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.:)
Friday, 29 May 2015
Day 13: Have your struggles changed you, for better or for worse?
I suppose at the beginning, when I became sick, these changes were all extremely negative. No, more than negative: destructive, harmful changes. I used to be such a happy, carefree, vibrant girl; full of the energy and blissful exuberance of youth. I was always smiling: a real smile, not a feigned one. My positivity and cheerfulness were infectious, and I had a tonne of friends when I was at primary school, male and female alike. Likewise I was very confident. I used to love speech and drama, and attended classes for some time. Irish dancing, recorder playing, and art I also loved. I even used to play soccer with the lads at breaktime in primary school. All my friends would stand and watch, giggling away and calling out to me that boys were too rough to play with, but I would always just laugh and shake my head, and dash away after the ball, long hair trailing behind me.
But then, when Ed came into my life...that all changed.
Gone was the confidence, the positivity, the talkative, bright personality. It was as if almost every single thing about me was changed, inside and out. Iwithdrew into myself and didn't open up to a soul about what was going on inside my head. My constant laughter was replaced by silence, or tears late at night when noone could see me. There were times as well that the Voice inside my head made me become bitter and defensive. I said things that I didn't mean, hurt those who I loved and cared for, did things which I would never, ever have even dreamt of doing, at one time. If my eating disorder felt as if it had come under threat, it would force to do anything, say anything to keep me under its grip and keep my secret safe. I have always considered myself as being an honest person, but because of what my eating disorder did to me, I lied to those I loved, tricking and deceiving them about my distorted little ways.
I no longer went to drama classes; I didn't get involved in any sports or interactive activities at school. I didn't enquire as to whether there were any dancing classes or music groups in myarea either. When I wasn't at school, I spent my time on my own, usually with my head buried behind a school textbook. My life became revolved around school, study...and my eating disorder.
Along with the obvious physical changes that occurred as a result of my anorexia, there were many psychological and mental changes involved, as well - all negative ones. My mood dipped drastically whereas my anxiety levels rose in contrast. When I went to college in September 2012, my eating disorder intensified, as did my levels of depression and anxiety. At one point thoughts of suicide were never far from my mind. I felt so worthless, so stupid, so ridiculous. I hated every inch of my being.
But things have changed since then. Since I began my recovery journey, there have been many more changes, both physical and psychological. But I think, for me, the most important of these changes is that my struggle to recover has made me stronger as a person. I have come a long, long way from the girl I once was. That girl would have been absolutely terrified, at the thought of having to leave home to go into hospital for nine weeks; of having to cut out exercise, of having to face all of her fear foods and break all the ED-related habits, behaviours and rules that she had been practising for almost half of her lifetime. But yet, I persevered, and I did all of these things, and more. I fully recognise the fact that recovery is most likely the most difficult and frightening of decisions someone with an eating disorder will have to make in their lifetime - and that it requires immense courage, strength and determination to make that decision and embark upon that journey.
I think my struggles against my eating disorder have also made me more open, more aware to the needs and feelings of others. I like to think that I have always been a considerate and thoughtful young woman, but now even more so than before. I have a strong sense of empathy and compassion. I never jump to conclusions straight away, or make any kind of assumptions or judgements about a person through impression, appearance or behaviour. There are always two sides to a story and I fully recognise and appreciate that. Likewise, I do not judge people for their flaws and faults. There is no such thing as being "perfect" as a human being. Striving for perfection is both fruitless and harmful, even destructive, as I learnt to my cost. I have learnt through my struggles that they key to happiness is learning to love and accept yourself for who you are, with all of your beautiful, unique "imperfections"... <3 xxx
Summer 2014, at my thinnest...but it was here when I began to fight back against my anorexia...