To cure us, they feed us up. That’s the main thing. Anorexia generates the very anxiety it then, like some diabolical snake-oil salesman, offers to assuage. It just needs to get its foot in the door to start that destructive cycle. With me, it was exercise and a low fat, healthy diet, both of which became excessive. According to Abi, research on recovering anorexics suggests that if you can simply restore the sufferer to a healthy weight, their thinking becomes much more rational and constructive. That’s why she put me on those ghastly collagen shots the first time I got ill but couldn’t put on enough weight. Those vanilla flavoured pots of oily liquid with the vile after-taste were little shots of pure calorie, pure weight.
But our initial vulnerabilities still exist and we need to understand ourselves and fortify ourselves against relapse, so, to retrain our feral brains, at Ascot House, they used to herd us in to the “art room”, where we had workshops.
We’d trail listlessly in and scatter around the central island of tables, always sitting in the same place, growling and whimpering, gnawing on bones, crapping in corners because we don’t understand how the litter tray works. (Metaphorically, metaphorically!)
Actually, those of us who had gained a bit of weight fidgeted, gnawed our lips, looked stricken, jiggled our feet, wrapped our arms protectively around ourselves, stared morosely at the table to avoid each other’s gaze. Those of us who were new to Ascot House, and still critically underweight, slumped in our chairs, dozing, unable to find the energy to move a single, limp muscle.
We had quite a few different workshops, with different titles. There was (alphabetically)
• Body Image,
• Dealing with Anxiety,
• Living with Emotions,
• There was something very frightening called “Motivational Chair”,
• Motivation for Change,
• Open CBT,
• Radical Acceptance,
• Values-Based Living
We got a right old going-over, psychologically.