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.:)
Sunday, 30 November 2014
it is a scene capable of evoking, for me anyway, the first crucial and fundamental ideas which are brought together to produce a work of art... I'm not really much of a painter (I enjoy painting and drawing but I fear Van Gogh and Da Vinci and Monet would all be turning in their graves if they saw one of my various attempts at creating a "Masterpiece" ... :p ) so for me this would most likely be a story of some kind. I don't know if you recall but there was one time when writing was my one time favourite hobby... but that all changed when I went to college. Writing became, for me, a source of stress and frustration as a pose to enjoyment and pleasure. I became isolated and detached from my own little writing projects that had previously meant the world to me...more than that; they were my world; and I invested a large amount of time and effort in them.
But here I am now, at home in my own little environment, away from college and the bustle of the city. There is no pressure to do anything, no rush to be anywhere, no essays to read or assignments to write. The only thing I have to focus on is...myself.
And really, I have all the time in the world to do whatever I feel like doing. Including writing...and I am glad to say that my former passion for writing has been rekindled. Perhaps it's only a spark, but who knows...that spark might become a flame, and then that little flame into an unquenchable fire which nothing will be able to extinguish. :) For I am hopeful that, once I get back into writing again...there will be no stopping me. This is what happened with my baking addiction and blogging, after all. Who's to say it won't happen again with my writing? :)
My first writing project which I want to dedicate some of my time towards, is something which I started a few years ago. And though I haven't done any work on it for a long time, the themes, subject matter, and characters of Morokia still hold, for me, a compelling fascination and a certain captivation... which has not, thankfully, been tainted or touched in any way by the disappointing and dispiriting experiences I have undergone in choosing to study English at Trinity. Or by my ED, of course.
And now I realise something which fills me with a sense of hope...which serves to somewhat dispel the feelings of uselessness, ineptitude, and worthlessness that seem to frequently occupy my head. I know that for the past 8 years I have been used, abused, and manipulated by my ED. It's always been the one that's been in control; it never ceased to not have the advantage over weak, defenseless Emmy. But now it's time, I think, for a reversal of roles. Instead of me being used and exploited consistently by my ED...it's now a case of I, the Ganache-Elf, being the one who has the upper hand.
I have always been a firm believer in the theory that one of the best strategies to adopt when it comes to writing is to write what you are familiar with, what you know. Haha. Morokia is a medieval story. Am I an expert on the Middle Ages? No. So yes one could argue I am most definitely contradicting myself here. But! In my defence..ok, maybe I can't say I know an awful lot about medieval stuff. Rather, it is through the sufferings and experiences of my characters, their various trials and tests and individual struggles, where I can really put my own knowledge and experience into play. For all of these can function as a mirror or a reflection of my own life, my own personal battles. It's like I am inserting a little piece of my own personality into my own characters and matching their worldly experiences with my own.
My feelings of inadequacy and inferiority; of worthlessness, helplessness, desperation...and my belief that I don't belong. Of feeling like a failure and a hopeless cause. fearing of change and the future. Wanting desperately to mature, but simultaneously longing to remain as that small little girl who wants to remain protected and closeted away from the harsh, cold, unfeeling world.
The character that I relate with the most is Begonia, who is a young princess abducted from her home as a child. While she is imprisoned, Begonia, despite being fed relatively well by her captors, begins to refuse to eat and stunts her growth. At the tender age of twenty-two, her radiant and startling beauty remains, but she has the body of a child and her body is infertile. Begonia's willingness to starve herself is brought about by a deep self-hatred and a desire to punish her own body. When one of the heroes of the trilogy, the young knight Connor, liberates her, she falls in love with the dashing young man, but is torn with despair at the thought that her barrenness will repel him. It doesn't of course - Connor loves her for as she is and not for her ability to reproduce children - but Begonia is desperate to make up for the damage and abuse she has put her body through all through her teenage years. She makes a brave attempt at restoring her weight and nursing herself back to health. Gradually, she becomes healthier, and she is filled with delight when her menstruation begins. However, her malignant half-brother drives the lovers apart and forces Begonia to marry a wealthy lord of his own choice. Begonia becomes disillusioned with misery and wretchedness. She sinks right back down into her old ways, purposely starving herself in order to undo the repair she has done and make her body barren once again in the hope this will repulse her new husband. As the trilogy commences, Connor's own intrepid endeavours to unite his divided, war-striken country are matched with his lover's personal battle with her own eating disorder, as she struggles to escape the manipulative voice in her head that whispers that she is of no worth, she deserves to die, and that she should destroy herself and rid the world of an existence that is of no significance.
And so I suppose one could say...we can make little flowers grow from something so cold and hard and cruel. by this I mean, that from the sufferings and struggles I underwent in my experience of an eating disorder...I can create something beautiful and positive and nurturing. I can translate my experiences through my writing and produce a unique and meaningful work of art. And in doing so, I can reach out again, in the same way as I have done with my blog...I can touch the hands of those like me who are have been, or currently are, fighting the same battle as I have fought for the past 8 years. Begonia does, as the third book in my trilogy reveal, recover from her ED and makes that crucial and fundamental recognition which I want all of you who are reading this to realise, too. You are beautiful, you are worth it, you deserve life and you should never, never let anyone - including your ED - let you think otherwise. So strive to be what you want to be. Love, laugh, live...open your eyes and see the sunlight streaming through your bedroom window like liquid gold. Dip your feet into the waters of the ocean and feel the spine-tingling coolness against your skin. Walk amongst the primroses and the new green shoots of spring and hear the birds call to you from the trees. Your life is worth more than a treasure trove of diamonds and you deserve to live it the way you want it to be. :)
Friday, 28 November 2014
You can't eat all that. That's almost twice the amount you used to eat. That's so much compared to what normal people eat.
You are going to be so fat.
Anyone would think you're pregnant...the size of your belly!!
Go for the smaller option...have that tiny piece of bread. Eat the apple instead of the yoghurt. Pick the crusty piece off the top of your pasta...you don't like the hard bits.
You don't like soup - the only thing you like for lunch is your roll with the filling. No you don't like grated parmesan...you never did, why should you now? No, you don't want any more peanut butter, put the lid back on the jar NOW.
Just a few of the many, many different "orders" of the demon inside my own head...that being the ED of course.
Many people describe it as a voice...and for me, its the exact same; maybe even more. It's like a horrible little fiend inside me...transforming me from the inside which then in turn affects the exterior...messing with my head and making me think abnormal is normal, that small is big, that fullness is fat. And it's been with me for so, so long. It's as if...as if it really has become part of me.
But no - it may be part of me alright. But I am not going to completely and wholly defined by my ED. At the moment I feel like my head is a battlefield of conflicting, furious emotions. And I suppose a battle is taking place inside me - between the real Emmy and the ED. And I am more determined than ever before to not be the first to surrender this time.
I just wish it wasn't this hard...those lyrics of that Coldplay song The Scientist really ring true for me now. Nobody said it was easy. But no one ever said it would be so hard. This morning was just a prime example. I had my first snack of the day, toast and lots of peanut butter...fine. And then I wanted to walk. (or should that be...my ED wanted me to walk?) And I was seized with a sudden fit of anxiety. I knew I couldn't...that I shouldn't...but I felt as if I was being consumed by a desperate, irresistible pull to slip on my shoes and pound down the lane and never look back...to walk away from all my cares and tread them into dust beneath my feet.
I can do it...
I CAN eat all that yummy, gorgeous food. What's the worst that can happen...it will make me strong and healthy.
I am pretty. True, my belly is full...it might be rather bloated right now but that won't be forever. I have big blue eyes and pretty dark blonde hair with the fair streaks in it.
Why not give that a try? I know, I never used to like it a s a child, but...people's tastebuds do change over time.
I AM going to have a bit more bread. A bit more cheese. A big chocolate Oreo to dip in my hot chocolate. I am worth it. I deserve to eat the foods I love.
I'm trying...and learning...to replace that voice with an entirely different one...my own voice! And the voices of my family and friends and my readers...all gently directing me towards making the right choices. If only, this demon of mine can be just driven out of me in the blink of an eye, like the real ones you read about in horror stories and such like: when a demon or fiend is exorcised from a possessed victim. But this isn't quite so simple as that...no. But am I a victim...am I possessed? Not anymore, I say. And one day the voice will be driven away forever...I believe that now with all my heart. One day I will be haunted for no longer.
Thursday, 27 November 2014
And so here is my recipe...and can I take this opportunity to say a bigggg thank you to my special reader <3 she is AMAZING and I dedicate this whole post to her <3 <3 <3
- 350 g wholegrain rye flour
- 100 g strong white bread flour
- 2 tbsp black treacle
- 1 tsp instant yeast (or a 7g satchet should do grand. :)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp light brown soft sugar
- About 300 ml warm water
- About 2 tbsp olive oil + a little extra
- Sieve the white flourand salt into a bowl and add the rye flour. (i didn't bother sieving the rye flour because there are bits in it anyway that wont go through the sieve.)
- Stir in sugar and yeast. Add the treacle to the warm water. (Tip: use a heated tablespoon to measure out the treacle, it makes it alot easier to handle. :)
- make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid. Add in the 2 tbsp olive oil.
- Mix together with your hands to form a soft ball of dough. It shouldn't be too moist, but it shouldn't be too dry either: just soft and slightly smooth to the touch, though because of the rye flour it won't feel as smooth as ordinary bread dough. Anyway, if it feels to dry add a little more water, and if it's a little too much on the sticky side add a little more flour.
- Pour a little oil on your worktop. Spread it out with your hand, and then turn the dough out onto the greased surface.
- Knead for about 8-10 minutes. Don't worry if it doesn't feel quite so elasticy as normal bread dough. Grease a clean bowl and place the dough in it, and cover with greased clingfilm.
- Place the bowl in a warm, draught-free place to rise. because the dough is denser and heavier than other doughs, this might take much longer than you might expect: about 2 or 3 hours at least, maybe even four if it's not particularly warm. It was cold here in Ireland today, hence my dough took about three and a half hours to rise!
- Line a baking tray with baking paper, or if it's non-stick you might just want to grease it. Give the dough a punch to knock out the air, and then turn onto the work surface again. Knead briefly for a few minutes.
- Shape the dough into a smooth-sided, oval-shaped round. Do this by rolling it gently back and forth on the worktop into a rugby ball shape before gently pressing it down with the palms of your hands. Place the round on the baking tray. If you like, mark a deep ridge in the top of the load using the blade of a very sharp knife.
- Cover with greased clingfilm one more and leave to rise for a second time. Again this will take longer than normal bread dough...about 2 hours, or even longer if it's a cold day. Mine took roughly 2 and a half.
- Preheat the oven to 210c/190 c fan.
- Remove cling film and bake your loaf for about 20-30 minutes. Check after 20 minutes to make sure if isn't getting too dark. test for doneness by tapping on the base of the loaf - it should sound hollow.
- Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. If you like a lovely soft crust like I do, then wrap securely in a clean tea towel while it cools.
- It is gorgeous eaten warm...serve it as an accompaniment to soup or with cheese, or perhaps with smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for a posh lunch. Or, alternatively you might prefer to eat it on its own, with a little jam or honey or peanut butter..or, as my dear reader suggested, with a thin slice of butter as they do in Russia. I would suggest the best way to cut this bread would be first to slice off the top and bottom edges, and then cut the loaf in half.
- Then, slice off even sized-pieces off the shorter cut side of each half, as thick or as thin as you like. :) Any leftover pieces can be frozen and taken out as required, heated in the oven or the microwave if you like to eat your bread warm. :)
Wednesday, 26 November 2014
I sat and thought a bit about how I could increase my food intake yesterday. And yep...it was hard, to swallow the fact that in order to gain more, that means yet even more food, more fullness, more anxiety...I would need to be stronger and braver than I ever had been before. I admit, I freely admit, I felt very afraid and apprehensive and, at one point, pretty defeatist. I can't increase it any more. I feel sick and bloated enough at the moment as it is. I can't gain anymore than I already have...it's unfair of the, to think I should or can. I can't!!! I was on the verge of tears again but I opened up to Mam and felt an immense sense of relief afterwards. Then I turned on my laptop, looked at my Cocoa-Stained Apron, and read the supportive, kind, motivating mail and comments from my lovely, lovely readers (you know who you are <3 ), and then I chatted to my friends on Facebook...and I thought...everyone is behind you, Emmy...you can't turn back now. They want you to be strong, they know you can beat this!! And I DON'T, as I've said before, want my Cocoa-Stained Apron to become a blog that tells the story of a girl who failed. Who failed to conquer her demons and just gave in to the voices in her head.
it's hard of course, to make a meal plan for yourself, without the advice of a dietician or a doctor...but this is only temporary, of course. Once I'm getting the medical advice and support I need, I will receive professional advice on what I actually need to eat more of in order to further restore my weight and help nurse my body back to full health. But for now, I suppose, I just need to focus on eating wel, regularly, and plenty. And yes, of course I can eat the foods I love the most. Hot choc being one of those, of course. :)
So here is my new meal plan. Looking at it now, it is hard to believe that, less than half a year ago, the same girl who is now following this little dietary menu of her own creation assumed it was perfectly ok to walk about 2 hours a day and live off, most days, a meagre bowl of cereal, skimmed milk, fruit, a dry bread roll, a miniscule bowl of pasta in the evening, and maybe a bit of chocolate or ice cream. It really is hard to believe, that I WAS that same girl...and I know that, whatever happens to me now, I never want to go back there again. That wasn't a life...and I was more closer to death than I ever, ever could have comprehended. And I realise that fully now. I know I need food, I know I need to gain, and I know, every time I sit down to tuck into a delicious meal or snuggle up on the sofa with my hot choc and biccies or my snack...that my body is silently thanking me, for learning to take care of it once again. :)
Now at one time, eating all of this would have been unthinkable to me. And yesterday when I wrote all this I had my doubts..that voice was telling me, no, how could you eat all that. But screw the voice...I know I need food, I know I need to eat - regularly, well, and plenty. And there is absolutely NOTHING here that I don't like. So that makes it that one bit easier. So instead of sitting around worrying and feeling sorry for myself I am just going to try and make the most of the time I have left before my assessment...to take the time to focus on myself, to do the things I enjoy doing, to try new foods and help my body get used to eating just that bit more, the crucial bit more that it needs. :)
Tuesday, 25 November 2014
The last of autumn's leaves shiver on the now almost bare branches of the beech trees, some surrendering themselves to the caress of the breeze and letting themselves drift gently downwards to nestle in the coppery carpet beneath each parent tree. The hawthorn and the holly are laden with blood-red berries; the blackthorn proudly bares its blue-black sloes.
Another beautiful new day in this beautiful, wonderful world.
And I am happy to be here today, a living, breathing organism. Being able to see all of these things around me with my own eyes. Being able to walk amongst those trees and hedgerows, hear the birds calling sweetly, feel the cold air nip at my ears and redden my cheeks.
If I had given in to my eating disorder...well, I would certainly not have been able to do any of these things here today.
If I don't continue to fight this said eating disorder... well it's more than likely I won't be able to do any of those things ever again, either.
Rather, in either case, instead of being here at home where I belong, surrounded by the beauty and splendour of nature, with my loved ones near me and my friends, and with my kitchen door ever open for me to happily pass through, where I can carelessly spend hour upon hour kneading dough and mixing cake batter and splodging my faithful, white-washed apron with yet even more unsightly stains...instead of being here, if I just give in now, well, I know all too well where I will end up.
(me and Benny...that was about three years ago now. The summer before I went to college and started restricting and starving myself.
I know now...it is, well, a race against time I guess. My eating disorder assessment will be in at least a month's time my doctor told me. So....there is still time. If I take care of myself now, fight my ED with every fibre of my being, eat plenty and regularly, and limit my exercise to just gentle, 5 minute walks with Benny in the little paddock beside our house...then I might still have a chance.
I might not have to go into hospital, where I know I will be very, very unhappy. I know, if I do end up there, it will be for the best...it will be where I can get the help, the support, the medical attention that I need, if my test results dictate that that is what I need. But no one wants to end up in hospital. No one wants to have to sit around all day with nurses constantly watching you, making sure you eat. No one wants to be monitored twenty-four seven and have people stare at you as you eat your meals. No one wants to be taken away from their home and the people and animals they love.
And so let the battle commence. I've made my decision, now...I am not going to let this shitty disease win. I am absolutely determined to prove to my doctor that I can do this. That I don't need to be hospitalised...that with the out-patient support, I will become healthy again, and fix up my messed-up mindset, as well as restore my weight.
I can do this...I know that I can, and will, be strong. My body may be weak but my will to succeed is anything but. So no more tears. No more stressing and fits of crying and weeping and telling myself that I am useless and worthless and that I can't do it. it is undefeatable. It is NOT. And I am going to prove it to everyone. To my loved ones, to my doctors, to the whole world...and to, of course, myself. :)
Monday, 24 November 2014
Weight? I can't honesty say as up till this past month, I never, ever weighed myself. In my early years of secondary school, my Mam, having noted the odd and rather secretive behaviour I displayed around food and at mealtimes - as well as the fact that I seemed to be slowly but surely losing weight - concealed the home weighing scales we had at the back of the wardrobe in her room, and there they have stayed until this year, in fact, when my doctor actually made me start weighing myself. Anyway, to return to my point, I don't know how much I weighed this time last year. All I know is...it must have been very, dangerously, low. I mean, I'm about 40 kg now. This time last month I was about 38 I think. And this is me now, having gained weight, over summer and over the past month. And so...I'm guessing it must have been below 35 kg.
Clothes wise, I claimed I was a size 6...though in some shops even the size 6 wouldn't stay up on my tiny, bony waist.
God only knows how bad my bmi was.
So since then. I have gained weight. No one can take that from me. And I know, I have accomplished alot. This is the most frustrating thing of all I guess. The fact I have gained, I have achieved, I have conquered so many of my fears and ED-related anxieties. If only it were enough.
This time last year...I was literally, wasting away. I restricted without thought because to me, that ok, it was normal, it didn't affect me at all (though of course, in reality, it did). most days in Dublin I would eat, at the most, two meals a day: either lunch or breakfast would be skipped, if not both, and if I did have dinner, it was...barely anything. Sometimes I would eat a load of ice cream or chocolate or something as I was just so, so hungry...and then the next day would wake up, scared out of my senses that I had "over-indulged" and, accordingly, I would try to exercise more to burn off the extra calories, or just restrict more if I could get away with out without making it glaringly obvious.
I walked at least and hour and a half most days, pounding down the roads at breakneck speed in a desperate attempt to keep myself as trim as possible. even when rain splattered itself relentlessly against the window, even if there had been a frost overnight and the roads were slippy and treacherous, even if there was a gale and tree branches and bits of rubbish would be bblown haphazardly across the pavements of the city. it didn't matter to me: rain or shine, freezing cold or boiling hot, snow or ice or hail or fog...it did not matter, I had to walk and if I didn't, well...that would mean, inevitably, anxiety, guilt, irritability...and even more walking the next day.
That was me.
But I have come so, so far since then.
That girl who stood up and looked at herself and her life...at what she had done to both herself and her loved ones...and realised that the life that she was living was, in fact, not a life at all - more like a living hell; all centered around restriction, secrecy, starvation...that girl then chose to make a crucial and fundamental decision. A decision in which she would embark upon a emotional, rocky, and undeniably life-changing journey, upon which she would face her greatest ever fears and her greatest ever enemy...the ED that has been controlling me ever since I was a child of twelve years old.
And now, standing where I am today...I know, I know, that I haven't completely lost my way. I have fallen a few times, that is true - but, as I am doing right now, I have always got back up, brushed away the dust and the tears and the feelings of hopelessness and despair...I can't do it...I have fallen so many, many times and I'm not strong enough to keep on getting back up and trying again... no...each time I bravely pushed them all away, and I kept going. I kept going, to the place where I am now. It has been incredibly, overwhelmingly hard. But I did it. I have trodden so many miles. But yet there are still more bridges to cross, more frightening, unknown tracks to gently step upon. But I know now I am strong. The Ganache Elf may be small, but no one can take away from her her inner strength, her courage, her determination. My heart is as big as any lion's. My resolve and strength of purpose is as great as Benny's when he sees a deer run out in front of his nose and he sets his heart upon chasing it.
What I need to do now... is to draw upon that strength that helped me to make those first few small but vital changes. Because at the time I know, those first few little steps appeared, to me, like massive mountain which I couldn't even find a foothold on, let alone begin to climb.
But I did it.
This mountain sure is big, steep, rocky...I knew that from the very beginning. But I'm getting closer and closer to the top, despite the slips I've made along the way...I am going to get to that summit, my peak. And oh, what a view awaits me at the top. :)
As a dear friend told me today...it may be raining now, but the storm won't last forever. :)
(my friend specifically requested to be referred to as the crazy cat lady or inspirational angel. Both of which, as well as being a truly amazing friend, she most definitely is. :) thanks hun, you know who you are. <3 xxxxx)
Sunday, 23 November 2014
So here I stand. here is the decision I have to make right here, right now. Here are the paths which I can choose to tread.
I can choose...to stay the way I am at the moment. Half-recovered, I guess. Though over the past few days it feels like, to me, there is absolutely nothing "half" about it. For to me, now it seems like everything I thought I had achieved...has been for nothing. I'm still underweight, my body is still very much in danger, my bmi is too low and I have to gain more weight. And this time...I won't be able to do it, the way I want to...no. I screwed my chance at that. There are going to be hospital visits and weight checks and doctors peering over my shoulder all the time, telling me that I must eat this and I must not do that. And I know, they are going to do everything they can...to help me. But at the same time I want to cry with frustration and despair that despite everything I did...the weight I have gained since the day I told myself Emily, stop kidding yourself...you have an eating disorder.... despite all of that, I am still being told I have to go into hospital.
Anyway, as I was saying, I can choose to stay at this weight, this shape, and go on living life the way it has been for the past few months, since I started to try and fight back my ED. My weight? About 40 kg. My height I don't know, but trust me it's not much.
40 kg. At a guess, over the past few months I've gained about 5 to 7 kilograms. But it is still not enough.
I was happy that I had gained weight. I thought I had succeeded. Truly, I did. But it feels to me, sitting here today, as if nothing was further from the truth. :( From what they are telling me. From what the next few weeks, months, years..(?) are going to involve, for me.
And then there was what crossed my mind on Friday, sitting on the bus home after my doctor's appointment, watching the rain fall gently against the window and snake down in little riverlets to the pane, not unlike my own tears as they slowly coursed down my face. That being...I don't want to go through this, anymore. I just want it to end. I don't want to eat anymore...I don't deserve to live. I just want to vanish off the face of this earth forever. I want to become sick, really, really sick...so sick I can and never will recover. I just want my life to end.
Or. I CAN choose to get better and recover. To gain more weight. To let it all go...to entrust myself completely to my doctors. To go and get the help and treatment that I need...though there is an enormous part of me which is telling me that it is not what I need. but no - is that part of me the part which is dominated by the ED, still? I just don't know, anymore. I just don't know.
And I KNOW what path I need to take, of course. On Friday I was consumed with guilt, sorrow, despair. I just felt as if my existence was worthless. I just thought...that all of these helping hands being extended towards me right now...I am not worth their time, their effort, their money. That I am a lost cause...I was brave, but not brave enough. I made some big changes...but what was required were enormous changes which I was too scared to make.
And so here I am today standing at the crossroads. And I know which way I need to go. I am going to take that road with my head held high. I will draw on the courage, the strength of purpose, and the determination that brought me this far - that prevented me, those few months ago, from well and truly giving in to my ED...from letting it destroy me. And I was very very close, I realise that now. If my body is in trouble now...well, this proves to me two things. That a few months ago, I was much, much closer to tragedy than I ever, every comprehended. And that now, having gained weight and to be forced to recognise that my body is still at enormous risk...well, I guess that manifests the extent to which I really did damage myself. In a way in which my body can't simply fix itself, on its own. It needs help and it needs it right now.
I'm only human. And I have made so many, many mistakes. Mistakes which now I regret with all my heart. I know I have made a mess of, well, pretty much everything. But I know that I can be strong. I have to be...and I will be. Right now, the easiest thing for me to do would be to give in, give up, for ever. because I have been trying to do this...for well, 8 years. Nearly half of my whole entire life, I have been struggling against an ED. Ever since I left the idyllic happiness of my childhood and entered into the troubles and trials of young adulthood.
I will be strong, I will be brave. And I know, I have all the help anyone could ever ask for. I know that life is never going to be one completely smooth road, but I hope that the time will come when there will be no more crossroads quite like this one. When I will be able to look at my life and at how far I have come, and say, with a smile on my face, that...I did it. And now, I am healthy, properly healthy - no strings attached. Now I have finally found happiness.
Saturday, 22 November 2014
So there will be no more sitting in stuffy lecture rooms with my eyelids feelings like weights as I struggle just to merely stay awake, let alone focus on what the lecturer is saying.
So there will be no more walking through that splendid Front Arch in the mornings on a clear day, and seeing that majestic domed sepulchre rise in front of me, proud and sublime against the pale blue of the sky. No more staring at that symbol of human excellence and accomplishment, and feeling that all-too-familiar, crushing sense of despair that always wells up inside me as I contemplate its greatness. I shouldn't be here.
What am I doing here?
I don't deserve to be here.
No...there will be no more of that. No more of that, because...I won't be there anymore. I had my third doctor appointment yesterday. Yes, I have gained weight since I was last there. Two kilograms so to speak. But my doctor has told me that I can't go on like this. I have to pull out for the year. In the upcoming weeks I am going to have to go to the hospital in Sandyford to have what he entitled as an "eating disorder reassessment" test done.
Depending on how bad they think my situation is...I am either going to be hospitalised, or receive out-patient treatment through eating disorder therapy clinics and counselling.
And so, no more am I allowed to be in control of my recovery...it it well and truly out of my hands. No more am I under any illusions about the extent to which I have damaged my body. And the weight I have gained over summer, over the past few months, even - no, it's still not enough. It wasn't enough to save me from this. Even though it feels like, to me, I am eating more food now than I ever did before this happened...well, let me tell you, it felt yesterday as if all of that didn't matter, at all. It was like I was being treated like an anorexic living off salad and rice cakes or something...that's how it feels for me, now. Despite everything which I thought, I had achieved. How do I feel right now? Well, it's a multi-faceted answer. Confused. Angry. Bitter. Miserable, wretched. Desperate Disbelieving. And above all...guilty. Confused because I don't understand why I am still so underweight...why I am supposedly in such danger, despite the fact I am eating, I am enjoying food, I WANT to gain weight. Angry at myself for not trying harder, for what I did in the past that has, obviously completely messed up my liver, my hormones, my ovaries...everything. Desperate and wretched because I thought I was on the way to being healthy...I thought I could do this, alone. And guilty, of course, because I feel as if I have let my loved ones down so, so badly, this time. To be honest it's hard to pinpoint which I feel the strongest right now...my head is like a battle field of conflicting, jarring emotions.
I just...I just don't understand. What has happened to me? Why I am still at such a low weight? Despite everything I have done, am doing? Perhaps...perhaps I have so badly damaged my body for the past, what, 8 years. That is is actually unable to repair itself, to gain weight? Or perhaps I am not better, and to say I am eating "properly" is a lie...maybe I am not? Maybe what I eat isn't "Normal eating" ?? What is normal eating? Maybe I am just so entrenched in this mess, I can't distinguish anything at all...my ED has robbed me of my mental faculties...I'm just a body, a small, weak one of that, with an ED stuck in her head ruling everything that body does. Nothing more? Has the real Emmy really been lost forever? :(
Wednesday, 19 November 2014
I want now to make a humble crumble apology to this delightful dessert that I made a good while ago now...gosh, I think it must have been 2 months ago :o at the beginning of autumn...one of my favourite times of the year, it has to be said. All the colours and the ripening fruits and berries on the trees, and the first few grumbles of "it's cold" floating about in the air alongside the twittering of the swallows as the prepare to depart to warmer climes. And in the orchards of our gardens, one can occasionally hear the odd plop or thud as a ripened fruit drops from its branch to the grassy floor beneath its parent tree.
AND then another falls...and another...and another. And as is often the case when one is lucky enough to have their own fruit trees, supply can be found to be greater than demand. It's lovely to be able to have an apple a day, but in general we don't want to have anymore than that. And so unfortunately - and this is a source of great sadness to Ganache-Elf - walking amongst fruit trees at this time of year is often a scenario which involves a great deal of squishing and slipperiness. Yes, one of the few sights of autumn that doesn't fill me with pleasure...for yes, similar to the way I don't like wasting my Oreos (see previous post.. ;) ), I do so hate to see any kind of lovely fruit go to waste. So it is crucial, in order to maintain this wonderful sense of tranquility brought about at this time of year, to come up with some yummy ideas to utilise as much ripening fruit as possible.
At the very bottom of our garden, we have a small cluster of apple trees, and also a plum tree. Which funnily enough never yielded anything for the past sixteen years we've been at Derryguile House. But this year...it's as if the plum tree felt the sudden need to make up for its general fruitless-ness by producing a bumper crop of purpley-red plums.
Trying to think of ways to use up cooking apples isn't too difficult as I am sure you all know. But plums are something I am not quite so familiar with. Up to this year I admit, I actually don't think I have had a plum before. Biting into one, I had a rather unpleasant surprise to find a little stone inside, which I found rather off-putting. These little guys were just like smaller versions of the much-loved nectarine, only not quite as sweet and with half the quantity of succulent fleshy fruit around the stone. And I had LOADS of them. What on earth was I going to use them for? And then, once again, Daddy Dearest comes to my rescue with a request for plum crumble.
Now I have to say, daddy is (or maybe that should be was..for (sniff sniff) crumble is most certainly not included on the healthy heart diet... :( ) one of those people who really, really does appreciate a good hearty crumble. This, however, was my first ever plum crumble...and I was, initially, pretty much certain that this new addition to the crumbly collection would never, surely, prove as popular as the classic apple and blackberry, or the scrumptious rhubarb. There's just something so wonderfully simple and comforting about crumble; in its irresistible combination of sweet, soft fruit, topped by a buttery, sugary mixture which is delicately crunchy in texture, though not too hard on the teeth...and yes, even though I often feel inclined to put twice the amount of toothpaste on the brush to clean my teeth afterwards to counteract such an intense hit of sugar, crumble always will hold a very special place in my heart and in my kitchen. It's one of the first things I baked as a little girl. And that first ever crumble was, needless to say, NOT plum. So did I rhu (heehee) substituting the beloved rhubarb for my glut of ripening plums? Was I berry wrong to make the risky decision of not using the traditional filling of blackberry and apple, for the sake of using up all these surplus plums?
Well no, I didn't, actually. Try this recipe out for yourself and you will understand exactly what I mean. I can honestly say that plum crumble is as equally delicious as its more popular counterparts...if not even yummier.
For the crumble...
- 225 g plain flour
- 125 g butter or margarine
- 125 g demerara or granulated sugar, or half of each.
- A little extra demerara sugar, for sprinkling
- about 600 g fresh ripe dessert plums, halved and stoned.
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon.
- 2 tbsp light brown soft sugar.
- Preheat oven to 180c/160. Grease a deep overnproof dish. Mine is round and about 20 cm in diameter.:)
- Grease the dish and lay the halved plums, cut side up, in a neat, even layer in the bottom of the tin. You might need to lay some of the halves on top of eachother, but that's ok.:) Once you've used up all the plums, sprinkle with the soft brown sugar and the cinnamon.
- To make the crumble, sift the flour into a bowl, stir in the 125 g sugar, and then dice the butter/margarine into small cubes.
- Rub the fat into the flour and sugar. Do this with your fingertips, lightly rubbing the cubes of butter/margarine until you end up with a fine, breadcrumbley mixture. Hold your hands high above the mixture as you do this, keeping your hands about the level of the bowl rim.
- Once the butter is completely rubbed in - there should be no big lumps of fat - sprinkle the crumble mix all over the plums in the dish.
- Sprinkle over the extra demerara sugar.
- Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, until the crumble is pale golden and the filling is hot.
- It is DIVINE served warm, with custard...mmmmmmm. :)
Tuesday, 18 November 2014
No, I wasn't...I know that now. I was just...in a dark place. I was sick...but in a way that wasn't quite so obvious as having a leg broken and in a cast, or having a really bad flu which makes your nose stream and your face pale and become drained of colour. No. Eating disorders are never quite as obvious as that, are they? So, so much can be hidden behind that bright smile, that cheerful face, that seemingly carefree and happy expression. Behind that innocent "oh no, I'm fine...I ate earlier" and those persistent claims of not being hungry and "sure I'll eat later". Often, noone knows... the sufferer, of course. Burdened with a secret you are too afraid, too ashamed, and too guilty to reveal to anyone, not even your loved ones, the people you trust the most.
But the above post title was the exact thought that crossed my mind today as I sat at the kitchen table, writing out, as tidily and as legibly as I could (for yes, unfortunately, my writing has dwindled to a scribbly, messy, almost impossible to read scrawl since I made the transition from school to university...bring back the fountain pens and hardback copies of my schooldays I say :( ) what I have eaten, day by day, over the past week; for the inspection of my doctor on Friday. As I wrote, I could not help but let my mind drift back to a time now quite so long ago...a time when I had become so used to restriction, hunger, denial...of going to bed every night and crawling underneath the covers and then hearing the hollow gurgles of your intestines in the dead silence as they try, once again, to digest food which just isn't there...a time when I had become so used to all of this, that what I know now was completely abnormal and unnatural and just plain senseless...well, to me, back then, that was normality.
I reflected on what I ate then. In comparism to now. And that's what made me feel so, incredulous. That's what made me consider...was I really crazy? But no...I know, I am a perfectly sane human being. But that doesn't mean my thoughts weren't completely and utterly messed up and manipulated... by my eating disorder. It's not insanity or madness or anything like that. It is a disease, a sickness, a horrible, horrible condition...one that begins in your head and then infects your whole mind...and then take its toll upon the body in the most destructive, damaging way.
This was what my eating disorder did to me.
The most obvious thing...I am, well, tiny. I know, this might be down to genes...but I am doubtful that this is the case for me. None of my family are particularly short. My mam is of average height, and has a lovely, curvaceous figure, as does my sister. My daddy and brother are both very tall and slender of frame.
I think...if I had eaten properly in that crucial growing period of my teens, I would have been alot taller than I am now...but my eating disorder stunted my growth. I have the body of fourteen year old.
In complete contrast to that...I have horrible, bony, veiny feet. Years of walking too far, for too long, all for the sake of burning off those few calories I had allowed myself to consume...and now I am suffering the consequences. They are sore, they are misshapen, the skin on them is often cracked and sore, and I walking in any kind of shoe that hasn't some sort of support is relatively a matter of great difficulty for me. This is where my obsessive exercising got me...as well as the fact of course that the bone structure of my delicate feet is probably all messed up...because I did not eat.
I have never had a period...my oestrogen levels took a massive hit during that period in which I had my ED and it seems, even though, they are unable to replenish themselves... and I am probably going to have to take hormone supplements or get IVF or something, if I ever do want to have children.
My skin is always flaky and dry, especially on my hands, legs, arms, stomach and underarms.
It's very likely that I have a very fragile bone structure, meaning that if I ever did break a bone, I would be in serious trouble.
I suppose they are all the main physical effects of the eating disorder...the impact it had on my body. Whether or not I will be able to rectify these in something which only time will tell. All I can do is hope. Hope, and take care of my amazing, undernourished, fragile little body, as best as I can. Fragile because of what I did to it...as in, depriving it of the nutrients it needed to become strong and fully grown.
Amazing, for its ability to survive all of that, despite weeks, months, years of continuous abuse, undernourishment, starvation.
Saturday, 15 November 2014
- 225 g softened butter/margarine
- 225 g caster sugar
- 225 g self-raising flour
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 4 eggs
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 4 tsp full-fat milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract/essence
- 100 g Oreo/Neo/J-O biscuits (I used original, but of course, there is absolutely nothing to stop you from using Double Stuff, Double Choc, Vanilla, Chocolate Creme...etc/ ;) (they are all the Oreo flavours I have thus discovered so far...are there any others in existence? If so please do let me know...partially for the spreading of baking ideas amongst my readers of course...but also, of course, because Ganache-Elf would dearly love to try them out for herself. ;)
- 200 g plain chocolate, broken into chunks.
- 200 ml single/double cream
- 100 g Oreos/Neos/J-Os etc. :) (This amount is a guide only...don't be shy, add more if you think more is required. :)
- First, make the sponge. Preheat the oven to 180 c/fan oven 160 c. Grease a 20 cm sandwich cake tin and line the bottom with baking paper.
- Chop 100 g of the Oreo biscuits carefully into pieces about the size of your fingernail.
Wednesday, 12 November 2014
I want to address this post to a number of bodies...because I know now something that, not quite so long ago, I would never, never have even considered.
That by not eating properly and starving myself, by letting my ED take control and make my decisions for me, that by slowly letting myself diminish into nothing but a skeleton...that I was doing so, so much harm to a number of human bodies...both in my life, and outside of it.
So today I just wanted to say sorry...sorry for everything I did. To all those bodies. I know I was wrong. I would do anything, give anything to transport myself back in time and change everything...but I know that that is impossible. So all I can do now is, to face my fears and take this one huge big step..or should I say, leap.
First and foremost...to everybody in my family, and my circles of friends.
For having to put up with my tears, my stress, my fits of panic and anxiety...for all the heartbreak, the anxiety and the worry, the feelings of helplessness and frustration I caused you for the past 8 years in which I have had my eating disorder...I will never, never be able to fully express how much it pains me now to think of what I dragged you through. For all the lies and deceit I made up to keep you from knowing the awful truth about my relationship with food and eating. For all those times when you encouraged me to eat and to take care of myself; and for how, each time you did so, I thoughtlessly ignored your advice, oblivious to your concern and your mental anguish as I continued on my self-paved path of destruction.
And yet, all this you endured and still, you refused to give up on me. You continued to love and care for me for all that time that I had my eating disorder...and now, as I tentatively make my way towards recovery once again, you are still there for me, supporting me every day, reminding me that I am not alone, that I am not a lost cause, offering me a shoulder to cry on, a warm hug, an attentive ear to which I can pour out the troubles of my heart to. for this and so much more...I love you all so, so much <3 <3 <3 and I am going to get better, for you...I know that this will never serve to make up for what I did. Though if there is just one small thing within my power that I can do, I know that this is it...and this time, I am never, ever going to look back. I will want to let you down ever again.
And I also want to say sorry to the bodies out there that I don't know...but who I now want to reach out to in this blog post. I know that there are so many, many people out there who may have - or still are - suffering from an eating disorder. And sadly, I know that there are probably some who will be, in the future, touched by this awful disease too. I know that I can't blame myself for becoming sick, for allowing my body to take on the appearance of a skeleton...but I do feel as if I could have tired harder to fight back my condition before now. And there were - I know myself - countless, countless times when I did claim to myself that I would eat better and stop restricting. But these fleeting moments of good intention never lasted very long and I would always, a few days after I made such assertions, revert back to my normal ways. And so I became thinner and thinner and thinner, and my ED became stronger and stronger and stronger. I was, slowly but surely, killing myself. I was permitting my ED to destroy me...I was, through my refusing to fight back, allowing my story to become one of defeat...and example of how EDs can, and will, kill the sufferer. And that, I believe, would have sent out a terrible, tragic, and very, very negative message.
Because I know now that they can and will be beaten.
But I just want to say sorry with all my heart. Sorry for nearly becoming that girl who allowed the ED to win...sorry for coming so, so close to testifying that an ED can be fatal.
And finally, to my own body...I know I abused you. I know I put you through hell, every single living day when I was in the grip of my ED.
I forced you to walk hours upon end in the lashing rain and cold winds...even when you were screaming at me to stop. I just ignored your cries for help.
I deprived you of the vital nourishment you needed to function and properly grow. I took no heed of you when you were staving...I denied you of one of your most basic and fundamental needs.
I ran you to the point of exhaustion...I wouldn't let you rest or sleep. I let you become fragile, bruised, unprotected...I wouldn't enable you to develop the vital protection you desperately needed, to cover up all the delicate organs and bones.
I promise that I will never mistreat you in such an abusive and damaging way ever, ever again.
Dear Every Body, I am so, so sorry...please forgive me. And know that I am going to put everything...heart and soul...into becoming better again. I promise.
Tuesday, 11 November 2014
My Daddy (being one of the main consumers of my baked goodies. ;) ) has just got his blood test results from a month ago. And unfrotunately, his cholesterol was a little too high for our liking...which means, yes, it brings a hard lump to my throat to say it...sniff, sniff...there are to be no more cakes. No more buns or cupcakes. for Daddy, that is. All together: awwwwww.
BUT. All is not lost!!!
I CAN still make Daddy nie things for his lunchbox etc. They just have to be...well, healthy. And kind to the heart <3
So yes, this is my new mission (amongst other things, of course. ;) ) I am going to put all my heart into making heart-healthy things for Daddy dearest.
And so I started off with these delightful little biccies yesterday. ;) I've called them sunflower oat cookies though please don't be disappointed that they don't, appearance wise, look anything like those gorgeous golden blooms of high summer. ut they are golden in colour, though!! Haha. No, the reason why I christened them thus is that I made them with Tesco Healthy Living Sunflower Spread instead of butter.
And they have raisins in them of course, and oats. Two things which I feel safe enough in classifying as healthy. But the best thing abbout these is that even though they are that wee bit better for you, they are, trust me, still undeniably scrumptious. I had one with my hot choc yesterday and I couldn't resist going back for seconds. The recipe yields roughly about 25 cookies, you see, so I wasn't too worried about there not being enough left for Daddy's coffee breaks during the week.:)
- 140 g sunflower spread (I use Tesco, but I am sure that other shops do their own version, too, and then of course there is Flora spread too, an excellent equivelent. Just make sure it says "suitable for baking" on the tub as some of these healthy-living spreads have a high percentage of water, which will yield disappointing results.)
- 50 g demerara sugar (the bigger granules of this brown sugar give a lovely crunch to the cookies. :)
- 100 g light brown soft sugar.
- 75 g caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla essence/extract
- 1 large egg
- 2 tbsp water
- 100 g self-raising flour
- 75 g raisins/sultanas
- 250 g rolled oats
- Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan. Line two big baking trays with baking paper.
- Soften the sunflower spread in a bowl with an electric mixer or a wooden spoon until very soft. Tip in the sugars and beat until light and fluffy.
- In a jug, beat the egg lightly with a fork. Add the water and the vanilla to the egg and mix well.
- Gradually, bit by little bit, add the beaten egg into the creamed mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl every now and again, until it is all nicely incorporated.
- Sift in the flour and the salt. Add the oats and the sultanas/raisins, and then mix all of it together with a large metal spoon until you have a sticky, oaty cookie dough. :)
- Now you need to transfer balls of the cookie dough to the prepared trays. Scoop up a dessertspoonful of cookie dough and then roll it into a ball in the palm of your hand. Place them on the trays, spacing them well apart to allow for spreading.
- Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes. They should be pale golden and still slightly soft in the centre...don't let them get too brown. ;) burnt oats don't taste too good. :( And the gorgeous chewiness of the little biccies augments their charm ever further. :)
- Leave them on the trays for about 5 minutes once you've removed them from the oven, and then carefully transfer them to a wire rack with a metal spatula.
- Leave them to cool completely or eat warm..just be careful if you go for the latter option as they will be a little fragile at first. ;) Now who said healthy biscuits taste like cardboard which has been baked? (to quote my brother. ;) ) Just give these a try and see for yourself. ;)
Sunday, 9 November 2014
Well, one wet afternoon this weekend, the dust particles experienced a temporary disruption in their development...for at long last Ganache-Elf endeavoured to have a sort-out...of sorts. :p I felt a curious sense of excitement as I began my excavation of my large and extremely untidy wardrobe; an excitement brought on mainly because of the aura of mystery and obscurity which surrounded this particular item of furniture...who knew what I might find?? ;) Perhaps that much-loved picture book Mam used to read to me when I was small...the aptly named Happy Endings with all those adorable pics of the rosy-cheeked hedgehogs and bushy-tailed squirrels? Or maybe that old painting-by-numbers set which I had received as a birthday present donkeys years ago, but had then seemingly vanished without a trace?
But no...I didn't find any of the above mentioned in my rummagings and siftings that rainy afternoon.(though give me time, as I can assure you the tidy-up operation of my room is FAR from over...indeed, will it ever end?! :o ) . But I did find something that made me feel extremely sentimental and nostalgic...as well as very, very sad too. It was my diary from 2006, the year that I started secondary school.
And written in that familiar, spidery, untidy handwriting which still hasn't really changed that much in eight years, was an entry entitled My deepest thoughts and feelings.
I'm not going to abridge this or change it or anything...this is exactly what I wrote.
There are many things that are worrying me. Well I worry everday but there are some that just don't go away.
For starters I am worried about putting on weight and losing my supposed "slimmness". I keep on worrying about visiting the restroom (toliet). Soon the Summer Exams will be here. What the flip am I going to wear for drama.*
Oh, it sounds ridiculous, doesn't it. You'd think I'm a flippin 5 year old, not a bloomin teenager! But I can't help it.
I am constantly, constantly worried about the weight thing. When I was young, I ate and ate and ate without worrying. But now...it's always guideline daily amounts, fat, sugar, salt, blah blah blah...
Oh, I am such a ninnie, But I don't think I can change my ways.
So reading this now...I suppose this is really, where it all began for me. This diary entry brought back alot of memories. Of those early stages of my eating disorder.
Opening the cupboard when I thought no one was looking and taking out the packet of Galaxy bars which Mam had always, always bought for me as they had always been my all-time favourite and my usual after-school snack. I would scrutinise the tiny writing on the side of the packet to see what the fat content was, and what percentage of the GDA one bar contained.
Taking out my sandwiches at school...taking out the ham or the filling, rolling it up in the clingfilm and throwing it away.
Scraping butter off my toast in the mornings and off sandwiches and bread. Getting off the bus with my sister and looking at all the other girls walking towards the Brigidine Convent and thinking...they are so, so slim. And I'm not. Lying awake at night worrying about my weight and what I had eaten that particular day. Would tomorrow be bad? Would I have to eat a lot? What if...what would happen if I gained anymore weight? What would I do?
It makes me so sad, to think about how, in our society and culture, there are so man,y many women and girls who prioritise being slim and that "perfect size" as a pose to being happy, healthy, and comfortable in their own skin...
No of course, I am not saying it is okay to be obese. That's not what I mean. I just feel, that in media and in schools and so on, there's alot of attention drawn towards the problem of obesity. And that's fair enough, because yes obesity is dangerous and we should do everything we can to help those who are struggling.
But what of the other eating disorders...anorexia, restrictive EDs, bullimia. Do we read about these as much in the news? Do they feature as commonly as obesity on health-focused TV programmes?
And of course, there is the one simple fact that they are alot less obvious...alot less explicit. It's easy to hide away an eating disorder...hide it away behind a smile, a brave face, an excuse and a bunch of lies. And then noone knows that you are slowly destroying yourself from the inside, until it is much, much too late...
I remember going into school as that 12 year old who wrote the above diary extract. Home ec, science, SPHE...in all of these subjects, diet and healthy eating were dealt with to some extent. There seemed, again, alot of emphasis placed on the dangers of obesity. But of eating too little and developing an eating disorder? No, not really. At all. I don't know if things have changed now; that was almost 8 years ago after all. I sincerely hope they are.
What we need, of course, is some sort of halfway line between the two. So that children and young people can understand that yes, it IS important to eat healthily, to have an active lifestyle, to not eat McDonalds every day, and so on. While at the same time, making them recognise that there is NO such thing as a perfect body shape. And that skinniness is not something to be admired or aimed for.
*Just to explain this. I used to go to speech and drama when I was in first year. I didn't enjoy it, and I think this is where I also started to get really self-conscious about my appearance in a destructive and negative way. :( The "flip" I seem to be always using here I think was my 12-year-old's version of the f word as you've probably already guessed.