At first glance it might seem that I am just a happy, normal girl who loves to bake and walk her dog. However, I have suffered with an eating disorder since I was 13. It was only in May 2014 when I realised that this Voice in my head was slowly but surely trying to kill me. And so began the long, hard, and painful journey which is recovery...
I want My Cocoa Stained Apron to be a special place...a place for reflection, memories, shared stories...and of course a little bit of cocoa-staining ;) Recovery might be the hardest thing you ever choose to do in this life. But it is also the bravest and best decision you will ever make.:)
Sunday, 23 August 2015
I just feel so...lost, unsure, afraid. Afraid that, whichever path I choose to tread, I will trip and fall down the abyss that opens up before me, to be engulfed in a yawning chasm of darkness of which there can be no escape. Unsure of what paths are actually there in front of me, of where each individual path will lead, of whether I will actually be able to tread that very path, of the danger, the pitfalls, the traps which lurk around the corners of each one. And lost, so very, very lost. Because, I mean...nine months. Nine months, of worry and self-debate and painful contemplation, and this is all that I have to say for it. I still do not know which path to tread.
Do I return to Trinity this year...
Do I apply for another year off-books and defer my course for another year...
Do I withdraw from Trinity altogether?
Should I try harder than ever to find employment, or should I pursue repeating my Irish Leaving Cert in view of seeking to return to college as a mature student in 5 years time, to take up a primary school teaching degree? Is that really what I see myself to become? Do I have what it takes to become a teacher?
Big, big questions...and next to them, I feel like a small, helpless little beetle whose path has become blocked by a hulking, ugly grey stone, a stone which casts its dark shadow across the ground and prevents the little creature from moving forward upon its journey, from essentially progressing onwards with its life.
If only...if only I could somehow see into the future, to see what fate has been chosen for me. Or, even better, if only I could just go back in time and change it, change it all. I got myself into this mess, but, for the past nine years, I have wedged myself ever deeper in this pit that was dug by my very own hands. Hands that scrabble frantically at the edge, desperately seeking to find a way out, but which always, after a long struggle, lose their grip to tip me back in my little hole. I just wish, I could find that strength. That strength which sometimes I do catch glimpses of, deep within myself. But I always let that strength be diminished and overcome, by all of those inner demons which threaten to pull me down. That sense of immaturity, the perfectionism, the depression, the anxiety, the self-hatred, the lack of confidence and self-esteem. And Ed, of course, the largest and most malevolent shadow of them all, looming over me like a great black storm cloud, flanked by smaller - but no less malign - .murky grey counterparts. And those clouds gather in together, now, into one furious, terrible knot, palpable enough to destroy and crush and blow to pieces, every little thing which falls within their path. Not a single one of them can be thought of as the same, yet, they are all inexorably linked to one another. And they will join together and knock me down, unless I find the courage to stand up against them, to look deep inside myself and find that inner strength.
I know, that I can do it...
I know that I have the strength, to stand against the storm...
I know that I just have to believe in myself. To not run from the roar of the thunder, to not cower and hide from the rain.
To know that I do have the strength, to pull myself out of that hole, to feel the rain upon my skin and hear the thunder crash around me. To hear, to feel, to see...but to not be afraid.
And to walk against that storm with my head held high and to dance across the lightning bolts and the puddles which splash at my feet. And I know that with that strength, I will find my rainbow...
Wednesday, 19 August 2015
I thought alot today, about how I am going to tackle this problem of self-imposed perfectionism. To bbriefly explain to anyone who might not be quite so familiar with this concept, this is how I would define perfectionism itself. It's like a sense within yourself, that everything you do, everything about yourself, ever single little thing in your life, your world, the person that is you...should be perfect, flawless, impeccable. And for me, it extended to thoughts about my body and personality too.
And so I formulated a little PLAN of sorts, and of course I just had to put it in LIST format (sorryyyyy!!! :o ): and I hope through sharing my advice and thoughts on this, I might help anyone else out there who is struggling with perfectionism - for I know all too well just how intrusive, how harmful it really can be; and how it can essentially infiltrate and contaminate all areas and branches of one's life - and I hope that together, we can all kick this thing's ass. Remember: NOBODY is perfect: no one single person on this earth is without fault or flaw, if you want to call them that. We are not inanimate robots: this is what makes us human. And what of the greatest accomplishments you could ever possibly make would be to recognise your own flaws and imperfections, and learn accept them, and love yourself for who you truly are, as well as recognising the flaws and imperfections of others, too. One of my favourite songs for recovery has to be Natasha Beddingfield's Freckles. It's a moving, heartwarming and beautiful song with a very true and important message.
- Acknowledge the existence, the presence of perfectionism in your life...but then end it there. Just because it is there, doesn't mean it has to affect you in such a harmful and damaging way. Oh here I just have to quote a line from Morokia that I wrote the other week!! Writing this it just fits in so perfectly to what I am trying to talk about...
- So yes, it is there...but the other important thing to remember is, you have to be patient and compassionate with yourself. You do not have to complete the mammoth and nigh on impossible task, of erasing our perfectionism from your life, entirely and wholly, in a matter of days, weeks or even months. These things take time. Be kind and patient with yourself. baby steps is the best way to go here.
- Learn to embrace yourself, for the person that you are. And I know that this is so so hard, but. It is possible!! get a recovery or self-motivation journal. Here is my own one!! ;) (I have many journals... ;) And in it, try writing a few simple little things on a very regular basis, once a day if you can. Such as 2.) three positive things a day. 2.) three good things that you did/achieved today. 3.) three things you are looking forward to, and they can be as simple or as elaborate as you like.
- And in the journal write down the things that you like about yourself, your gifts, your talents, the things you like about personality. And as you write them, it is very likely that you will hear a voice screaming furiously in your head, telling you that everything you write is false and that there is nothing good or positive about yourself...but you just have to tell that voice to F*** off, basically, and continue writing them anyway. Remember: that voice might be there, you can hear it, but that does not mean that you should let it hurt you, control you. influence you. Continue to resist that voice, and it WILL get weaker, and you, stronger.
- And then focus on the things which you enjoy doing or did once enjoy doing, bit now the pleasure you once derived from them has evaporated, because of perfectionism's heartless lies. ut what you just need to do here, is to start doing them, anyway, regardless. Again, start slowly. For me, getting back into Morokia / blogging again was all about taking things slowly and carefully. I told myself: ok, I am NOT going to rush ack into it, and expect myself to get pages upon pages of Morokia written in a day, or a whole long and 100 % perfectly written log post. No...it does NOT work like that. I am going to focus on getting a paragraph written, I am going to sit and blog for half an hour. And to write from my heart, and to enjoy it, and to recognise this, that this is my writing, my blog, and that I do not need to dedicate all my time and energy into making it flawless. It is unique and it is important to me.
- And something which I know might be of some help, is to purposely leave things uncompleted or imperfect. You might find (as I do) that you might spend hours doing something which most people might complete in less then half that time. I did this with Morokia the other week...instead of deliberating for ages about how best to write a sentence, I just let it flow out of me and let the words transcribe themselves in the page, telling myself that I would have time to edit later if I so desired, but for now, perfection did NOT matter.
Monday, 17 August 2015
But then, that hard-faced, merciless thing which is known by many as perfectionism - a thing which has held me in a snare not unlike that of Ed's: tight and cruel and binding; and seemingly, inescapable - fingered its way into my consciousness once again, touching and tainting yet another thing which, formerly, gave me so much pleasure, so much joy, so much happiness.
Because over the past few months, it has sort of hung over me...a hulking, ugly, grotesque shape which has cast its shadow upon the enjoyment, taking away the light, throwing everything into darkness.
But anyway, for months on end, I managed to keep it at bay. But this weekend, I let things get on top of me; like a snuffed out candle, my desire to blog was just...gone.
The flickering light which perfectionism had slowly but surely beginning to dim and block out, it was now extinguished entirely.
But can I relight all those candles..those bright little twinkling lights, which ED, perfectionism, depression, all snuffed out and took away.
speech and drama..
And they are just a few of many. :(
everything which I love could be taken away, if I don't fight back against perfectionism and ED. I won't have any little candles left.
Tuesday, 11 August 2015
Just another quick (and exciting!!!) update from Ganache-Elf's HQ (ie. the little blue-tiled kitchen here at Derryguile House!!)
As you all know, baking has always been two of my greatest ever joys. Baking is, to me, more than just a simple hobby for passing the time or as a means of saving money on buying shop-bought produce. No: to me, baking is my passion, a commitment and a source of endless enjoyment, pleasure and creativity. Nothing makes me happier then spending a rainy afternoon up to my elbows in flour in my kitchen, pinny on and wooden spoons and battered Kenwood Mixer at the ready. To me, there is something truly special in seeing the delight on the face of a recipient of my home-baked produce; about that moment when the oven door is opened to reveal a beautiful , golden, risen masterpiece inside; or when those gorgeous, homely smells begin to emit from the kitchen to waft all over the house, tickling tastebuds with their heavenly aromas.
But today, with the help and encouragement of my friends, I have discovered that I can take passion for baking that one step further...
My friends and I went for a little picnic up in the mountains yesterday afternoon, armed with various essentials which we knew were indispensable to the success of our adventure. These included three pairs of worn out runners - which, despite being caked in mud with the Nike swoosh or Adidas stripe long been rendered indistinguishable, had withstood the test of time again and again, never failing us when we chose to don them for such mucky expeditions in field or forest or bog. numerous rain jackets and umbrellas, which, despite the innocent blue serenity which had graced the sky as we had initially departed from the house, we knew all too well we would more than likely need upon our journey. you don't really go walking in Ireland without a rain jacket. Not even if its in the middle of the summer, and it feels warm enough outside to wear shorts and a t-shirt: no. it just isn't the done thing, to refrain from bringing rain jackets on a walk in Ireland. And then, of course, there was the most essential item of all. The picnic. ;)
Our picnic consisted of various baked delights, including a freshly-baked crown loaf which I had whipped up earlier that morning, wrapped securely in a tea towel and bundled onto the back seat of the car. With that we had cheeses and peanut butter and tomatoes, and fruit and nuts and of course...sweet things. Oat cookies and cupcakes of various flavours. And it tasted so, so good.
And as we sat at the little picnic table, with the wind gentle rustling the leaves of the beech trees which formed a shady, spring-green canopy above our heads, it suddenly occurred to me - to us, even - that perhaps, I can make all my hopes, my dreams, my aspirations for the future, all come true...
Starting with one that has remained with me for a long, long time, ever since that day when I first put on my little white apron with the canaries on it - the very same apron which I still wear today, with its chocolaty stains and all - and discovered for myself joy, the excitement, the magic of home-baking...
Sunday, 9 August 2015
As I mentioned before afternoon snack is something which I seem to be managing alright ( though I think there is a little more room for improvement, too) but i still do find it hard to have something in the morning. :( Every day I tell myself That I will - 'll have a hobnob with my choccie at half 11; at half 10 I'll do myself some soda bread with plenty of peanut butter... but then the moment comes, and I'm so, so close to actually taking that biccie out the pack or lifting off the top of the bread bin...but then, something holds me back, the anxiety takes over, and though I always, always have my hot chocolate, I equally never can go as far as having something with it, like I would like to. I know some might think I'm making a mountain out of a molehill, obsessing over just one snack, but the thing is...it's still a hole in my meal plan. And a little hole, if not fixed or mended in some way, after all..it might turn from a tiny hole to a small gap, and then a small gap to a big tear. And that is something which I don't want to happen, and am determined to prevent with every last bit of strength that I have.
And so, here is yes, yet another list (im sorry, i know this might be getting so annoying at this stage! :p) for Snack ideas!!!:) Hopefully anyone stuck for inspiration might find these useful, too ;)
- Mueslibars ( I got a packet of these in Lidl in Pollenca the first day we got here and I LOVE them!! I am really hoping I can get a similar sort of thing once I get home!! The ones I got over there in Mallorca are almond and hazelnut ones are they are divine! And of course they are awesome with hot choc :p heehee
- Biscuits!! I love biscuits but before the holiday I was sort of avoiding them as well :( but mam bought me some in Mallorca and now I realise just how much I missed them :'(
- Scones - probably one of my favourite ever snacks. I want to give brown scones a go soon, or maybe even cheese ones(i'll share the recipe of course if they're a success ;)
- Rye/soda bread and peanut butter - this would usually be my "safe" option but one which I do genuinely am fond of, though I know I need to push myself and move out of my comfort zone once I get home. And also - I am going to say this RIGHT NOW so I have put it out there and actually force myself to do something about it in the process.
- Rice pudding - Sorry for mentioning the word rain and cold at this time of the year!!! - but I think when autumn does come around like we all know it will, I might have warm rice pudding as a snack as well (either out of a tin or make my own)
- Miller Rice - lived on these at the hospital but haven't had a single one since I left even though I love them!! So I might get some of these in me fridge next time I go shoping (or more likely, the Aldi equivalent!!! :p
- Hot cross buns and teacakes...ok I know it's not Easter but hey, I don't have to put a cross on top on this occasion. Maybe a nice big smiley face instead, and then we will have hot smiley face buns. :p
- Nuts...oh my goodness don't get me started on how fanatical I am about nuts ors you might think that I have gone a bit nutty in the head. :p Roasted, slightly slated cashews are a particular favourite of mine. Though I also love peanuts, pistachios, pecans and walnuts. And they are a great source of protein, too. :)
- a few tablespoons of homemade granola (so good, and if anyone is interested i will share this one, too) with warm milk. mmm
- Crackers and peanut butter...ohhhh this one is SUCH a cracker!!! :p a couple of crackers (I especially like the multigrain ones :) sandwiched together with quite possibly the most divine foodie creation ever invented by mankind...??? so good <3
Friday, 7 August 2015
During my stay in hospital, this was one of the questions that the cbt therapist that saw me once a week tried to post to me. But at the time, you know, I was actually unable to answer. Who are you without your eating disorder, Emmy? I chose to dismiss, even ignore the question: for it came at the wrong time, a time which I was unable to properly arrange my thoughts and fight off the cloud of depression and sense of hopelessness which had overcome me during my inpatient stay, just after the diagnosis with the osteoporosis. I truly believed that, if Ed was gone, there really wouldn't be any of me left: I would be a nobody. So much of my identity seemed tied up with my eating disorder: from the things that I did every day, the way in which I lived my life; the things that I said and the way in which I saw myself, the way which I thought about myself and my position in society, in the world, in my own little anorexic bubble.
But that was the past...
and I now realise what I didn't, couldn't allow myself to see, back then, when I was that depressed, frightened, and wretched young girl in hospital. A desolate young girl with an eating disorder, who could see nothing on her horizon but siffering and bleakness. Who had, completely and wholly, lost all trace of hope.
but now...now the way that I think about myself, how I think about my future, how I think about my place in the world, my role in it, my identity as me, Emmy - has changed. Through storms and rain and mist I have passed, but now, as I continue my slow climb upwards, I look towards the horizon once again, and I can see a beautiful new brightness, blazing, strengthning, pulsating like a beating, living heart.. At times, I even can feel it, in little dapples and fleeting touches upon my skin. These are the times like today, when I catch a glimpse of what real, true recovery is really like.
I know, deep down in my heart, that I was wrong, all those months ago, when I surrendered myself to despair and hopelessness, and believed that I was nothing without an eating disorder...
And I am reaching out with outstretched hands, to the real, true Emmy. The Emmy without an ED.
Wednesday, 5 August 2015
Sunday, 2 August 2015
Why can't I let it go? Why do I still hold onto ED? After all these years, all these years of suffering. After realising the truth...after becoming fully and completely aware of just how much ED has taken away from me. After feeling a hatred so palapable, so potent which I did not even think I was capable of educing: for this thing, this monster, this demon which still sits upon my shoulder evey single day, dictating to me what I should and should not do, what I should eat and not eat, even what I should say, how I should act, what i should think.
Me: I think my legs do look a bit better, now that I have gained weight.
ED. No. You are wrong. They looked so much better this time last year, when you were skinnier.
Me. I suppose...you are right. I think they looked better then, too...
This was the conversation in my head, as I stared at myself in the long mirror in my room yesterday evening.
I just wish with all my heart, that I could just..let it go, for once and for all.
It is just so frustrating for me, as I am fully aware of the reason why I still cling to ED. Once, there was a time when ED performed for me, many functions. It had almost become a vile friend of sorts, in a way. It had a purpose and a role in my life and it made that very clear to me. ED kept me at the low weight at which I desired back then to be, ensuring that i remained skinny and underweight and thus keeping my ultimate fear of ever becoming overweight or obese a distant possibility. And there were other functions, too. It kept me immature, dependent on others to look out for me: as in my own little world I had come to feel so isolated, it was as if by turning to eating disorder behaviours I could draw attention to myself and allow myself to be noticed, for others to know I was there. ED became my stress-reliever and anxiety-soother: when the world seemed to turn against me and I could feel myself cracking, I reassured myself by turning to restriction and overexercising, drawing comfort out of the fact that no matter what happened, noone can look at me and see a chubby overweight girl. I hated every single thing about myself, I felt useless at absolutely everything. But I had ED, and ED promised it would keep me safe.
And here I am now, and to look back on those days fills me with pain, sadness and regret, and further augments my sense of self-hatred. How could I be so stupid...?
And the thing is, of course, is that now, things have changed, and I want recovery, I no longer want to be the immature, dependent, stick-thin girl who cannot function for herself and constantly needs others to look out for her and care for her. i no longer need ED behaviours to comfort me, to give me a sense of achievement or reassurance. I no longer want my identity to be defined by an ED.
But this one thing remains with me, my greatest ever nemesis, the vice which, if I dont learn to control and overpower it, could well be my downfall. The desire to be skinny. That is still there, that has not changed. And I know - I know, with every single fibre of my being - that I CANNOT give in to it. For if I do, I know all too well that the consequences could ultimately be devastating.
I just don't... understand.
this is what gets me down the most, which makes me want to kick myself, scream at myself until my throat is hoarse and angry tears are running unchecked down my face. I do not understand WHY I want to be skinny. Because I think skinny is pretty? No, that is not it. I do not think skinny is pretty, attractive, sexy, or beautiful. And neither did I ever like my body or shape when I was at my skinniest, despite everything ED made me do and think to make it that way. I used to look into the mirror and feel the visible bones, and feel repulsed, disgusted, full of loathing. Then why? WHY do I want to be a bag of bones??? Sometimes it feels like I am going crazy; more often than that, I actually believe that I am. I just want to let it go. I hate ED with all my heart. I just know that I have to fight, fight this thing with every single breath, every beat of my heart.