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, 28 December 2014
It was the end of my old world...
Anyway, to return to the point...2014. I'll try to not drone on too much. As there is an awful lot more that I could say, about my 2014. Of course alot of things I don't remember, but there are some of those painful, minute details about what I did which I can't entirely erase from my memory.
And so in January of this year, the Christmas holidays drew to a close and it was time for me to return to college. My Christmas had been nice. I was still skinny, of course, but not painfully so.Up to this point, I hadn't quite entered that phase which was to become the worst stage of my eating disorder...but I think this did begin in late January, early February of this year.
Up till this year, I don't think I had ever intentionally , purposefully skipped a meal. Of course, perhaps one of two times in the past, if say I had been on holidays with my family and our plane had got delayed or something like that. But that aside...skipping meals at one time was just, well unthinkable to me really. I never used to like being hungry, as it meant that I got irritable and couldn't concentrate. But that all changed this year, too. I started to want to have that empty, hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach, which reassured me that there was no way I had eaten enough in the past few hours, days, week.
Why did I sink so low at the beginning of this year...? Well...in a similar way as when my eating disorder first developed all those years ago, there were a few things involved. First of all...loneliness. I was lonely, sad and isolated. And that meant that my appetite was pretty much non-existent. I became against the idea of eating alone....if ever was the case that I was on my own any morning, afternoon, evening or night, I would not eat. No matter how hungry I was.
There were other factors too which pushed me down ever deeper. The persistent feelings of self-worthlessness, self-hate, low self-esteem. I wanted to punish myself, in a way - and I told myself I was a good-for-nothing, stupid, unattractive girl whose existence was completely and utterly unnecessary. But as I mentioned before, I was too afraid to attempt suicide. But I derived strength from the fact I could damage myself in this sort of way. On the other hand, when I felt a little more upbeat and I didn't feel as self-hateful, a little voice at the back of my brain whispered to me that what I was doing, what I had been doing was very, very wrong. But what of it? I always answered to that voice, pushing it gently away. There's nothing wrong with me. I can walk miles and miles, noone can keep up with me when I'm walking. I never get colds. I'm no anorexic. I'm in perfectly good health! And so on I went, and the brief moments of happiness would always pass, to be engulfed and consumed by the other, oppressive feelings of uselessness and self-loathing.
What I didn't seem to take heed of, when I carelessly told myself that I'm in perfect good health , was the other signs which, to any other person, might have indicated that something was seriously wrong with my body.
For one thing, I had never, ever had one period, and I was fast approaching my 20th birthday.
Secondly, I was always so, so tired. Not boldily: rather, mentally : I could never do any kind of study, because when I went to sit down with my book and notes, a heavy cloud of sleepy sluggishness would overcome me.I would sit there staring at the page, the words meaningless and incomprehensible, tears of frustration pricking my eyes as I berated myself, over and over again, convinced that I was just naturally stupid and incapable of doing anything.
By March, I was steadily but surely losing more and more weight. College was bad and I was struggling to keep up with my fellow students. The exams were fast approaching and I hadn't done any kind of revision.
As the month dragged on, I, at the advice of one of my closest friends, went to the counselling service at Trinity to talk about my academic concerns. A tall, middle-aged man with brown hair and a kind, sincere face sat down with me and asked me why I had came. He glanced over the questionaire I had filled out in the waiitng room, which was used by the counsellors to help them identify where the student's problems really lay. A moment passed, and then he lifted his eyes to meet my own. I could feel the weight of his gaze.
I think he knew. He knew that I had lied on that form. This questionnaire consisted of a number of statements (eg. I struggle with low self-esteem), which, in your response to, you were required to indicate whether or not the statement applied to you.
I had answered, truthfully and honestly, to every single one of them...except one.
I have issues with eating.
I talked for about 50 minutes with my counsellor about my stress, my anxiety, my feelings of ineptitude and worthlessness and wretchedness. At 10 to 12 my counsellor stood up and shook my hand, but before he let go he looked into my eyes and asked me was I sure there was nothing else I wanted to talk about before I went.
I hesitated, slightly taken aback. I hadn't cried for the whole session, much to my surprise, as I am in general quite an emotional person. But I had checked my tears. Though at the very moment, I wanted so badly to cry. It was one of those brief, fleeting moments when i realised that what I was doing in regard to my eating was wrong. No. I don't, I CANT have an eating disorder, a hard voice said firmly. But then...how come you are so tired and lacking of energy? So hungry all the time? whispered another tiny little voice, so muffled it was as if it were speaking through layers of thick fabric. What do you think Mam would have said if she saw how little pasta you ate last night?
And so I smiled, and told another lie. I said I was fine, and thanked him for everything he had done. His eyes were sad and concerned as I turned to go.
But his words and advice stayed with me. Another month passed...March daffodils were replaced by the buds and blossoms of April; and then the cool freshness of early spring surrendered to the warm, sunlit touch of May. And it was in May 2014 that I finally realised that I couldn't stay blind and helpless forever. I realised, with certainty, that I was suffering from an eating disorder.