I have just completed my third week of refeeding at the day treatment unit and it has been nothing short of agony, which is a tough thing to be honest about because I want this site to be about positive encouragement and support. I want it to be inspiring for those who are thinking about going for treatment, motivational for those who are sitting on the fence, unsure which way to drop.
However, I also want it to be realistic and honest. Just as I’m not a great advocate of polite, ‘home counties, garden party speak’, I’m not great at literary niceties. It is possible (on reflection) that I value honesty above all other virtue. In the words of wannabe surfboard – wielding teens the world over, I have to ‘keep it real’.
Back to the concept of agony then.
To any ‘normal’ person (for the purposes of this post, let’s just assume that such a thing exists) the idea that sitting around and eating all day should be anything other than a pleasure, sounds ludicrous! If I offered most of my friends the chance to take a few weeks away from work to join me in treatment, they would literally jump at the chance! I almost wish that I could offer it as a free gift on one of those LoveFilm ‘friends and family’ type cards for Christmas.
For an anorexic however, the relentless pattern of snacking and sitting and eating and talking, resembles the slow medieval torture of The Rack; the steady tearing of bones from sockets, muscles from tissue and flesh resembles the inner sensations of being torn apart. Sounds dramatic? Perhaps, but I fail to find metaphors which can adequately illustrate the pain of beginning recovery. Admittedly, being severely underweight heightens the trauma of refeeding, physically as well as mentally, but it’s a pretty horrendous process wherever you are on the BMI scale.
What I think is an important point to emphasise at this stage though, is that despite the immense increase in my calorific intake, in three weeks, I have only gained point 5 of a kilo overall. That’s a pound (in old currency).
We are weighed twice a week on a Monday and Thursday (an event so anxiety provoking I am woken by palpitations in the early hours of a Thursday morning). The pattern for me has been a predictable gain on the Thursday and loss after a weekend of Anorexia V Relief at ‘Respite’. The harder you work at the eating, the greater the agony as the Anorexia rears its demonic form, screaming and contorted, afraid of losing even an inch of its grip.
At this point, there is no comfort.
If Anorexia is being frozen to death, treatment is a hot water bottle that burns if you hold it close.
It flogs as it spares; it blinds as it darkens; it kills as it saves.
And just as the illness commands a dying body to keep dragging itself over upturned shards of glass, so recovery demands that the same body be dragged in the other direction.
if you have to suffer it,
it may as well be suffering towards recovery.