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, 9 November 2014

so this is where it all began...

By nature, I am most definitely one of life's hoarders. It drives my poor Mammy up the wall as in this respect we are complete and utter opposites. mam's motto? If it's of no further use/purpose etc anymore...than dump it! But her daughter, on the other hand, is very, very different. The very thought of giving away that tattered old teddy bear with the tail hanging on by a couple of threads...or those ancient scraps of paperwork with the appearance of old manuscripts which, at one time, served the purpose of acting as the vital clues in the highlight of my Easter holidays as a child...(that being, of course, the ritual Easter Egg hunt.. ;) ) ..? No, you wouldn't find me tossing them thoughtlessly into the recycle bin or stuffing them into boxes to be stacked away in the loft, never to be seen again. And thus, interesting accumulation of junk has gradually built itself up in the various nooks and crannies of my room, all of which has acquired an impressive covering of dust due to being left, undisturbed and untouched, for possibly years upon end.

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 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.

Dear Diary.
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'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, 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.

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