Behind a light title and a bit girly, the book “Confidences of an ex addicted to diets” by Mathilde Blancal tells the strong dependence of a young woman on the dictates of thinness. Mathilde Blancal suffered from eating disorders for more than 10 years. Severe attacks of bulimia, anorexia, bigorexia, the young woman explored all the possible mechanisms of self-destruction before finding the way to recovery. Interview.
When asked, she can’t quite figure out exactly when in her life she had the urge to lose weight. She just remembers that her descent into hell was very gradual and of incredible psychological violence.
Mathilde Blancal had a priori no reason to want to lose weight. Having just come out of childhood, she does not recognize this changing body. She looks at the women around her and fails to identify with any representation of the image of women. Mathilde Blancal is the story of a young woman who, failing to eat, is devoured by the diktat of thinness.
“I made myself vomit up to 6 times a day”
Mathilde proceeded methodically: gradual elimination of food categories. Fat, sugar, starchy foods… the teenager becomes a raw food eater. She eats only fruits and vegetables. Mathilde Blancal embarks on a race against calories. A race too slow for his taste. In the course of her research on the dark web, she comes across the forums of pro-ana, young anorexic women who exchange advice on not gaining weight. On these platforms, she discovers a thousand tips for ingesting the fewest calories. Among the solutions proposed, a correlation seems obvious and will continue for many years: “I said to myself, if I make myself vomit, I will not keep the calories I ingested.” This is the beginning of his relationship with the toilets, a toxic love that will mark with a hot iron whole years of his existence. “When I managed to vomit the first time, I was quite surprised. There was a little side inside me where I said to myself, ‘Actually, it’s not that unpleasant. There was a satisfaction of feeling lighter.'”
And this is the beginning of another vicious circle: bulimia. Tired of the restrictions, Mathilde goes on a feeding frenzy that ends in the toilet bowl. Relieved and hungry, his body is in need of food… And it’s off again.
“I made myself vomit so much that there was blood in the toilet bowl. By force, I had weakened my throat.”
“I smelled like vomit. It was extremely shameful”
Not without an ounce of humour, Mathilde Blancal evokes in her book the beginning of her unhappy love affair with the toilet bowl. “It hurts for myself to say this, but for years I had my head in the toilet. I even made myself throw up in a public toilet right in the city center. I won’t let you not even imagine the state of hygiene of these toilets… Oddly, the toilets had become a refuge. It was me and my suffering in the bowl.”
In the same playful tone, she also lifts a taboo, that of smell. “During all these years, I smelled like vomit. It was extremely shameful for me. I bought breath patches at pharmacies, I brushed my teeth… to society and maintain the image of the all-smiling, kind, successful girl all the time. When in reality, no. Every time I finished my meal, I went to the bathroom to make myself vomit. It was more stronger than me. It was a real addiction.”
Video. Mathilde Blancal: “One day we wake up, we make ourselves vomit 6 times a day and we go running at 3 a.m.”
“I was going for a run at 3 a.m.”
At that time, Mathilde was not only addicted to the act of making herself vomit. She also develops a severe form of bigorexia, an extreme and intensive practice of sport. It is the need to control his weight that locks him into his addiction to sports. Excessive and progressive behavior: “I really sank little by little. You don’t wake up one day making yourself vomit 6 times a day and going for a run at 3 a.m.”.
In the space of a few months, Mathilde’s life boiled down to cravings, making herself vomit and playing sports: “I was doing almost 4 hours of sport a day. I didn’t know how to stop. I was going very early in the morning. In the evening, when I couldn’t sleep because I thought I had eaten too much, I said to myself ‘well, well, I’m not sleeping, I’m going to go make my time profitable, I’m going to go burn some calories.’ I would put on my little trainers at 3 a.m. and go for a run. It was totally absurd behavior.”
These “absurd behaviors”, as she calls them, testify to a deep malaise which translates into a form of physical abuse: “When I was really not well, I abused myself. I kicked myself a little all over my body. I was in so much pain that I had to externalize all this discomfort into physical pain.”
In her book, Mathilde Blancal wonders about the reasons. Was his physical mutilation a way of making his psychological distress visible? During all these years, the entourage of the young woman did not ask any questions. No more than the men who shared his life. One day, she confided in her companion at the time about her troubles and her irrepressible need to vomit after each meal. The man points out to her that these little games make her lose money, especially when he takes her out to dinner.
Video. Mathilde Blancal: “My life is hell and I’m not even 30”
“You’re pathetic if you eat fries”
Struck down by bulimia attacks and eaten away by her discomfort, the young woman clings to one hope: “not to be the same person at 70”. Awareness will be gradual and healing will go through various stages. Therapists, alternative medicine… it is ultimately the withdrawal from food that will save her. “I had to deconstruct everything I thought about food. Before, I only ate zucchini because it’s low in calories and I thought it was virtuous. I forbade myself fries because it is fat. I said to myself: ‘you’re pathetic if you eat fries’. Well, no, actually. I had to relearn how to taste things. I took my fork, put it in my mouth and analyzed how it tasted.”
Mathilde Blancal learns to eat, “like a child” she recalls. She forces herself to eat all the foods she forbids herself. The objective is to assess whether she appreciates what she eats for the gustatory pleasure it gives her or for the taste of the forbidden. Thus, at first, she will allow herself all the cookies and cakes that her sick brain had banished. First she devours the whole box. She then takes the time to analyze the taste of the cookies. Eventually, she discovers that her obsession with these cookies was directly linked to deprivation and frustration because “after all, cookies aren’t that good.” “When I had the opportunity to eat as many as I wanted, well I didn’t want to eat them anymore. Now I forget that I have cookies in my cupboard.”
“I was a drug addict. Today, I am a normal person”
This long and painful weaning allowed him to heal from his eating disorders. “I was a drug addict. Today, I’m a normal person,” she laughs. “I would always have a sensitivity but today I know how to identify the ‘little voices that speak to me and sink me'”. To definitively bury her demons, Mathilde Blancal listed all the benefits of her healing. “I am a Queen” takes all the benefits of her recovery and reminds her daily that the “young girl who stank of vomit” is a thing of the past.
“Because no great story began with a green salad” as she likes to say, Mathilde Blancal hopes that this book will help women who, as she has been able to do in the past, “struggle against their bodies woman”. “Confidences of an ex-diet addict” is a necessary work to understand the disastrous consequences of diet culture.
Video. Mathilde Blancal: “Be careful if your child does this when leaving the table”
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