Some girls learn that they must sacrifice certain aspects of themselves – their appetites, needs, feelings, and goals – in order to gain support, acceptance, attention, and love. These girls are called “people pleasers”: they try to be everything to everyone. In doing so, they lose who they are to themselves.
— Marianne Apostolides, “Inner Hunger”
Five years ago, I read the book, “Inner Hunger; A Young Woman’s Struggle Through Anorexia and Bulemia,” by Marianne Apostolides.
What a story.
The book was published in 1998. It was given to me in 2004 by the author’s aunt (a friend of the family). Then it sat on my bookshelf for more than a decade. I’m not sure why I put off reading it for so long. But when I finally got around to reading it, I could barely put it down.
I honestly had no clue about the horrific inner struggle a person faces when he or she is dealing with an eating disorder. Now I have a better idea. And frankly, it sounds like a terrifying, frustrating, and lonely journey—especially for a young woman just starting out on her life path.
As a teen, Apostolides found that the seemingly best way to control her thoughts, feelings and life was to control her intake of food—be that vastly limiting the intake of food (anorexia) or consuming enormous quantities of it (bulimia).
“Inner Hunger” is a very candid account of the author’s personal experience with eating disorders and the difficult road she travelled, trying to become healthy again— physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.
As the title suggests, Apostolides wasn’t just dealing with an extremely unhealthy relationship with food, she was unsuccessfully trying to feed an inner hunger with an external substance—food—that could never satisfy what she was so desperately lacking in herself.
The book isn’t just the graphic details of her personal journey. Rather, as the back cover explains: “Inner Hunger is more than a memoir: it is a starting point on the road to recovery. Realizing the importance of therapy and guidance in her own healing process, Apostolides includes invaluable sections giving the causes of eating disorders; different types of treatment; advice to parents, friends and educators; and a list of organizations offering information and support.”
Obviously, Apostilades is not alone. That’s why I am writing again about this powerful book. Every time I turn around, I hear of another woman who is bravely battling an eating disorder—or has bravely battled one and lived to tell the tale…or who bravely battled but did not survive.
According to the Better Help website:
Statistically, more women suffer from eating disorders than men. But in recent years, the number of men who report eating disorder symptoms has risen significantly. Nearly one percent of American women will suffer from anorexia at some point in their life. This condition is incredibly severe, and it is closely linked with depression. Bulimia is even more common among American women with one and a half percent of women suffering from it at some point during their life. Over half of all bulimia patients suffer from an anxiety disorder as well.
Eating disorders are a serious issue that are not going away any time soon.
If you know of a woman—of any age—who you suspect might be struggling with an eating disorder, please don’t ignore the signs. Gently speaking up and letting her know you are concerned and that you care might just be the lifeline she is waiting for.
Previously Published on Pink Gazelle