An Index to the Eating Disorder Spectrum
Abnormal, a condition; a way of life; an indicator of otherness; you.
Achievement, you are the aggregate sum of these.
Anorexic, the condition of your identical twin sister in the seventh grade. You are the “fat twin.”
Appearance, how others may tell you your story.
Boston Marathon, a highly competitive race for which you qualify. You are still fat, however.
Bulimic, your condition in high school/college; your condition now.
Clean, the toilet. Thoroughly.
Cross-country, an unhealthy obsession; you are the slow twin. See Running.
Cry, on the bathroom floor. Be ashamed.
Cuts, on the first and third knuckles; see Reye’s Syndrome.
Cyclical, your behavior; other people’s behaviors; human behavior.
Dental problems, increased cavities, extreme sensitivity to hot and cold, wearing away of enamel, chipping of teeth. You have lost one tooth, to date.
Disorder, eating, familiarity.
DSM-5, a formal system of naming otherness; a reference book that cements your identity.
Exercise, over–, something you do that you do not realize until others point it out to you. Your husband tells you that it is abnormal to be on the treadmill at midnight.
Fat, a sub-elite state of being; indisputable proof of people’s laziness/gluttony/inferiority; see Appearance.
Insist, that you are telling the truth.
Intervals, on the track. High school. You push until you see spots. You collapse in the grass. Your heartbeat nails you to the ground.
Jokes, junior high, Is your sister anorexic? Are you the fat twin? Ha, ha.
Kneel, before the toilet, a ritual.
Label, a human tendency.
Love, self–, elusive.
Lying, an art. You are good at it.
Medicine, Abilify, Clonazopam, Klonopin, Lexapro, Lorazopam, Orlistat, Phentermine, Prozac, etc., etc.
Nancy, For the Love of, a TV movie you are made to watch in junior high. It depicts Tracy Gold’s struggle with anorexia. Everyone in the room stares at you and your sister.
Overeating, a coping mechanism. You try this after your sister’s suicide attempt.
Overweight, you become this post-Boston Marathon, shocking everyone.
Purge, a skill. You do it well, and quietly.
Quacks, all the doctors. The therapist, the psychiatrist, the eating disorder specialist, the dietician.
Questionnaire, for the doctor, fill out. Lie.
Racing Weight, a book by Matt Fitzgerald on how to get lean for performance.
Recovery, a visade.
Reye’s Syndrome, a chronic truth-teller.
Running, a tool; a compulsion. Something the eating disorder specialist says you must give up.
Scale, a taskmaster.
Secrets, many. Your sister’s suicide attempt.
Spectrum, eating disorder, you’ve dappled in it all.
Therapy-resistant, an accusation.
Unicorn, the logo of the Boston Athletic Association; see Perfectionism.
Void, feeling, the result of all your achievements.
Vomit, disgusting; abhorrent; do not talk about this.
Weight, how people may be judged and ranked accordingly.
Xeno–, other; different in origin; you.
You, lent your identity to an illness.
Zenith, the highest or most acute point of a condition. You: 96 pounds. Your sister: 84 pounds. Remember, you were always the fat twin.
Natalie Coufal is a nonfiction and fiction writer from rural Central Texas. She is pursuing her M.F.A. in Creative Writing, Editing, and Publishing at Sam Houston State University where she has received a fellowship. Her work has appeared in Glassworks, 100 Word Story, Passengers Journal, Touchstone Literary Magazine, Prometheus Dreaming, and others.