At first glance it might seem that I am just a happy, normal girl who loves to bake and walk her dog. However, I have suffered with an eating disorder since I was 13. It was only in May 2014 when I realised that this Voice in my head was slowly but surely trying to kill me. And so began the long, hard, and painful journey which is recovery...

I want My Cocoa Stained Apron to be a special place...a place for reflection, memories, shared stories...and of course a little bit of cocoa-staining ;) Recovery might be the hardest thing you ever choose to do in this life. But it is also the bravest and best decision you will ever make.:)

Friday, 13 October 2017

The Step

A few things prompted me to write my last post; compelled me to speak out about the pain and frustration and the agony of what is the longing to completely let go, but yet, simultaneously, being so intensely, paralysingly afraid to do so. It's a fear which is as numbing and as real as that when you're about to leap out a plane; stepping right out into thin air with nothing but the parachute upon your back. The very thought of that single step is enough to freeze your very blood out of fear.

But it's the mind that's the worst, here. It skips ahead of you and paints such pretty pictures, of you falling through the endless nothingness of the sky's infinity, the scream being ripped from your lungs and the cold air hissing violently through your ears. Imagined catastrophes wrap themselves around your mind's eye, so that you're unable to see anything else. Images of you falling through space and breaking your body upon the awaiting rocks below; of you, just falling and falling forever, with nothing to hold on to save the memory of what it once was like to be upon solid, firm ground.

And so, with these images having anchored themselves like heavy rocks upon the seabed, you suddenly declare to yourself you can't do it. After all your plans, all your preparations, all your courage mustering; all your best intentions. Now all of those just lie in a useless heap upon the floor, reminding you of what you see as your failure.

But I cannot do it. 

I can't overcome the fear.




But, I ask you now, is it the thoughts of the fall or the actual step which bites into you the most?

I'm telling you now, it's the actual step.

There's enough strength in each and every one of us to achieve anything in this life that we set our hearts to.

Including recovery.

It's just the fear that stands in our way. The fear and the doubt.

But doubt and fear killed more dreams than failure ever did.



Thoughts and doubts can kill. My story is living proof of that. I look back now to when it all began. It wasn't any external factors that caused me to move onto that distorted, polluted road which was Ed's; a road full of poison and damp soaking holes, a road which slowly caused my body to break up just that one bit more with every single hateful, yet irresistible step. No. It wasn't any living person, any physical thing that caused me to become ill with anorexia. Rather it was the Fear, and the Doubt, and the Thoughts. The Thoughts that ED implanted within me, and forced me to nurture. Thoughts that I wasn't good enough, wasn't pretty enough, wasn't cool enough, wasn't skinny enough. The thoughts that in order for me to have the slightest chance of making friends and losing some of my inherent ugliness, I needed to lose weight.

Later, the thoughts were of similar lines, and equally just as deadly. Thoughts that I deserved to die and that starving was the best course of action to achieve it. Thoughts that to gain weight, I would be repulsive; and the world would reject me. And many of these still linger with me now. Deeply ingrained beliefs, as obstinate and unmoving as the most deepset, heaviest boulders of sheer granite rock.

But.
I cannot, this time, let the doubt and the fear take any more of my life away from me, for any longer.
I've already lost alot of years to my eating disorder, through the fears and doubts Ed created within my fragile, vulnerable mind.

But.
Now is the time for me to fight back.

Now it's about recognising that those deeply ingrained beliefs which I mentioned above are not so deeply ingrained that I do not have the strength to budge them. To push them away and set myself free. To take that step out of the plane into the Unknown. The Unknown which is true recovery.

Yesterday morning I took one such single, tiny step, one which to many might seem trivial and irrelevant, but for me resembled something more of a triumph. For a good while now I have reverted to being fixated on having 100 ml max of milk with cereals in the morning. But today, on approaching the fridge to take out the bottle. I wondered. I wondered if I could make it more. Whether I dared to push aside the fear and pour that bit extra in the jug.

No, screamed the Voice. No! It'll fill you up too much! Because if you have more milk you'll have more cereals, and you'll blow up like a balloon! You won't be able to have as much later on! Don't you dare, girl! Don't you dare! 90 mls in that jug, that's ALL! Don't you dare!

I won't, I answered, timidly, but then stopped, pausing, thinking of the last post I had wrote.

And that's when I realised..
It's only a fear. A stupid, irrational fear.
What need I fear of just a bit extra milk???

Milk is good for me, right? I have osteoporosis. Osteoporosis = my bones need all the calcium I can get. Ditto.

And before I could ponder it for any longer I had seized the bottle and poured it out and added the cereal and then....

then I ate.

A tiny victory, but at the same time, it felt good. It felt good to be a victor for a change. Becuase for a while now it seems ED has been smirking an awful, awful lot, at my apparent inability to increase my meal plan that wee bit more.

But I know I can't just stop here, now. I need to do a bit more than that. The "milk victory" felt good but that's not where this thing is going to end. There's alot more I know I need to do here.

If I really want to gain this weight...no, let's pause and rephrase that.

If I really want to be healthy. To get my periods back. To silence the Voice once and for all. To give my bones the best possible chance to be as healthy as osteoporotic bones have the capacity to be.

I dug deep inside myself, searching for answers, the iron hard truths, the impermeable facts that neither time or force can change. Why? Why am I really afraid of being a higher bmi? It's not a case of physically not being able for it, after all. I've put myself through the gaining weight process a number of times. True, not with a target of this higher bmi(s) in mind, but it was still very much an intensely difficult, grueling process which takes an exhausting toll on both the body and mind.

I'm afraid to gain and reach this bmi because...


  • I'm afraid of what my body will be like. I am afraid that I will hate it. I feel ugly now at this current weight and I am convinced that, at an even higher one, I will feel completely repulsive and vile.
  • I'm afraid that then, people will see me as completely "recovered" (if they do not do already) and assume I no longer need any help and support to beat Ed.
  • I'm afraid that, if I increase my meal plan again, I won't be able to stop eating 4000 + calories on having reached the target weight, and will just keep on gaining and gaining.
  • I'm afraid, yes, of facing the physical and mental unpleasantries of gaining weight good and proper again. The screaming anxiety, the horrendous bloating, the constant declarations of "you are fat, Em" resounding through my head.


There are more, I know; but those are the main ones.

So now I have to gather my own weapons; prepare myself for ferocious war, once again. War with Ed. I'll retaliate his list of no you can'ts with a list of my own. Oh yes I f***ing can, Ed.

I'm currently reading Life without Ed by Jenni Schaefer. One of the most crucial aspects to recovery from anorexia that Jenni identifies is distinguishing and constructing your own voice, separate from Ed's.

So here is my own voice. Speaking loud and clear, now.

I need to gain this final bit of weight....because...


  • Wake up, Em, and face the reality here. You have serious osteoporosis. And you know all too well that your period ain't gonna come at this weight. No good drifting on and pretending it's all ok, because it's not. You may not have taken your consultant's advice back then. But take it, now. And stop closing your eyes to the truth.
  • By gaining this final bit of weight I will be able to fully restore my health. All those other parts of the body damaged from over a decade of anorexia. My nails and skin and internal organs; my concentration, my memory. You might not be able to see the internal damage, Em, but you know all too well that it's there. 
  • I won't feel so tired and listless and lifeless all the time. Gaining these final few kilos will give me the energy to laugh and smile again, to live.
  • And last but not least. It will be in my best interests to get my weight up for my new job in February. It's by no means an office job or anything like that, by the way - it's quite a physical job in which I will be on my feet alot of the time. I'm not saying I'm an unfit person, but I'm not exactly what you would describe strong and vigorous, either. But, to get my weight up beforehand, will mean I can work at my very best, physically and mentally.


So now I have some new goals, new priorities. Which I am going to fix right in my head, now. Time to step up to the plane door, take one deep long breath, and step out.

That terrifying step...
But one I need to take to save myself.
Because one day this plane I'm riding will crash, and burn; with me, along with it.

Time to go, Ed.

Time to go.

I'm gonna take this jump and you're not coming with me. This time, you stay behind, old friend.

This is my own step, which I alone can take; for myself.

For me and for my life, and for all that recovery stands for.💗


Yesterday I finally plucked up the courage to approach Mam and ask her for help. I told her everything: my current struggles with Ed, my aspirations to try and gain a little more weight and my fears around having to do so, and my difficulty in dealing with people's comments as regards my current shape and weight.

Mam listened as I knew deep down she would. And it felt, right then, that the enormity of taking that huge, overwhelming step had lessened.

I know Mam can't take this big step for me. But to know she is there - ready to give me that gentle, yet firm push forwards whenever I can feel myself faltering - has given me so much comfort and has made me feel both safer and braver. Now I'm ready to jump without once looking back. My courage roars defiance in my breast like a lion facing the retreating hunter with his net. Oh yes, ED. I'm ready, now. I'll be your captive for no longer. 




Thank you, Mam. I dedicate this post to you. 💖💕💗 



Thank you also - SO much - for everyone who has commented and wished me well over the past few weeks. Your words mean so so much. I am honoured and humbled by your sincerity and thoughtfulness. Thank you 💗

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Letting Go...

So here are some facts.

Some facts about Emmy Snelgrove that the world does not know, or see.

But these are the cold hard truths that press down upon my shoulders each day, as heavy and as grey as the severe, ice-capped mountain, and equally just as bleak. If not more. There is beauty in that mountain, but every inch of these facts are ugly.

I am 23 years old, though looking at me, some might think I'm alot younger.

Yet despite having the outer semblance of a girl, I have the skeleton of an old woman.

I have osteoporosis.

I don't get periods and I never have done. Sometimes,when I lie awake in the darkness of the night, watching the twilight patterns upon the creamy ceiling of my room, I wonder if I ever will. Whether my ovaries have simply given up, or have been permanently damaged through years of restriction.

And of course. I've had anorexia for 11 years. For eight of those years I was significantly underweight; for the most part of that eight, severely so. And then, for the other three. Consisted mainly of my weight bobbing up and down like a slung yo-yo upon a tight string.

So those are some facts about Emmy Snelgrove.
The facts that she doesnt want the world to see, but yet, at times, feels like screaming out loud. Especially to, well, you know. The oh you look well or healthy comments.

I'm currently maintaining between 41.8 - 42.5 kg.
Meaning that my bmi is around 17.7 to 18.

I suppose, for some people, this bmi's ok.
But I know deep down for me, it is unlikely that it is. As I type, I remember my consultant's parting words to me. On my last meeting with her, within the mental hospital's stifling grey walls.

I would advise you, young lady - given the severity of your osteoporosis and total absence of periods - that you get your bmi to above 19, preferably 20 or above.

I had smiled meekly and nodded my head. I was listening, but not to her voice. A different one inside my own head.One which, as soon as those numbers had left my doctor's mouth, had aroused itself, a restless wraith awakening from a fitful sleep.

19.
19!!
Who the f*** does she think she is, Em??
Don't you worry, Em. You won't listen to her. She clearly doesn't have a clue what she's talking about. 

There's no way on this earth you are going to let yourself gain until you get a bmi of 19...
And 20?? You'd rather die, right.

And I had listened, and agreed.
With Ed, that is. Not with my consultant, with her many, many years of experience and knowledge, working with and treating those with eating disorders.

A couple of years later, and here I am.
Wishing, once again, that I had chosen to listen to someone else; and not the ever-spouting wisdom of ED.

But. At least now I have the strength to say I can get beyond the minimum healthy bmi, if I choose to.

I know I can do it. If I just let myself do so. It's just the letting - the letting go - part. It's just - so bloody - hard.



For me, the fear of letting go now is akin to that I would feel if I were hanging off the edge of a cliff face overlooking the sea: under which, raging waters churn and roar, more fearsome than a wild beast.

My fingers are latched in a white knucked grip to this cliff edge to which I've  been attached to for as long as I can remember. And yet despite the fact that this hostile crag has torn me and broken me countless times, I still have this fear of letting go. The sea below is so dark and terrifying, as unknown and as frightening as the blackest abyss at the furthermost corner of space.

But somehow -

sometime -

I need to realise that it's long past time, to let go.



And so this is the meal plan that I've been studiously following, ever since I got back from Spain in late July.

Your thoughts. What do you think about it? It's true to say I like this particular eating schedule very much - the variety of foods, the frequency of the times that I eat, the inclusion of all the foods which I love and the exclusion of those that I don't. But it is enough to gain the final bit of weight that I need?

Given my current lifestyle, I don't think so.
I walk twice a day with my doggies and go for the odd cycle sometimes down to the local village. I don't sit around. I'm a busy girly. So I guess this is why I am maintaining on this instead of gaining.

Breakfast

  1. 100 ml milk + cereal (usually Weetabix or ready-brek)
  2. 1 slice spelt/wholemeal toast + spread
  3. 30 g cheddar cheese
  4. 2 tbsp peanut butter
Morning snacks
  1. Half a multigrain/wholemeal bagel + spread
  2. 1 egg, boiled or poached
  3. Handfuls of sunflower seeds (I dont really measure them)
  4. 30 g mixed nuts
  5. Milky hot chocolate.
Lunch
  1. Chicken/tuna mayo salad with spinach, vegetables, tomatoes, roasted peppers and dressing.
  2. Banana/apple/melon
Afternoon snacks
  1. Cereal + 50-75 ml hot milk
  2. toasted crumpet + spread + 1 tbsp peanut butter.
Dinner
  1. Main course: varies depending on what we cook but it's usually the basic protein + carb + veggies
  2. My all-time favourite dessert: chopped banana, lots of hot custard, and a bar's worth of chocolate on top with the odd cadbury's chocolate finger or whatever's going begging.
Bedtime
  1. Milky hot chocolate.



I have a few ideas of what I could do to make it better; if you have any, please do feel free to share them here. Hearing the advice of my readers really has helped me so, so much in the past and continues to do so, every day.💗

But for now, I'm going to sign off, and focus on what I have to do. The thing I want more than anything else in the world, but yet of which the mere thought of strikes real fear into my heart like a knife blade been thrust through flesh.

Letting go. One of the hardest, most painful parts of recovery. But let go, I will and must.

I have to face the pain and the fear now, or spend a lifetime having to cope with a different pain; the pain of regret.

The regret of knowing that I could have changed things, but chose once again to hold on, and put off.

But now it's time to let go.

Let go I can, and must.


Friday, 6 October 2017

The Final Autumn.

How I have always loved this time of year.

Walking in the forest through carpets of leaves; carpets which are richer and more breathtakingly beautiful than anything ever devised by the human hand. A treasure trove of natural, unspoiled beauty; ripened and matured like a perfect mellow peach fruit in high summer.  Coppery leaves interspersed with gold. Blood red berries and primrose yellow needles upon every sprig of the larch tree. Autumn swirls around like a twirling dancer, bringing vibrance and colour to everywhere she touches.

But she's a different dancer to Spring. Spring lingers to gently nourish her craft, to tend the delicate buds and make them open, to caress the dew-soaked ground in order to make the sweet new flowers grow. Autumn, though, does not pause for a breath. She breezes through those woods to the tune of the winds that she makes blow, winds which are no longer warm and raise a goosebump upon unprotected skin, or which make the scraggly flowers that remain upon the ground shiver and curl further in on themselves, as if striving to protect those petals that remain. Delicate. Oh so delicate, like me. Like the flowers I watch and wait for the inevitable. The transition which is long awaited and dreaded at the same time.

By and by the last leaf will drop; branches, once so bountifully adorned, will be bare and skeletal, clawing a clay-coloured sky with their bony, outstretched fingers. The rich copper carpet will become brown and dull, littered with tiny, broken flower petals and stems. The Change had to come. It was already here. And now Winter has solidified that change, meaning that what was once so beautiful and sweet, is now gone.

And now that is how I feel now as I prepare for the Inevitable Change.


For what was beautiful and sweet to me will now soon be gone. The life at home which I loved; the life at home, which I knew one day must end.

But maybe this is for the best.
I knew that, one day, I would have to leave my beautiful, sweet home.
The home where the conifers grow closely together, their branches forming a tunnel of jade-green branches.
The home where the ebony blackbirds call their sweet songs.
The home where the leaves of the maple tree fall and grow. Grow and fall, in an endless cycle of change.

And for so long, this was me.

I'd grow a little, but every time I'd always fall down.
Over and over and over again I'd repeat this endless cycle.


Home. The home that I loved. But it was here where I did something wrong.

For home is exactly where, for years,
Instead of noursihing my body and allowing myself to grow,

I nourished and sustained a monster.



I've made my decision, for now.

I'm going to go to Shropshire in February. I'm going to go there with an open heart and an open mind because I know - deep down- that there's a good chance that this is going to be a job I love. And if I get there and find I'm really struggling, then I can always come back home. At this point in my recovery, I know myself well enough by now to be able to tell when I'm relapsing.

I've also decided that I'm going to seek therapy once I've started earning. Last night I googled therapists in the nearest big town where I will be based (Shrewsbury). I was pleasantly surprised at the availability of counselors in the area there. And I felt an unfamiliar sense of power and control. To know that once I was there I would be taking steps to tackle ED right where he stands. To know that this time, I would not be alone, and would be given further tools to help me win this fight.

But, even until then, I know that it is imperative that I give this battle every single thing that I have.

I've got a few ideas about how I'm going to do this...


  • Talk to Mam about how I'm trying to gain a bit more weight, because I know then she will help me and give me a boost of support when I need it.
  • As of yesterday I started my beautiful new recovery journal, which I am going to set aside a designated time each day to write in. Opening up the brand new hardback yesterday to examine page upon page of unblemished, unmarked whiteness gave me a refreshing sense of renewal. It seemed to signal the beginning of something new; the rekindling of renewed motivation. With a few things. Motivation to gain weight and motivation to recover. To get myself fully and completely back on track. And to have courage and be more positive, and fight the depression as hard as I am going to tackle ED.
  • And of course..I am going to blog a bit more regularly and write out all my thoughts, goals and endeavours on here (regardless of whether they're successful or not.) Hearing from my readers has always been a source of enormous help and comfort to me. I can't even begin to thank you enough for all the comments over the past few weeks. You might not think that they were of any great significance, but I can honestly say that your comments and support mean the whole world and have got me where Im standing today. <3 
  • I also am going to try out some other forms of self-help, namely meditation, which I have never properly done before and really want to try out for myself, and also reading recovery-focused self-help books. I've a list of a few which I really want to try out. I'll make sure to post my thoughts about them on here about each one.


So now I have to look forwards, beyond the winter, beyond the cold and icy pain.

Because beyond the pain and sorrow at having to leave my home behind, I know that there is a new chance, of a new and beautiful beginning. A chance to find myself in a new place. A chance to grow. Like the tiny flowers laid down by the winter's cold, I know that I can grow upwards. I just need to seek out the sunlight, let it pour over me, allow myself to be strong and whole.

And like the darting swallows that return every Spring, I know that I will come back here. The good bye need not be forever.

But I have to give this new seed a chance. A chance to grow, and blossom.






Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Crossroads of Thorns

My head was revolving in slowly spinning circles. I could hear a voice on the end of the phone line, but the voice was distant, echoey, as if I was standing in a long, high tunnel.

Deep inside me floated an immense bubble, a bubble of what could only be described as elation, and excitement. It floated tentatively towards the surface, awaiting to be pricked or even burst with the force born out of exhilaration.

But burst it I did not. That bubble floated, lingered, and then quietly, ever so gently, fell back to the ground, to become no more.




This was the afternoon following the telephone interview that had resulted in me being offered the job in England. Now I think this gives me the opportunity to clarify up things a little here. The past few months I have been applying for jobs right left and centre. The main reason being my Oh-god-I-have-to-please-them mindset had gone into overdrive. I had tossed my old plans of local part time job and therapy aside, committing myself to a new course of action. I was driven. Applying for jobs gave me a buzz from knowing that by doing so I was proving a point to others. Because deep down I know I did not want to enter the working life straight away. But. I was applying because I wanted to prove to everyone I was trying.Then no one can say I'm being lazy and sponging off others. Then noone can say I'm wasting time and money by simply devoting to therapy for the year.

And yet even as I painstakingly filled out application forms, I don't think I really heard the voice of my unconscious mind.Im going to apply for all these but I know I wont get them. I just have to try. Try to get a job and prove to everyone that I'm trying. 

I wish - very much - that I hadn't chosen to do it, and had instead heeded the advice of my readers, urging me to follow my heart and focus on myself.

But no. I had to please others again, didn't I?

But let's get back to the story.

And so, yes, the afternoon after I was offered the Shropshire job for February. I received...another phone call. I had had a Skype interview for this one earlier last week. The job? Santa's Elf. All the way over in authentic Finnish Lapland.

Now, when I saw that job, I knew I had to apply for it. The thought of me, dressed in an elf suit, leaping around singing christmas songs and welcoming rosy-cheeked children to a winter holiday resort was one which I could only describe as magical.

And so I applied for it. And was offered an interview. Still hadn;t really hit me, then, that they were actually, properly considering me. In my head, noone could possibly ever want to hire Emmy Snelgrove. I mean, what was there about me, I had thought, that could possibly make me stand out amongst all the others? They're all talented, they all have skills, experience, qualities which I could only ever attain in my wildest of fantasies.

Why would they employ me?

Useless, dumb, pathetic Emmy Snelgrove.

This was what I whole-heartedly believed. And still do, but, for a different reason. I was offered the job.

And yet, as with the apprenticeship in February, now as looming and as ominous as an overhead raincloud...

I find that I'm so scared to do it.

Santa's Elf. Oh god how did I want that role. But where have the bubbles of excitement gone?? Now all that remains in the fear, and the doubt. Heavier and more crushing than a water logged blanket, pulled right down over my head, encasing me in the darkness. So dark and heavy I want to suffocate. I want to scream and shout and cry like a neglected child. I don't want to go! But I do - just not - not now!! Argh!!!

So many reasons...to go. But then, so many reasons not to.

The concern in mam's eyes when she saw how scared I was. Her gentle words, telling me that if I dont want to go, its ok. You can stay here and be with us for Christmas Emmy. But I dont know how to advise you, because you really wanted that job so much.

The wording of the contract itself, repeating over and over in my head in a monotonous, droning voice. It spoke of the challenges involved in working such a harsh and bitterly cold winter environment, and that employees must ensure that they are physically and mentally able for such challenges.

Well. Am I able?? My weight's ok. Depending on which way you look at it. My bmi's just shy of 18. People tell me I look well. No stranger could look at me and see a girl who has had anorexia for half her life.

But most of all, the one thing that is holding me back, is the fact that to go away for over a month over Christmas would mean that I have hardly any time left at home. Hardly any time left with my family, hardly any time left here in the place which I love. Hardly anytime to prepare myself for February, if I go. Hardly anytime left to focus on myself before I enter the working world.

But I mean...I've been trying and saying for as long as I can remember that I will dedicate myself heart and soul to my recovery. But still I seem to put it off. I need a therapist. I know I do. But I can't afford one.

Decisions.

Oh God I hate decisions.

I feel like I'm standing now at the most dark and hateful of crossroads. Thorns beneath my feet standing where I am now, digging into me. Im bleeding and want to escape the pain, but I dont know where to turn to, now. I don't know which way to go to escape the pain; or whether which way, will just bring me more thorns and pricks in my side.

I just don't know which way to turn.




Friday, 29 September 2017

Commitment

Commitment. It's something that I, several times in my life, have possessed. A dedication; to various different people, different causes. I remained committed to my studies at Trinity for those five difficult years, despite the fluctuating state of my mental and physical well-being and the ferocity of the storm raging inside my head. I committed myself to studying for my Leaving Cert, so driven I was by my dreams of success, and the prospect of Mam and Dad being proud of me. And I steadfastly committed myself to Daisy when she was too scared and afraid to eat, coaxing her to take food from my open hands and making her realise that here, with me, in her new home, she was safe and need not fear the cruel hands which had beaten her, ever again.



Committed. It's something which I tentatively hoped that perhaps I was good at essentially being. But now I find myself struggling to commit to that one other thing; one which, for as long as I can remember, I've let myself brush to the side.

My recovery. I see it now as the equivalent of wandering across a vast, arid desert. In the desert there are mountains which rear up tall and steep, but which at their very tops hold oases. But you have to climb in order to reach those beautiful green spaces. And then, once you're done, you shouldn't just stay there. You look towards the next mountain, mount it, and carry on.

But for so long now I have seen the oases; seen, but never approached. They beckon to me, glittering emerald-bright in the golden rays of the sun, but as I gaze upon them I see the climb, and think of the struggle and the pain inevitably involved in reaching their summits.

And I recoil with fear, and resume on, on along the same flat, featureless, bleak desert path. One which just leads on and on across this endless dry landscape, flanked always by those soaring mountains. Each one of which I see, and smile at wistfully, before shaking my head and moving on.

I never struggled to commit to the loved ones in my life. Or to my studies, to concrete things which I believed would make others happy, or which were helping me to achieve the greater good, which I thought would bring me happiness and success. But recovery is a different ball game. The ball was passed to me long ago in 2014, and since then I've been running with it, running but failing to fling out with my hands and cast the ball into the net to score a goal. I haven't dropped the ball and I dont think I ever will. But neither have I scored, for a long, long time. Sometimes I think I'll play on forever. Forever until I die.

Yesterday I was offered my first real job.

Not a five week thing, no. This was the real, real thing. I would be based in Shropshire and England and would live on site and work six days a week. I would be due to start in February.

I did not expect to be offered this job, by any degree. I just saw it, fantasised about it, and sent off the application without even giving it a second thought.

But then the company got back to me. I had an interview, and was offered the job.

But as soon as I put the phone down I was blinded by hot, stinging tears. I ran into the kitchen, where those two beloved doggy faces peered up at me, piercing me to the very soul with those deep brown eyes. I knelt by their baskets and sobbed and cried until there was no tears left.

Why was I crying?

Because I want that job. It is like the dream job that I always wanted. But I do not want to leave home, leave familiarity. I dont want to leave my mum and dad and my dogs. I dont want to leave Felix and my beautiful garden with the rustling eucalyptus tree.

And I guess, yes, that I am afraid.  For another reason.

Because I know that I'm not recovered.

Because I know there's a good chance I could go backwards again. Barcelona was proof of that.



More than ever this year I wanted to take some time for myself, focus on recovery, focus on myself. It was my first chance after five years to do this.This year would be the year. The year I'd smash ED for good and forever. The year I'd show the world what I was made of, and find myself, find the real Emmy. And then, said the beautiful fantasy in my head, I would be ready and able to take on the world, find the job that I loved, find love, find happiness. All as a healthy, recovered, girl. The girl who fought anorexia, and won. And not just a half recovery. Half recovery isn't recovery. Half recovery is half a life, and that's not what I want, or have spent so long fighting for.

But several things have got in the way of this beautiful ideal. The unintentional pressure placed upon me by others. The reality of the job situation in Laois, where part time jobs, especially for inexperienced people like me, have become something of a rarity. But most of all it was myself that stood as the biggest obstacle in my way. As usual I felt this desperate need to please; to prove to others that I was strong and no longer weak, that I didn't need help, that I was the girl who had "sort of" recovered.

And now I feel as if I have become lost in the desert, lost, to the point at which I haven't the faintest clue of where I'm going or how I'll get there. I want this job. But, I do not want it now. Now I want to be able to commit myself, wholly and completely, to recovery. Yet even as I write those words I know that that, too, is not completely the truth. I'm scared to commit to true recovery. Scared of what others will think, scared of what my body will be like, scared of no longer being with ED.

Strange.

Strange how those two things that I want more than anything else to commit myself too, are simultaneously, what I'm so intensely afraid of.

And I know I only have a limited time to decide.

Decide whether to commit to that job or not.

Decide whether or not to commit to true recovery.







Friday, 22 September 2017

The girl who would not bleed

They won't hurt me again. I won't ever, ever let them break down my walls. I'll be guarded and careful and keep my heart wrapped up tight in swaths of stifling cloth. I typed the words furiously, fingers rapping against the keyboard, tears streaking down my face to land in messy plops upon the surface of my laptop.

I will not bleed. I won't let them. From now on it's me and noone else.

No sooner had I written the words though I knew that I did not mean them. Because truth is I'm a girl who is naturally open and honest and warm. A girl who loves intensely and deeply and craves to be loved in return. A girl who realises that she needs to let others in, needs those others to help her carry her forwards, to reassure her that she can bare that heavy, heavy cross.

And it's not them who make me bleed, anyway. Rather, it's me. I'm the one who is making myself so hurt and torn inside. It's me after all who controls my response to events; who chooses how to react to that comment, who makes a decision to take those words right to the heart.

It's me who has the power to say I will not bleed. I won't let myself, not them. And Ed. Always Ed.

For he's the one who scored gashes across my heart, broke it so deftly with his cruel, nimble fingers. And so many times. So many times that I have lost count.

But now I say. No more, Ed.

I am the girl who will not bleed.

Yet even as I write those words again I cannot help but grimace at the irony set deep within them. Of course, that's just what I am too, literally speaking. Yes. The same girl who has been told on numerous occasions that she looks "healthy" and well, and yet, the same girl who has still not had one single period. She literally will not bleed. Is it wrong of me to wish that the world would just keep its comments to itself?

But no good saying all this and writing it. No good just saying that oh, yes, I will be strong and no longer let ED cut me open. I now need to take concrete actions in my life; actions which will bring about the physical and psychological changes that together constitute what I see as true recovery.

And even as my heart lies in bloody, shattered pieces, pulsing upon the floor, I still hung on to my tattered shreds of hope.

That's what'll keep me going and which will drive me on. On and on as the thunderclouds broil thick and heavy, and the rain slashes down upon my face.

I will get through this. I'm stronger now than I ever was before.



And so, I am going to conclude this post with some real, concrete actions, to move forwards.

Because action is power. And hope, and that refusal to give up, could well be my greatest ever strength.


  • Get into the habit of checking my weight once a week again. No more, no less.
  • Learn how to deal with the much dreaded,  you look well.                                                        Ah, the agony of  that so simple little comment; three short words in a single sentence, a sentence which has the same devastating power as a massive avalanche would crashing down upon my head. It was something, those days when I was very underweight, that I wasn't of course at any point faced with, at all. Back then it was you need to gain weight, Emmy. Something that deep down I wish people would say to me now. Because I know in my heart I should be trying to gain weight. It's no good trying to convince myself I am "healthy" and well at this current weight at which I am at. People may not know it, but I know that it is the truth. The fact that I will not bleed is enough evidence for me, for that.                                                    But to learn how to deal with this comment is something of a crucial matter for me, given that my inability too in the past has nearly caused me to go completely off track, even, relapse. Late last summer I could not sit and eat a meal without hearing that lady in the library's voice reverberating through my head. Telling me that I had a chubby face. That's only one of several instances in the past in which I have been sent tottering on the edge as a result of that simple little comment. 
  • Write a list of the Cold Truths. I think this is something that we all should try to do in recovery, as it can serve as a bit of a wakeup call if you find yourself drifting. I'll share my own in my next post.
  • And I would like more than ever now to commit to some kind of therapy. Though the problem is, though - no point trying to deny it - to even endeavour to do so is in itself something which I find myself reluctant, even scared, to do.                                                                             Why?? There's a few reasons, really; some of which are totally illogical; others, maybe not so. I'll talk about this very shortly.
  • And now more than ever I need to conquer my remaining fears. I need to feel the fear and do it anyway. I'm currently reading the book by Susan Jeffers, the title of which holds a lot of resonance for me. As soon as I started to read that book the sparks began to fly off the pages. I realised everything Susan was saying was so directly relevant for me, or for anyone in recovery. Feel the fear and do it anyway. It's ok and normal to have that fear. Everyone does. But the difference is between people who succeed and don't succeed in conquering their fears is that the successful people say to themselves that they can handle it. And so. Now I repeat that same sentence over and over in my head. I can handle this. I'm the one in control. I have the power to overcome ED. 
And the girl whose heart was bleeding and torn in two will stand up, now, and despite her wounds and scars will keep on going, on and on, with the sunrise directly in front of her.


Monday, 11 September 2017

Soul Searching

So I looked at the numbers. And yes. I am, strictly speaking, underweight by a couple of kilo, going by the whole science of bmis, if you can call it that. And when I stepped upon those scales and saw what it was I experienced a range of different emotions. Surprise at first because ED had built it up so much in my mind that I had definitely gained alot since I last checked it. And then - no point in trying to deny it - relief. Relief that I hadn't gained, because since going to Spain and coming back, there has been no further progress in that regard, really - in fact in Spain I was eating less than I do when I am here at home - and the thought of having put on weight while actually eating to gain was enough to freeze my very heart with fear.

So, there was that. And I thought - stupidly thought - that seeing those numbers which I both longed to see and yet dreaded, would be enough to set myself straight with my recovery path again. Or rather, in keeping with my previous post, not set me straight but set me climbing upwards, with a fresh sense of purpose blossoming in my mind. But at the moment I feel as if I am stuck fast in the mud, as opposed to wading resolutely through it. So many different thoughts crowd thick in my head, suffocating and stifling, clogging up my brain like sludge caught in a pipe. What are you doing? Why don't you gain weight? Why are you still eating? What the f*** are you going to do next, you useless, hopeless girl..

The only thing that I can say for myself is that I am still eating. The same amount, day in day out, sometimes that tiny bit less when my resolve weakens and I want to throw in the towel. But every day I feel like falling backwards and giving up, I remind myself of what's at stake here. My bones and my body. My fertility and future life.

At least it seems I have conquered just one of my old demons. That being my former turning to restriction on the days when I feel depressed or upset, or that everything is pointless. The past few weeks, I have had a few of those. Arguments over ED with mam and dad, or over my lack of enthusiasm, so it appears, about what I want to do with my life, with my future. And then I experienced something which I can only describe as the tearing of what was, for me, a slender, beautiful hope. It was needle-thin all along, anyway - as fragile and as delicate as a paper-thin sliver of the finest crystal - but to experience it, to catch that tiniest glint of something so exquisitely, indescribably beautiful, only then to have it ruthlessly torn away from me as the sea rips away the tiny shells from the rocks, was enough to tear my own heart, right in two. That beautiful hope now lies broken upon the floor, shattered spectacularly into a million tiny shards, shards which cut me and make me bleed even as I try desperately to pick them up.

Why are they so..so cruel? I wanted to weep in anguish. Why did X say that stuff if he didn't really mean it? Why can't Dad understand why I am like this, having lived with my habits and compulsions for over eleven years?

All I want to do right now is curl up in my little bed and sleep. Go to sleep singing that Avicci song that I love, of which a certain line of lyrics hold so much meaning for me. Wake me up when it's all over. Because right now I don't want to be awake in this fear-filled, never-ending mess.

But despite these crippling feelings I know I will go on. I will. When mam and dad had gone to sleep last night I went into the shower and turned on the water full blast. Stepped in and let the damp warmth seep all over me. Stepped in and felt the tears trickle down, as steady and as sure as the water dripping down.

And then I sang another song to myself, and by the time I step out of the bathroom and slip towards the stairs leading to sleep and oblivion, my body and my eyes are dry.

I'm all alone,
But finally,
I'm getting stronger...
I didn't know what I had to do,
I just knew I was alone.
People around me, they didn't care.
So I searched into my soul.

It might take me some soul searching before I figure out what to do and where to go from here. But I know I will. I will fight this thing or die trying. A life spent fighting for my recovery is surely better than laying down my arms now and surrendering to the demon's crushing jaws.