These few precepts in thy memory/ look thou character

Sharing a room with Dylan has allowed me to feel helpful, something I’ve been seeking, because it partially assuages the shame of having to be here. I don’t feel superior to, or wiser than Dylan, despite being so much older, but, putting aside my book, with an inward sigh, to listen to his thoughts and concerns, sewing patches onto his jeans, supporting his opinions on the situation: all this satisfies my desire to be a useful person. I enjoy suppressing my own worries and concerns so I can focus on him. It challenges the natural garrulity that betrays me, so often, into embarrassing myself. Such self-abrogation feels right and morally healthy, although it probably goes against the principles of therapy. Anyway, I ought to be more guarded: I fear exposure.

I do need to confess what’s on my mind, occasionally, to cement our relationship, but my thoughts need to be edited. Dylan is deeply romantic, so any indication that my relationship with Jo might be under stress, for example, seems to threaten and upset him.

These talks are beneficial for me, too. I’m aware of that. Being forced into company re-socialises us, as I’ve mentioned before. You become terribly anti-social, misanthropic and solitary as you descend into the pit of your eating disorder. I think as your mental functions become more primitive and limited, it becomes increasingly difficult to process the mass of data that other people, those most complex of organisms, represent.

As various writers on Eating Disorders have pointed out, therapy is an opportunity for sufferers to keep food and weight gain at arms’ length. You tell yourself you can postpone the challenge of eating while you sort out your head (see, for example, Carrie Arnold’s Decoding Anorexia, 2013, London: Routledge, p14.) As part of a therapy that prioritises gaining weight, it makes sense to be encouraged (gently) to engage in the normal behaviours that you will need once you’ve returned to society, and to do this while you’re recovering. I suppose each part of the process should reinforce the others. Still, it’s exhausting; it strains our poor, labouring, overtaxed little brains.

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