Writing her first book 'Wasted' about her battle and life with anorexia and bulimia started a much needed conversation, not only in the medical profession but also in the real world. Her raw account of her daily struggles with an eating disorder, opened up the eyes of the public. What was once called the 'slimmers disease' and glamourised to a sickening extent, now has more meaning, more reality and more depth.
I first read 'Wasted' when I was about 15 and without knowing being slowly gripped by my own inner demons. What most people believe is that Marya's work was triggering but actually, I found it more, comforting. Comforting may seem like a strange word to use but let me explain. When you're alone at night, trying to rest your eyes in bed, in the dark, but all you can hear is the seductive voices of your food cupboards downstairs in the kitchen...you think you're losing it, you're scared, sweating and desperately trying not to give into those damn voices...you feel alone. And feeling alone is an all too common and all too dangerous feeling when you have an eating disorder. So, when I picked up 'Wasted', expecting to read yet another glamourised, unrealistic account of the daily anguish of having to listen to those bloody voices, I was comforted. Comforted knowing that I wasn't alone, I wasn't going completely crazy and if I wanted it, I could get help.
The book has come under a lot of scrutiny in the past and to this day. It's controversial and raw but you know what, it got people finally talking about Eating Disorders. The book has also been blamed for providing triggering content to those suffering, using the book to gain tips and tricks to make themselves sicker and 'the best at eating disorders' but I have to disagree. I can only speak for myself when talking about triggers. I've used pro-anorexic websites before, where 'ana' is your friend and this whole disorder is a lifestyle. I've looked at 'thinspiration' as a means to get myself motivated to starve myself that little bit better but when using all of this, I was aware on some level of what I was doing. Today, recovering, I know my limits, I know to avoid certain images, conversations, facts and figures. So to blame one author, who wrote about the absolute struggle, torture of having an eating disorder, the author whose honesty opened up conversations that we weren't having previously, to finally take away the stereotype that an Eating Disorder is glamorous, I believe is unfair. Here's what Marya said about the topic herself:
"My feeling about Wasted is if you’re using it to trigger yourself on purpose, that’s your problem. If you’re using it as a how-to, that’s your problem — you’re misusing it. However, if you are using it and it simply triggers you, put it down. Walk away. I don’t want to say I’m not responsible for what I said. We have to own the impact of our work, and that’s a very painful thing to own" taken from an interview by Alex Ronan
Last year, Marya Hornbacher re-released 'Wasted' with a brand new afterword about recovery. I read it through just a few days ago and was left almost in tears. She is a firm believer that recovery from an Eating Disorder IS possible! 100% recovery can be done and it's about time we started sharing that news around. Her words touched me and although leaving me in limbo (one leg in recovery, the other firmly in my illness), it got me thinking and that alone, I'm forever grateful for. If you're recovering from an Eating Disorder, I strongly recommend reading the afterword. It's heartfelt, honest and above all else, it's positive.
Today, Marya is still writing and travelling to events as a speaker about Eating Disorders and the road to full recovery. She also speaks about Bi-Polar Disorder and other mental health topics like medication. She's truly an inspiration, intelligent, witty and most importantly honest.
Please check out her website and also look out for her on Youtube!