Jo drove me back to the horribly familiar North-Eastern Road House, and accompanied me to see Abi and another social worker. We were ushered into the neutral tones of the usual pre-fabricated office and I began to explain to them how I had relapsed. Abi interrupted me, saying something like, “We both know that your anorexia tries to lie to you about exercise”. I felt alarmed at this: I’d brought up my disordered thinking precisely because I was trying to acknowledge it, but now it began to dawn on me how seriously other people might take my condition. I tend to doubt the severity of my situation, but Abi seemed to feel I needed quite an aggressive intervention to sort me out.
Jo said she felt I’d never fully recovered from my first bout of anorexia. Abi said “That’s right. Last time, when I brought up starting the signing off process, you insisted on stopping straight away. Normally we’d work on techniques for how to combat relapsing, but you just wanted to stop.”
At this point I experienced one of reality’s little betrayals, those shifts in the ground beneath my feet, because this isn’t how I’d remembered this conversation at all. I’d told myself Abi had brought up the idea of signing off, although she’d said it was up to me to decide. I didn’t remember any significant mention of techniques to combat relapsing, but I knew those anyway. I, keenly aware of how overstretched and underfunded the NHS is, felt Abi must want to bring my treatment to a close, and I felt that my recovery had hit a fallow period, anyway, so I opted to just stop.
In retrospect, though, Abi was right: I was too eager to stop treatment; the fact that everything continued to be such a chore should have been an indication that I was still under-nourished. I think, in the back of my mind, I’ve always known that anorexia wasn’t finished with me. I thought it was an inherent condition, and would just have to be managed. I hoped it was weakened enough for me to stay in control, but I knew we hadn’t grubbed the roots out, and I was almost treasuring my ability to eat badly, in case I needed it, nurturing the last of the disease like a plant cutting, in my treacherous brain.
And then, frowning severely, Abi declared that the only option she could see for me was either full day-care or in-patient care.
I almost wept with relief and gratitude. I said “That’s exactly what I want.” Jo intervened, saying she thought in-patient care would be the only option because if I came home in the evening I would definitely exercise and cut down on my food.
Later that same day, Abi phoned and said she’d secured funding and a place for me at Ascot House, a specialist Eating Disorder unit, starting the following Tuesday and that I didn’t really have the option to say no or I’d lose it.