At Ascot House, you’ll remember, workshops always begin with a “Check In” at the beginning and a “Check Out” at the end, where we each say how we’re feeling today. In contrast to the outside world, the standard response, here, is to hang your head and mumble “like shit” and “still like shit”, respectively. This is because we feel like charlatans and have to justify all the fuss we’re causing.
We’re indulging in behaviours that, perversely, take a great effort to maintain, so we ought to be able to snap out of them. It’s just a case of eating a little more. That’s easily achieved, surely? Instead, we persist, causing terrible trouble and suffering to all sorts of people, and costing the overstretched, underfunded NHS a hell of a lot of money. It’s nonsensical, and self-indulgent. The demand for places in Eating Disorders units is enormous. The media is littered with stories of people who weren’t deemed ill enough to deserve treatment, yet here we are, pampered, allowed to spend our days wallowing in self-absorbed misery.
To say you felt fine, then, would be a terrible and exposing admission. Why have we put everyone through all this, if it’s all a nothing that could suddenly evaporate? Why take up a precious place?
We are always whimpering, “But I shouldn’t be here. My bed could be given to somebody who really needs it!” We want reassurance that we are genuinely mad and in crisis. We spend a lot of time saying soothingly to each other, “Don’t worry, you really are a fucking nutter. Seriously. There’s no mistaking it.”
There was a Berger and Wyse cartoon in the Guardian, recently, that depicted a doctor striding into a room saying, “I’m afraid it’s rather serious.” The delighted patient is replying, “Thank God! I worried I was just wasting everybody’s time.”