hunger buzz – ut pictura poesis Tuesday, Sep 28 2010 

The desire to express ourselves bubbles up over the edges, it is not always a need to be understood, just a need to get it all down. When the words don’t come I move to paint or pencil but it’s not the same. I draw a picture of my wrist bleeding. I write about self injury. I cut, tentatively.

All three feel like a kind of art. More horror in the image, so seeped in intent. Poems are slippery, the meaning constantly wriggling free so that the reader feels something close to the sententia, the thought-feeling, but cannot know it. Paintings don’t speak to me like poems do. Poems can break the heart again and again and you can carry them with you, learnt in that broken heart. A salve worn against the world, or with it, to better understand.

Ut pictura poesis

I have the hunger buzz right now. It comforts me. My blood sugar has settled a little, or more precisely, my body has realised that I’m sending it back to a state of semi-starvation and has compensated.

People tell me I’m looking better. Each time they do a little fish hook of doubt digs in: Fatter, fatter, fatter. I am walking around with all my little fish hooks of doubt collected from a look, a word, a nothing substantial and I am thinking: I have to do something about this. I will shed the hooks like stones, pound by pound. I want to be clean again, no fleshy hooks, no fat.

And Ut Pictura Poesis Is Her Name

by John Ashbery

You can’t say it that way any more.
Bothered about beauty you have to
Come out into the open, into a clearing,
And rest. Certainly whatever funny happens to you
Is OK. To demand more than this would be strange
Of you, you who have so many lovers,
People who look up to you and are willing
To do things for you, but you think
It’s not right, that if they really knew you . . .

… if only for the sake

Of others and their desire to understand you and desert you

For other centers of communication…

a lower deep, still threatening to devour me, opens wide Sunday, Sep 5 2010 

‘i know the bottom, she says, I know it with my great tap root’ – Sylvia Plath, Elm, 1962

What is it with mental illness and the need to know what is ‘at the bottom’?

After all the episodes of anorexia I have had I am still driven back to it by a desire to truly hit the bottom. No, that’s not true, exactly. That’s not why I go back to it, but it is why once it starts I can’t stop.

And now, despite seeing everything I love about life disappearing like a snowflake near Dante, I am driven by that same desire. To go as low as it is possible to go. Or as it is possible for me to go, which may not be quite the same thing.

I am distressed/annoyed by all the physical symptoms I get because I don’t think I’m thin enough yet. I am upset when the scales stay the same for a day or two, partly out of a frustrated sense of fairness. If I am feeling this crap, this hungry and not eating enough to maintain my weight then it should go down. It’s only right, it’s only fair.

I get angry at my body for not losing weight. It punishes me when I do. I feel the urge to cut through the flesh but do not. I am the USA and my body is Russia (or vice versa), incrementally inching towards all out war but still remaining Cold, passive-aggressive… bad analogy maybe. I’ve heard that the Russians and Americans are on better terms these days. They even swap each others’ spies when they happen to have accidentally ended up in the wrong country.

Sometimes when you think an analogy is a bad one it reveals a little of your unconscious:

The line from Plath ‘I know the bottom, she says’ has been circling the drain of my mind for a few days. It wasn’t until I pulled her collected poems off the shelf (shockingly, untouched since I moved house) that I was reminded of how it continues:

I know the bottom, she says. I know it with my great tap root:

It is what you fear.

I believe that once I have ‘hit the bottom’, gone as far as it is possible for me and my body to go, I will not be driven to go back. Yet something in the very next line of Plath’s poem draws me up sharp:

I do not fear it: I have been there.

Without fear what is there to stop any of us? Fear of the impact of our actions is what stands between good and evil; safe and unsafe.

The depths should scare us, and my body has every right to kick up a fuss, only I wish it would wait until we get there…

still centre Tuesday, Jul 27 2010 

i am the still centre of

the storm


i am the storm


around my still centre

i am still in the centre of things

a p a r t

holding my breath

not daring to move

not wanting to get caught up

made to face up

i clench my hand ’round a fistful of air

i hold my breath

and wait

holding on



A simulacrum of anorexia Wednesday, Jun 9 2010 

A number of so-called ‘pro-anorexia’ sites present ‘tips and tricks’. I have no intention of doing so here, at least no more than I might do accidentally. I certainly don’t suggest that anyone else does what I do, I have that much sense at least.

The idea behind the ‘tips and tricks’ is to find ways of losing weight easily, or of training your cognitive processes to work like those of an anorexic; it provides a simulacrum of anorexia but is not anorexia. It baffles me. I have weird and impossible rules with food but not in order to prevent myself from eating. I try to eat normally but cannot.

I am trapped in a horrible, vicious circle of recovery and relapse and cannot begin to understand why people would go from the flippant remark ‘I wish I had a bit of anorexia so I could shift some weight’ to actually wanting to be anorexic.

Whenever I’ve seen the creator of a ‘pro-anorexia’ site interviewed they are always normal weight or on the larger size. They have some kind of serious problem but it is not anorexia. They follow, or attempt to follow, strict diets, like the 2468 diet which involves eating different numbers of calories on different days to prevent the metabolic slowdown which comes from crash dieting. But ultimately, this is what it is: a diet. Sure anorexia can start like that, but once you are struggling with it, the thought of eating 800 calories just to get your metabolic rate up is complete anathema. It’s impossible.

I eat the smallest amount per day I can get away with and still function because, even when I’m so hungry I could punch a hole through a brick wall, eating is really, really hard. This is why anorexics die. There comes a point where even in the face of death they still can’t eat. This would only be a trick if they came back to life again, but guess what? They don’t.

From Philip Goss, The Wasting Game

She left home months ago.
Somehow we never noticed.
She was going solo

as a conjuror;
the egg we found rotting
in the body-folds in the sofa;

caked wads
of tissues in the bin with weetabix
compacted in them like the Mob’s

car-crusher sandwiches;
potatoes spirited away
with one pass of the baggy-wristed

sweater she draped
on her bones. (What applause
when she whips it off one day

and she’s gone!) Co-ordination
slipping now, caught out –
fraud, fraud! –

she plays the cheapest trick of all.
A toothmug of tap water,
sixty paracetomol.


Facing the Music – Anorexia Songs Wednesday, Aug 26 2009 

These are mostly about anorexia – the rest feel like they could be. Favourites in bold. Most of these were already on my iPod, and frequently listened to, when I was ‘well’. Hmm. I’m listening to this playlist almost exclusively now. It’s as if my anorexia goes into hibernation but keeps all its struts and props in storage, ready for when it wakes up.

Mary Jane – Alanis Morissette

Sick of Food – AMC

A Scale, a Mirror and Those Indifferent Eyes – Bright Eyes

Beautiful Freak – Eels

Mental – Eels

Skin & Bones – Fear of Music

Too Late – Fisher

Waltz Moore – From First to Last

Anorexia – Iron Curtain

I’m not an Anorexic – Jonny Cohen’s Love Machine

Anorexic Rodin – Manics

Me and Mia – Pharmacists & Leo

Numbers – Pompeii

Penny Is an Anorexic – Saturday Supercade

Ana’s Song – Silverchair

Cornflake Girl – Tori Amos

4st 7 lbs – Manics

Dead and Lovely – Tom Waits

Anorexia – Fakebestfriend

The Model – Kraftwerk

Anorexia Gas Ballon – Satanicpornocults

Skinny Girls (Eat Some Food) – Majik Most

Ave Maria – Carpenters

Anorexia Nervosa – Mellow Melange

Bulimic Beats – Catatonia

Sophie – Eleanor McEvoy

Paper Bag – Fiona Apple

Lemon – Katy Rose

Just a Little Bit – Maria Mena

Breathe me – Sia

Courage – Superchick

Beauty from Pain – Superchick

Little Sister (anorexia) – Acie Cargill

Whish [sic] I Was Skinny – The Boo Radleys

Jesus Christ – Brand New

Lua – Bright Eyes

Bones – Charlotte Martin

Someone I Once knew – Dead Celebrity Status

Heartstopper – Emiliana Torrini

Posters – Jack Johnson

Big Isn’t Beautiful – King Adora

She’s Falling Apart – Lisa Loeb

Skin & Bones – Marianas Trench

She Will Be Loved – Maroon 5

Battlestar Anorexia – Schoolyard Heroes

Live Happy, Live With Anorexia – Stage

Girl Disappearing – Tori Amos

Rinse – Vanessa Carlton

Anorexia – Gianmarco Leone

So Damn Beautiful – Poloroid

weird moments of clarity Monday, Aug 17 2009 



these moments of clarity

are painful.



the coming onslaught

is baffling.

i cannot

figure it out


i cannot

stop it over-

coming me.