To cure myself of anorexia, I needed a diet plan, one that was clear and structured and that I could convince myself was a normal human diet. That was important, because I knew that as soon as I started eating more, my mind would tell me I’d binged and I’d feel horrible about myself. So I had to find a diet that definitely couldn’t count as a binge.
When I arrived at my family home in San Diego, I did my longest fast yet: a seven-day fruit juice fast. My Mom, ever kind and obliging, bought me a bulk pack of Odwalla smoothies. But I was angry and distant, and when my fast ended, I waited until everyone fell asleep and emptied the pantry with binges. Deeply ashamed, I searched again for escape. I thought if I could control my environment by restricting my access to food, I could control my binges. Escape came in the form of a newspaper I saw on our coffee table, whose headline read, “Fires in Helena, Montana.” Later that day, I absentmindedly picked up an old western from a bookshelf and flipped to a random page. The first word I saw was the name “Helena.” In my desperation, I took them as signs telling me to go to Montana.
“The world crushes the dust under its feet, but the seeker after truth should be so humble that even the dust can crush him.” —Gandhi, The Story of My Experiments With Truth