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, 18 September 2014

College and my ED.

Today and yesterday, Ganache-Elf found herself, not in her more regular haunts or engaged in her usual every day activities (ie. baking away in that sunlit kitchen at home, trotting along the hedge-lined lanes in a vain attempt to keep up with her faithful canine companion, or nestled comfortably in her favorite armchair in the conservatory overlooking the garden, blogging away to her heart's content - no, instead Ganache-Elf was in a place which she had not laid eyes upon for several months now. Though it only seems like yesterday when I last walked through the Front Arch of Trinity College. No, lectures haven't quite started yet - they're due to start this coming Monday. Rather I was there to see a few of my closest friends. But I ended up - unintentionally, but willingly all the same - joining a few societies too. But what I really wanted to tell you about today was the fact that for once, I felt sort of...well, happy to be there, I suppose. Happy to be part of Trinity, and happy to be amongst all those smiling, cheerful young people who were there in force today: handing out bags of Haribos and trying to convince undecided first years that their society was THE society and that their life depended on joining it.
 You see for me, college has never really been a place where I have felt happy, at home, secure, or which I have felt a sense of belonging towards: I always was of the frame of mind that I shouldn't really be here. For starters of course, my general feelings towards my course has always made me feel like a misfit.  But also, for me, college is directly associated with leaving home and trying to navigate your way through the big, scary real world on your own. And I know for a fact that is when my ED was as its worst, and when I lost the most weight.
 I clearly remember the things I did over the past two years, during my first and second years there, when my ED has me firmly within its grip; and I seemed oblivious to how awful I really looked. The funny thing is, I was ashamed of how I looked: and I felt unattractive and ugly in comparism to my peers, many which seemed so confident and well-dressed and so on...but I was too stupid to ever stop and think: would I not look better, and feel better too, if I just stopped this cycle of destruction and self-denial? Would I not then feel as if I belonged; that I wasn't just a scared, silly little girl who had no sense of self-confidence or esteem whatsoever...and realise that I am worth something? That I shouldn't feel as if I'm in the wrong place altogether? But no. I only ever considered the opposite. I'm ugly now, but if I gain weight and become fat, I will become even uglier. Better be skinny and ugly than fat and ugly Em! I have to control my food's the only thing within my control in this place.

 For me, back then, a college day would usually mean...

  • Waking up every day with a feeling of dread and anxiety...another day at college, for people to see the grey lines under my eyes and the dryness of my skin. To think: she is so small, she is so ugly, she looks such a mess.
  • And waking up starving too, but too afraid to have a good breakfast, in case my stomach started to rumble later on in the day, forcing me to have some sort of lunch...and, according to my ED, eating a good breakfast AND lunch is most certainly NOT allowed.
  • Feeling hungry in lectures but just ignoring the feeling, or saying to myself I will eat later, when I'm alone. But rarely fulfilling that promise. 
  • Having what I pretended to myself was lunch on my own in the library...usually this would consist of a piece of fruit and dry bread. If anything.
  • telling myself that it was ok that my dinner in the evenings was usually nothing more than a few pieces of pasta, a slice of toast, a meagre bowl of cereal, a portion of vegetables.
  • Going to bed with my stomach empty and starving...but always, always making this false promise to myself: It's ok, I know I didn't eat that much today, but I will make up for it tomorrow! Which I never, never did. 
But this year...this year is going to be different. I'm determined to make it so. It's true to say that I have less hours this year and I probably won't be spending as much time up there...and also that I'm not actually living up in Dublin this year, either...I'm commuting from home. But I want to make sure I continue to eat well this year, at home and at college...that college can be somewhere where I can enjoy food and the company of others. It used to be just me and my ED: that voice which would dictate what I should and should not eat, and which I always obeyed without question. I know that I probably won't ever feel exactly on top of the world at college...I still feel, because I don't like my course, that I will never be a hundred percent happy there...and I still don't feel as if I fit in amongst my fellow me, they will always be so much more intelligent, smart, intellectual. Everything I'm not basically. But instead of thinking...eating as little as possible will give me some sense of control and strength in this scary, unfeeling, and uncaring place...I now think...eating well and taking on my ED will make me stronger and more mature, and give me courage and a sense of comfort and reassurance when I feel down and stressed as I attempt to find my way through third year English Studies. I'm not going to let my ED or my sense of ineptitude as far as my course is concerned convince me that my presence is worthless and that I am just a nobody. I was lost, but I'm not going to lose myself again...I know who I am and I know what and who is important to me. And I'm hopeful that now I'm recovering, college will become a brighter place too, and that I will realise that I have a place here too.

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