Recently we came across an honest, enlightening account of a mother and daughter’s experience with eating disorders, and we thought you should know about it. Distorted, a book by Lorri Antosz Benson and her daughter Taryn Leigh Benson, chronicles the experiences they respectively shared while Taryn was battling eating disorders as a teenager.
Distorted is an honest and holistic account of what happens when a loved one is struggling with a disease. I’m keen on emphasizing the word disease because this was the first time I deeply understood the fact that an eating disorder is a disease. It may play out differently than alcoholism, but the common link is that both alcoholics and people with eating disorders are consumed by their addiction.
The book is made up of journal entries submitted by the mother and daughter as they live through their experiences. This helps the reader understand the full impact of the disorder and how it affected the lives of everyone involved. Taryn’s entries recount the time of her disorder, and go in depth to explain her battle, the amount of time, energy and focus she put into her disorder and how she covered it all up to keep it from her parents and her friends. The entries by Lorri, Taryn’s mother, account for the sadness, helplessness, and struggle the family faced and how the family was affected by Taryn’s disease. In great detail, we hear how she, as a mother, did everything possible to research and find solutions to help Taryn and how she coped with watching someone that she loves spiral downward. The reader is able to experience the transformation of both of these women. Through various methods of treatment, therapy, and personal conviction, Taryn finally gets to a place when she realizes she wants to survive and to treat herself well, and Lorri realizes that the only way Taryn will get better is if she wants to. The reader is able to see Lorri struggling with this concept in most of the book.
It was powerful to see the honesties (and dishonesties) of emotions unfold in the book. There is a moment when Taryn returns from her first eating disorder facility. Her parents hope she really is okay and has recovered, and her younger sisters, being more naÃ¯ve and hopeful, think she is “cured.” However, as the weeks pass, the family begins to see familiar patterns and see Taryn’s drastic mood swings. One entry made by Lorri is particularly powerful for a mother to admit and feel:
“As I a saw my other two girls suffering, it was hard not to feel resentment towards Taryn. Although I intellectually knew she was also hurting, emotionally I hated what her inability to cope was doing for the rest of us. And of couse, I couldn’t confront her, although my instincts told me to. I could hear the party line playing in my head. ‘She is harder on herself than we could ever be.’ So I journaled.”
While we have heard of stories in the media about girls with eating disorders, some simply sensationalistic, Taryn and Lorri’s account is real and sincere. This book is great for anyone to read who is recovering from an eating disorder and for those whose loved ones are dealing with one.