Kick Ass Book Alert! : PURGE, rehab diaries

I read this book in two days.

It arrived in my mailbox on Friday, I started reading it Saturday, and last night I stayed up way the heck too late to finish it.

Generally, it takes me a few months to finish a book, partly because I usually have two or three going at the same time, and I am a slow reader. But this one would not leave me be.

PURGE, rehab diaries by Nicole Johns is not for the weary.

This is a raw, brutally-honest, grotesquely detailed novel. The pages resonate pent up anger, unsettled circumstance, and disgustingly-gross-but-real purging episodes described in painful detail.

Damn, it's good – because it is so real.

John's takes the reader through her experience as a size 9, EDNOS patient,  living for a summer in an Eating Disorder Center in Milwaukee (my home town, which made this reading more intriguing, because literally drive past the places she refers to throughout the book on a daily basis).

One of the coolest parts is the book design, adorned with a great cover art and interesting fonts throughout. Inside, copies of Nicole's actual treatment papers are scattered about; names and addresses blacked out in bold black lines, handwritten journal entries detail each and every evil calorie, and even an official definition of "Normal Eating," which drove home the pathetic level we sink to with an eating disorder.

But the most important thing about PURGE, is it addresses, head on, the problem EDNOS patients face. EDNOS stands for Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. Huh? Ed who?

For the record;

EDNOS sufferers are not underweight, in fact, they are more often overweight.

EDNOS sufferers look normal, all the while lurking below the surface is a young vital heart struggling to keep ticking.

EDNOS sufferers are blown off the vast majority of the population, until of course they faint, whack their head, suffer a concussion, and need to be hospitalized.

EDNOS sufferers can have blood pressure readings near zero, completely out of whack electrolyte levels, and most commonly live with a raw, burning, sometimes-ruptured esophagus.

Needless to say, John's represents the "typical" EDNOS sufferer weighing 137 pounds, all the while popping diet pill cocktails, starving, purging, and binging until she is hospitalized for fainting which leads to the real diagnosis: a concussion, electrolyte imbalances, and three different kids of heart-rhythm irregularities.

She writes PURGE to "inform the public, counteract myths surrounding eating disorders and treatment, and provide eating disordered individuals with hope."

I think you'll agree, she accomplishes all three,



Why not post your own story? Tell us what you experienced in an eating disorder treatment center, and help others along the way.

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17 Responses to Kick Ass Book Alert! : PURGE, rehab diaries

  1. PTC says:

    I wanted to borrow this book from my psychologist friend, but she wouldn’t give it to me. I guess I’ll go out and buy it.

  2. mel says:

    Can’t wait to read it. You should let us know when else you stumble upon good reads!

  3. .C. says:

    EDNOS is how I classify myself. I am a normal weight for my height, but lately have been down a bit because of restriction. My weight fluctuates a lot. I am hungry a lot. I binge and then starve. I try to purge, but usually fail because physically I don’t throw up easily. My lowest weight was not technically underweight (BMI of f18.5; I WAS the line) and I don’t think I’ve ever technically been overweight. It’s all about the pain. The disorder. The wishfulness. The demonizing and deifying of food and thin. All my life, I’ve never been the pretty one. And somewhere along the line, I just started to try to be the thin one, never expecting success but in reality starving and living in a hell with many characteristics. I never fit into the categories of anorexia, or bulimia, or even binge eating disorder or orthorexia. I am, by definition, not specified. I am EDNOS. It’s the label they gave us to let us at least know what we are, what we do, is real.

  4. Mrs. B. says:

    Jessica was diagnosed as EDNOS.
    I think it more accurate to say that people with the diagnosis of EDNOS may or may not be underweight. Jessica was grossly underweight.
    MOST people with eating disorders are EDNOS because it means that they alternatively restrict and purge.
    Very few eating disordered people are distinctly anorexic or bulimic.

  5. Gayle says:

    Another EDNOS (mostly purging disordered) woman checking in – will be picking this book up today!

  6. Rachel says:

    I will be featuring an interview with Nicole Johns soon on my site. Stay tuned!

  7. anon says:

    the way you write about EDNOS really scares me… since i’m sitting here having heart palpitations after popping a few diuretics. greatttt.

  8. Nicole Johns says:

    Thanks for posting your review of my book, Mama V. It’s very in-depth and thoughtful. –Nicole

  9. Melissa says:

    I want to read this. I never experienced either extreme (anorexia or bulimia) but am curious for sure.

  10. carly says:

    I’m reading this book now, it’s amazing, highly recommended.

  11. Heidi says:

    If you have any other good reads that have to do with EDs, please post MamaV or other readers. Thanks.

  12. .C. says:

    I saw something about “Wasted” by Maya Hornbacher. Heard it could be triggering but I picked it up. I’ve only just started. Has anyone read this book? Know anything about it? Opinions?

  13. aileb says:

    I’ve read Wasted a couple years back and yes, it was and still is very triggering.
    It would be a good book to read if you didn’t have this disease and wanted to get a glimpse of what lengths this disease drives people to do.
    But I would not suggest this book to anyone with an Ed. I do believe in some inpatient places it is not even allowed.
    This quote from her book scares the living daylights out of me:
    “It’s never over. Not
    really. Not when you
    stay down there as
    long as I did, not
    when you’ve lived in
    the netherworld
    longer than you’ve
    lived in this material
    one, where things are
    very bright and large
    and make such
    strange noises. You
    never come back, not
    all the way. Always,
    there is an odd
    distance between you
    and the people you
    love and the people
    you meet, a barrier,
    thin as the glass of a
    mirror. You never
    come all the way out
    of the mirror; you
    stand, for the rest of
    your life, with one
    foot in this world and
    one in another, where
    everything is upside
    down and backward
    and sad.”
    Who in their right mind would not be scared of recovery after reading that?

  14. K says:

    “even an official definition of “Normal Eating,” which drove home the pathetic level we sink to with an eating disorder”
    the pathetic level we sink to?
    I hate you MV, you write sensationalist, superficial trash about anorexia and other eating disorders,mental health problems you claim to once have had,yet display no insight into.

  15. smudgeruk says:

    Check out the dictionary definition, K.
    “Pathetic (adj.):
    1. Arousing or capable of arousing sympathetic sadness and compassion:
    “The old, rather shabby room struck her as extraordinarily pathetic” John Galsworthy.
    2. Arousing or capable of arousing scornful pity.”
    You’re thinking of definition (2).
    I think MamaV is talking definition (1).

  16. E. says:

    EDNOS is one of the most evil things to live with.
    To spend 2-3 months eating less than 400 calories a day, dropping 45 pounds, and having everyone barely notice at all… only to gain it all back again (all the while, fighting every step of the way purging and cutting) … Spending the next several years yoyoing the same 45-50 lbs…
    And to have people you ask for help laugh in your face as soon as the phrase “Eating disorder,” comes out of it… Or worse, “wannarexic” …
    It’s hell.

  17. Elizabeth H. says:

    I bought the book “Wasted” and am in the middle of reading it. I have not been triggered, yet, but have heard it can happen. I also read the book “Distorted” and ironically almost bought the book “Purge” a few days ago. It hasn’t been a long time for me with an ED, only a little over a year, but I’ve lost over 50 pounds since last summer and weigh less than I did when I was 17, (I am now 30). I think the ED came on in part because self injury, which I have dealt with since age 19, didn’t seem as “socially acceptable”, not to mention I hated how I looked…

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