Another advantage of anorexia was that it didn’t matter what people thought of me. If they thought I was self-absorbed or disliked my shtick, they could go and fuck themselves. Unfortunately, an anxious sensitivity to other people’s opinions has come creeping back. Dylan’s recovery has made him a lot more active and noisy and he sometimes gets on the nerves of another patient, Kim. If she makes any critical comments, his response is, “Well I don’t fucking care!”, which I think suggests that he does care. Very much. He wouldn’t have, a few weeks ago.
Starvation also stopped me, at last, from being so fidgety. Before I was ill, I used to spend every minute of any activity clockwatching, desperately yearning for it to end. For no reason. Even if it was an activity I enjoyed, I needed to finish it and be on to the next thing. I lived in a state of permanent unprovoked impatience. I only sat down during rigidly scheduled rest periods. When I became ill, if I allowed myself to rest, I could sink gratefully into a warm, cushioned lassitude and allow my mind to scud over the surface of what people were saying. Rather than being desperate to bounce out of my seat, any enforced stillness – meetings, bus queues, concerts, trips to the cinema, became opportunities to snatch a quick, restorative snooze. That passed the time.
Jitteriness is pretty universal in Ascot House, so much so that one of the many rules is that we’re not allowed to jiggle our legs during workshops. It’s distracting, but we’re also such an untrustworthy bunch, that the care assistants can’t be sure that we’re not trying to burn off extra calories and that it won’t flare up into excessive stair climbing or walking around the garden (Horrors!)
Kim claimed, yesterday, to have “Restless leg syndrome”. We’re very keen on syndromes, here. I think we can’t quite believe our own problems. We think we’re putting them on, causing a fuss. Named conditions help us to explain ourselves. Our families reassure us that we’ve gone a bit mad, and the desire to acquire syndromes is, itself, not a sign of wellness. Still, it feels like we’re putting on airs.