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.:)

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Let the Flame become a Fire...

Every day, in both our natural and human worlds, change unfolds itself in striking, dazzling colours.

Trees don their lush green summer foliage as the detritus from the previous year decays beneath their roots, absorbing into the forest floor to nourish the new generation of the most minute forms of animal life. Young fledglings spread their wings and take that crucial leap from nest into air, finally stretching those tender wings, feeling the wind against their feathers and learning what it is to be able to fly. And then there are the human changes; changes in the lives of human kind. A baby is born and is cradled in its mother's protective arms. The young girl grows up to be a woman and feels sensations beginning to awaken inside her; sensations which are strange and overwhelming and yet irresistible in their potency.

But for years I felt as if all these changes were set apart from me; that I occupied a world in which everything remained still and static. Yet this world in which I remained entrapped in, like a limpet in its shell, rested tantalisingly close to that other world of change and progress and maturing. Every day I would peek out of my shell and look upon it, watching, seeing, witnessing, this universe from which I had been inevitably excluded. All those changes flickered past my eyes like moonshadows upon the surface of a rippling sea: beautiful, aesthetic, almost fantastical in their exquisiteness.

I watched my friends and loved ones grow, grow like the fragile new shoot growing upwards to sprout leaves and tender buds, buds which open to reveal the most breathtaking flowers which shine and glow like scattered diamonds against black silk. And seeing these changes would always strike me to the very heart. Because everyone, everything, was changing; yet I remained the same. The only change that had happened to me seemed to be that one, long over a decade ago, when what had been a young, innocent, blissfully happy little girl left behind the untainted landscape of her childhood, entering a realm in which innocence was corrupted and which all sense of self-worth which she possessed was smashed into tiny fragments, like a delicate fluted glass being shattered upon a hard stone floor.

And in that realm a darkness awaited, to which she duly advanced, submitted, and was lost.

And for years that's how things remained. No flickering candle burning in that darkness; no glimmer of rosy pink light, paling the permanently shadowed horizon.

But then upon one day a tiny spark was alighted. A spark which tentatively, weakly, gradually became a flame.

That single flame burned steadily, diminishing and strengthening alternatively by turns.

But never once did the flame surpass a certain attained level of brightness. It was a flame, not a fire.

But then something changed.


For me, 2017 has been different. 2017 has seen, for me, some concrete, palpable, tangible changes.




But yet despite the progress that I have made, I know there are still so many things that remain unchanged, and which I want to change. And even though I yearn for this change like the flower longs for the sun's warm kiss upon its outstretched petals, I fear it, greatly, too. I am afraid of being scorched by those rays which have to power to let me grow. The cold and the damp have been all I've ever known and I'm terrified to break free from it.

I'm afraid of letting go of the compulsion to exercise the set amount.
I'm afraid to totally let go of ED.
I'm afraid to leave my home, to be an adult. Afraid to be out in the real working world and to feel the judging eyes of others upon me.
I'm afraid to eat just that little bit more, and get my bmi up to the place where I know it needs to be.
I'm afraid of the change. It looks so beautiful, like a prancing golden lion, shaking his long, flowing mane.

But that lion roars and I flee from him, shaking out of fear and terror.

How do I embrace the change, if I am so afraid of it?

In a week and a half, it is Barcelona. And already I can feel the nervousness building up inside me. Layer upon layer, like a many-ringed onion, ready to burst out at the slightest tentative prick.

Words cannot describe the elation that soared through me when I realised I had been accepted for this job. Needless to say, however, that unsurpassed feeling of pure, raw joy didn't last very long. It was soon replaced by nervousness; and fear. Real, palpable fear that rages inside me like violent ocean currents, threatening to drown me, consume me if I were to let it.

There's so many fears revolving around my fast-approaching placement. A fear of being judged; a fear of being left out, of being unaccepted. A fear of being the loner again who treads the path of solitude. A fear of the challenges which will be posed by this total change of place and routine.

Most of all I guess it's the unfamiliarity; what is will be like, what they will be like, how I will cope with ED and whether he will win out in this strange new environment.

Change.
Over the first part of this year I have overcome so, so much. But now I have reached that certain point; the point at which the flame has never burned any brighter. Can I overcome my fear of this change? Will I be able to go out there and shine in the sun; or will ED creep in again, dragging me down into his shadows?

I have to be strong.
I have to realise and acknowledge the changes that I have faced in the past, and overcome. I never once believed I'd cope with hospital, or would conquer my fears to gain weight at home all by myself. Or that I would possibly get through college while maintaining a progressive and evolving recovery.

But I did it.

In each and every one of us there is the strength of the rising sun and the courage of the golden-maned lion.We can burn as bright as any crimson flame.

And I hope that come next Thursday I will take my own words of strength to heart. I hope that I will be able to walk towards a beautiful new horizon with an open and courageous heart, instead of wrapping myself in the protective, yet suffocating covers of my own fear.

For it is time for me to change.


Early February this year. And now I look at that picture and think, jeez, I'm surprised that the sea winds didn't blow me away in one puff!! πŸ˜–




Over the past few months, I have changed so much and travelled so far. And I know I just can't let the fear and doubt stop me now. πŸ’šxxx


















Saturday, 10 June 2017

Not to run from this fear, but to fight it...

Last week, while Mam and Dad were away, I was an intensely busy girly. With both the house and the two doggies left under my charge, I had my week's work cut out. Not that this displeased me in the slightest. I wanted to keep myself busy; knowing that to dwell upon the house's silent emptiness in the absence of my loved ones would be enough to drive me insane, if I let it.

The day that they left, I thrust myself into my new schedule with desperate gusto. It was a carefully-planned timetable of sorts. Writing in the morning. Walk the doggies at 9.30 am. Mid-morning would be spent pegging out washing and other jobs. After lunch was designated for going into town, when I would hop on my bike and pedal into Mountmellick or Portlaoise, buying a few groceries and necessaries as required, going into my local library for a chat with the librarians and to pick out a book or two.

Then, having got home, I'd hurry out with the doggies again. On returning I'd have my snack and then sit for a bit reading over what I had written earlier that morning. Then the rest of the day would be spent doing more chores and cooking my dinner, before some knitting and then finally, bed.

It was a hard week from the point of view that I felt even lonelier than I usually would - hence my writing of my post about loneliness - but it was the being busy which essentially got me through it. And I didn't fail to notice, at the end of each of those days, the curious ecstatic buzz that I got as I sprawled on the sofa sipping a steaming mug of hot chocolate, and could feel a slight stiffness in my muscles. A feeling which I only ever recall getting, on having done a substantial quantity of exercise. It was akin to that I felt when I hiked the Wicklow Mountains in transition year. I knew it meant that I had done alot.

That buzz. There was no denying that I felt better, even uplifted by it. And I guess that's what's making defeating one of my oldest demons so very, very hard and challenging. Whereas I am fully willing to eat as well as I can - the thought of eating less actually repels me, now - I know I do not want to stop doing my set amount of exercise. The willingness is not there. I'm trying, but each day I find myself unable to do it.

Why did ED have to taint,
the one thing that gives me so much joy? 

And I know why I can't do it. It's because of that feeling - that feeling I get when the Voice in my head comprehends that I haven't done what he regards as "enough". I get as fidgety as I would if I were sitting on a cushion full of needles. I get as anxious as I would have if someone had just shoved an enormous 1 kg steak in front of me, tied me down and told me to eat it. I get as miserable as the dullest December day, grey clouds fogging up every piece of rational sense within my head. Oh my God, Em, you haven't done enough today. You have to do more! Now! When we get in from this walk, you have to go into your room and jog on the spot for ten minutes to make up  for what you haven't done.

But I feel so agonisingly confused. What's right and what's wrong? Whats normal and what's abnormal?? It's just so hard for me, because what I learned about how I should exercise as a recovered anorexic in hospital is essentially contradicted by the world around me, from what I hear and see every day.

One thing that I know is that the secrecy feels wrong. Nothing makes me more afraid then the thought of Mam becoming angry with me, on learning that her daughter does, on that rare occasion, do bouts of jogging in her room for very short periods, all because she can't just let pass a mere ten minutes not completed on a walk. Or the fact that I cycled 30 km last week all in one single day. Having done it, I felt ecstatic, overjoyed, formidable, powerful. But simultaneously there was a tiny, tiny part of me, knowing in my heart that it was wrong. What would Mam and Dad have said if they had known? Would they have smiled at my enthusiasm; or would they have just shaken their heads in concern?

I have to ask myself. Is my body truly ready for this? Am I healthy? No, I've come to the conclusion that it is not so, just yet. I have no idea what my ideal bmi really is, but I'm inclined to wonder as it really is this "magic" number of 19 at which I currently stand.

This is one of the few last demons that remain. But this one has a hold of me and it has a hold of me fast.

I look over the comments of my readers on my last post on compulsion, and they give me a sense of some comfort and direction in this directionless, comfortless mess.

If only I could calm the raging torrents of anxiety in my head. Because God knows I don't want to live like this. I want to exercise. I want to run, I want to walk, I want to climb hills and hurtle along the country lanes on my bike with my hair streaming behind me.

But what I don't want is this constant, niggling anxiety. This Voice which plagues me like a screaming banshee, every time that - because of the weather, because life got busy, or whatever reason crops up during the day -  I don't do what it grudgingly accepts as being enough. 

So.

What can I do?

Should I just go for the easier option of giving into it? Remain at this place; this place of half recovery, that little outcrop upon this huge mountain, an outcrop from which I have never been able to ascend any higher?

But this isn't the way I want things to be.

I want change and I want it now. And change is coming now. In less than two weeks I depart for Barcelona.

More than anything, I need to fight this compulsion right NOW. Otherwise my Barcelona experience might well too be marred.

Certain images often pass through my head; imagined scenarios, so jewel-vivid in my mind's eye. as if they actually happened, or are real. Of finishing work, at 5 pm on one particular day, and being asked by a co-worker to join her for a drink, perhaps.

The girl who is me, in the image, smiles and shakes her head. Her mouth forms the syllables of words which in turn formulate into some sort of excuse. She would love to, but she's ever so tired. She's going to go and have a lie down for a bit. The other worker nods and walks away, leaving the girl standing there. She watches the other go anxiously, beads of perspiration upon her forehead, her heart throbbing like a drum as the lie resonates through her blood.

And then she goes off for a...powerwalk. Because that's what the ED is telling her to do. To forget about being social and to go and do some exercise.

That's not what I want to happen. That's not what I am going to permit to happen, either.

Rather, I have to do something which at one time I never once thought I was fully capable of being.

I have to be strong.
I have to believe in myself and realise that I can do it.
I can beat the compulsion. I have all the tools that I need.

I have the bravery and I have the perseverance. I have the strength. What's stopping me? Didn't I do the unthinkable? Didn't I conquer some of my greatest fears about food and weight gain; fears which at one time, for me, seemed so powerful, so undefeatable, so infinite?

As one of my readers reminded me, I have come too far now to just stop, right here.

The road ahead is as frightening - as terrifying unknown - as the darkest corner of space. But I know I have to do it. So I lift my head up, take and deep breath and carry on.

I don't know exactly how I am going to do this. But I know I have to follow my heart; to shout louder than the demon inside my head.



They say old habits die hard.
I guess that means one has to fight harder than ever to make them die.

So today I created some new rules for myself. Rules which will defy ED's. Rules which I hope will allow me to weaken the final few clutches of his fingers across my throat.


  1. Until I am certain that I am at my healthiest bmi (I am going to take my old consultant's advice, and aim for 20.) , I will not allow myself to run - a form of exercise I have always longed to do, but have never been able to because of my weight - or engage in any other kinds high intensity exercises.
  2. I am still going to adhere to the old rule of the more I do, the more I must eat to compensate. This one actually shouldn't be too hard, as I find that the more mobile I am, the more hungrier I am anyway. πŸ˜‰
  3. On rainy days, or when I am simply just busy. I know I need to be extra strong and ignore the voice telling me to go out and do my usual walk and get soaked, to still go and exercise despite being exhausted etc. And I know that this is going to be the hardest one. The thought of not doing my usual amount now terrifies me, but I know I am just going to have to try.
  4. As mentioned before I fully intend to try out therapy when I return from Barcelona. I really hope this will help me overcome exercise compulsion for good and set me well on the way to full recovery. 
  5. To start focusing on what I really want to get from exercise and walking. To cease seeing it just as how ED sees it - a way to burn calories - and to value it for what it really, really means to me. That being a chance to be outside in the fresh air, surrounded by all the treasures of nature's rich bounty. To spend time with those I love, doing something which I love. To feel the rush of air against my bare skin and relish that feeling. That feeling of being strong and healthy again. That feeling of freedom.




I used to be the prey, the victim. And ED was the remorseless, parasitic predator.

But now the tables have been turned.

Now it's me who is the predator..

And I know that I must seek out and hunt down every last trace of ED..

I will never let him prey on me or those I love ever again.πŸ’ͺ


Monday, 5 June 2017

With hope in your heart...you'll never walk alone... xxx

So having reflected on this alot over the course of the past few days, I've identified a number of factors which are essentially hindering me from attaining full recovery - both in physical and mental terms - from my eating disorder.

These are, as outlined further in previous posts...

1. Obsession with/compulsion to exercise.
2. Loneliness and isolation leading to depression.
3. My relationship with food as it is now. Because, if I was being really, really honest. Do I eat as a normal person does? No restriction, no holding back, no food rules whatsoever?                      
No, of course I do not. I still hold back when I should not. I still have fears about eating too much. I still have set amounts that I do not permit myself to exceed; certain rules which I go out of my way to follow. For example...this morning. I had my usual handful of nuts. I wanted, having finished them, to dip back into the bag of cashews and take out a few more. But I couldn't make myself do it. Same kind of situation last night: I made myself a gorgeous omelette with my favourite roasted baby potatoes and lots of veggies on side. Having munched on a few of these potatoes, relishing their golden crispiness, I realised that I really did want to have a few more. But no. I could not do it. One might lead to another, the voice whispered hurriedly, intent on warding the desire to have more safely away.

4. Uncertainty as to how and what to eat. Being unable to distinguish what is being sensible as regard food choices and what is essentially giving in to my eating disorder. Same goes for the exercise really: I'm unable to figure out what's healthy and ok for me right now.

5. And a sneaking reluctance - yes, I am going to admit it right now, as this is a very important one. To allow my body to reach its healthy set point, whatever that is. I'm at the minimum healthy bmi now, and I am, needless to say, terrified at the thought of gaining any more weight.

6. Feeling very much at the mercy of the constant deluges of the media and the internet about on obesity and healthy eating. It's everywhere and impossible to escape, and very, very hard to ignore.
And Im not saying one should ignore it. The trick is I guess to be aware of it, but not to be so heavily influenced by it to the extent you're sent down the path of self-destruction again. But how to balance healthy eating with non-restriction? It's something I've never managed to do successfully before; everytime I tried to do so resulted in me just losing weight and restricting all over again.

So first things first..the loneliness, something I reflected on in a post from last week.

And before I begin, I just wanted to offer my sincere thanks, to everyone who posted on here and gave me advice regarding my loneliness and my struggles with extreme hunger. Your comments really meant alot to me and I am forever grateful to youπŸ’—πŸ’™πŸ’•

So this is my plan - the first, of many!! 😊- to overcome this old demon which has been haunting me for so long. And too long. I want 2017 to be the year of the change. A change in my world and a change in my life. A change in both my soul and body. The change that will allow me to reach that beautiful pinnacle of full recovery.

Because it's true to say that permanent feelings of isolation and depression served to form a most effective pithole in my struggle along the path of recovery. In a way, it all acted as a vicious cycle. Giving into ED in the first place made me isolate myself, which then in turn made me depressed, and more inclined to give into my eating disorder. This was because I convinced myself that life was not worth living, and that I might as well starve myself. Disturbingly, I know, looking back now, I also clung to ED in the hope that thinness would help me make more friends. Completely distorted thinking, yes, I know. I can see it all now, as clear and as sharp as a glassy glacier, as certainly as the firmness of the ground beneath my feet.

Why are you eating? There's no point in eating. You're a loner, Em. Noone else in the world cares about you.

But now I have the strength to shake my head, whereas before I would just have nodded in submission. I would have pushed all thoughts of eating away from me, ignoring my stomach's desperate, wretched groans.

But I ignored every signal that my body tried to give me. Back then, I was too depressed and broken to eat. I would creep away with my books and papers, staring at endless sentences and words that were as meaningless to me as the intricate patterns of a Chinese puzzle, seeing, but not reading, or understanding. All I could feel was the hunger and that cold, bitter sense of being alone.

But now it is a different picture.

I no longer see not eating as a way to comfort myself in my loneliness. Neither do I see loneliness as a reason not to recover. In fact, quite the opposite.

I know that if I recover - mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually - I will be able to bring about the change that I desire. And the change has already begun, unfolding in shimmering, golden waves around me, trickling its warmth into my heart and very soul.

So HERE is my plan - informed by my own ideas on how to tackle this loneliness, and of course those of you, my wonderful readers! πŸ˜πŸ’š


1. One of the first things that I know I really NEED to start doing is...dispense with the whole I am going to bother her by messaging her line of thinking.                                                            

I do this ALL of the time. With everyone. It doesn't matter if that person is someone who I KNOW could never be irritated simply because I decided to shoot her a message. It doesn't matter if that person is one of my closest friends; or even, my own mam. It's a familiar scenario: I write someone a little message on Facebook, asking them how they are and would they like to meet up for catch up sometime. Then, a few hours later - particularly if the person doesn't respond, or has seen the message but doesn't answer straightaway - I get anxious, fidgety, even afraid.I open up my laptop again, check the Facebook in a state of fretful agitation, clinging to the desperate hope that there will be a little red number above the messenger symbol at the top of the screen. Oh, God, why did I do it? I would groan, furious with myself. Now look at what you've done, you idiot! You just had to send her another stupid pathetic message, didn't you? No wonder she hasn't answered. Why would anyone want to spend time with the likes of you?                                                                                                       So it's true to say situations like this in the past have not done much to help me tackle my loneliness. In recent months, I've often put off messaging other people consequently. The loneliness was enough to kill me, but the fear of "upsetting" others was more than I could possibly bear. I convinced myself, at the time, that stewing in my own isolation was more preferable. 
                          
But now I am saying in a voice as firm as the steel-hard determination building itself up deep inside me. Now it is time to stop thinking like this. To realise that I'm not being pathetic and weak by messaging others..no, in fact, quite the opposite. It's a similar kind of thing, really, in choosing whether to believe ED or not when he's telling you that you're weak and lazy in choosing to eat more and exercise less during weight restoration. But no. You are being the exact opposite. By choosing to defy the Voice and to nourish yourself and rest your body...you are being not weak, but STRONG. And I know that the same could be said for me, in overcoming my demons and developing a sense of my own-self worth.
2.And so with this in mind, I am going to try my utmost best to not hold back from messaging people, trying to organise meet ups and catch ups, or to suggest doing something fun together. I admit, I know I will find this pretty hard. I know there's a very good chance people won't just decide to start answering my messages, just because I've decided to be a bit more resolute and confident in myself. It's true, I can't change that side of things. But there is one thing in my power, to change. That being the way I choose to respond to those no responses.                        
Instead of just jumping to the automatic conclusion that she doesn't care or she's annoyed with me, I know I need to stop taking people's silences so much to heart, and accept that the person in question is just busy. Because I mean, honestly, who would get annoyed simply for getting a message from someone? I know that the people I know would not. As with all my anxieties revolving round food and weight gain, the fear is, really and truly, all just in our heads.

3.I know that it's also important that I work on distracting myself from the loneliness when I feel as if it has become overwhelming. Instead of sitting around letting myself be consumed by the thoughts when they creep in, I know that I'd be much better off actively doing something. Whether that be going out for a blast with my furry friends, ringing my Gran, writing notes for Morokia, or digging out my cocoa stained apron. 

4.Get more involved in stuff in my community. And I'm pleased to say I've made inroads with this: a couple of weeks ago, I commenced my volunteering with my local Brownie (Girl Guides) Unit in Portlaoise. Unfortunately, they're finished for the summer now, but they start up again in September.

5.After the summer, I am hoping to be able to start doing some proper therapy, both for the anorexia and the depression. I know deep down that if I really want to achieve full and complete recovery, I am going to need to seek some professional help. Much as I hate to admit it, my consultant was right all along (as she was about everything!!😑)

6.And last, but by no means least; there is something that I really wanted to tell you about, and which might well need an entire blog post to itself so that I can give you the full details. It's something which, I know, has the potential to be something of a life-changing experience for me, and which I hope with all my heart will help me to further conquer my loneliness and change me, and my outlook on life, for the better.                                                                          
That being....the Ganache Elf finally has a job. A job?? Yes, of sorts. Just a temporary thing - five weeks this July - in the sun-soaked city known as Barcelona....😲





The title of this post is taken from the lyrics of the most beautiful little song that my dear friend Ange quoted in her post comment...thank you mo chroΓ­ πŸ’šπŸ’œπŸ’›






Friday, 2 June 2017

Food on the Brain...

                                No matter what I do, no matter where I go...
                                Those thoughts  are there with me...


In my latest post I talked alot about my loneliness and how this constitutes one of the most difficult challenges in my recovery.

I want next to address this obstacle head on and outline how I hope to fight and overcome this loneliness. But before we move on there's another issue which I wanted to post on here, and which I thought might be relevant for others.

That being the extreme hunger, again - or maybe, to put it in more precise terms, the never ending thoughts of food and constant preoccupation, even when you feel physically full. I've heard it termed before as "mental hunger". You just can't stop thinking about food.

I'm still struggling with this. Not all of the time - it's by far worse in the mornings - but every day I experience it and it's beginning to make me wonder as to whether there's something not quite right here.

Ok, here's a quick recap on where I am at in terms of the "physical" side of things. If we were to go by terms of bmis and all that, I'm weight restored. The last time I checked it - about two weeks ago, at a guess; I am trying my utmost best to avoid those hateful blue scales as much as possible - I had reached the "healthy" 19 mark.

So in the eyes of some medical professionals, I guess, I am now officially healthy. But am I?

But yet there I was this morning, sitting writing to you, and as I wrote my head had felt awash with rippling tides of anxiety. That being because it was only 10 am, and I had already eaten both breakfast and all of my morning snacks. My stomach was bloated and full; as it constantly seems to be, these days. I am forever wearing yoga pants and loose shorts so I do not have to look at it.

And yet I still -

wanted -

more.

Beside me were all the plates and bowls and spoons which had held the foods I had just consumed. Two bowls of cereal, some cheese, a boiled egg and half a bagel with seeds on it. Over two tablespoons of peanut butter, and another piece of toast, then some nuts and a banana. All in the space of three hours.

I'm not going to pretend that this doesn't bother me, because it does. Not just the quantity of food in itself; eaten so quickly, as if I have just come through a four season famine. It's the fact that I wanted - and still want - more. After finally finishing my last cashew, I had sat for ages, poking at the jar of peanut butter with a spoon, longing more than anything to just dive in and take another heavenly mouthful and relish that sweet, chewy deliciousness for yet another time. But the very thought of doing so repulsed me. How could you even consider..? The cruel voice screamed, outraged. You greedy...little...!!

Finally, frustrated and upset, I shoved the whole lot away from me and buried myself away with my laptop, desperate to ward away the thoughts which hover in the background like stubborn flies looking for a space upon which to land.

Why do I feel like this? Wasn't extreme hunger supposed to end on being weight restored?

It doesn't matter how many times I attempt to swat those thoughts away, try to escape them by taking cover. They always find me, and settle upon my shoulders, buzzing cruel laughter in my ears. I'm scared. Very scared. And confused; oh so, confused. What's going on?

Is it because I am not yet at a weight which is healthy for my body - that that "golden number" of 19 (according to them) is in fact too low for a girl who has been underweight for half her life? Could it be possible then that I have more weight to gain and that I should give into these cravings and hunger as much as possible?

Or is it more because...because, I am obsessed with food? On the brink of a binge disorder? Or is there no logical explanation? I'd do anything to have an answer.

Since reaching this "healthy " weight, I have still managed relatively well to not drastically reduce my intake. There's been a few tiny changes, of course. I knew that there would be. The two pieces of toast and half a bagel became just one piece along with the bagel half; the handfuls of nuts became that little bit smaller, the cereal bowls a kinch less generous.

But overall I have been doing ok. But still these thoughts remain. And how I long to be rid of them.

So I decided that my best option was, as it is in most instances, to reach out. πŸ’™

I wondered if there is anyone out there who has experienced this, or is currently experiencing it. I really hope you don't mind me directly appealing for your help, but in the past your support has been indispensable to me, and I hope so much you would be able to help me out another time. Thank you so very, very much and I hope that soon I can move on to actually grappling and tackling these porblmes instead of just talking about them!!πŸ’ͺ

And tomorrow, yes, I shall step on them scales. Only once. Just to check it and see what it is, how I am doing. Then they will be put away again for another two weeks; put under the bed with all the other trash that I don't really want; stuff that I don't have any use for, anymore. Because the day will come when those scales will be like that stuff too. Something that I no longer have any use for.

The day that I am recovered.πŸ’ͺ








Tuesday, 30 May 2017

We are not alone. xxx

God grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change what I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

This is the quote that a dear friend sent me in the past, upon one of the many days upon which I was struggling, and felt like I couldn't go on.

And last Wednesday was a day which felt vaguely reminiscent of those days. A day upon which the depression came back in force, creeping into my heart and extinguishing the candles of hope which had once burned there.

What I had hoped was an eternal sunrise, was in fact another sunset..

Not because of food, or anorexia in itself. Rather, I suppose, one of the major aftereffects which has been brought about through my illness. That being the loneliness, the constant feeling of isolation. I guess it was naive of me to assume that, once college was over, life would suddenly be as bright and as beautiful as a summer garden alive with roses.The reality, of course, was very, very different. On returning from my Gran's, the loneliness hit me again like a cold, strong wave smashing against the delicate sands of the shore.

It all felt very familiar, that Wednesday. I guess that's because I know that I've been to this place before. I've followed the exact same pattern as I did last year, in more ways than one. Gone from underweight to weight restored again; gone from being vaguely aware of just how lonely I feel, to an intense, razor-sharp consciousness of my solitude, my isolation, and the desolation that comes along with it.

While I was gaining weight, that sense of purpose in my mind seemed to take the edges off the pain of being alone. Once again I was lured into the trap of making naive assumptions about how ideal my new life would be like. I would have tonnes of friends again, somehow. I would be confident. I would appreciate every single moment of every single day, and embrace life with all my heart, as I never have managed to before.

But now once again I feel like the girl who got left behind. The outsider. The one destined to tread her own lonely little path. Do people think that I am happy like this? My heart beats its own desolate little rhythm. 

Please, no, don't leave me. I no longer want to be alone.

Every year of my illness was a lonely one, marked by tears of isolation. But it mattered less to me then than it does now. Because back then I had ED as my...soulmate. There's no denying the fact that I derived a sort of comfort from him. We danced together in what constituted a warped, twisted courtship; a relationship founded on abuse and subordination of the weaker other.

We knew each other so, so well. He knew all my strengths, all my weaknesses. In time, I learned to know his.

And it was then I began to fight back, to struggle to break free. My eyes had been opened. For the first time since the commencement of our relationship, I recognized him for what he really was. An abusive, sick partner who had broken my heart and very nearly broke my soul.

But all those years; all those years, of being alone, of declining invitations to social events, to turning down the friendly offers of former classmates to join in on nights out, to come along to the party, to pop over for pre drinks and nibbles.

Did I fear the thought of being the one left out; did I weep at the thought of being isolated? Yes, I did. But sadly, I feared the thoughts of eating, of anyone finding out my secret, even more. ED convinced me every time not to go, and that's what I always did. I would cry every time, wanting to go, but knowing I would not. And he would comfort me, telling me that whatever happened, I will still be here.

All those years sit heavily upon my shoulders now, as heavy and as crippling as shackles.

Because now I am no longer the girl who wants to be with ED. Now I want to dance upon dance floors, wear pretty dresses and eye-catching makeup, to flutter my eyelashes at boys. Now I want to love, and be loved. Now, I want to live, to grasp the quivering heartstrings of life with my bare, outstretched hands.

But now it seems to be all to late.

My college days are over and gone. I can't go back in time and relive them again; can't grab hold of those opportunities which I, back then, allowed to pass me by.

If only life could be like a dancer progressing from move to move, each one standing as a marker on her journey to success.
If you mess one particular move up, it's ok, you can go back to it. You can go back to it and do it all again. Then, when you have done it the way you really, really want, you can move on to what lies ahead. Learning, and getting better, and stronger. Working at each one until you get it just right.

But life isn't really like that, I know. I can't go back and redo it all again. I can only work with what I have.

But I have learnt. I have got stronger. And, I know, if I try really hard, I don't have to limp my way through the next few stages of my life journey. I hope that I can learn to dance. πŸ’™

If we would only let it,
hope can spring forth, like a beautiful summer flower.πŸ’•



In my next post I will talk a little more about what I intend to do to combat this loneliness, and to further weaken the remaining bonds of ED. I hope that this will help all those who feel alone in this battleπŸ’™xxx


Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The Last and Final Stretch...

...one which I know is the toughest of them all.

So this was it. I had done it. I weight restored by myself, despite the fact I was at college; despite the fact that the past few months was one of the most stressful and most difficult times of my life.

And here I am now at the last and final stretch of this journey. The stretch at which I need to be stronger than I ever have been before.

Because this is the place at which I always fell back down.

This is the place where the real battle is fought; the battle in which there can only ever be one winner.

Me, or ED.

Which one of us is going to lose?

Which one of us will be destroyed?





Me - two years ago and then, two weeks ago. And I'm both the same girl that I was, but, at the same time,  different..


This is a place at which I've stood, a good many times before.

I stood here in the April of 2015, the year in which I was admitted to hospital. I remember the feelings of disgust and revulsion that flickered through me back then, the day I realised I was weight restored.

Weight restored. To me, those two words were synonymous with fear and dread and hatred. Weight restored. I didn't look in the mirror and see "healthy," or "better". I only saw what my eating disorder saw. which was, of course,  "fat".

Fat. Repulsive. Oh how much better you looked when you were skinny, when you could feel those slender bones.

It wasn't long - a few months later, at the most - I started to restrict, again.

The months passed, flickering by me like moths across candlelight,  as I sank ever deeper into the illness which had stolen my youth. Then one day, a hand reached towards me and pulled me up, up towards the surface once again. But she could not pull me the full way. I had to learn to swim again, to fight against the dark, swirling waters in which I had nearly drowned.

I fought against that ingrained belief that there was no light, that true recovery was just not possible, for me.

Slowly, ever so slowly, I inched my way up the long and lonely mountain.

But not enough had changed; not enough to keep me climbing upwards; not enough to send me toppling back down once more, as soon as I returned to college again for my final year at Trinity.

My falls were mainly caused by two common phenomena.

Those being, actually being at college - where I felt lonely, intensely stressed, and unaccepted - and my resentment of my new, healthier body. And each time I became weight restored I always did the same thing. I self-examined, I fostered hatred in my breast. I nurtured self-loathing as fiercely as a mother bird guards her nest. And every time I thought the very same thing. I hate myself. I hate my body. I am fat and repulsive and I am going to now eat less.

But this time I am determined for things to be radically, fundamentally different.

I know I cannot restrict.

But it's hard, so hard, in this diet-obsessed world in which we live.

But at least I can now say that I have two things in my favour which, at one time, I did not possess.

Those being, that I no longer despise my stronger, healthier body. Rather, I am actively working each day to accept it, to nourish it, to value it as my most treasured and most precious possession.


But there's still many so many obstacles standing in my way; obstacles which, I know, I have to overcome to be free.


My relationship with exercise probably constitutes one of the biggest of those obstacles.

My exercise compulsion-obsession is something which didn't develop as early as my eating disorder initially did. In the early days, food was the sole problem. But then, ED turned its attention to the handful of physical activities I enjoyed back then, too. These were namely walking and cycling. And it was then that what was once a beloved hobby and a pastime rapidly evolved into a compulsive addiction.

In my latest relapse-recovery, however, I conquered it  to some degree when I was regaining weight. But now, I know, that feeling of having to do a certain amount has crept slyly back in again, urging me to do more when I have already done enough. And I would be only kidding myself if I said that I don't go along with it, because that's exactly what I do do, more often than not.          

 Again, I think what makes this so, so tough, is the fact that we live in a world in which we are all encouraged and urged to do exercise, that one should exercise more and eat less, etc, etc, etc. And this makes the road all the more rocky for someone recovering from an eating disorder, whose relationship with exercise has always been far from perfect.                                                                                      

It was with some dismay that I realised that this old fear had come back, this time last week to be exact, when I was travelling home from my Granny's house in Leicester. On that particular morning I had gone for my usual wander at Gorse Hill, one which I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of. But later on, while I was travelling home, the anxiety began to kick in. It's not even exactly what you would call a particularly long journey - an hour in the car to Birmingham, an hour in the air, and then 2 and a half hours home on the air bus. But ED, needless to say, didn't warm too much to the idea of sitting down for four hours in one afternoon, with only "a few slots" of walking in between.       

The anxiety I experienced on the journey home was persistent, relentless, and excruciating. Oh, yes. That old fear is back and it's back with a bloodthirsty vengeance.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 I know that this is going to be one of the toughest legs of my journey. I know that this is probably going to be the hardest obstacle for me to overcome. Because it's so hard to ignore the exercise and diet programs which are plastered all over the internet, the telly, the magazines. It's so hard to ignore other people, to focus on myself. It's so hard to not feel I should be doing as much as possible of the one thing which I have always loved, but which has simultaneously become an obsession from which I am powerless to disentangle myself .        
                                                                                           
It is in this one single instance that being at home has not in fact helped me, as far as exercise is concerned. My mam completes a grueling exercise program every day of every week except Sunday. When my friend came around to visit me this gone Friday, she and Mam were both discussing cardio and programs enthusiastically (my friend only just joined a gym a few weeks ago). I had hovered nearby, trying not to listen but unable to help myself. Oh God. Should  I not be doing this too? Guilt throbbed its own insistent beat in my chest. The enthusiasm in Mam's eyes made me want to cry.  I felt like running out of the room, away from those beloved voices which spoke of the thing which I longed to do, but which I knew ED wanted me to do, too. I felt confused, afraid, uncertain; pathetically and wholly vulnerable. And intensely and painfully aware of just how far I am from being completely free. 




Wednesday, 17 May 2017

From Darkness into Light..

My hands trembled as I held out the blue answer booklet. The invigilator, having not noticed my shaking fingers, took it from me with a smile, and moved on.

I sat there dazed, not quite able to comprehend the feelings that surged in my breast, crashing against one another like the white tipped waves of the ocean.

I had done it.

I was here.

My time at Trinity was finally, finally over.



And so I stepped out of the stuffy, artificially lit exam hall, stepped out from that crowded space in which the dozens upon dozens of  excited human voices intermingled and wove into one another to make one confused, violent cacophony of sound. Stepped right out of there, towards the square of yellow light which led into the outside world. 

Another world, to me. I felt as if I was making both a literal and figurative transition, from one place to another.

Into a world of sweet and beautiful freedom; a world in which my sorrows would melt away like chips of sharp ice being thawed by the delicate kiss of the spring sun. 

I was free. I had done it. I had finished my college degree.

And it did not matter that my exam hadn't gone brilliantly, and that I had ran out of time on the question involving a discussion of two of the course texts' lack of human empathy. It did not matter that, when I had entered that very same exam hall two days before to sit my first exam, it had suddenly hit me, like a stinging blow to the face, that I knew not a soul in that place. I had felt like Robert Neville at the end of the I am Legend novel, looking out at the face of the brave new world and feeling totally, utterly isolated. That was what I had felt like. I don't belong here.

But now it did not matter.

Now, I no longer cared.

For I was free. Free to be me, to forge a new and beautiful future for myself, far separated from the pain and struggles of the past. I was stepping out from the darkness of my loneliness, stepping from that crowded world - a world in which I had been surrounded by people, but had always, no matter how many faces I could see, felt so, so alone, like a lonely, plain-feathered songbird struggling to fly amongst a flock of beautiful swans.

I was leaving behind the loneliness, the sadness, the pain of unbelonging. The constant feelings of not being good enough, that my existence was worthless to everyone and everything.

I was leaving behind that world, that day.

And so I stepped into the light.

And so I ran through the streets of Dublin towards my train, my hair streaming behind like wild uncurling banner, the late afternoon sunshine casting dapples of light upon my face as I passed beneath trees laden with the sweet green foliage of May. People turned to stare at me in surprise as I ran past, their curious gazes following me as I dodged between them like a minnow between reeds.  I suppose what they saw was sort-of  young looking girl, with a full, glowing face, purple runners on her feet, a black skirt with tiny roses, a white top which left her arms and shoulders bare and exposed to the sun. 

But over the past few months, that girl became wiser.

She learned quite a few new things. Things that weren't just related to the degree she was trying so desperately to achieve.

She learned things about herself, her world. Things about life. And ultimately things about her recovery.



She learned that she did have the strength to do this.

She learned to care less about what others think, and to just be herself.

She learned that she was strong and capable. That she has what it takes to achieve her dreams and goals.

She learned to take care of herself.

She learned that she didn't have to be the thin, skinny girl, whose potential to be loved by other is wholly dependent on the severity of her illness.

She learned to be the Real, True Emmy.

She learned that she could leave the thin, scared little girl behind.



And I think it was these vital lessons which got that girl through her exams, to the light beyond. It was these lessons which filled her heart with joy as soon as she stepped into that light and felt the warmth upon her face, felt the heavy, dragging weights being  lifted from her shoulders. It was these lessons that lightened her steps, that day she ran through the streets of Dublin, towards Heuston, and home. It was these lessons which taught her that she could be free. Free to break free from the crippling fetters of loneliness, pain, self-doubt. And to render ED ever weaker.

And though she still has some way to go, she learned that she will see this battle out to the very, very end.

There can only be two possible outcomes to this fight.



I can choose to let ED destroy me...or I can choose to destroy ED, and win the pure sweet freedom that true recovery inevitably brings.

And I've learnt now that I can make the right choice.

For it is time for me to be free, in heart, body and soul.πŸ’•