Several months after publishing a book chronicling her secret struggle with an insidious eating disorder, Poppy Wortman knows her decision to tell her story was worth it.
She launched the book, entitled ‘The Tale of Poppy and Ed’ – Ed referring to eating disorder – at the Avantidrome on December 8. She was distinctly nervous on the night, unsure of how its confronting message would be received.
Anyone knowing Poppy is familiar with her bubbly personality and go-getter approach to life as a writer, global adventurer, yoga teacher and marriage celebrant. Hesitancy isn’t a natural fit with her.
Fast forward to early January, and Poppy was into her second print run, with around 400 books sold and plans well advanced for stocking the book beyond its current distribution through Cambridge Paper Plus and via the online Best Little Bookstore.
“The number of those reaching out after reading the book has truly astounded me,” she said. “My reason for writing and publishing it was to bridge the misunderstanding gap … the messages I have received from family members of someone struggling, or from those struggling themselves, has made is wholeheartedly worth it.”
Poppy was driven to write her story when in treatment for the disorder in 2015. It had been intended for her eyes only, something that might help her understand herself and what she was going through. Two things sparked her decision to put her story out there.
“One was a friend of mine who committed suicide. I’ve never been at that point myself, but there were a few times during treatment where it crossed my mind it would be easier to die than to be in my own Ed-riddled head.”
She hoped the book might help others facing a similar dilemma.
The second catalyst was a call for help from a family with a daughter going through the same thing. She saw their desperation and recognised her younger self in the girl’s struggles.
Poppy now knows the prevalence of eating disorders and recognises the importance of finding pride in the fight rather than shame in the affliction. She talks candidly of her boundless efforts to disguise her disorder and remembers the moment when it all started– a primary school maths lesson that involved the pupils weighing themselves.
Twenty years on, that moment still fills her with dread. “I was eight. I should’ve been running around in a bikini with no thought to my slightly protruding belly. I should’ve been eating Goody-goody-gum-drops ice cream with gusto, not lying awake at night wracked with guilt from having consumed it.”
Now recovered, but cognisant of unhealthy thoughts when they creep in, Poppy wants to urge those similarly afflicted to reach out for help.
“An ill, diseased mind is another part of the body that’s not functioning as it should … it needs care to get it going again.”