“I would that I were…”: only half in love with (the idea of) easeful death.

I spent a lot of mornings, in my early days at Ascot House, lying awake, toying with the notion of simply evaporating (fading far away, dissolving and quite forgetting.) It’s an idle speculation that sometimes floats into my mind when things seem tedious or exhausting, as a way of bringing them to a close. It’s not clearly imagined; it’s simply a habit of reflection; a way of looking at the world.

I lack the drive and energy, perhaps the solipsism, to follow up on the conception. I’m just one of those people who thinks, “Bloody Hell, I’ve left my ID badge at home, again. I can’t be bothered: maybe I’ll just kill myself.” Anyone who imagines self-slaughter as the solution to their sheer bloody laziness is unlikely to act on the ideation. But don’t tell me I’m alone in it! Admit it, you do it too!

I think it is also a response to a feeling of helplessness, the sense that you are simply not up to the tasks of living; that you are not adequate. When I have these thoughts, I’m imagining giving up. I am getting down on my knees and bending forward until my forehead touches the cold soil, but without getting funny looks from passers-by, or wet knees and forehead.

My friend Cath has a condition which causes her to fall over. I forget its name. (With us, there’s always a justifying condition, always a name.) Sometimes she just clatters to the floor, but if she feels the faintness coming on, she lowers herself to the ground in preparation. Sometimes you stumble on her, literally, in the hallway, quietly stretched out, face down, with her head on her forearms. She is throwing yourself on the mercy of the world. It is a form of communication. It is an attitude of surrender.

But I don’t have such a condition. I am more restrained.

There’s a fury in her that I lack.

The days here seem particularly endless and full of tension and people. For some reason, the television and two separate radios have to be left on all the time, by management diktat, so you’re constantly assailed by feverish, contradictory gabbling. It doesn’t help, here where men sit and hear each other groan… where youth grows pale and spectre thin and dies; where but to think is to be full of sorrows…

Without the structure, the strict timetabling, and the SMART and urgent targets, of an eating disorder, your whole future existence seems much blander and more aimless, its pleasures watered down; its passions mild and aqueous. You slump, uncorseted, in your chair. It’s difficult to know what to be up to. Life isn’t pointless or joyless, but may be vulnerable to becoming so. You seem doomed to spend eternity wandering over a wide and featureless ocean like some pot-bellied and jaded Odysseus, or the Wandering Jew. Oed’ und leer das Meer. I guess I’ll just have to sit it out. Enduring is what we’re good at.

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