I weigh myself once a week, on Sunday mornings, and my honest, actual, true weight is 49.8 kilos, which makes my BMI 16.6 and off the bottom of the red band on the scale. No doubt you hard-core dieters think that’s nothing, but it probably accounts for why I’m once again experiencing the old, familiar feelings and weird, inverted and contradictory thinking. The sense of satisfaction and achievement at my weight loss, for example, mild but undeniable, is a warming current beneath the surface of my generalised confusion and alarm.
Why am I doing this now? Well, my weight has been gently coasting down ever since I was discharged by the Eating Disorders service. I guess part of the reason I’d gained weight was to please them and not get into trouble, so, when I was discharged, my anorexia, suppressed but unvanquished, felt liberated and free to treat food exactly as it wanted.
Perhaps, now, I’m hoping for a proper medical collapse because it would be an undeniable demand for help. I fantasise about responsibility being taken away from me by health-care professionals: para-medics, specialist nurses cluster around me attentively. I could give up, relax, be fed, relinquish my panicked, convulsive, tyrannous grip… I’d be forced to eat, be supervised to make sure I did eat.
And it wouldn’t be too bad, would it? Because the power of the addiction to starvation lies, as it does in most addictions, not in the strength of its demands, but on their persistence. Because, no matter how many individual battles you win, the desire to restrict and control is always still there, gently persuading. In moments of distraction you make the wrong choice. Then wrong choices get easier and easier to make, until, in the full flowering of the disease, each wrong decision becomes almost instantly habit-forming, like quick setting concrete…
But hospitalisation is an impossible solution: I’d have to cause, or at least risk, very serious damage to my health, perhaps even a heart attack, to get it, and none of my plans work if I’m dead.
Last night it dawned on me, properly, that this condition is fatal. It could kill me, one day. Perhaps in my sleep; perhaps dropping dead on a run. Is it possible to stop the down-ward slide? Can I do it myself, because I haven’t so far, and clearly have no inclination to?
I don’t feel, though, that I can call on Jo for help. She’s far too busy to focus on my melodramatic collapse. I feel ashamed to set my self-inflicted and attention-seeking difficulties against her extreme, work-imposed stresses that aren’t in any way her fault or what she wants. While I’m making myself ill, she’s rising, with astonishing resourcefulness and industry, to all challenges, for the sake of her family, because she is our bread-winner, because I’m deliberately making myself unable to pull my weight.
I shouldn’t complain. I find looking after Jo, and not focussing on my silly problems, very rewarding. She’s our prize-winning race-horse and it’s my job to keep her in race condition: curry-combs and hot bran mash!
So, anyway, I guess I’ll just have to get better by myself. I AM NOT GOING BACK ON THE COLLOGEN SHOTS!!