The Narrow Road to the Far North

So we dither and we brood. We prevaricate and we dig in our heels. And, meanwhile, meals and snacks appear with alarming regularity and the staff stand over you, in the nicest possible way, to ensure you eat them. Anorexics always think, “I just need to sort my head out and then I can start eating properly”, but the reality is that you need to be better nourished to start thinking straight.

After a while, a span of days filled with sullenly champing jaws, I thought, “I can’t stay here forever. I’m in limbo. I need to get out.”

I discussed this with my room-mate, Dylan. We think that the most effective way of escaping is to embrace the programme, throw ourselves into the therapy, meet each challenge head on. The exit, out into the sunlit streets of freedom, is past all this stuff so it’s best to put your head down and charge through it, trying not to think too much. Ascot House promises a cure for an illness. There’s undeniably something wrong with us, but if you resist the therapy, if you won’t even try, you are admitting that you don’t want to be cured. Why not just try it out? If you really can’t cope with recovery and weight gain, you’ll have plenty of chances, when you’re discharged, to take it all off again. We, of all people, know we can do that. (although, if I do, I’ll be single, childless and jobless, and probably confined to a hospital bed with a drip up my nose). No individual meal is, on its own, a pivotal moment, an unsalvageable catastrophe, a mortal sin. You survive each eating experience; nothing very terrible results. Changing habits are what makes the difference. Or so we tell each other, pleading for reassurance.

Accepting challenges and surviving them feels like progress. Unfortunately, that means refusing any challenge at all feels like a loss of momentum. The therapy team soon worked this out and exploit it. They come to us and say, “Dylan, Xan, we’d like you to try eating a bucket of chips this lunchtime. Come on! It’ll be Great!” and we say, “What?! No! wait! I can’t…*sigh* alright…, where’s the damn bucket…”

Then they say, “and we were thinking, on Thursday, you might like to press your faces into a bowl of lard…”

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