Tag Archive: Will To Recover


It’s very, very difficult to describe the mental torment that can suddenly twist itself in and around the brain of someone suffering with an eating disorder. I’ve struggled to find the words.

You can perhaps imagine the immensity of my relief when I stumbled across a talk given by an American doctor called Laura Hill. I was searching through TED, looking for interesting talks. when I first heard her. I was amazed when she began to describe ‘the noise’ in MY head, when I am faced with choices about food. I had that overwhelming sense of awe and relief and terror that you get when somebody describes your innermost, thus far unarticulated, maybe even unformed, thought traces… You know the one, right? That whole ‘strumming my pain with his fingers, singing my life with his words’ thing?

What she proceeded to do blew a hole right through me.

She had a tape recording of what she called ‘the noise’. The noise experienced / heard by an Anorexic whenever they have to think about selecting food from a menu, a supermarket shelf, a fridge, freezer, list or lunch bar. She played this raw cacophony of voices, a medley of ordinary conversation, accusatory interjections and deeper inner ‘voices’ commanding, bargaining, questioning.  Listening to it, I feel as though she has somehow wired up my brain and translated every thought, every voice, every snippet of inaudible agony, into words and sentences. It’s the chaos of the calories, the constant mathematical equations, ratios, percentages that need to be calculated in order to work out how much energy is allowed, or NOT allowed. The numbers that fly in and out, unable to find a carpet of reason on which to rest, the foods that fall into the red, the orange and the green zones of safe and unsafe foods; the protein, the fat, the carbs, the fruits; whether I’ve been more active or more sedentary; the form the food takes…. All these factors dart like pinballs across the Anorexic’s mind, making a noise that you could drown in.

It’s noise of the kind that you might expect in the psychotic mind. Noise that, for me,  doesn’t stop unless I make the decision to abstain.

And then

silence

complete peace.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0M-lbItSqk

I tried to put together a video using Dr Hill’s sound clip. It’s not brilliant. I’ve never done it before… But it might make someone else feel understood… or give a little insight into what is happening in the mind of a loved one as they try to pick a snack, or a meal.

It might help somebody understand why it is so very difficult to recover. It’s not just as simple as ‘eat’, because just thinking about eating invokes the noise.

What I have tried to do is to argue with this noise, shout back at it, reason with it… But this is rarely helpful and I have often resolved to skip the food in the desperate rush to close down the clamour.

What I am now trying to do, is to allow the noise to exist without giving in to it. Allowing it to happen but still allowing nourishment of some kind. I hope that the practise of this will eventually afford me a ‘quieter noise’, a lower volume if not complete peace. One day, perhaps they’ll research this illness more and find a drug which will block out the noise and the panic, but for now, I will continue to work towards recovery despite the noise.

Does anybody else identify with this? If so, what helps you and how do you deal with it?

In my last post, I borrowed the words from an old hymn to use in a metaphor for ‘the will to recover’.

I wanted to highlight(no pun intended) the importance of keeping that will alive, making it flare up and then harnessing it to use as a source of power and light as we progress on the dark journey towards recovery.

Not easy when the illness or addiction is playing King in your mind and all will and all incentive is laid prostrate before it, bent and unable to muster so much as a whisper of it’s own volition.

GasGaugeEmpty

Anyway, as I thought about my last post, I was nagged by the thought that it’s all well and good writing about keeping our oil topped up; keeping our willpower alive; maintaining the hope for recovery and keeping that spark that drives us clear and strong…

but

what IS the oil…  and WHERE do we GET it from?

I started to question how I fuel the drive towards recovery, and wondered what I needed to use more of.

And I came up with these:

  • Prayer

  • Mindfulness exercises I was taught in hospitallight-tunnel-01-220x130

  • my family

  • friends who are ahead of me on the journey back to a future that looks something near normal

  • allowing myself to risk dreaming of what ‘could’ be…

  • Music – Particularly songs with lyrics which inspire me

It might (or might not) be useful to think of things to turn to as sources of power when you feel like your will to make it is running dry…

I wondered, if it’s not too personal,  if anyone had any that they would share?

You never know, your oil could help to fuel someone else.