Jo has noticed that I’m thinner, though I’ve gained 100 grams since I weighed myself last week. On bad/ good days, my arm muscles have dwindled to slightly curved sheathes, covering the bone, and my fore-arms are mapped by veins which stand out like slack worms. My wasted thigh muscles feel the strain of every action, even just bending over (although this strain feels like a small, significant achievement.) I can often only muster the slowest stagger on my run, like an old man wading through a lake, feeling all my muscles, even my facial muscles, wanting to sag in exhaustion. At ominous points, as I cross roads, my strides just dwindle to a halt. Rest catches up with me in a delicious warm blanket, as if it had been trailing in my wake, blown back by the headwind and now it envelops me. I’m proud that I can simply start up again.
When I feel particularly undernourished, my legs have a tiny tremor; then, when I speak, I have to strain my voice simply to force the tepid, languid air to leak through my vocal chords. Often, as I run I seem to be wearing a leaden harness, attached to ropes which constantly pull me backwards. I have to lean forwards, trying to use gravity, to make a constant effort, merely to walk down the corridor, or even to stand still without collapsing. At work, my body grasps so gratefully at any moments of rest that just stopping and leaning against a desk feels like being ensconced in the comfiest armchair, and I want to stay there all day, observing the passing world. The only way to overcome this feeling is to force myself to stride around, building up a momentum, repeating the mantra “momentum = mass x velocity”, as we learnt in our physics lessons. And, yes, since you ask, the maddening loops of pointlessly repeated phrases and counting seem to be trying to seed themselves in my head again, and I’m having to actively weed them out, to stop myself when it starts. The constant sense of fevered anxiety is back.
I even experienced difficulty swallowing a few days ago. I wondered whether this was caused by weakening peristalsis as my body feeds off its own digestive tract muscle. Seems to have been psychosomatic, though.
In other words, I’m happily cultivating my starvation. Each of these afflictions seems like a signal of success, of something achieved, of progress; something to preoccupy myself with as I wait for dinner time.