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, 21 August 2014

The Fear.

This is a very good question which, from time to time, I still ask myself, if I ever think sometimes I am falling back into bad habits or if I’m tempted to eat less than what is specified on my meal plan. Why do I fear gaining weight, if there are so many, many reasons why I should? It’s a complex question, one of which there are a few answers.
It’s hard for me to write this now though, as alot of this sort of thinking was what dominated my mind when I was sick, and i feel very different about things now. But this is what I thought and I’m not going to keep it back from you. It might seem a bit non-sensical to healthy people who have never had an eating disorder, I know. But please remember, it is a disease and sufferers of ED do think and act very differently to the way they would if they were free from their condition…
For many sufferers, as it was for me, putting on weight is a constant fear and the possibility of any kind of weight gain, no matter how small, must be removed at all costs. This makes the relationship with food and eating strained and fractured…some may even become hateful of food and deplore the very act of eating in itself. In my case, I don’t think I ever despised food, exactly; my cooking and my baking kept my love of food alive, and I still ate, just in very small amounts.
As I mentioned before, I was just so, so afraid of being fat, all the time i was sick, even though i was clearly miles away from being just that…and I allowed that fear of being just a little big bigger control my life. believe me when I say…it actually does consume you. From the moment I would wake up in the morning till my last thought before falling asleep at night…it was related to eating.
And there were other things, too, which further augmented the fear. What I am going to tell you now might make some laugh, others think, “that’s ridiculous…this girl is so stupid.” maybe I was…but anyway, judge me how you will. I’m not going to pretend that this isn’t what I thought, and I want to be as honest and as truthful as possible and expose my condition in its true colours, and conceal nothing. I firmly believe that then and only then will we truly understand what an eating disorder is really like.
There was the fear…of going up a size. For my tiny size 6 clothes to not fit me anymore. To no longer go to a clothes shop and automatically browse the rails for the extra small size. Every day when I opened my wardrobe and chose something to wear apprehension would suddenly seize me and I my skin would prickle with anxiety…what would I do, if my little cream skirt with the narrow waistband wouldn’t button up?? Were my leggings going to feel tight today? And if those shorts there don’t need a belt, that means your waistline has expanded… and so on. 
And not only was there a fear of gaining weight…to be brutally honest, there was a general fear of eating, too, or at the least eating more than the tiny amounts I permitted myself to eat. And not eating became, for me, a form of self-harm: a way of punishing myself by depriving my body of one of its most basic and fundamental needs: food, nourishment, energy. Why did I do it to myself? What could have possibly driven me to do such a stupid and non-sensical thing? 
As long as i can remember, I have always had very low self-esteem, and have been extremely critical of myself since I entered secondary school. In my head, I was little more than just a boring, average schoolgirl…well, possibly even worse than whatever “average” is, as I strongly felt that I was useless as everything. I’ve never excelled at any kind of sport or exhibited any kind of talent or skill in music, drama, debating, languages, or any other of the many areas in which my classmates seemed to shine in. Compared to them I was inferior. The only thing that gave me that little boost of confidence or encouragement was my academics. I have never been smart, but I knew how to get my head down and study, hard; and I was able to learn off by heart paragraph upon paragraph of any kind of information - even if it didn’t make sense to me - and reproduce it upon paper as if I was copying exactly from the book I had taken it from.
This method of mine, if it can be called that, served me well in the Leaving Certificate exams, and I received enough points to enter Trinity College to study English - the degree that I had consistently striven towards and worked so hard for; and had dreamed of obtaining. But, barely weeks into my first year of college, I was struggling. I hated it. I found the work uninteresting and difficult. My confidence took a severe knock again, as did my ability to study. I felt like a complete and utter failure. I was certain that I was no longer the academic that I had once thought I was. How could I be? I felt unable for, and completely overwhelmed by, the coursework; there was so much I didn’t understand or know how to do; and all my old tactics which got me through the Leaving Cert were of no use to me now: in this different and seemingly harsh new learning environment, I felt completely and utterly alone. And, worse of all, was that crushing, self-destructive, oppressive feeling of guilt that threatened to consume my whole inner self. I had let mam and dad down; of that I was in do uncertainty whatsoever. Here I was in Trinity, and my parents were forking out all this money on my account - on my accommodation, my living expenses, and the course itself - and all, for nothing. The guilt and the self-loathing built up and up within me, and I felt as if I was being torn apart from the inside.
And so…I felt as if, by not eating, I could punish myself, in some way…and make up for all the wrong I had done as I was convinced that everything was my fault. I realise now that this was so, so incredibly stupid of me…I was letting my loved ones down even more by doing this to myself; but I was blind to that simple plain fact, it seemed. And, even more disturbingly, I obtained a strange sort of “triumph” from not eating; in feeling hungry, I felt secure. I may be useless at everything, but…well, I can go without food and be strong in that way.
It was stupid. It was competeely irrational and thoughtless of me. And writing this to you makes me realise this more sharply and painfully than ever.
Those were dark days for me, in that period…dark days filled with fear and darkness. But I conquered that fear and since then I’ve never looked back. 

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