Workshops (In the Historic Present) (Not Santa’s…)

Like the 1:1 therapy, the workshops encourage us to scrutinise ourselves and our responses to situations, rather than focussing on externals and assuming our reactions are natural and inevitable.

It seems counter-intuitive to be told to indulge in even more of the behaviour that we’re so ashamed of, but I guess everyone starts their trains of thought from assumptions, born of their experiences, that they are hardly aware of, and that dictate how they are going to react to things. One of mine might start “Given that I’m a useless, barely tolerated gob-shite …”, and might lead on to all sorts of unfortunate consequences, such as my tendency to be bloody rude, because what the hell do they care? It’s only little me: what impact could I possibly have?

In the workshops, we’re encouraged to ask “How exactly am I reacting? Why am I reacting like this? Is this the only way to view this situation?”, but it’s difficult to make this self-monitoring habitual and automatic, especially if we are in the middle of one of our all-absorbing-completely-trivial-to-everyone-else crises, when we resort to brain-freezing panics. We need practice and repetition. That’s where the similarity of outlook between workshops helps.

Take, example, the various attempts to re-socialise us because we’re basically feral. Anorexics are rubbish at people and this largely stems from our extremely low self-esteem (which is probably a causal factor in the development of our eating disorders, but is then massively exaggerated by it.)

So we have workshops on self-esteem, run by the psycho-therapists, that directly address our disdain for ourselves, then we have “Assertiveness” group, mainly run by the Occupational Therapist, Nicola (A.K.A. “The Re-socialiser”) that aim to teach us how to re-integrate into normal society and remember how to act normally. When we’re ready, this leads on to trips out, in groups, on our own with a care assistant and, finally, proudly independently, choosing and eating our own snacks unsupervised! What triumph!

And all this is underpinned by the engine of the re-feeding programme chugging away in the background: the rhythm of the kitchen producing meals and snacks, the call to the table, the bleak, quiet struggle to eat, sitting hunched at the bare, pine tables, gazing out over the damp, autumnal garden, strewn with sodden leaves, the stagger to the lounge to collapse on the sofas, where we’re monitored for an hour, the almost immediate repeat…

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