Enforced Socialisation

Inevitably, the dalliance with Violet went nowhere, and Dylan was more aggrieved and wounded than seemed appropriate for such a slight, brief friendship. Violet appeared oblivious to Dylan’s sadness, which made him feel even more abandoned.

Our reason for being in Ascot House was to gain weight and to be supervised while we did it because we couldn’t be trusted to do it on our own. This was supposed to restore to us the energy and the mental resources to tackle our eating disorders[1]. We spent our days in the lounge, in a frowsty stupor, wrestling with our internal demons. The management insisted that the television was always on, presumably to distract us and to stifle the nasty, though listless, cabin-feverish feuds that would break out from time to time. I couldn’t concentrate in there, so I’d seek refuge in the cooler, quieter Art Room where I could write my diary and early drafts of this blog.

Dylan would join me in there. He feared solitude. He said, “when I’m on my own, there’s nothing to stop the bad thoughts.” He was an excellent companion. He’d sit quietly scrolling through his phone, shuddering the table with his constantly jiggling foot but otherwise allowing me to work. But I’d become such an anti-social little scum-bag that I found his presence increasingly stifling. I needed to be alone. Solitude and singularity were the terms in which I defined myself. Spending time with people, interacting with them, seemed to erode my sense of self.

This frustration would build and build inside me. I’d become more and more sensitive to his presence, until I thought I might leap up and burst out, “Go Away, Dylan!!” I’d fiercely suppress the urge, locking it inside myself. I’d consciously embrace his company, and, suddenly, the sensation would evaporate, the way you can sometimes swallow a sneeze, or the urgent sensation that you’re about to be sick. I’d think, “no, actually, Dylan’s a good kid. I value his friendship and his company.”  Then the frustration would start to build again.

I don’t think Dylan had any idea of the drama and turmoil occurring, in cycles, in his companion’s breast. If he did, he’d have had no time for it. Quite rightly.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is how Dylan unwittingly helped to rehabilitate me.

  • Footnotes:

[1] See Carrie Arnold’s Decoding Anorexia, 2013, Hove: Routledge, pp87-89, for a good discussion of starvation’s effect on the brain.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s