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.:)

Thursday, 23 July 2015

If only I knew then, what I know now... :'(

Despite the many grumblings and various complaints one can frequently hear being made about the Irish summer, I can honestly say, hand on heart, that there is not one other place on earth where I would rather be at this time of year, than on this beautiful island of endless greenness. I love going abroad, but there is just something so extraordinary, so exquisite, so breathtaking about Ireland in the summer: a beauty and a radiance which could not possibly be found or replicated anywhere else.

But interlaced with the happiness and sense of contentment I have felt over the past couple of weeks - as I rediscover all the joys and natural delights of the Irish summer and revel in my newfound freedom from the confinements of the hospital ward - there is something else, too. It is like beauty tainted with an ugliness; pure white silk stained with blotches of black; laughter combined with bitter, stinging, salty tears. It is like a beautiful oak tree with one long, ugly, terrible fissure running along the fissured trunk, threatening to deepen and grow and subsequently tear the oak apart, destroying it and all the life that it supports.

Yesterday, I met up with two of my oldest and closest friends from Trinity. We spent the day together, just catching up one another's news and wandering around town with no particular purpose or destination in mind. We rummaged through the sales railings of the local boutiques, exclaiming when we found a particularly pretty dress or gorgeous ball gown, before tittering to each other about the number printed on the pricetag. We browsed through book shops, reminiscing over this book and that, picking up old favourites and rustling fondly through the familiar pages; or pointing out other titles which one of us had attempted to read and then had swiftly wished that she hadn't even bothered. Then finally we went and sat in the park overlooking the lake, chattering away as the sun began to sink towards the horizon, talking of the old times, the here and now of today, and then, of course, our plans, and hopes, for the future.

I had such a lovely, lovely day yesterday: it was one of those days which I didn't really want to come to an end, and, when it eventually did, of course, I felt a palpable wave of melancholy wash over me. And then there was that bittersweet sensation, the happiness strongly interspersed with bitterness. In a state of regretful contemplation, I thought about my life, about the time I had spent at trinity, and, of course, the complete and utter mess I had made of it. The place at Trinity which I had all my hopes on, all those years ago, and had laboured so strenuously for, burying myself behind pile upon pile of books and notes, dedicating hours of each day to committing the essential course material to memory. And I succeeded, and I achieved what I wanted: the place in English Studies at Trinity was mine. But all that I had worked for, all my ambitions and hopes and dreams, it was all squandered, wasted, like diamonds scattered into a  churning, muddy-watered river and remaining suspended on the surface, just out of reach of my desperate, scrabbling fingers.

All the missed opportunities, all the regrets, all the times which I could have ignored the whisperings of Ed and actually put myself out there, enable myself to mature and develop; allow myself to come the person that I wanted to be. But the fear ED had implanted within me held me back every time: I was afraid, so, so afraid to go to any social events when I was at university, for fear that they would involve food or alcohol. Or, often times, I had so little energy, I couldn't face the prospect of going out at night, as I knew that I would be exhausted and would be too weak and frightened to speak to anyone.

But it is too late, now. All that I have is the regret, the bitter, cold, harsh truth, and as I lay down upon my mattress last night, closing my eyes and trying my best to wish myself to sleep, that sentence, that sentence which haunts me so regularly these days, pressing down upon my shoulders and making my eyelids prick with unshed tears, circulated around and around in my head, echoing, echoing, echoing. If only I knew then, what I know now. If only I knew, where ED was trying to take me. If only I knew, that by shutting myself away from the world, withdrawing from the community which i should have been making a conscious and diligent effort to become part of, and by letting myself be governed by a manipulative, cruel, sneering Voice in my Head, I was only going to succeed in ruining my health, crushing all my dreams and hopes which I formally had for my time at college, and, of course, making myself the immature, lonely, painfully self-conscious, and depressed individual I seem to have become.

I would do anything, absolutely anything, to turn back time, go back to where I once stood, change everything. But I can't. It's the same with the osteoporosis - it's done, now, and I am not a heroine of Morokia, or an enchantress, or a princess in a fairytale who gets her happy ever after. I am just an ordinary young girl with an eating disorder, who now has an extremely difficult and painful choice to make, and as many regrets as there are leaves upon the eucalyptus in my garden.

All I can do now is to use my story - the story of me and my eating disorder, and what it did to me - to help spread awareness about this awful mental illness which continues to cause uncountable suffering across the globe: to help others understand just how devastating the effects of eating disorders can be, and how they can potentially change their victims' lives, forever.

The summer before I went to Trinity, when I was so full of hope for the future... I just wish, with all my heart, I knew then what I know now...


  1. Oh Emily, this post absolutely breaks my heart. But I want you to focus on two important things. Firstly, you had an amazing day with your friends. You thoroughly enjoyed yourself, you allowed yourself to be happy. You genuinely wanted the day to go on forever, you weren't just "going through the motions". That's something that is not possible in the depths of an ED, when all of your thoughts are consumed by food and exercise. I hope that can be a small window into the future for you.

    Which leads to my second point. No, maybe the future you are heading for now isn't the one you envisioned a few years ago, but why on Earth does that mean you won't get a happy ending?!! If you had asked me at age 10 what I wanted to be when I grew up I would have said a teacher or a writer. And where did I end up? In medical school! Does that mean my future is ruined and I'm not getting my happy ending? Of course not! Because my goals and visions and passion changed.

    It seems to me that right now you don't really know where you want to be, what you want your future to look like. And that's TOTALLY OK! I'm sure you're sick of hearing it, but you're still young, you have lots of time to figure this out!

    The best advice I ever received was to follow your passion. It doesn't matter if you can't see an end goal right now, do what you love. If writing Morokia makes you happy, maybe get a part-time job that allows you to write. If going to school makes you happy, go back. But make sure you are going for the right reasons. And if you suddenly decide you want to study quantum physics and to hell with English literature then that's totally ok!

    Because you ARE like your heroine in Morokia! You're brave, courageous and strong. You are the beautiful heroine in your own epic battle against ED. And you ARE going to have a happy ending! (Have you seen the movie "Enchanted"? Does she marry the Prince Charming she expected to marry? No! But she gets a much better future in my opinion!)

    Basically what I'm trying to say is: please don't lose hope! You are still SO young, you still have an amazing future ahead of you. Missing out on a few years to figure out what you really want to do won't make a difference in the long run. BUT if you settle for something that doesn't really make you happy just because you feel like you need to make a decision, that WILL impact you and you will regret it.

    Keep fighting beautiful girl. You are strong and brave and you can do this!

    Lots of hugs from Canada

    -N xx

    1. Oh hun...I am speechless. You are just so, so sweet and kind and can I thank you enough hun!!Reading this made me smile again and feel so, so much better hun, you have no idea how much this means to me <3

      I will take your advice to heart hun <3 and you are so so right...following your heart and chasing your dreams is always the way to go. <3 I suppose, it is my own sense of guilt and shame which I need to overcome. I need to determine what I want most of all, rather than what I think I SHOULD do.
      thank you, thank you thank you hun, you truly are such a star, you've helped me to see the light again and I now have began to feel much more positive about it all. You are such a true friend to me, thank you so , so much dear <3 take care and talk soon hun <3 xxx