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.:)
Monday, 16 February 2015
Chapter 3: My Eating Disorder and Me.
My eating disorder remained with me for the whole six years I spent in secondary school education. I had my ups and downs. The summer after second year, we spent a week in my homeland, the beauitful countryside of the east coast of Kent. It was yet another family holiday which I see as marred by my eating disorder; perhaps even more so than the American one. I had continued to lose more weight over second year.
During our time in Kent we paid a visit to Canterbury, the magnificent historical city. Lunch of course became a stressful affair for me when mam and dad decided to go into a traditional English pub for something to eat. I didn't finish what I ordered, of course, and retreated to the bathroom in a flood of tears. When I eventually reappeared, mam quietly asked me had I just vomited up what I had just eaten. The pain in her eyes hurt me even more than the actual question itself...or should that be, accusation; for as I shook my head in denial, I could clearly see that she didn't believe me anymore; and I had lost her trust. What made it even more painful, of course, was the fact that on this occasion, I actually was telling the truth.
I never did make myself sick, even when my eating disorder was at its most malignant. This was one of the things that I used as a shield against any inner contemplations on my part, that what I was doing was clearly far from normal. I had a number of them. Well I would never, ever even dream of making myself throw up food, I reassured myself, so there's no way I could ever qualify for an eating disorder...so there's nothing wrong with me. And there were others, too: I never got colds and flus, I wasn't so thin that I could count my ribs and fit into child-size clothes; I was seemingly able to walk for hours upon end without feeling onle little twinge of discomfort or tiredness. Yes, I was restricting...but what was wrong with that? I had achieved what I had aimed for...I was, in my head, "slimmer" now, though to people around me, I was underweight. I felt safe now, safe from my the dreaded fear that had become ingrained in my brain ever since I started at secondary school. And after all, everything seemed to be working in my favour...I had lost weight and there had been no negative consequences involved in doing so. Except...there was, of course. I was just blind to those consequences. I did not have an inkling of how much damage I was causing myself, both physically and mentally.
But yet, while all this was going on, my eating disorder was kept at bay in a number of ways; it was prevented, I suppose, from developing into something even more dangerous. Mam was keeping a close eye on me whenever I was at home. I had made some more friends in third year, and whenever I was with them, sometimes I would forget about all my little self-made rules and regulations circulating around foods I could and could not eat; the amounts, the numbers, everything. And then, there was the upcoming Junoir Cert. I wanted to do well; every fibre of my being yearned to do well in my exams and pass with flying colours, and thereby make Mam and Dad proud of me. But I discovered on the days I would restrict, I couldn't concentrate or focus half as well, and my grumbling stomach would compel me to go and get something to eat.
And yes, 2008-2009 were actually fairly good years, in terms of my eating disorder. I gained a little weight, I had a magical Christmas with my family. I sat my Junior Cert exams in June and received the results in September. I was delighted - seven As, three Bs and a C was more than I could ever have asked for. This was also the time when my love for baking began to form itself. I went to Mallorca with my family that summer. There were a few little slip-ups on my part, but nothing major: the odd fleeting moment anxiety or tension, like pebbles skimming over a glistening pond...
Us in Mallorca, July 2009
I felt, for the first time in what seemed like an eternity, happy.
But my eating disorder hadn't truly gone away, of course. Beneath the surface, beneath all the smiles and the laughter, lay something malign of a potentially dangerous, even deadly, force...
Up to this point in my life my eating disorder had only created ripples, ripples in the once calm, still lake of which my life was comprised...
But then my time in secondary school education had reached its inevitable end, and I found myself embarking upon a whole new journey, leaving home to study English in Trinity College, Dublin.
And then those barely noticeable, seemingly insignificant little ripples became angry, destructive waves, and that little lake a cold, cold sea in which I found myself drowning.
Until that one day when i suddenly discovered. that I no longer wanted to live like this...for it wasn't living. It was drowning, dying. And so I lifted myself above the water surface, took one deep breath, filling my body with strength. And then despite al my fear, the numbness, the anxiety, I began to swim for the golden shore on the horizon.