Archive for October, 2013


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.

agony1

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.

Agony.

But

if you have to suffer it,

it may as well be suffering towards recovery.

Right?

There Must Be More of This

imag0351_1_1_1.jpg

…. than I can currently see.

I hope that there is hope.

…And we’ll all sing along like before…”

Goes the song.

Irritating when your internal MP3 is stuck on the same track and no matter how hard you shake it, it won’t stop. Trying to get away from it is just about as effective as trying to go on holiday without your head. And don’t we all wish we could do that at certain times in our life. Take enough hallucinogens and it’s possible, but they’re not exactly pleasant or cost effective and the holiday insurance you’d have to take out would be ridiculous.

No.

No way around it but to play enough music to flush this one out of the system.
The particular musical ghosting I’m referring to is a song by… (I pause, not for literary impact, but because my memory function is compromised by malnutrition; although, it could just be that my powers of recollection are as shite as they ever were)…
Where was I? Okay. (Breathe) The music…
It’s a song by Del Amitri (who for some unknown reason, I always confuse with Dire Straits). An especially depressing number, aptly named, ‘Nothing Ever Happens’. For those who like to listen, go ahead.
Indulge.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yeVOzaDBEmc

I guess it’s the theme of repetition that lends the song to my worn out inner ears; and for good reason.
On Monday, I retrace my tracks to the unit where my first attempt at recovery began.

March 2011.
Yep.
That’s right.
Monday will see me standing outside the gates of hell itself.

And to be clear, it’s not that nothing will have changed, because I have. My illness has. My way of thinking has. Three years of various treatments, including seven months as an inpatient, and rather a lot of medication, have put me on a markedly different rung of the ladder.
What is hard, is that it’s the same hole. The same darkness. And, pretty much the same distance to the light.
Hence, ‘we all sing along like before’.

I want this to work… which means that I will have to work. Very hard.

It will be bearable, though it won’t feel it.
It won’t kill me, though the process of recovery will involve the slow death of the illness, so it will feel like it.

In all the darkness, I must somehow manage to fix my eyes on a light I will not always see.

In order for recovery to take place, you have to believe that, just as there is always a sun and a moon, there is a new life beyond, and there is a different person behind, the illness / addiction.
The courage it takes to make this leap of faith is immense and for me personally, I don’t know if I can sustain it.

Today has been spent mostly in a sitting position. sitting

Not a problem for most people, admittedly.

However, for many of the ‘Eating Disorder community’, sitting for long periods of time can be as torturous as, say, sleep deprivation may be…

Not only is sitting physically uncomfortable when a person is very underweight it is, more importantly, another facet of the illness which demands constant movement in order to burn off calories. In my case, the cost of remaining seated, must be weighed according to the value of what is gained. So today, I spent time with my best friend and her lovely husband who are moving to Canada on Saturday. I will miss her all the more, knowing she is so far away.

All this is incidental because the reason I write is to share one of my favourite quotes by American lyrical poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow… A name fit for a Lord, for sure.

Sitting in the coffee shop with my most comfy friends, our conversation led to the conclusion that all of us, no matter who we were or how we appeared, were damaged in some way, broken. It is an inevitable part of the human condition. I challenge anyone to find a soul without a scar. Some psychologists even argue that it begins in the womb.

My friends are going out to Canada to help with the running of a very radical kind of church. It’s a church which mainly attracts those struggling with addiction, alcoholism, mental illness, Eating Disorders. A church where people are vulnerable, not ‘cured’, not ‘solved’ but very much in-the-thick-of-it. It sounds like the kind of place many of us would ‘fit’ and feel a sense of belonging. If only we were willing to disregard stigma and risk vulnerablilty.

Which all brings me to this:

 If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility”. 

We are all of us, walking wounded.

That’s how we bond. It’s how we grow and it’s how we come to experience hope. 2013-08-20 16.32.38

If this is for real, I wish it could be me! In fact, even if it’s NOT for real..!