Tag Archive: Choose to Recover


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?

Hamlet_

Perhaps it is the sheer weight of Hamlet’s question, the blunt , blatant daring of it, that has made it the most famous line in the history of Shakespeare.  The phrase, often coined as being an expression of ‘existential despair’, or in less literary terms, a ‘question of life, or death’, has become widely quoted (very often comically) by students and adults in all manner of situations. Rarely however, is it used to describe the slightly darker context within which Shakespeare penned it.

It’s been in my head.

I write in an attempt to somehow pin down the darting shards of unfledged thoughts and feelings that fleck the walls of my brain every time this quotation smashes against them. This question of living or dying is particularly potent for those whose legs dangle over the sea wall of contemplation; eyes alternating between the storm tossed ocean of addiction and disorder, and the dark, unending tunnel of recovery.

Neither side is alluring,

sea stormThe ocean is cold and squally. It’s so very tiring just trying to stay afloat. Your life jacket is failing and you’ve swallowed water enough to poison you. The horizon is nothing but pitch black, unknown, perpetual  and when you’re washed into a cave, you have nothing to keep your feet steady on the  slippery algae and the rats that litter and skitter the black rock floor.

In some ways, it makes no difference what your sea of troubles is. For me, it’s severe Anorexia Nervosa, for you, it may be Alcoholism, Bulimia, Gambling, Drug addiction, Perfectionism, Depression, I could go on…

At some point, no matter what we’re suffering with, we have to decide whether to slip under the life jacket, under the

devil_may_cry_4___drowning_by_amoralisch-d5l34px tumult and into the cold, grey peace of the damage; breathing in, suffused with fatal calm as our sickness becomes us.

OR whether we choose to sum up courage and force frozen arms to propel us one more time into the darkness, in the teeth chattering, tiny hope that somehow, at some point, we will be washed onto an unknown shore which MAY, MAY look less bleak than the land we once swam from.

There is, always, a point where we have to face the options. I’ve dressed it up, made a fuss. But it comes down to this.

Sink or swim.

Be, or not be.

One thing is certain, to remain passive, is to choose death.