Island

A poem to help in the short term, by Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser:

“Sometimes my big front teeth bite my lower lip and my food gets all bloody…”

Maybe that will gross you out and you won’t be able to eat for a while. Write it down and put it in your pocket, and if you ever have the urge to overeat, read it.

A poem to help in the long-term, by Robert Phillips:

Instrument of Choice

She was a girl no one ever chose for teams or clubs, dances or dates,

so she chose the instrument no one else wanted: the tuba. Big as herself, heavy as her heart,

its golden tubes and coils… More…