top of page

Poems about Recovery

We are so excited to share the work of two very talented poets: Rachel Cleverly and Ananda de Jager.

If you're a writer and would like us to feature your work, get in touch! 

I Dribbled Victory On The Pillow

 Rachel Cleverly

A new study reveals today that medical students receive less than two hours of training on eating disorders over four to six years of undergraduate study […] Surveying all medical schools in the country, it finds that the average teaching and assessment time on eating disorders in undergraduate courses amounts to just 1.8 hours, and one in five medical schools do not offer any training on eating disorders at all.

BEAT, 2018

Our first dinner I didn’t eat all day

I promised myself I would finish my plate

the same as anyone else would eat

I chewed my last bite

slurped down the sauce

his knife and fork entwined

wished I saw his meal more

half empty than half full


                   And are you sticking to the meal plan?


He told me to tell him everything I had done

I vomited birthdays film plots my writing

over the floor of Tesco Express

twenty-seven hours of therapy

got stuck in my throat


                   Part of me wishes

                   you had a BMI of **

                   so I could

                   legally force you

                   into hospitalisation.


He asked me to look up bars

made a bad joke about me having nothing to do

found it funny I got a job waitressing

never seemed to work


                   The ward offers patients this programme

                   as a means to acquire early leave,

                   but once they have left we lose all control of them.

                   They miss their initial assessment,

                   are never seen again.


Our third date I poured white wine into the grass

of an outdoor cinema when he asked

if I empty glass

wanted more

I whispered yes to the dark


                   A normal diet consists of

                   a normal breakfast,

                   a normal lunch,

                   a normal dinner,

                   and snacks.


He drank a pint of milk each morning after a run

exercise is forbidden

dairy makes me cry


                   I am here.

                   I am expressing concern for you.


He texted tonight it’s you, me and halloumi :)

I cried through my morning sessions


                   I have been around a lot of anxious people,

                   they’re not nice to be around.

                   You are. You hide it so well.


He was holding up bottles of mixer

Full-fat or Light

I leaked I don’t mind

he turned his hands over

shifted them up and down

sloshing the fizz

front to back

front to back

Why does it say Light

when they weigh the same

he laughed

my mind bubbled


                   I want to apologise on behalf of me and Dr Thomas

                   we didn’t realise how bad things had got for you.


He stood in my kitchen

pretended to get gin from

down the stairs

but fluid was never his thing

it appeared his shoulders had been

un     hinged


                   Upon finishing the programme

                   you will not qualify for NHS funded psychotherapy

                   for a minimum of six months,

                   at which point you must rejoin the waiting list,

                   which may take up to a year.


His tongue tasted bloody from what he tried

he told me he found photos where you could see

sky through my thighs and cried


                   The state of the NHS is ridiculous.


Sipped the brown from my tea


                   You’re only twenty-two.


Last week he asked

Is there anything you haven’t told me?


                   And still no periods?

                   And still no periods?

                   And still no periods?

                   And still no periods?

                   And still no periods?

Rachel splits her time between writing and worrying: she graduated from University of East Anglia's Creative Writing MA in 2019, and she has developed work with BBC Radio, Rich Mix, Apple and Snakes and The Roundhouse. She has been shortlisted by Bad Betty Press and A3 Magazine, and published by Ache Magazine, Lucent Dreaming and the UEA Publishing Project. She currently works in arts programming, and lives in London. You can read more of her work at

Hand Drawing

Poems of Recovery

 Ananda de Jager

Ananda is a writer and mental health advocate from The Netherlands, living in Brussels. She published her first book, 'Poems of Recovery' this year,  and also works as a mental health advocate, promoting the power of vulnerability at events and workshops. You can find her on Instagram @anandaaaa.

And as I touched my skin

I realized

This is the body I will be in

This is my home

- Take care of your home 

My jeans are getting tighter

But my eyes are shining brighter

My thoughts are getting lighter

I always knew I was a fighter

- Fighter


To be able to

Have ice cream with your daughter

Lunch with your father


Burgers with your brother


Breakfast with your mother


And if you have a son


You can tell him that you won


- The why

If you found this helpful, you might like...


Practicing Self Care in Recovery

When you have an eating disorder, self care is uncomfortable, but vital


No Such Thing As "Sick Enough"

Mimi Cole writes about the importance of validating 'subclinical' disorders


Connor's Story

Men get eating disorders too. Let's start talking about it. 

bottom of page