Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Publishing


Creative Writing and Publishing

First Advisor

Rita Banerjee

Committee Chair and Members

Rita Banerjee, Chair

Robin Hemley


Anorexia, Anxiety, Eating disorders, Friendships, Memoir, Mental health


To the Bone and Back, a memoir by Noelle Thomas explores Thomas’s college journey while struggling with mental health conditions. To the Bone and Back primarily focuses on how anxiety, depression, and eating disorders can impact friendships. Thomas documents her journey through college and grad school in four parts. In a way, Thomas’s memoir is a story of self-assembly.

Part one, made up of poems, narratives, letter excerpts, YouTube transcripts, and text messages, mirrors the clutter and chaos of Thomas’s brain at that time. Part one establishes the friendship between the main characters: Thomas and Jenna.

Part two begins to explore issues related to mental health including ambulance rides and a forced medical leave of absence from school. This section of the memoir re-introduces side character Jonathan and introduces Helen, a friend made at Bible study and through living in the same dormitory. There are fewer mediums in this section as the memoir becomes more streamlined.

Part three of To the Bone and Back features Thomas coming to terms with her eating disorders and finally asking for the help she needs. The section is made up of journal entries and poems starting in the middle of 2020 and ending with journal entries from her residential treatment stay.

Part four continues in the journal entry style post-residential treatment stay and follows Thomas as she grapples with how to maintain recovery outside of treatment. Eventually, Thomas ends up back in residential treatment. This section concludes with an epilogue letter to self.

Following the memoir manuscript is the critical essay entitled “Destigmatizing Mental Health through Literature.” This essay reviews how various authors portray mental illness in the books The Perks of Being a Wallflower, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Letting Ana Go, and Turtles All the Way Down. In my essay, I make the argument that the authors of these books are helping to destigmatize mental illness through writing about different mental health conditions. A bibliography of readings I completed for my thesis research and my critical work at LIU follows at the end of my thesis folio.