A Starved Heart
by Genevieve Lardizabal
A Starved Heart is a narrative poetry book that travels through the mind and experiences of a young girl suffering from anorexia nervosa, purge disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety, attention deficit disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and major depression. She stayed in treatment for three years, and found she had a prominent emotion for each stay, and it affected the way she viewed recovery. The first year she was stricken with fear and in turn, held onto her disorder for a false sense of safety. The second-year rage had overtaken her, so much so that she viewed support as roadblocks. But in the third year, she fell deep into depression. Surprisingly, depression is what moved her towards recovery. Because of her pain and constant sadness, she realized the reason for her eating disorder in the first place was her attempt to find happiness, acceptance, control, and safety. However, no matter how much weight she lost, she didn’t find what she was looking for. Now in recovery, she hopes this book can educate those who don’t understand mental illness, and act as a hand stretched out for those who are struggling.
About the Author:
Genevieve Lardizabal is an 18-year-old poet from Seattle, Washington. During her second stay in an eating disorder treatment center, she was put onto room-based care because of her resistance to recovery and her refusal to eat. Room-based care is where one must stay in their room from eight a.m. to ten p.m., and is only allowed out for meals, a one-hour therapy session and one hour of visiting with family. She was isolated and alone. No other patients were allowed to speak to her, and she wasn’t allowed outside for five months. So many thoughts swirled in her head and without any output she felt trapped, so she began to write. By the end of that year, she was published in Z publishing house’s Washington’s Best Emerging Young Poets of 2019, and spent the next three years writing her book A Starved Heart. A Starved Heart dives deep into her disorders and experiences that lead her to recovery after four years of treatment centers and hospital stays. She dreams of becoming a therapist for eating disorders and running a narrative therapy group at a treatment center, teaching kids how to write through their pain, whether that’s through poetry, storytelling, song writing, or journaling.
Early Praise for A Starved Heart:
A Starved Heart is an impressive, provocative, passionate read that conveys considerable knowledge about the complexities of an eating disorder, treatment, and recovery. Communicated through poetry, it is simultaneously a heart-wrenching and heartwarming reading experience. I appreciated how Genevieve positioned the eating disorder throughout the text— as an abuser—as a male with whom she was embattled for her life. There is much to learn from her manuscript about family relationships and mental illness, gender, cultural and societal norms, as well as how professional ‘help’ is constructed and experienced by a young person’s vantage.
—Patti Ranahan, PhD, Associate Professor
Graduate Program Director, Youth Work
Beautifully poignant, vulnerable, and real. Genevieve is an extraordinary writer who breathes life into every word. With vivid detail she brings you through her journey, the dark night of her soul, and into the light of her true self. A powerful must read.
—Nadia Ahrens, LICSW, Psychotherapist
A Starved Heart is a personal account of one person’s journey back from the abyss that can be mental illness. From the multitude of diagnoses to the cycles of therapy and treatment that can feel fruitless, the messiness and breadth of difficulty of the journey is captured. At the same time, Genevieve shares who she is, and shows that at the core of it all, the person struggling is still human, with friends and family, needing love and company. A Starved Heart explores the transformations throughout her journey and leaves the reader feeling humility and gratitude towards this beautiful art we call life, the people living it with us, and the diverse challenges we will all encounter whilst living it.
—Calliopy Bluebell, a former patient
And sometimes when tears fall from my cheeks, they create a pathway for us to swim in, for us to be connected. A visual artist of words, Genevieve Lardizabal’s raw, honest, and powerful poems draw our attention and insist we not look away