yasmin chopin | Living with bulimia
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Living with bulimia

Not Me image via mayamitten.com 1100xr

Living with bulimia

This is a memoir; an honest, down to earth, take-a-hard-look-at-yourself memoir. It’s about singer and yoga teacher Marianne Dissard’s struggle with anorexia and then bulimia. The bulimia is described in all its detail, from the adrenalin rush of orgiastic eating to the taste and stench of vomit. Never having experienced either of these illnesses I felt sickened to read about the mental and physical struggles Marianne has had but it helped me understand more about these eating disorders. Marianne writes with clarity, humility, and her wry humour eases the tension which necessarily comes with the content. I was transfixed by the book – her first – a book I didn’t think I’d enjoy to start with because I really dislike the cover image, it’s ugly, the gaping mouth of a disembodied head yawns in pain. The graphic designer has manipulated a photo of Marianne herself.

Not-Me-Marianne-Dissard-book-cover-1100r

While the subject isn’t particularly enticing the writing is good, the author has an easy style which occasionally kicks into strange phrasing revealing the fact that French is her first language and English her second. There is a leanness to the writing which makes it an easy read – I found it hard to put the book down once I’d started with it, and when I finished it I felt exhausted.

Not Me is the account of a year the author spent in Paris, training to teach yoga, in an attempt to reboot a life plagued by eating disorders. You can buy the book here.

‘Of course, I was scared when I realized I wanted to tell my story after decades of keeping it hidden,’ Marianne says. ‘I decided to keep a journal of my one year in Paris. These entries would be the basis of a book about my very secret disordered life, and I knew I would not back down from writing it. You have to face the music at some point.’

This is a portrayal of agony by a sophisticated intelligent woman who has talent and who could have led a much happier life if only things had been different. It is not about self control, it’s about illness, and from Marianne’s account I learned that it is possible to live with bulimia for decades. Thankfully the worst of it may be over for her now. I wish her well. I wish her every success with this book, I’m sure it will help many people suffering in a similar way. And I wish her plenty of gigs – click through to hear some of her songs. (Interesting don’t you think?)

Marianne is in the middle of an ‘East Kent Walking Book Tour’ as I write this review – it sounds awesome. Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it to join her but I’ll be looking out to see more of her work in the future. 

This lady is amazing: a singer, performer, lyricist and filmmaker who hails from Tucson, Arizona. Originally from the French Pyrénées she now splits her time between her wooden boat Wendy Woo moored in Ramsgate, England and a stone shack near Matera, Italy. 

Thank you to Francesca Baker, Marianne’s UK publicity agent, for sending me a copy of the book to review. It has been an uncomfortable pleasure to read it!

Images: top image via MayaMitten.com, second image is my photo of book cover.