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, 22 August 2014

I don’t want to die, but…surely, that’s better than living?

I don’t think, while I was sick, that I was ever at any real risk of taking my own life...though it could be argued of course that by starving myself I was actually slowly killing myself, anyway…and I see that now. But here I’m just going to talk a little about the thoughts of suicide that I had while I had my ED. And also, so you can get some further insight into the mind of an ED sufferer (though please bear in mind that every case is different, and that though there are lots of similarities there are just as many differences, too), I am also going to share with you some of the other abnormal thoughts and habits I had during that time. As I’ve often said before, writing about them and sharing them with you, my readers, is in itself such a great help to me. You see, even now, those manipulative thoughts do still try to creep back in – not the suicidal ones, I’m glad to say, I seem to have got over those now. But those other ones I mentioned above have been a lot harder to shake off completely. But I am determined to beat them off and am hopeful that I will be entirely free of them.
I look upon my childhood, and the days I spent at primary school, with both nostalgia and fondness because I know, deep down in my heart, that this was the time when I was truly happy. As carefree as a bird on the wing. But as I described to you earlier, I was probably like so many other girls my age in that my horizon became clouded with anxieties and uncertainties when I left that blissful, idyllic period of my life behind.
When did I start thinking, in these sort of damaging, destructive ways? Well, I guess both of them evolved together and that they grew and developed alongside one another. I’ll talk a little about the abnormal thoughts and habits that were directly linked to the eating disorder first before going into a little more detail about the suicidal ones.
I guess…it all began when I started comparing my lunch to everyone else’s and convincing myself that mine was the “least healthiest”, even though, of course, I had no idea what my classmates ate outside of school hours. I just saw myself as being terribly unhealthy and that everything I ate was so, too, and I determined to change al of that and become slimmer. But how to do it without attracting the attention of my attentive mam, my sister, and everyone else? And to not appear…well, stranger to my classmates than I already was? (or so I told myself.) I was just going to have to be extremely secretive about it, I thought. And so that’s how it all started. 
So I dispensed with the chocolate after school, as I’ve already outlined. I used to always have toast and cereal for breakfast when I was at primary school…but I firmly told myself that now, I would have just cereal, no toast. My excuse: I don’t have time, and it’s too early in the morning, I have no appetite. Neither of which were true. And then there was my packed lunch itself, which was what I focused on next.
I insisted on making my own sandwiches and rolls. Usually, I would have had crumbed ham in these, and a bit of tomato, and some spread too... and so what did I do? I decided that I didn’t like my bread with spread on it anymore, which was easy enough to get away with, after all; for no one was going to check the inside of a roll to see if it was buttered or not. The next thing I wanted to do something about was the filling. So whenever I made my lunches I always placed the smallest, thinnest pieces of ham into my sandwiches, usually strategically placing them on the edges of the bread so it appeared as if I had alot more than I actually had. The bread itself I felt as if I couldn't really do anything about - I wanted, of course, to perhaps go down to one slice of bread instead of one, or have the tiniest roll possible, or whatever - but I knew that I wouldn't be lucky enough to get away with that. Though once at school, more often that not I would find myself picking away at the little I had actually got - which I was thoroughly convinced was alot. I would take that tiny, miniscule piece of ham out of the roll and put it in the clingfilm I had originally wrapped the sandwich in. I would crumble up my cake or biscuit and scratch off any icing or chocolate. I would pull crusts or the edges off my bread.
Even when I had the eating disorder, I always disliked the idea of wasting food: of actually throwing it away. Of course I probably ended up wasting a load of food anyway though I was confident that I wasn't (in not cleaning my plate, not eating up some old ham and letting it go off, etc...) - but I don't really recall actually throwing food away literally many times. The ham and the bits of cake or bread or whatever...yes, they would be brought home with me. I let myself be governed by a seemingly benevolent voice in my head: We can just give these to the doggies in their dinners, or perhaps put them out for the wild birds or the animals to feed on. 
I did, of course, end up throwing or pouring away things sometimes... those foods which I knew I couldn't just pretend would be happily consumed by Ben, Maisy, or any of my wild feathered or furry friends. And so all these newly-developed habits established themselves in my daily routine, and, subsequently, I became skinnier, and skinnier, and skinnier. 
I recall the first time I really thought about suicide was...probably, the first time Mam seriously reproached me about my weight and eating habits. We were on our holidays in Kent, where we used to live in England, and we had gone to a country pub for some lunch one wet afternoon after exploring Canterbury, the magnificent medieval city. 
As soon as I realised that we would not be returning to our holiday cottage for our meal I remember the intense feeling of dread and anxiety that suddenly gripped me. For I would have no control whatsoever over how whatever I chose to eat was going to be prepared. They could put stacks of filling in it, perhaps, or spread it lavishly with real butter or even mayonnaise. And, as English pubs often tend to do, any sandwich could be served with a generous plate of chips or crisps alongside...a "terrifying" prospect for someone like me...
I can't remember exactly what I chose to have, in the end; a sandwich of some kind at a guess; but I do remember that it was, of course, a more generous quantity of bread, filling and salad then what I would ever permit myself to have when I prepared my own lunches. I ate slowly and tediously and picked away at it when I hoped no one was looking - though of course, my family noticed. My Mam finally lost her temper and angrily addressed me; though unbeknownst to me at the time, she was more upset, hurt and concerned than angry. "Your eating is appalling...why do you do it to us? You're an embarassment to take out, Emily. And you are so thin as well, do you even realise that?? If your behaviour doesn't improve soon...I might have to take you to the doctor's, is that clear??"
I have never been one for shouting back or trying to defend myself if ever confronted about anything...rather, I've always been a sulker, withdrawing from everyone and everything and wrapping myself up in dark thoughts. So it was on this occasion...though not only were my thoughts dark; they were dangerous. I started to thoroughly detest myself; and every single little thing about myself, and my life, too. I felt truly miserable...I could see now way forward. How was I going to go on like this? I had lost the trust of my mam. We had always been close...but now it felt as if our special mother-daughter bond lay shattered to pieces. And it was all my fault, I knew. But though I was desperate for her to forgive me, I still could not bear the thought of changing my eating habits and gaining weight... 
And so life now appeared so futile and pointless...and, though I knew that before I had experienced so much happiness and joy, it felt now as if it would be better, if I was dead. I thought: wouldn't it be better for everyone, if I just vanished off the face of the earth, never to be seen again? It wasn't as if anyone needed me, or anything. I wondered if anyone would actually miss me, or even notice that I had gone. Would they wonder what had happened to me, would they talk about me, would they finally realise how hard I had tried...and make my way in life?
I think it was the actual thought of doing it...the actual thought of taking a knife in my hand and placing it to my skin...of approaching the edge of that building, and taking that last step forward into nothingness...of slowly walking into cold seawater and feeling its icy touch upon your skin and knowing that this is the last ever thing you will ever feel; and murky, obscure greyness the last thing you ever see...I think it was the actual thought of doing one of those things that saved me. The fear of doing it, not actual death itself, was what prevented me from taking my own life. And I was afraid of pain too. What if my hand slipped if I tried to cut my own throat, or if, after the jump, I only broke my legs and spine and ended up being in a wheelchair for the rest of my life...
And so...I didn't do it. I was close, I freely admit...but it passed and, though my eating disorder refused to go away, I struggled on, loathing myself every single day for what I was doing and who I had become, but yet, still refusing to change. Though I allowed my abnormal, distorted attitudes and thoughts about food and eating control my mind and actions, I was lucky in that I didn't, in the end, give in and succumb to the lure of suicide...despite the fact that, during that time, it appeared to me as if life really was like hell, that the world and everything in it was hostile, cold, and emotionless...and that death really was the only way in which I could find peace.
i understand now that we as human beings are always longing for something...even when we have, really, everything we need and could, if we just learned to let go and look around us at what we have got, find true happiness in life. But we are restless creatures and, even when things are running smoothly and we are so, so close to finding perfect tranquillity...we always yearn for more and, in doing so, bring ourselves down. And this is so, so true for me - please don't think that just because I am stating this I am susceptible to it or anything, for I can assure you that I am not. I am always grumbling about something or other, and usually it is about the smallest, tiniest little things which, on later reflection when I've simmered down somewhat, I realise were not worth all the hassled wondering and worrying at all. But at least now I can say, with certainty, that I realise now something which I never would have even contemplated back then...that yes life is hard and taxing and draining sometimes, is so, so precious, and if only we could just learn to stretch out our fingertips and grasp it before it steals away from us...and learn to never seek perfection, and to look around at everything we have instead and realise how beautiful and wonderful it all is...and remember that today, after all, could be my very I really want to spend it worrying and complaining and stressing when there is so much beauty and goodness around me...
And so I suppose you could say that I try to keep this philosophy of sorts in my head all the time: and it's been such a help to me in recovering from my E.D. Life is too short, to be constantly fretting over what you look like and how thin you are and if you have eaten too much today... everyone is different, everyone is unique, and we should spend less time comparing ourselves to her, or him, or them, and learn to love life and live it to the full, because that, after all, is what we are here for, and what we are meant to do.

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