Anorexia – The Journey

anorexia-coverDóra Galgóczi
ANOREXIA – THE JOURNEY
Novel (Szaktudás Kiadó), 2010, 150 pages

“I did not dare to put on the real, feminine body”

What might push an intelligent and pretty girl into the life-threatening trap of starvation? How does the soul take over control of the body stealthily, and drive it to despairing thinness?

The illness called anorexia nervosa has an ever-wider circle of victims, mostly young girls. We might think their good fortune provided them with everything:  An attractive figure, outstanding abilities, and a charming personality. However, they live in permanent dissatisfaction. They feel they are not perfect and they are unsuited for life. Dancing on the edge of being and non-being, they loose weight to a fearful extent, and people around them just watch helplessly as they destroy their health.

In the novel, the secret of Anikó’s diary is revealed. The story describes her struggle with anorexia and with herself, and the way in which she moves from a hopeless fight to a liberating recovery. As we follow her story, we come across ideas that are well known for all of us. From time to time, who is not preoccupied with vital questions connected to finding a partner, a parent-child relationship, and choosing a career? Those who find it hard to overcome obstacles that appear in their way might choose the wrong way to escape, and use illnesses such as anorexia as placebo solutions. This is the trap into which Anikó, who was in the hand of this mysterious illness, had fallen. In her diary, she remembers the beginning as follows:

“It would be vain to explain to anybody who had never had a similar experience that swallowing a spoonful of cooked food was a greater trial than letting hundreds of infusion needles run through my veins.  Every attempt at persuasion, coaxing, begging, and shouting was doomed to fail, and my fitful resistance to filling my stomach won. Anorexia robbed me of more than ten years of my life, and, although I seemingly participated in existence during that time, there was a huge abyss between me and feelings such as contentment, a sense of balance, and – even writing down the word is strange – happiness.”

Only when she realised that she did not stand a chance without help, could she start on the way of recovery, which was not at all smooth. An excellent psychiatrist was the real solution.   She underwent a self-imposed and lengthy therapy, and, with the help of her doctor, she returned to her childhood. It turned out that the main reason for her lack of self-confidence was her overprotective upbringing. She desperately tried to gain control of her life, and as a means of doing this, she chose eating, in which she did not let anybody else have a say.

galgoczi-portraitShe also found it hard to accept the idea of taking on the role of a woman and a mother. During the therapeutic discussions it turned out that she had reservations against the acceptance of femininity.

“I did not dare to put on the real, feminine body; this would have been a call: ‘Notice me!’. I would have liked to stay in the shade, and bide my time until I jumped into a relationship by myself. ’No, don’t push me!’  My thinness suggested this, again as an excuse for staying where I was.”

During the deep-reaching therapy, Anikó was gradually reborn. She could see her abilities and desires more clearly, and realised that she was as valuable as millions of people around her. As the walls built with bricks of fear started to fall down, she gradually and imperceptibly resumed normal eating. She realised how many opportunities that she had almost lost were still waiting for her. She compared her life to that of a chestnut that had just peeped out of its husk.

“Now, everything is before it, before us. The morning sun rises higher, and we look at each other and say: ’yes, it had to be like this, we don’t mind it, and we did it: we have stepped into the sunshine at last.’”

Exceedingly strong ties to parents, strong aspirations for perfection, lack of self-confidence, and increased sensitivity describe the life of girls who have fallen into the trap of anorexia. There are more of them among us than we think, hiding the problem even from themselves. Between the lines of the novel, they, and all those who would like to get to know their own character better and want to find their real way in life, can find themselves.

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COMPLETE ENGLISH AND POLISH TRANSLATION AVAILABLE
POLISH AND GERMAN SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dóra Galgóczi was born in 1974 in Budapest. Before her literary activities, after graduating from the College of Public Administration, she worked at the National Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, then, as an employee of the National Institute for Health Development she was involved in the organization of lifestyle trainings. She is the author of four popular novels and a collection of short stories about women. More on the author

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