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Portrait Lola

By Lola Bertet

Illustration : Angèle de l’agence Advitam

Mathilde a maintenant 31 ans. Elle n’est pas encore “complètement guérie” mais elle va beaucoup mieux et est bien décidée à rattraper le retard causé par 5 ans d’anorexie.

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“It feels like I’m living what I should have lived when I was 21, except that I can enjoy it a lot more now, because I am healed and independent. It’s almost better to be 21 when you are 31. I will never get back the time I should have spent carefree and that I didn’t get to experience because I was ill; but being 100% present and living in the moment allows me to make up for that time, somehow. And I enjoy it immensely.”

“I learned that I want to be the kind of person who doesn’t judge others, who they are or how they react. I don’t think there is such a thing as a ‘normal person’ or a ‘normal behavior’. There is no ‘normal’ way to react when you are confronted with shock or illness.”

Although Mathilde won’t go as far as to say she is ‘glad’ she had anorexia, she is certainly glad that she recovered from it and learned a few things in the process. She explains that recovering from anorexia was a freeing experience that enabled her to break free from her inner demons and from the things she couldn’t handle before. “I learned that I want to be the kind of person who doesn’t judge others, who they are or how they react. I don’t think there is such a thing as a ‘normal person’ or a ‘normal behavior’. There is no ‘normal’ way to react when you are confronted with shock or illness.”

I ask my friend how she would describe herself today. “Today, I know what I no longer want, I’m starting to know what I do want, and to act accordingly — something that I wouldn’t do before. I allow myself to feel good, which is also new. I am rather happy, most of the time; I love partying; I love my friends, my family, and having a good time. I don’t like routines, and I enjoy facing a challenge, especially when it’s a bit absurd or crazy. I am more daring, I have more self-confidence. I’m doing the best I can and I don’t beat myself up as much as I used to when things don’t go as well as I would like. As for my physical appearance… well, I don’t think about it so much anymore.”

“I’m trying to be someone I can rely on, and I know I still have to be patient, to not be too hard on myself when I fail.”

Since the last time I saw her, Mathilde cleared out her apartment and left, a bit impulsively, to see what it was like to live in Cambodia. We call each other often and she tells me all about her new adventures — the motorbike she intends to buy, the places she managed to visit in these pandemic times… She even tells me how her dislike for supermarkets is counterbalanced by the novelty of shopping in a foreign country where you get to see all sorts of things you have never seen before.

Before she left, Mathilde gave me her notebooks. I looked at the very last one. On the last page, she wrote:

 “Today, I’m still learning; I am very wary, especially of myself. I’m trying to be someone I can rely on, and I know I still have to be patient, to not be too hard on myself when I fail, to process failure — this is what remains the hardest. I need to learn to take my time; to understand that things won’t change overnight — and accept it. These are the terms that will allow a bit of light to get in again. This note is a goodbye letter to Anorexia. It’s up to me now not to let her sit at my table. To tell her she doesn’t belong here, show her that I can exist without her. It’s time I begin to fight for myself — and for myself only.

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About the author

Portrait Lola
Lola Bertet
More stories

Born in Paris in 1993, Lola developed a passion for stories early on. After her studies in theatre focused on dramaturgy, she discovered the world of podcasts. She launched her first one in 2016, titled "Dans la Loge" ["Backstage"], a series of interviews with female performers. She received training at Radio Campus Paris, Longueurs d'Ondes before going back to university to complete a master's degree in Journalism. In 2020, she self-produced a podcast called "Déplacement(s)" ["Shifting"]: life trajectories turned upside down consequently to the Covid-19 crisis.

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