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, 29 June 2015

Holiday challenges..

It's now about quarter past 8 here in Mallorca and I'm sitting at the little patio table outside the villa, the beautiful, fragrantly-scented bower above my head alive with chirping house sparrows, their sweet music backed by the faint gurglings of the coffe machine in the kitchen and the soft tappings of my laptop keys. The early morning sky is crystal-like in its perfection: blue, clear and depthless, with a shimmering ball of gold rising majestically to the east - a priceless polished coin of gold floating through an endless, still ocean of the purest azure.

It's the third day of the holiday and I thought I would use this post as a reflection on the challenges that I want to address at this point and share some advice based on my experience and what I have learned from it.

Over the past few days I have become more aware of my own weak spots and what I am most likely to struggle with, being here in my new environment - different house, different climate, different food and different routine.

  • I know this might sound strange for some but for me, the heat sometimes makes it more difficult to stick to my mealplan. If I sit out in the sun for too long I begin to feel sickly and light-headed and then this affects my appetite. There is always the temptation to have "Light" foods only on holidays like salad and yoghurt and fruit and convince oneself that this is what you really want (and yeah, maybe it is...but it certainly is NOT all the time!!). Like for me as you know I am the biggest chocolate/hot chocolate fan in the world...but the first day the Voice in my Head tried to tel me it is to warm to have either, even though I wanted to have them. 
  • The meal times are different then the ones at home - lunch and dinner are eaten later- and this in turn effects my snack times.
  • Its hard for me to find some of the things that I eat at home and which I really enjoy...and personally, I find a meal plan very hard to stick to, if there is stuff on it which I dont like. 
  • For lunch at home me and my family would usually have sandwiches or filled baps or something similar but here, things are different, its more a sort of buffet thing with bread and different meats and salad and suchlike and you are supposed to go in and help yourself. Which I find pretty tough.
  • Oftentimes I am the only one having snacks and milky drinks which can be difficult too.
  • My Mam and my Auntie are very much into fitness and training which can be very triggering as well, whenI am exposed to it on a daily basis.
Plan of how I am going to Overcome these challenges:

  • Well firstly, the most sensible thing is NOT to sit in the sun for too long!!! I love being out in thesun but sitting directly in it, if I was honest, I find boring and not really that pleasant. There is plenty of things you can do to keep yourself cool - spraying with a cold hose or having a cold shower , having a dip or a swim in a pool (but NOT overexercising and only swimming if you want to/feel like it/an exercise!!!). After a dip in the pol here my habit is to sit in the sun till Im dry and then to go and sit in the shade. And by doing this you are less likely to become too hot and your appetite wont be affected!!
  • To be honest, I havent let the hot weather put me off having hot chocolate - my eating disorder would have liked it to have, but I wasnt going to let it!! ;) but I have also bought in some chocolate milk which I also love and can enjoy ice cold if i so wish.
  • And just asking yourself when you find yourself tending to always have the "lighter" options. Is this really what you want?Do you really want to have salad again for the third time in a row say..or is there a tiny voice at the back of your brain saying that really, you would love a Spanish omelette?? I am going to give you some advice a dear friend once told me: when you hear that little voice, not the Voice of your ED - but your voice, the voice of your very own heart, which you know, deep down, is the voice which is telling you to do what is right - then GRAB ON to that voice and GO WITH IT. Don't wait, hesitate or deliberate. Just go with your heart and AGAINST your eating disorder!! I know, for some, it might be hard to distinguish between your own desires and that of your ED's...but I strongly believe that if you look deep inside yourself, deep inside your very own heart, you WILL know.
  • Ask for help and support with meals or snacks that you find difficult, like I did today, I sat next to Mam at lunch and she helped me to decide what to have and a suitable amount too, which I was grateful. The only thing that bothers me of course, is that I feel that I should be able to do this myself, but at present, I dont feel quote strong enough to. So I am very lucky that I have my Mam to help me with that <3 
  • In regard to being the only one eating and being triggered by other people exercising. this is something that I find really hard to deal with myself, and I am sure I am not the only one. But I know that in this regard we have to focus on ourselves. To not be like sheep and feel like we have to do what everyone else is doing, eat what everyone else is eating, make food choices based on what everyone else has chosen. Why do we feel like we have to do that??

You're not a are YOU and you should NEVER have to feel like you have to act or be like someone else!!!!

Sunday, 28 June 2015

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger...

So claims the title of Kelly Clarkson's chart-topping hit from back in 2011, a song that one might hear belting out from the electronic speakers in any gym or sport hall. With its powerful lyrics and uplifting, pulsating rhythm, it emphasizes and celebrates human strength and perseverance, no matter how tough or difficult the situation, and thus has seemed to have earned its place as an appropriate anthem to those engaged in sports or activities which require immense physical exertion, will power or strength.

But I think that the main message of this song can be applied to recovery, too.

Because with anorexia or any eating disorder, there are two choices you can essentially make, when you have reached that crucial point when you come to realise that you do have a mental illness, a serious mental illness, which has claimed the lives of so many innocents before now, and continues to do so this very day.

You can allow your eating disorder kill you...
or, you can use it to make you stronger...

everyone who has chosen recovery knows that it was never and is never going to be easy. To recover might be the hardest thing you ever choose to do in life. It requires more strength, determination and perseverance than the longest and hardest of marathons, the steepest and most dangerous of mountain climbs, the toughest and most challenging of tennis matches.

But taking courage and believing in yourself, and taking all those seemingly small. but infinitely crucial steps up that mountain which is recovery - by doing these things, you are making yourself stronger, you are taking an active stance against your eating disorder, you are claiming back everything that the Voice in your Head took away from you.

As many ED sufferers are most likely aware, leaving the familiarity of home surroundings and going on holidays is something which is more than likely going to bring up some uncomfortable and anxiety-provoking situations. equally, the eating disorder may be availed of the opportunity to take advantage; in an environment in which the sufferer might easily be tempted to overexercise (swimming pools, cycling or running when other members of the holiday group are asleep or relaxing, going to the gym in a hotel, to name a few) and also where meal plans may become difficult to follow, and routines and meal times may be altered or jumbled.

But yet once again we are faced with that one inevitable choice. to give in to ED and its ruthless dictations...or fight the Voice and make yourself stronger.

Today and yesterday were full of challenges for me, when I was faced, more than once, with that definitive decision, of whether or not to listen to my eating disorder.

When we reached the villa yesterday it was about 5 o clock, which is usually the time which I would have my afternoon snack and hot chocolate. Yet noone else but me seemed aware of this, in the excitement and hustle of finally having arrived at the beautiful country villa, surrounded by spectacular scenic views. There was  amad rush to get the suitcases out the car and unpacked before making a beeline for the pool. Standing alone in the middle of the tiled, neat little kitchen, I felt a familiar surge of fear. Noone was there to support me, remind me or prompt me. And it would have been so, so easy to just give in then and not have anything. To just lie through my teeth again like I have done so many times before. To let my eating disorder win.

But you know what...I didn't. I did the stronger thing and made myself my favourite milky drink and took a piece of malt loaf to go with it as my snack.

As I said in my last post...I know that this isn't going to be any straight road, any easy climb...but I know that if keep on defying my ED and facing my fears and going completely against that Voice in my head..I will make myself stronger. And so can you. Be strong and face your fears!!

Just one of the pics I took of the gorg scenery today. 

Friday, 26 June 2015

I'm Here!!! :) xxx

Hi everyone!!!:)
First things first…thank you so, so much for the comments and words of support and well-wishes posted here over the past few days <3 what can I say, I was so, so overwhelmed by such a poignant display of kindness and generosity…it really touched my very heart and I just wanted to all offer you all a sincere and massive thank you, you are all just so, so, so AMAZING and it is all for YOU which I dedicate this post today!!

I apologise if my blogging is  abit on the scattered side at the moment as well ;) As you might have guessed, the past few days I was preparing for the holiday and catching up on myself, and now, here I am, sitting writing to you from my room in a gorgeous country villa in North Mallorca. Blogging on the move is fun and exciting and I am really looking forward to sharing my adventures with you for the next couple of weeks.

And as also mentioned, this is the holiday to which ED is NOT invited, at any place, at any time, no matter the circumstances. I am determined more than ever to make this so, especially following the surge of support and encouragement I have received from my readers. <3 I think this is also the perfect occasion to reflect on what I can do to help myself while I am away and keep ED pushed down into the dirt where it belongs!!! I hope that by sharing my experience and advice I might be able to help any one else out there who might be holidaying or travelling while suffering with an eating disorder. I COMPLETELY understand just how difficult this might be as for the past 8 years I went away with my parents and, unfortunately, ED sitting contently on my shoulder, whispering in my ear and dominating every thought that ran through my head, ever decision that I made, every action that I did. And each and everyone of those holidays were, of course, tainted by that Voice in my Head, meaning that there were tears when there should have been laughter, anger when there should have been joy, rows and disagreements when there should have been nothing but harmony and accord. I regret these things, I regret them with all my heart, and there I wish for nothing more than to be able to go back in time and change everything, make everything better, guide myself down the right path instead of falling into the arms of Ed and letting him direct me, instead, every living moment of every single hour of every single day.

But I know that I cant , of course, travel back in time, and that those days are gone, now, never to be relived. All that I have are the memories, the regrets, and the hate. The hate I feel for that demon in my head, which has wrecked my bones and given me the body of an ancient, which has caused me and all those I love untellable amounts of painand heartache and misery, and has essentially imprisoned me in a web of deception and deceit, depression and isolation for all of my adolescence and beyond…

But this one fact remain true: we should take that hate and use it to make us strong, strong against the Voice that seeks to hurt us, to betray us, to ruin us and destroy us. And we should use that strength to fight that Voice with every single breath that we take, so that we can finally spread our wings and fly, like the beautiful butterfly finally liberated from the suffocating confines of its cocoon…

 Anyway, that’s it for now- just a quick little post to say where Im at and what Im up to, and of course, to thank you personally from the heart, again and again and again. <3 xxx

Mallorca... <3 xxx

Normal blogging will (hopefully!! ;) ) resume tomorrow. (If my blogging style can be described as anyweher near normal, heehee!! ;) Good night everyone!!! <3 xxx

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

No room for you any longer, Ed...

In a few days time, I will be scrambling into the back of Daddy's jeep, dressed, more than likely, in my usual attire of a dress and skechers (I know, like sooo unfashionable...but when you are like me and have a dodgy knee and fragile feet to match, more often than not the pumps or the fancy heels or whatever are going to be ditched for a good ol' pair of runners!!! ) and with my leopard-print girly sunglasses, balanced, in a somewhat haphazard position on top of my head, ready to fall with a glorious clatter - it will probably be the hundredth and something time they would have done so, ever since I bought them back in March!!) - at any second. At my side, I will have a wide-ranging and extensive little assortment of items to keep me entertained for the duration of the car journey - knitting needles and tangled balls of wools or various different colour shades; a couple of chunky reading books textures and thicknesses; journals and diaries, big and small, dog-eared and pristine, each one designated for a different purpose or function. This is how the Ganache-Elf goes on holidays. She ALWAYS brings more junk than she really needs and forgets the stuff that she actually does.

This will be my fourth holiday in Mallorca; that beautiful gem of Mediterranean radiance which holds, for me, so many memories. Some of those memories are infinitely precious and make my eyelids prickle with unshed tears if I were ever to think of them. Happy, beautiful memories of days full of sun and sand and happiness; if golden beaches and grey-skinned olive trees in their neat little groves; cobalt blue skies and the sound of our laughter mingling with the cries of the swifts wheeling in the sky and the humming of crickets crouched in the grass.

But the other kind of memories I associate with mallorca also make me want to cry, but in a different sort of way to before. Because I have memories, there, memories of being a girl with an ED, a girl with an ED on holiday. Who couldn't relax and enjoy herself, because behind that smile she flashed at the camera, behind the protective frames of her sunglasses which she wore to conceal her facial expression, behind all the giggles, the laughter, the joy and the excitement and the outward show of complete and utter carefree happiness - lay something dark, deadly and destructive; that being, of course, ED, ED at his very worse, ED seeking to control and spoil the holiday with my loved ones, in every single way. On holidays with my ED, I would overexercise, cry and create a scene in restaurants, refuse to try local specialities and delicacies, reluctantly eat ice cream and then compensate desperately at the next given opportunity, shut myself away from everyone else, isolate, block out, and hurt, hurt myself, my body, and everyone around me. It tore at my soul, it broke my heart and caused me so much pain, to see just how much I was impinging on their happiness, and their enjoyment of the holiday - but yet, I just couldn't stop. On nearly every single family holiday, there was many a night when I would cry and sob into a spotless white pillow of the villa or hotel of holiday home; stricken with guilt, wrecked with unhappiness, torn with self-hatred and shame.

My holiday in Mallorca last year...but I want things to be different now...

So many holidays, so many memories...of myself, and my family, on holiday, with my ED.

I never want that to happen, ever, ever AGAIN.

My friend, as we hugged one another more fiercely than ever today, in the knowledge that we would not see eachother for a fortnight or so, whispered something in my ear; a piece of advice which I am determined more than ever to take to my heart.

You are going to have a great time. Emmy. You are going to be just fine. And just remember. you're going to get on that plane and this time, there is going to be no seat, no room for ED. 

All set for my holiday! And I know, that there will be challenges and anxieties...But nothing I cannot overcome <3 and I hope that by facing my fears and sharing my thoughts, advice and experiences while away, I will be able to help anyone anyone else out there wit an ED, and prove that, despite all the odds, recovery is possible!!

So let's stand together now and take action, as no one, not one person on this planet, should be forced to make room for an eating disorder, and all the pain, all the suffering, all the bitterness that it brings into their life...<3 xxx

Monday, 22 June 2015

Day 25: What and who makes me smile...:)

This is just what I needed today  - a little positive post!! As today has been a rather tough, in many more ways than one. And unfortunately my knee is no better. I feel as if I have been knocked down and kicked till black and blue, both physically, and mentally. But anyway, I got through it, and here I am at home again with my beloved kitten mug, filled to the brim with my favourite ever drink, and my dusty ole' laptop, faithfully humming merrily away as ever. ;) I got through today, tough as it was, and now, as I sit here reflecting on all which I went through, today and in the past before... I do believe that I do have the strength, to keep on fighting and pushing through the tough times (as, unfortunately,everyone does have tough days's just a matter of learning how to cope and deal with those sort of days!!:) ) and working towards making myself a happier, more positive, more confident, more independent, stronger young woman. That being ME, Emmy Snelgrove. NOT Emmy with an ED. And if I an do it, I know that you can, too. Don't EVER give up. If you believe you can, you WILL!!! <3 

And so, here is ANOTHER little list (sorryyyyyy me and my lists huh ;) ), of what makes me smile from ear to ear ;)

  • HUGS...even when I'm feeling really down or upset, being enveloped in the arms of someone who cares is guaranteed to make me smile and feel better in an instant <3
  • The friends who have stuck by me, through good times and bad times, through the laughter and the tears. I once heard this saying, When life raised me high, my friends knew who I was. When life pushed me down to the ground, I knew who my friends were. I think this is so true, for me in particular. 
  • Comments on my blog....I love reading comments from people and answering makes my day to hear from a reader and always brings a huge smile to my face when I see there's a comment awaiting my attention :)
  • Errrr..well I HAD to include hot choc, didn't I? ;) And melted chocolate. ahhhhhhhhh :p

  • My beloved springer spanial, Benny <3 The cutest, boldest, most lovable doggy ever <3
  • Felix, the little black and white bundle of trouble who is my gorgeous feline companion. I mean, just look at him...isn't he the purr-fect reason to smile from ear to ear? ;)
  • My amazing granny <3 My granny Hillier and I have always been close, ever since I was a little girl, and years later nothing much has changed in that respect. She is the sort of person who would lift your spirits even on the most oppressing and hardest of days. She can talk the legs off a donkey and always makes me chuckle and smile, with her anecdotes and old wive's tales and witty sayings. And most of all, I know that she cares for me and loves me unconditionally, regardless of my past, my mistakes, my wrong choices. I only have to pick up the phone and hear her voice, and then my day is brightened in an instant and a massive smile creeps across my face. <3
  • Getting handwritten letters in the post!!!! Love them so so should see me when I get one I'm like the little kid under the Christmas tree about to open his little pile of tightly wrapped, colourful prezzies <3
  • And YOU, my readers. Your kind thoughts and caring advice, your amazing support and beautiful words...they honestly MEAN THE WORLD to me and to hear from you is guaranteed to make me smile, from ear to ear.. <3 xxx

Saturday, 20 June 2015

A Girl made of Glass.. :'(

Yesterday something happened to me which I thought I would share with you today. That something, I'm not going to lie, really did frighten me, alot.And not only that, it once again felt as if reality had just leaped across my path and hit me right in the face.

You see for a normal person, what unfolded yesterday would probably not have been of any major significance whatsoever. To many it would have been just something that, once it has happened, will be brushed over and forgotten about in a matter of hours. But for me, the memory of what occured in my garden yesterday is still as sharp and as fresh as a rose thorn pushed into the tip of a finger. Because I remember exactly the taste of the fear I had felt in that moment...The stinging in my eyes as I struggled to hold back the tears. It was just an ordinary day. Mam had made me hot chocolate and had gone off to work, and,  as was often my custom on a sunny day, I had pottered outside with mug and laptop in my arms. And then, suddenly and horribly, my smooth pace was cut short my right foot smashed into the large watering can which had been placed at the edge of the concrete. Being full to the brim with water, the big, green-coloured can hardly moved at all with the impact - but I certainly did. Lurching forward, caught off balance, I flung out my arms desperately, and suddenly my fingers came into contact with the smooth wood of the patio table that, having remained dormant and unused in the garage all winter, had only just been positioned there by Daddy last weekend.

But as I managed to catch myself, I placed too much pressure on my right knee and suddenly felt a sharp pain. I sat down hard in the little chair by the tale and burst into tears - and no, not because of the aching sensations in my kneecap. It was because I realised just how close I had come to falling, falling onto the pitiless, hard concrete of the patio. There was every possibility that I could have broken a bone.

I might as well be made of glass. If I fall, I shatter.

My knee was a bit better today, though it is still very sore and I am limping ever so slightly. But on this occasion, I was lucky; I got off lightly, with a twisted knee, by the looks of things. But on the other side of the coin, it makes me bitterly despondant to contemplate how just by landing at a slightly awkward sort of poisition on my right leg, I have ended up injuring myself, again. Again, doing something which normal people could probably do without any effort at all. But for me, it's different. Running, jumping, skipping, hopping...all of them, I know at my present state, I just can't risk doing, because of the weak, fragile structure of my skeleton.

What happened to me yesterday serves to as just yet another sad reminder to me of just how weak my body is...because of my eating disorder.

I know that all I can do now is give recovery all that I possibly have. I just hope with all my heart that if I keep on fighting and trying my best, I will be able to improve my bones, make them as strong as they could possibly be, what with the brand of osteoporosis branded upon them for the rest of my life.

Please, please, please. I know I have probably said this many times, but please - if you can't seem to find any motivation or reason to fight your eating disorder, think of the price you will pay, in the future. Think of the toll it is taking upon your very own body. And when you hear the word future, you might be inclined to think of, well, ages away, maybe...when you might consider yourself as "old". Don't. I learned the price at a much, much younger age than that. So fight back now and MAKE THAT CHANGE before it is too late! <3 xxx

Me and my special furry friends at Christmas, not long before I went into hospital. <3 xxx

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Day 24: Has having a blog helped or hurt your recovery?

I think you already know what the answer to this question might be...;)

My Cocoa Stained has been with me, ever since that day, all those months ago, back in May 2014 when I swallowed my fear and took a step, a blind, hesitant, ever so tiny step, forward, out of the rain and the mist...the rain and the mist created for me, by a little Voice inside my very own head...that I had numbly wrapped myself in for so, so long. Out of that mist and rain, and onto a winding, steep, rocky road which is the road to recovery...

And my blog has been with me, through it all.

It was there for me when I set off upon that road, allowing me to charter the pain and suffering that I had gone through, all those years of being sick.

It was there for me after that glorious summer of 2014, when i returned to college and injured my foot...the injury which, inevitably, would lead to my referral to the mental services hospital.

The day of my first doctor appointment, I felt like the world had ended. i stumbled home, opened up my laptop and typed furiously, tears streaming down my face as I poured my heart out. This post was called Help Me, and as I wiped away my tears and crept up the stairs to my little bedroom, hoping to find some comfort or solace in the darkness of sleep, I had never, ever felt so completely and utterly alone.

But my blog proved to me that was i never, ever alone with my struggle.

I began to get individual comments from readers from across the world. Comments which expressed sympathy or encouragement, or offered advice and support and help. You wrote that you were thinking of me, that you were behind me and that you believed in me. And suddenly I realised that, no matter how bad things got, there was hope. There was light at the end of the tunnel. My readers reminded me of the truths which, in the murkiness of my depression, I had cast aside and buried deep in the ground. That there is always hope, that it is never, ever too late to recover, and that, whatever it takes, you should never, ever stop fighting, and believing. All thanks to you, my readers. <3 xxx

Through my blog, I was enabled to share my experience of being a girl - a once happy, carefree, normal girl - who, one day many years ago, developed an eating disorder which has remained with her ever since. And My Cocoa Stained Apron has allowed me to reflect and record what I went through, and to remind me of how far I have come.

It has allowed me to turn my story into something more positive and generative, as I endeavour to triumph over the Voice in my Head and prove to others out there who are in the same dark, dark place which I found myself in, all those months ago - a place of despair, hopelessness, and believing that I couldn't go on - that no matter how long you have been sick, no matter how entrenched in your illness you find yourself in, no matter what others may think, no matter how tough and hopeless things may seem...

that there is always hope
that there might not be a tomorrow, so live for today
that life is too short, to be unhappy.
Recovery is WORTH the fight. <3 xxx

And one more thing - I am so sorry as I know my days are all mixed up with the recovery challenge!! I intend to write the favourite quote thing next. The reason why I have postponed that particular post (haha :p) is that I want to write these quotes on pretty pieces of paper and stick them on an inspiration board in my room, and then take a pic of each individual quote and put them on here.<3 

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The Equation.

Sitting in one of the group sessions at the clinic yesterday, I felt a sort of contemplative sadness begin to slowly envelope me as I stared at the piece of paper that I held in my hands. Beneath the typed script which outlined several guidelines of advice which at this stage I had heard or read on numerous times before in that very same room, was  a blank space, which seemed to beckon to me then, compelling me to write the jumbled flurry of words that, suddenly and without warning, were skimming over my mind like pebbles flung across the surface of a still pond, creating perfect circular ripples as they did so. And just like those pebbles, so too did each one of those words send gentle little ripples through my head, echoing and reverberating.

And suddenly my hand was no longer empty, and I found myself writing, organising the scattered jumble of words in my head into an equation. An equation that certainly rings true for me, and I am sure, that it has, for many others out there who have suffered or who are suffering with an eating disorder.

Anorexia = ...

Loneliness and isolation.
Ruined bones.
Messed up hormones.
Misery and wretchedness.
Liver and heart problems.
Dry skin.
Exhaustion and fatigue.
Inability to grow up.
Poor concentration.
Memory loss.
Compulsive, abnormal behaviors.
Hurting loved ones and causing them untellable pain.
Lying and deceit.
Constant preoccupation with food.
Lack of interest in anything.
Loss of contact with friends.
Suicidal thoughts.
Physical and psychological damage, some of which can't be reversed.
Regrets and missed opportunities.

So please, if you are ever struggling... if you ever let yourself think that the Voice is just too strong and that you can't, you just can't fight it any longer...if you ever find yourself slipping and following the commands and dictations of that Voice in your Heart instead of going with your heart, your gut instinct, or the advice of your family and friends and those who love and care about you... just take a moment to breathe and think about the equation. What did ED ever bring you? Happiness? Popularity? A dream body? Friends? Control? Everything and anything you ever wanted in this life?

No. Anorexia brings nothing of these things, to you, to me, to anyone; and it never will. And I am just one of those people who believed, back then, that it would; and thus allowed myself to succumb to its alluring, seductive embrace. An embrace that traps, suffocates,kills. Please don't ever forget what an eating disorder really stands for. Many things change in this world that we live in, but I believe that the truth of the equation that I wrote on my notes in the small, dark little room yesterday will always remain the same.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

My Osteoporosis and Me.

I can't remember exactly when it was a good few weeks into my inpatient treatment, anyway. Sometime in February. It was wet and dreary outside and for once I didn't have any objection to being enclosed within the stuffy warmth of the hospital.
it was just another week, really. Another week, probably my fifth or sixth or something, of my treatment as an inpatient at the mental services hospital in Dublin.

And as was customary on Monday afternoon, I entered into the interview room for my weekly meeting with my consultant. I was nervous, but that wasn't anything that unusual. I have always been nervous when it comes to meetings.

She was smiling and that instantly put me at my ease. Maybe she had some good news for me, maybe she was impressed with me for putting so much effort into recovery over the past few weeks. Or maybe...maybe even, she was going to give me some indication as to when I would be discharged. I sat in the little chair a few paces away from her and waited.

She asked me how I was and how my week had been. And then I noticed the official looking folder she had open on her lap - my medical record. It was open on what looked like some sort of graph.

"i have your scan results here, Emily" she said. she looked at me right in the eye. The room was as warm and as stifling as ever, but suddenly my whole body was icy cold.

"You have serious osteoporosis, Emily," she said, her voice not betraying one shard of emotion. She held out the graph for me to see. I didn't see much, save the black vertical line to the left hand side of the page, which appeared to be divided into three different coloured zones: yellow, orange and red. Alongside the yellow area was written "normal bone mass"; alongside orange, "osteopenia", and then, finally, next to red was the word "osteoporosis".

"This is you, here, Emily" she explained, resting a long-nailed finger on a little dot drawn onto the graph. "You have serious osteoporosis, has been there for many years."

I stared at the little graph in silence as she continued, her face expressionless, her voice clear, crisp, unemotional. I didn't hear, or understand anything she said, after that. Every words that she spoke rang in my ears, muffled and incomprehensible, as if my head was stuffed with cotton wool, or as if I had been pulled beneath the surface of a still, deathly calm sea and was unable to save myself; to pull myself free of those icy, icy waters...

So this is what it has come to...

Osteoporosis, at 20 years old.

Osteoporosis is a bone disease which causes bones to become weak, brittle and susceptible to fracture. It occurs mainly when there are insufficient levels of calcium and vitamin D in the body; but can develop for a variety of reasons. Diet, exercise, smoking, hormonal imbalances, age, the menopause. These are all factors which might have had a role in the weakening of bone in humans.

Of course, for me, there's no mystery surrounding the circumstances behind my own osteoporosis, of course. I know all too well what has caused it: my eating disorder, of course.

because of the pattern of restriction and overexercise which my eating disorder imposed upon me, for most of my teenage years - the crucial period as far as bone development is concernned - my bone mass was reduced critically. With one single trip or fall, I might break my femur or my wrist; I could fracture my spine. And I will never be able to cure it.

It is so tough, and horrible, being diagnosed with osteoporosis, at an age when you find people tellings you that you are "young and have your whole life ahead of you". And unfortunately for me, as I have mentioned before now, there are certain things which I am prevented from doing, because of the weak condition of my bones. Things which at some time, I would have liked to have taken up, or have the experience of. Things like horseriding, or skiing, or running, or gymnastics. When my consultant told me I would never be able to go horseriding again, I wept fresh tears anew, as a long time ago as a child I had ridden a little white pony and had loved every moment of it. I had longed to take it up, again, sometime in the future. But because of my osteoporosis, bbecause of my eating disorder, I know that this is no longer possible..

But the most important thing for me to remember here - for us to remember here - is that osteoporosis does not at all mean that the Voice of your eating disorder has won.

Rather, being diagnosed with osteoporosis should stand as a fundamental motivating factor to fight back against your eating disorder harder than ever.

Because now is the time when you need to start nourishing and caring for your body again. Because there is still so, so much hope. and I know this too. because even though I will always have osteoporosis...I know that there is still ALOT I can do to helpimprove my condition. I can help to strengthen my bones and make them as strong as I can under the circumstances. I have osteoporosis, needn't be "serious" osteoporosis, forever. i can, we can, take action now to help strengthen the bones and prevent them from deteriorating and weakening even further.

As the sad and inevitable truth is, that this is what will happen; if you have osteoporosis and continue to restrict and starve yourself. In a way I feel incredibly lucky that I found out about my osteoporosis, when I did. because if I didn't know...I could have just carried on, the way i was...and I could have ended up breaking my leg, or snapping my wrist, or even, fracturing my spine, and ended up wheelchair bound for life.

And so now, I am actively taking steps to improve my osteoporosis. By caring for my body, by giving it the nourishment and care it needs. By eating foods rich in calcium and Vitamin D, and beginning to do exercises recommended by my physiotherapist which will help to build up my bone strength.

But I know, without one shard of a doubt, the best thing I can do to help to improve my osteoporosis and reverse some of the damage done to my bones, is to fight my eating disorder and go against that Voice in my Head...before it takes anything else away from me... <3 xxx

neither ED, or my osteoporosis, will take away special moments and experiences away from me. And if I keep on fighting, I know I will still be able to do many of the things that I love - walking Benny, hiking with my family, swimming in hot weather, cycling in the warm golden glow of summer sunshine...<3 xxx

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Day 21: What was your "rock bottom", and how did you overcome it?

I think the point at which I hit "rock bottom" was in April 2014, only just over a year ago now. This was not the period before my referral or my inpatient hospitalisation, funnily enough. I suppose I had reached a point in my illness at which I suddenly realised that I just couldnt go on the way I was, the way I was living - or should that be, barely surviving. I was underweight, but that wasn't the worse of it. Every single day was one long, hard, painful struggle which united fear, deceit, restriction, and tears. I was exhausted, both physically and mentally; from the lack of proper nourishment, the constant movement and exercising I forced myself to endure every day, and, of course, the stress and mental drainage of it all.

it was around this time, when my Mam and my sister began to explicitly express their concern about me. They started to query what I was eating when I was away from home, was I eating anything. I would always answer them with the same responses, the same lies. I eat fine when I'm in Dublin. You don't need to worry about me. There's nothing wrong. Honest. 

Up to this point, you see, I had been in total denial about the cold reality that inside, deep down, I recognised as the truth. But up to this point in illness, I was not prepared to acknowledge that my problem was much more serious than a somewhat "weird" relationship with food. restriction and overexercise came as naturally to me as brushing my teeth in the morning, or putting on clothes. It was automatic, a daily practice, a way of life. But in April of this year - the point I recognise now as my rock bottom - something changed deep inside me, which would in turn alter everything; and set the wheels of my recovery gently into motion.

It took enormous strength, courage and perseverance to overcome this stage of my illness. and in a way I suppose, the point at which I hit my rock was absolutely vital in terms of my recovery. And it was at this moment, when I was at my very weakest than I had ever been before, all those long years of being sick - it was also the moment when I found immense strength. The strength I needed to stand up and take action, and fight back against my eating disorder, and embark upon the road to recovery...

But of course, I knew that I would never be able to overcome this demon of my own making all by myself, standing alone. For years, I had put up barriers around myself, preventing those I loved from reaching out to me, from seeing just how lost I really was. I wore a mask and a false smile, concealing my true emotions and feelings, and thus enabling the conflict that raged deep inside me to continue on, breaking and tearing and destroying, unnoticed and unfelt by every other human person. All except me.

 But at the beginning of my recovery I discarded the mask, the false smile, the barriers. I opened up, I spoke out, I put voice to my feelings and allowed them to be heard. I unveiled the true nature of my suffering. I started to blog. It was a difficult and painful thing to do, at I truly believed that if I shed light on the fact that I had an eating disorder I would be branded as selfish, vain, insensitive or just plain stupid. But the help and support I have received ever since i revealed the truth about my illness can only be described as being simply, incredible. If I hadn't quite expected such a kind, understanding, and genuinely concerned and empathetic response from all those I have been in touch with since I opened up about my condition, I can safely say, hand on heart, that such explicit displays of human kindness and generosity has both overwhelmed and moved me in many more ways than one. And you know, since that day, whenever I have found myself slipping or feeling as if if all hope is lost, then I know the first thing I have to do is to tell someone. And this I think can apply for everyone out there, whether you be in recovery or not. A problem shared is, truly, a problem halved, and it was through reaching out to others, seeking help when I needed it, and being as honest and as open about my true thoughts and feelings that I had hidden away for so, so long, that I was essentially enabled to overcome my rock bottom and work upwards and onwards with my recovery. <3 xxxxx

I overcame my rock bottom...I faced my fears and here I am today. If I could do it so can YOU!! <3 

So please, my take home message for you today, is to remember the importance of asking for help. Don't suffer in silence. If you are struggling, TELL SOMEONE. Don't wait or prolong your suffering for any longer! <3 xxxxx

Thursday, 11 June 2015

A perfect day...:) xxx

Hi everyone!!

I know some people might laugh, but when I logged onto blogger today, I got a little buzz of excitement when I saw there was not 1, but 4 comments left for me to read!! Awww!!! Again, I know some might find this comical, that I got so excited about what might seem like to some such a small, insignificant little thing. but honestly, let me tell you this now, this one little thing made me feel so, so happy, so overjoyed to hear from the wonderful, truly amazing individuals who are YOU, my readers. So please, just allow me to take this opportunity to say, Thank you all so, so much...for commenting, for reading, for thinking of me...<3 <3 <3

I am so sorry I didnt get round to replying sooner to the comments by the way!! Yesterday, I didnt actually go onto Blogger much at I actually wasn't at home! I went for a little "adventure" with two of my closest friends. And oh, what an adventure it truly was. It was a day which was just, simply perfect. The weather, the craic, the chats, the laughter we shared. Every single little thing we did, every little recalled memory we drew forth from the past, every single little plan we made for the summer ahead of us.

and you know, yesterday, I almost forgot that I was a girl with an ED...

me and my friends bought some gorgeous food and had our lunch in true authentic picnic style, underneath a sky which easily could have been mistaken for that of Spain, or Africa, or Australia. But no, this was an Irish sky; and at that very moment in time, I couldn't have been happier, on any other place on this earth. The emerald green grass, scattered with tiny daisies. Flowerbeds alive with blooms that dazzled the eye and took your breath away: so beautiful, so vibrant, so free and alive with colourful splendour. The leafy trees, each branch heavily laden with fresh new growth: the sycamore with its dainty winged "helicopters"; hawthorns with their radiant array of pink or white blossoms; copper beech trees with their deep red leaves, rustling softly in the warm summer breeze that blew from the south. That breeze touched our skin and gently tossed strands of hair across our faces; wafting the delightful smells which spoke only of June into our nostrils: The odour of freshly cut grass, the perfume of the flowers, the coconutty fragrance of our own suncream. It was an afternoon of joy and laughter, happiness and smiles...and of a tranquility so perfect, it almost seemed surreal...

We had great fun cooking a truly delicious evening meal at my friend's sunlit little kitchen that evening. We sat around the table on the patio, chattering away long after the sun had slipped beneath the rooftops to the west, and a silent, peaceful calm had settled over the darkening garden. Eventually we wandered back inside and drank hot chocolate in front of the TV, giggling as we dipped and licked teaspoons into the little pot of almond butter we had discovered hidden away in one of the many kitchen cupboards, and had decided that we would enjoy as a little night snackrel. ;)

It was a magical day, a truly beautiful, unforgetable day, the memory ofwhich I will treasure in my heart forever.

yesterday made me realise, once again, just how much I have to be grateful for; how much I have to live for. Why it is so important to keep on fighting my eating disorder, to keep on making myself stronger, to never, ever let myself give up and to tell myself that recovery is not worth it.

Please hear my words now and believe me when I say, that happiness is possible. No matter what. A few months ago, not long after my osteoporosis diagnosis, I found myself in a very, very bad place. I had never felt so low, so helpless, so desperate. And I did, at one point, convince myself that it would be better for everyone, and everything, if I was no longer alive. I believed that I had nothing left to live for...

But here I am now, several months later... and yesterday I really did exoperience true happiness. I hadnt a care in the world as I lay underneath that sky making daisy chains with my friends. ED was there, of course, but ED did not govern my actions and make my food choices for me, or take away from my enjoyment of the day, in any single way.

Henry Ford once said: Whether you believe you can, or can't, do're right. And this is SO true, of life. Because if you believe, you truly can do anything. So let yourself believe, that true happiness IS possible. Turn your face towards the sun...because then you will never be in the shadow. <3 xxx

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Day 20: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

10 years time...I will be thirty-one!! The very thought of that makes me feel very old!! And this is a question that does run through my mind, every now and again. Where will I be in the future? Where am I going? What does life have in store for me? What life am I going to forge for myself?

A dear friend once told me, that anything really is possible, if you believe. And this I have adopted as a little life philosophy, in a way. If you believe you will recover, you will. If you believe you can live the life you love and make all of your dreams come can, and you will!! Nothing is impossible!!

And so today, here is a wee list of what I would like my life to be like, in 10 years time...

  • First and foremost, of course...I want to be completely and totally recovered from my eating disorder. I want my anorexia to be nothing but a memory to me, the memory of which I will use to spread awareness and help educate others about the signs, symptoms, effects and consequences of eating disorders. 
  • Of course, by that time, I would love to think that I would be a primary school teacher. The career path which I had always looked towards with longing, but had convinced myself that i was not good enough for. But now I see the error of my ways. I know that if I am prepared to put myself out there, study hard, and push myself out of my comfort zone, I have everything it takes to be a great teacher. I am kind, caring, patient and adore kids. All I need is a bit more self-confidence, something which I have been trying to build upon every day. And, of course, I know that being a primary school teacher with an eating disorder is NOT going to be an option for me. Looking back now I can see the devastating toll my eating disorder took on me in terms of my intellectual abilities. My memory, my concentration, my ability to study were all adversely effected. I know that I will only ever be able to follow my dream if I am fully, not partially, recovered.
  • Volunteering is something which I am planning to start doing this summer (in fact it was only today when I actually marched myself down to the office in Portlaoise to talk to the lady in charge of Laois Volunteering and get the necssary forms from her!!! ) and is something which I intend to keep up for many years yet to come. I would like to think that perhaps in around ten years time I will be able to perhaps volunteer abroad too.
  • In ten years time, I fully intend to be well enough to go for long hikes in the walking hot spots of the world. Snowdonia, Scotland, the Lake and Peak Districts, the Kerry Way and the Alps, maybe even the mountains of Canada..? ;) And I sincerely hope that in 10 years time I will most certainly have ticked off a good few places on my Destination list !!! ;) 
  • I also hope that in 10 years time I will have further perfected my baking skills, of course!! Yet another list I have (which I MUST share with you sometime actually!!) is my to-bake list haha, which is basically a never-ending, never-to-completed piece of literature!!! :p
  • I often think to 10 years time...what sort of person will I be? Well, I hope that in 10 years time, I will have completely detached my own identity from my eating disorder, and that I will have the courage to be...just me. Simply me, Emmy Snelgrove, not Emmy with an eating disorder, not Emmy who is trying to be perfect, or trying to change herself, or trying to be someone else. Just...Me. 
Happy baking away in the kitchen at the weekend!! ;) xxx

Sunday, 7 June 2015

My Meal Plan Mission...Part 3

And so, since that day when I was discharged from the hospital, things slowly but surely began to slide downhill in terms of sticking to my meal plan. being no longer under the watchful gaze of the ward nurses, and relatively free to do as I pleased in terms of food choices, portions and so forth, my eating disorder was also given free rein to take advantage of me once more. And despite my very best intentions, that sly, soft little Voice that I know all to well did begin to creep back in, twisting my thoughts, crushing down my goals, and, in turn, governing my mind and my actions.

And so, it started again...Almost every day, it insisted that I did something, anything which meant I was eating less than what I knew that I should be eating. My Meal Plan - that little sheet of paper which I used to follow so carefully, so determinedly every day, had become less of a guide and more of a vague something which I had pushed to the very back of my mind, refusing to openly acknowledge. The guilt screamed at me, every time I cheated or skipped something. But the screams of my eating disorder were there, too, of course, loud, domineering, overpowering. And it usually, more often than not, was the winner of the shouting match that took place in my head, between it, and the real me.

But last Monday, as I described in my previous post, I came to the realisation that this couldn't go on. Because, even though it wasn't as if I had completely and utterly slid backwards in my recovery and had resorted to frequent and extreme restricting or anything - I knew, without one shadow of a doubt, that all those little things i did every day were enabling my eating disorder to become ever stronger; and that, if I did not find it within me to take control once more, then everything, after all my hard work, would fall apart just as quickly and as easily as it did so before. That one missed snack could easily evolve into a missed snack every day, morning and afternoon. Choosing to have just the cereal at breakfast time, or just the sandwich at lunch without the yoghurt, could all too easily escalate towards choosing not to have anything at all, just like I used to. And I know now that it is so, so important to NOT let this happen...for the sake of my body, if not for myself.

My Meal Plan and my Mission to make myself Stronger than ED

After a good, long think about how I am going to push myself and make myself stronger and less vulnerable against by eating disorder, I decided that I am going to try the following approaches...

  • Easing myself back into it, slowly but surely. As mentioned before this past week I have been focusing on getting back into the routine of eating a snack in the afternoon with my hot chocolate. And yes, I'm pleased to say that it IS going well, so far! I've managed to eat al my afternoon snacks this weekend, which I feel is good progress made. I think next I might try and tackle toast at breakfast next.
  • And you will also be relieved to know, I have been putting my super cute food diary to good use!:) Every few days I write down what I am going to have for the following few meals and snacks thereafter and tick them off once I have had them...and a big red x goes beside the things I have missed out on. i think it helps to get someone you trust in on this..and let them look at your food diary for you every so often...yep, give it to them and let them actually read it. I used to do this with Mam all the time and it helped me alot.
  • I have been consciously eating my meals and snacks whenever there are other people around. It makes things alot harder for ED then...and when you are having something and others are too, it always makes food alot more enjoyable I think.:)
  • Another thing that I have been using of late, which actually has been quite a big motivating factor for me, is the knowledge that if I choose to eat well not and consume the correct recovery amount, my metabolism will recover and when I reach my target weight I will be able to eat plenty without gaining weight.This might sound funny but at the beginning I was really enjoying eating all the stuff on the meal plan and it wasn't causing me any stress. If I could get back into the habit of that, that would be great. I enjoy eating little and often, and am perfectly contented with eating plenty of snacks and three nice meals a day...and that's exactly what I want to do, but, of late, my ED has just made me too afraid of going with what I want to do.
  • I went shopping with Mam on Friday and got myself lots of yummy foods for me to have for snacks and meals, and also ingredients so that I could make some new tasty treats. I am a firm believer in that in recovery you should eat what you enjoy as it just makes it so much easier. (Not forgetting the fear foods which you genuinely deep down DO like!!!)
  • My friend put a really funny little picture on the wall of the eating disorder ward at the hospital. I dont know if you might have heard of Mr Bean...? Anyway, basically the picture features Mr Bean standing on a beach in the surf with his trousers rolled up to his knees. He's got his hands on his hips and his eyes closed, and his face is an epitome of peaceful, carefree tranquillity. The slogan across the picture reads (and again, please excuse the language here :p : "Life is so short, just do the f*** what makes you happy". I cant honestly explain exactly why...but I just find this simply brilliant. And it sums up everything perfectly. Life is too short. Why do we waste so much time and energy, worrying about how we should eat, what we should look like? instead of striving for perfection and actively seeking to change our bodies or the way we look, should we not focus on doing the things that make us feel happy, spending time with those who make us happy, and working towards a more positive, healthy mindset in which we can accept and love ourselves for the way we are? <3 xxx

And yesterday, Lizzy made me one of these before I went to chocolate topped with chopped Cadbury Dairy Milk and halved marshmallows...heaven in a mug!!! <3 xxx

Saturday, 6 June 2015

A Beautiful Bloomer!:)

Today I made a beautiful "bloomer" of white yeast bread, which we enjoyed sliced into thick slabs alongside cold chicken, salad and cheese for a scrumptious supper this evening. Bloomers are so fun to make and are a good place to start if you are new to breadbaking as it is easy enough to shape. And of course it tastes absolutely heavenly (as if any fresh bread ever did not ;) ) and can be utilised in so many different ways. You could have it served as an accompaniment to pasta, meat dishes, risottto: oryou could have it simply as it is with peanut butter or jam or Nutella; or you could save some for toasting the next day. Whichever way you decide to savour your bread, I can assure you it will be bloomin' lovely! :)
You will need...

  • 450 g strong white bread flour. I use Hovis or Odlums. :)
  • 7 g sachet fast-action yeast/1 1/2 tsp instant yeast.
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar.
  • 1 tsp salt.
  • 3 tbsp olive oil/melted butter, plus extra for greasing.
  1. Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and add the sugar. Stir together and then stir in the yeast as well. Make a little well in the centre.
  2. Measure out 300 ml tepid water ina measuring jug. I usually use two thirds cold water from the tap, and then the other third from a recently boiled kettle. It needs to be warm, but not hot to the touch: you should be able to comfortably stick your fingers in it. 
  3. Pour the olive oil/melted butter into the well in the flour and then add most of the water. Using your hands, mix the flour and the liquid together, stirring and lifting until they start to come together into a soft dough. It shouldn't be too sticky, but it should not be too dry, either: slightly moist to the touch and nice and soft. If it feels too dry and floury add a little more water. Add a very small amount of flour if it feels very sticky. Sprinkle a very small amount of flour on a worksurface.
  4. Turn the dough out onto the floured work surface. Now it is time to knead the dough (yayyyy.). You need to do this for roughly about 10 minutes. If you have never kneaded before...don't worry, it's not difficult to master at all. Pin the end of the dough nearest you down with one fist and then take hold of the other end of the dough with your other hand. Keeping the side nearest to you pinned down, stretch the other end of the dough and then fold it in on itself and gather into a ball. Slam it down hard on the surface. Repeat this process over once again - try to settle into a nice rhythm. ;)
  5. After 10 minutes or so, your dough should feel smooth, supple and elastic. Oil a clean bowl with some olive oil. Roll the dough into a smooth al and place in the bowl. Cover with greased clingfilm. 
  6. Now it's time for your dough's first rising. :) leave it in a warm, draught free spot for about 1 1/2 - 3 hours, depending on how warm the day is. I usually pop mine on the table in the conservatory on a sunny day, or in my kitchen, or by the fire or the radiator if it's cold. It should have doubled in size when it's ready and feel inflated and springy if you gently prod it with your fingertip. 
  7. Line a big baking tray with baking paper. Give the risen dough a big punch with your fist to deflate the air. Then scoop it out onto a very lightly floured surface and knead lightly for about 2 minutes. 
  8. Gather the dough into a smooth ball, rolling it over and over on the work surface so the sides are smooth and silky. Plump the dough into a roughrugby ball shape. Place on the tray.
  9. Cover with greased clingfilm again and leave to rise until it has risen once again and have doubled in size. Be very careful when you life the trays as the risen dough will be very fragile and it is very important you don't knock out any air at this stage!
  10. Preheat the oven to 210 c/190 c fan.
  11. remove the cling film. Dust the bbloomer with flour.
  12. Bake for about 20 mins, until the bloomer is golden brown, risen and cooked. Tap its base an listen for a hollow sound - if it sounds hollow it is ready. remove from the oven once cooked and place on a wire rack to cool.
  13. If you like your bread crust seductively soft, wrap the bloomer in a clean tea towel and then place on a wire rack to cool. If you prefer a crisp crust, it helps to put a deep roasting tin at the bottom of the oven before baking, so that steam is created.
  14. The bread is best eaten within 24 hours of baking, but in the rare event of there being any leftovers, you can easily freeze any remaining pieces/rolls in tightly-sealed freezer bags; taking them out and heating through in a microwave/preheated oven as required. ;) Or alternatively, leftover bread makes very yummy toast when left overnight! :) xxx

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Day 17: What is the hardest thing you have had to give up, because of your eating disorder?

I think for me this would have to be the high-impact physical activities - such as horse riding, skiing, and running - that I am now prohibited from doing given that the risk of me breaking a bone is too high.

I'll talk more about osteoporosis in a future post, but basically, having restricted for such a long, long time, in a period of my life which is absolutely imperative to healthy bone development (peak one mass is mainly established in the teenage years), as a result my bones have become weak, brittle and susceptible to fracture. If I fell over on the road today, instead of just getting off lightly like a person with healthy bones would - maybe with just a few cuts and bruises, say - it is highly likely that I might break or sprain something due to the weak condition of my skeletal system. I have osteoporosis, serious osteoporosis, at that. And it is all because of my eating disorder.

I try my best not to dwell on it too much, but, sometimes...the cruel, harsh reality does slap me in the face, making me want to cry...cry for everything I lost through my eating disorder. And I realise now, with a bitterness deep inside that tears at my heart every single day...I realise now that some of those things I will never, ever be able to reclaim. And healthy, strong bones is just one of those many things. I will always have osteoporosis, and my bones will never be properly healed. I was never a very sporty person, but as a girl, I adored Irish dancing. The music enchanted me, the magical beat of it pulsating through my veins till my heart seemed to resonate to that beat, too, as if they were both but one. When I danced,I felt truly alive. i could fly across the floor as gracefully as a bird taking flight; as elegantly as a dragonfly skirting across the still waters of a lake. i will always remember my last show in primary school, when I wore a blue dress and led the chain of dancers across the wooden stage, leaping about like a fairy girl released from a lantern. I played a major role in all of the different dances, the names of which will remain with me forever: The Walls of Limerick, the Siege of Ennis, the Haymaker's Jig...

I haven't done any Irish dancing for years now. The last time I think was at a céili in fifth year, during our class trip to the Gaeltacht. But that was about five years ago, now. Now, things are very, very different. A year later, I finished school and left home to go to inviersity, and it was the two years following that Septembber when the real damage was done; and my bones suffered and declined.

Since injuring my foot last year, I have never dared to run, hop or jump or do any other kind of high-impact activity. Including Irish dancing. A few weeks ago Daddy and I took Benny to the vets in portlaoise for his jabs. Stepping into the small, two storey building, my ears immediatly pricked at the curious noises that were floating down from floor above us. tap tap, tappity-tap. I turned to daddy, the question "wonder what they're doing up there" on the tip of my tongue. But the words died on my lips as I heard another sound. an unmistakable, beautifully haunting sound that brought a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes.

They were Irish dancing, of course. My feet longed then to take up the steps, the rhythmic one-two-three, one-two-three that, after all those years, I still remembered, and loved.

I don;t know if I will ever be able to Irish dance again. Or run, or do gymnastics, or ski, or go ice skating. Or ride a horse across meadows and forests and beaches. Things I have always wanted to do, which I always dreamed of doing, sometime in the future. But now my bones are weak and fragile. One fall, and I could snap like a twig. All because of what my eating disorder did to me, of what it took away from me.

If anything good can be dervied out of what has happened to me, what I have been is this. I am going to utilise my sotry and my experience to demonstrate  just how devestating the consequences of holding onto an eating disorder can be, whether the sufferer be young or old, male or female; mildly or severely ill. I would do anything to go back in time and change everything before it became too late to save my bones and stop myself from becoming so deeply enmeshed in my eating disorder. But I know I can't and I can only deal with what I have left. I hope that be retelling my story and highlighting just how harmful the effects of having an eating disorder can have on a person, I will be able to make some contribution to the ongoing fight against this horrible mental disease which touches, taints and destroys so many lives.

Life is precious and beautiful. there should be no room for suffering.<3 xxx

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Day 16: List 5 things you are grateful for.

It's so hard to limit this to just 5 things...because when I sat and thought about this, I realised that I actually have so, so many things to be grateful for. :) xxx

My amazing Mam and Dad.

Words can't even begin to express just how grateful I am for my Mam and Dad, and just how much they mean to me.
 Despite all the times I have let them down, despite all the deceit; despite all the tears, the heartbreak, the anger and frustration I pulled them through, my Mam and Dad have been by my side through it all, refusing to give up on me. Their love for me is unconditional. I know all they want most in the world is for me to be happy, and healthy.

My friends and readers. <3

Without the support, love and encouragement of my friends, recovery would have been literally impossible. I know that my life would be empty without friendship and the incredible, amazing friends which I have formed such close bonds with. They have helped to pick me up when I fell down, helped me to smile and laugh again when everything seemed hopeless; and made me realise that life is worth fighting for.
And then, of course, all my readers. I know, that I haven't met you in person, but I just wanted you all to know I think of you all as very special friends. Every single little comment, piece of advice, words of support or encouragement; even just taking the time to read my blog. You have helped me so, so much more than you will ever realise. I will never be able to thank you enough.<3 xxx

If only I was able to reach out through my screen and hug you now, and thank you with all my heart for what you have done for me...make you realise just how much you mean to me, what a difference you have made to my life. <3 xxx

My home.

Derryguile House, my beautiful, cosy home nestled in the heart of the Irish midlands. My home is a very special place to me. It is a place of warmth and comfort, of peace and security. I have lived here since I was four years old, but my love of this house has never been altered. I love my garden, with its flowerbeds and trees and the little orchard at the very back, flanked by the tall conifer hedge where as a child I would play and hide. I love the conservatory that overlooks the garden, where I can sit on the little couch and watch the song birds flitting to and from the bird table and the branches of the blossom tree dip and bob in the breeze. I love my snug little room at the top of the house, the kitchen with its blue tiles and sparkly clean cupboards. My sanctuary, my safe haven, my home.

Everything my body has done for me, despite the hell I put it through, the abuse, the starvation, and overexercise.

Over the past few years, I have misused and abused my body to the extent to which I could have caused it enormous and irreversible damage. i starved it and deprived it of proper nourishment.  Everytime I overexercised, I put my body under massive strain, pushing it and pushing it to the brink of exhaustion.
 And yet, my body refused to give up on me. It did what it could, with the sparse nutrition and care that I gave it. it kept my blood pumping, my brain working, my heart beating. On and on I went, relentlessly putting my body under immense stress every day, yet it still struggled on, fighting to keep me alive.

I am so, so grateful now, for what it has done for me. I know now is the time for me to take proper care of my body, and nurse it back to full health.

The beauty and goodness in everyday life.

Taking life for granted is something that many people would admit to being guilty of, myself included. half the time we are just so busy, so caught up in the mad rush of work or college or school, that we often fail to take into account just how beautiful, how stunning our world really is. Walking out in the woods on Sunday with daddy and Matty, I found myself surrounded by real, unspoilt, natural beauty. The emerald-green canopy above our heads of hundred upon hundreds of intricately veined, fresh new leaves. Birds called from those very branches, their sweet, trilling melodies more beautiful than any music. And then, the flowers...bluebells, forming a hazy blue mist across the forest floor; tiny white wood sorrel in their little beds of three-leafed shamrock, dainty violets and golden marsh marigolds, clustered together on the banks of the bubbling brooks that chattered over the silvery rocks.

 Alongside that, another thing I am so, so grateful for, is the kindness and goodness that can be found in the people around us. Something as simple as a smile or a hug, a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on; a random act of pure kindness. And we experience these every day; it's just that half the time we may fail to notice or acknowldege them. I find a really helpful exercise to do is at the end of each day to write down 3 or 5 positive things that you are grateful for or which happened to you that day. Here is the one I wrote this evening for example.:)

  • I got to sit out in the garden at the hospital before lunch and talk with my friends in the sunshine.
  • My Mam made me my favourite tea tonight, a baked potatoe topped with melted cheese and served with baby plum tomatoes and salad, and then followed by my alltime favourite, banana and hot custard with a load of melted choc on top!:)
  • My friend and I have planned for a little day trip next week! :)
  • I have 4 days off before I have to go back to the hospital!:)
  • A lady at the hospital complimented me on my new stripy dress, I didnt know who she was but she smiled at me and cheered me up. :) 
  • And I wrote a blog post which really helped me to realise just how fortunate I am, to have so many wonderful things to e grateful for in my life. <3 xxx

Monday, 1 June 2015

My Meal Plan Mission...Part 2

Two days ago I opened up about my struggles with sticking to my meal plan, and the important realisations I had come to, in acknowledging the fact that despite the fact that yes, I have successfully gained weight and reached a much healthier bmi... it is still absolutely crucial that I continue to both nourish and care for my body; as there is still a significant amount of work to be done in terms of both my physical and mental recovery. Today I thought I would write a little about how I plan to tackle this problem and get myself back on track. I hope that by sharing my advice and thoughts on this,I wil be able to help anyone else who is finding it hard to keep to their meal plan or just finding recovery and eating enough challenging in general. to do it?

In this sort of situation (ie. you are not following your meal plan) there are a number of different scenarios which might apply to you.

  • You have, after having followed your meal plan well for some time, suddenly feel a strong reluctance to do so any more, and am considering on missing out on "something" tomorrow, say.
  • You have gradually started to cheat on your meal plan but you think it's okay because you're only missing out on a few small things a day
  • You are cheating on your meal plan and you are very much aware of the fact that you are deliberately missing out on a number of things during the day
  • You are not following your meal plan at all.
Now for the first two options, I know that this is so, so much easier said then done but I am going to say it anyway, and please, please, please, if you are in this kind of sitaution and am considering or gradually have started to cheat on your meal plan...You need to STOP yourself, stop your eating disorder, right now. Because once you have skipped something more than once, it will, despite all your best intentions, it will all too easily become a habit; and you dont need me to tell you, that habits are extremely difficult to break once you get stuck into doing them.

If you are like me and are sort of at the third stage of "cheating on your meal plan", or are purposely choosing not to follow it at all...then you are also at an equally important crossroads in terms of your recovery...and as in the previous situation, it is so, so important that you get yourself back on track as soon as possible.

But the question is, of course, is how to do just that. Its not a matter of waking up in the morning thinking to yourself, "I didnt follow my meal plan yesterday. But tomorrow I am going to, I will follow it 100% tomorrow." No, no and no!! One thing I have learnt in ED recovery is that putting things off is NOT a good idea. Because if you put something off till tomorrow say, and then tomorrow comes around and then you wil more than likely feel overwhelmed and think, no actually, I'm not ready, Im going to do it tomorrow, not today. And you will just keep on putting it off, again and again and again, and you won't make any positive changes whatsoever.

I am very much guilty of doing this, too - I put my hands up right now and confess, yep, I do that and it's something i myself am trying my best to work on.

If you find that after a period of not following your meal plan and you have been missing out on a significant amount of items on it, the best advice I could give you is to ease yourself back into the routine of following it SLOWLY so you don't become too overwhelmed!! This is what I am currently doing at the moment as I strive to get myself back on track. I'll explain more about this in detail in Part 3 of this post.

Here are some other tips which might help you to keep to, or get back into following, your meal plan. I'm going to try and use these myself over the next few weeks so it felt good to get them down onto paper...
  • Tell a friend or a family member what it is exactly you are struggling with right now. Whether it be meals, missing out on snacks, not finishing stuff or anything. You don't need to give them the whole picture if you don't want to. Just explain that you are finding this certain thing hard, and you really need their support right now to get you back on track.
  • Always try to eat with others. For example always try to eat your meals together if you are living with someone. 
  • This might seem silly advice but I use this technique sometimes and I actually find that it really helps! When you feel as if you are about to do something which is wrong in regards to the meal plan, just stop and take a deep long breath and think of an image of a loved one or a dear friend in your mind. Then think...what would they say if they knew what you were doing? what would they feel? Would they be upset, disappointed, angry, sad? I always try to think like this - I often think of how I will be letting my readers down if I cheat and this helps to keep me on track. Or I make up an image in my head of someone I deeply care about, try and imagine their voice in my head, urging me to eat and follow my meal plan.
  • Talk back to your Ed. If the ED Voice says, for example, "Dont have that toast, just throw it in the bin" you can say back to it, "No. I will eat my toast and not throw it away. Firstly, because this food is going to help me get eating it I am defying you, a Voice that is trying to control and harm me. And throwing food away is wasteful. I am not going to listen to you." (I dont' want people to think I am encouraging swearing or anything, But anyway, I dont know if this is helpful to anyone but I often finish off my ED conversation with a defiant "F*** you, ED!!" I just find it helps me to vent out some of my anger at it and make me feel that one bit better. :p
  • Repeat mantras or helpful quotes in your head whenever you feel overwhelmed or anxious.
  • If you feel a strong urge to restrict (or engage in any other kind of behaviour) I always think calling a friend or someone who cares really helps. Even if someone is not actually there with you, just hearing a caring voice and having someone to listen to you is such a massive help and comfort in itself.
  • Distract while you eat, to keep your mind busy and off the intrusive ED thoughts. Have a conversation with someone, ideally. Watch TV or read recovery blogs!
  • Buy foods which you like and enjoy and are likely to eat! It's no good trying to force yourself to eat foods you dislike as this willl just make things ten times harder and will more than likely make you want to just skip stuff even more. 
  • hang up the meal plan somewhere you(and, if you are living with family/friends etc,), can see it. On your wall, noticeboard, fridge, diary, wherever. Somewhere where you will be constantly reminded of what you should be having. 
  • Pick a nice little notebook (here's my own one, I think its very cute :)) to be your food diary - Every morning or perhaps the evening before, plan out what you are going to eat that day, with little tickboxes beside each item which you can tick off when you've had it. I always find its a good idea to decide what you are having beforehand, as from experience when I can't decide I end up dithering for ages and oftentimes ended up not having anything. 
My adorable little food diary! :)

And here is another post I wrote back in April which has a few more tips which might help:

I hope you found this post helpful. Don't forget I am always here for you if you want to email me! I know I am no professional or anything but I will listen and try to help you as best as I can. <3

In Part 3 of Meal Plan Mission I will talk a little bit more about my own endeavours with following my meal plan and the methods I am using. I know the next few weeks are not going to be easy but I know I just need to let go and believe in myself, and take on my own advice - another thing I know that I am not so good at!! Thank you so, so much to every single person out there who have helped and supported me and given me the best advice in the world. You are all incredible and my heart goes out to you all. <3 xxx