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.

Eating, sin.

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.

Hidden, everything.

Hunger, known.

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.

Perfectionism, elusive.

Performance, everything.

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.

Quiet, keep.

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

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.

Late October Air

Up the bent walk to

the house door, stops

at the steps, smells

the dryness of fall in

the late October air.


Remembers something

as the breeze tousles

his hair and forgets

for a moment the key

in his hand.


Something a young girl

said, maybe, or a

woman standing, breaking

a sprig of lilac,

turning: eyes damp.


We cannot know what

stops him, what holds

the key suspended in

his hand, his head

turned as if to listen.


As he would not say,

locked on that moment,

his face expressionless

to tell joy or grief,

tempered, far away.


Trent Busch

Trent Busch, a native of rural West Virginia, now lives in Georgia where he writes and makes furniture. His recent books of poetry, “not one bit of this is your fault” (2019) and “Plumb Level and Square” (2020) were published by His poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, Poetry, The Nation, Threepenny Review, North American Review, Chicago Review, Southern Review, Georgia Review, New England Review, Crazyhorse, Prairie Schooner, Northwest Review, Kenyon Review, American Scholar, Shenandoah, Boston Review, and Hudson Review. His poem “Edges of Roads” was the 2016 First Place winner of the Margaret Reid Poetry Prize.

Jack Bordnick

Facing It Together (series)

Facing It Together (series)


Jack Bordnick

Jack Bordnick started as a product designer, establishing his own design business in New York, Sante Fe, and Europe. He is now an artist with a focus on sculpture work and photography. His artwork is a form of self-reflection on his own story. Many of his pieces involve a unique cross between the living and the inanimate. The humanistic qualities of these sculptures are his way of giving a voice to what were once objects without any sign of life or soul. He often also incorporates surrealist ideas, mythological themes, and magical imagery in order to tell deep, whimsical tales beyond common storytelling.

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