Writing The Rustle of a Wing: Finding Hope Beyond Anorexia has been both a challenge and a chance to take something good out of the misery inflicted by my anorexia. I want it to reach out to sufferers, those that care for them and also professionals involved in treating this wretched addiction.
There is such a stigma surrounding the diagnosis of anorexia, as there is with all sorts of mental illness. This makes it harder for sufferers to admit they are struggling rather than facing the embarrassment of admitting their problem. Being reluctant to accept a diagnosis means sufferers become more unwell because they are not receiving treatment to stop their illness or addiction.
I do feel that many mistakes were made in my treatment. I shouldn’t have been kept with my hands bandaged up and force fed for months without any kind of psychological support. I really hope that eating disorder professionals see how wrong that was and that nobody will be subjected to so much misery again. Equally, I recognise that I was extremely resistant and I am embarrassed by a lot of my behaviour. I like to think I am not like that now.
Throughout the last seventeen years, I have put my family through hell. Anorexia puts so much strain on relationships and ultimately you chose to do what your illness wants over anything else. I hope that carers reading the book will feel empathetic when reading the extracts from my parents. It is heart-breaking but that is how strong anorexia can become in a person. They lose sight of those around them and it is a selfish illness.
I don’t know if reading this book earlier along in my illness would have changed anything, but my hope is that it may help sufferers to turn things around before they get so completely entrenched by anorexia. Even if it does so for just one person, then writing this book will have been worth it. On a more personal and perhaps more selfish level, writing has released a huge amount of pain and anger. I now understand why professionals made the decisions they did in regards to my treatment and for that I am very grateful.
Anorexia is an ugly illness that turns beautiful people into shrivelled skeletons. No one would choose the life of an anorexic, which is why I find “pro-ana” ideas so devastating. As it develops, it robs you of more and more of your ambitions, love for others, and self-esteem. Anorexia has ruined my life and put me and my friends and family through enormous sadness. How that could ever be desirable I do not understand.
I am in no way suggesting that others should follow my actions, but taking a radical risk saved my life. It could have killed me, but it was worth giving it a try. I am not remotely recovered but my condition is stable. I know I will lose my life to anorexia eventually, but I take each day at a time and so far it’s working. I do feel very sad that life has turned out like this when I had so much potential, but I can’t ever see myself recovering. On good days I hope it could happen, but on difficult days I just wish I would lose my life to it already.
Every sufferer has a different story. This is mine.
Sophia Gore has suffered chronic anorexia nervosa for the past sixteen years of her life. During this time she has had various approaches in regards to treatment, some of which were taken voluntarily, but the majority were involuntary and administered under the Mental Health Act. Her book, The Rustle of a Wing, has been difficult for her to write, but also liberating in that it has allowed her to let go of the resentment that she had always felt towards enforced treatment, and to consider it in a wider context. It has been an opportunity to release some of the shame that so often accompanies anorexia, and which needs to change in order for sufferers developing eating disorders to confront their issues before the condition becomes much less treatable.
Reviews and Endorsements
‘This book is a generous and valuable legacy offered to all professionals involved in the treatment of eating disorders. It is also a courageous admission of a state of mind that can destroy your life. Sophia is a strong and brave woman to have written it.’ – Dr Ursula Harben, UK Council for Psychotherapy
‘Sophia’s account of her 16-year battle with anorexia is an eye-opener for anyone who thinks anorexia is just about someone who won’t eat.’ – Hospice volunteer, London
‘Sophia relates the history of her terrible illness with honesty and courage. To a doctor, her words are a powerful reminder of the impact of what we do in the name of treatment. For me her story is enormously sad but not without hope. And in that way she has something important to teach us all.’ – Dr Sarah Cox, palliative care consultant
‘An agonising indictment of anorexia treatment in Britain today.’ – Meg Rosoff, novelist