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.:)

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Look to the Sky...

The cool northerly wind pawed at my exposed cheeks as I climbed out of my neighbour's car, in the middle of a bustling supermarket car park in which shoppers intently searched for spaces like hungry lions hunting for gazelles. Not surprising, really: it was Wednesday, the day before Christmas Eve, and it seemed like the whole population of my small home county had descended upon Portlaoise in order to get all their essentials purchased before the big day itself.

"Thank you so much," I had said to him, and he smiled and assured me that it was no trouble. I had got a lift off him into Portlaoise to start the big food shop for mum. I had an hour to kill before I headed into Tesco as it wasn't until half 4 or so till mam would be able to get out of work.

Usually, whenever we did this of an evening, I would cycle into town and make my own way. But, on being offered a lift from James, it suddenly occurred to me that this was the perfect opportunity to test myself. Because that morning, it had rained heavily, and I had forgone my usual romp with the doggies for a quick five minute potter around the daisy field.

An hour to kill, Em.

Anxiously, I looked to the sky.
It was long past mid afternoon at this stage; and the pale yellow orb of the sun was now beginning to slowly inch its way towards the western horizon. The sky was like an endless expanse of pale blue velvet, interlaced, here and there, with wispy, peach-fringed clouds of lilac-grey and creamy pink.

One more hour of daylight...

I have shopping to do, things to get..

But you haven't done any exercise today. Oh it's going to rain tomorrow! Aren't you going to make the most of this lovely dry afternoon?

But...I said that..

I would..reduce...

But you haven't done anything...the shopping can be done tomorrow, sure...you are lazy, you need to move, imagine how anxious you will feel later if you don't do anything now...

And then you will be all moody and surly..you won't be able to focus on your college work tomorrow morning..the anxiety, oh, Em, you know full well you won't cope with it...

And so I bowed my head in acquiescence, adjusted the straps of my bag upon my shoulders, and walked.

My three furry friends <3 

Looking back now to that evening, I know that it was wrong.

it was compulsory, it was what ED wanted me to do. I love to walk. Walking with Benny and Daisy upon the heather-covered boglands; trotting alongside them along woodland tracks scattered with pine needles.But here? Upon the concrete streets of Portlaoise; alone, with a heavy handbag slung across one shoulder? No. In this instance, I did not really want to go off power-walking: I wanted to go to Home Store and More and buy some picture frames; before then proceeding to the pound shop to purchase wool and gift bags and Weetaflakes. Did I really want to be wandering the streets of Portlaoise in endless circles for forty-five minutes? No, I did not. But yet, because I had not been able to walk that particular morning, I felt absolutely compelled to do so.

Em, why are you afraid of not exercising..when you have some weight to gain?

But that is the point, isn't it, after all. I am afraid. So, so afraid. I am so scared to gain weight again even; despite all the times when I did so before.

But.
I know that I have to do it.






And so I cast my mind back to that moment when I raised my head to stare up into that beautiful sky; on that cold, pearl-bright December evening, no more than a few days ago.

Up there, birds had been wheeling together on the wing; the jet black crow with his harsh grey beak; a bottle green starling with flecks of silver upon his nape.

So free, up there; in that endless blue infinity; so far removed from all the troubles in this world.

If only I too could grow my own wings and join them. If only I could fly, and soar, and be free. Be free like I have never been for so, so long.

 But I am a human; not a beautiful bird. I have to work with what I have.

 I have lungs and a heart and a head in which a mind is contained. A mind which, I realise now, has the power to set me free from this snare.

I think, for my next post (and I really, really hope that you will do the same too if you are in a similar position as I am ) I will compose my Reasons to Recover list...

Because I truly believe this is such a worthwhile exercise to do; if you find yourself  in this state of ambivalence. When you are teetering on the brink between recovery and relapse, perhaps; or if you have embarked upon the road upon the mountain, only to have fallen down upon the stony ground, overcome with the fear of where this road is going to take you.

You are not alone.

This is me right now and I am afraid too.If there was some way I could make this road easier for us, I would cross the oceans of the world to find it..

But there is one thing that I know I posses: I have my words, my voice.

So perhaps, through reflecting, and writing, and sharing, and exposing, I will help both myself and others to recover...





 I may not have much, but I have my voice..

Monday, 26 December 2016

The greatest ever gift...and the greatest ever leap..


Before I begin, I just want to stress again how incredibly touched I am over the responses I have been receiving here on My Cocoa Stained Apron since I resumed blogging. I really do mean it when I say it means more than the world to me. It may not seem like much when you decide to write and post a comment on here, but, to me, every single message and response is worth so, so much more than just a few words upon a screen.

It makes me feel so glad that I decided to return to this little thing which is my blog; a little world in which I know I can truly be myself. It's here where I know I can pour out my heart if I want to; it's here where I am free to expose my biggest fears and anxieties and try and shape them into coherent words and forms.

It's here where I can reach out to others in the knowledge that I will not be judged for who I am and from what I have been suffering since childhood. It is here where I can be just Emmy. A girl with an eating disorder, yes: but also, one who has hopes and dreams and passions; a girl who is just trying to find her way along the slippy crags and lonely moors of a mountain known as Recovery.

Hard to believe this was Christmas two years ago, not long before I went into hospital.
But have I changed that much between now, and then...?

Christmas. For me, Christmas has always been a special time, being synonymous with being at home surrounded by my loved ones, and the joyous act of buying, wrapping, and giving a gift; and the excitement evoked on receiving one. It is a time when I suppose the love I perceive human beings have for each other is brought into patent expression. And that in itself is a beautiful, beautiful thing; more beautiful than any diamond wrought star glittering high upon its sparkling Christmas tree.

Though it's true to say, over the past four years or so, each one which passed me was marked by intense and palpable sadness; and a joy wehich was always bittersweet. I guess, now that I am older, I have become more sharply aware of how quickly the time is flitting by me.

How these precious moments we spend together as a family, might well be the very last of these times. Or how many Christmases I have spent with Ed. How many months, years, that U have done. It's now been well over a decade.

Ten Christmases, which essentially have been the same:the same fears and the same anxieties; the same desperate longing to be totally and completely happy; to not dwell, for one single moment, about the portions at Christmas dinner or the difference in the eating times. To not think for a single instant about weight and shape and what I will eat that day.

And I know that the greatest gift that I could give me loved ones is to choose to recover. To dedicate my heart and soul and every last drop of my energy towards recovery. And this isn't just true for me; it holds true for everyone.

So if you, like me, have suffered for any given length of time, choose to make your new year's resolution this year to be one which ultimately will prove to be the scariest, most daunting, most terrifying decision of your life...but also one which give you back hope, and life, and freedom once again. The one which will ultimately save your life. The one which will allow us to break away from this harsh, cold, disparate world created for you by your eating disorder. Because it is a different world; a world in which there is only pain and suffering and hurting; and, inevitably, one which is overshadowed by death.

On the outside that world might appear so aesthetic, so ideal. Before you entered it, it was like you were standing looking across a great river, to a world lying upon the other side which, in comparison to your own, appears so attractive, so vivid, so ideal. It's a world of snow-white glaciers and glittering skyscrapers; so appealing to your hopeful eyes.

You are drawn to that world like a bee to a lily's golden nectar. Because it seems like in there, all your problems will be solved; all your needs and desires instantly fullfilled. It offers you things that your own world does not provide for you, you believe. This was how I felt, anyway. I thought that, leaving behind my old world...I would find what I - that young, naive, innocent version of myself - truly wanted. What was it? Many things. Confidence. Beauty. Control. To make myself different. I thought that I was a boring, plain, ugly thing and that Ed's world was the only route through which I would be transformed.

But I could not be more wrong.

Ed's world did change me, alright: but to a shadow of the person I once was. And I now realise fully just what his world really is like.

The glaciers there are of ice so sharp and cruel that my skin was torn to shreds on stepping upon them.

I thought that on climbing those towers, I would be on top of the world. Id feel more in control, more capable, than ever before.

But I - just like so many, many others - became a prisoner in those towers. And now everything that you value falls away, separated by a hundred billion miles. All there is is...you, and the other sole occupier of this cold, sterile, barren world.

Because that is what the world of the eating disorder really is like.  And this is what it can do. It separates; creates a seemingly impassable gulf between you and the world and the people you care for; everything . It isolates, distances, and destroys.

But we remain there; entrapped in this cold, harsh, inanimate world of pain and suffering. Because it's our new normality; it's as if we never knew anything different. And the river separating our two worlds now seems as deep and as vast as the infinite expanses of the ocean.

It might seem an impossible thing to achieve...to close your eyes, feel your way through the dark, then realise the river is there right in front of you. Right in front of you and all you need to do is take that one massive leap.

But I'm here - I'm HERE, at the bank of this river; I know what I need to do...
but it's just...taking..that massive, massive jump, and then, starting to swim...I won't be able to do it...I'm not strong enough...!

Why must we fear the river...
when, deep down, we have the strength to swim through its waters?

But...

Believe you can, and you will.

And I will repeat this to myself every day, because deep down I know ir is the truth. And though ED might try to make us believe otherwsie,

there is enormous strength deep down in every single one of us.

Enough strength to cross that river...
Enough strength to reach the pinnacle of the mountain.


Make this year the one in which you give your loved ones the greatest gift...
And the one in which you take the greatest and most bravest leap that you ever will take in your life.

Why fear drowning in the river...
when we are already drowning in the depths of ED's world?



Thank you so, so much for taking the time to read my blog in 2016.
I really hope 2017 will be the one in which we conquer our fears and achieve our greatest dreams.

And so for the latter part of this year I want to talk a little more about the particular challenges I face and my endeavours to overcome them; and also, posts which I hope, in composing, will set in stone for me how imperative it is that I make recovery, this year, my priority.

I really hope that through the words of my writing, I will be able to reach out and help others in their struggles too; and make a true difference to someone's life.

But I know that, ultimately, I will never be able to help anyone unless I rescue myself.

You know what you have to do, Em. 





The happiest of Christmases to all my readers,

Near and far, no matter where you are. <3 xxx

Thursday, 22 December 2016

This time, it has to be different...


Reflecting upon the first blog post that I made earlier this month, i realised that what had happened to me over the later part of 2016 stands as the fourth time that I had slipped into a"relapsed" state since I started my degree at Trinity. Each one of these relapses has been marked by a return to college and a resumption of restrictive behaviour patterns; and a consequent drop in my motivation, mood, and then of course the weight.

Each of them followed what I suppose can be viewed as being a "good" period in terms of my illness - being at home, during the summer, with Mam there to keep an eye on me; with no outward pressures of essays and assignments or of just fitting in at Trinity. I say good, but really, I know it has never been exactly...ideal. My weight has dipped and gone up again more times than I care to remember; but my mind, I know, has remained entrapped, all that while, in a state of static, unchanging bondage. My weight was always changing, but my mind remained the same.

 And though this year's relapse was certainly no way near as bad as previous ones, I'm aware, all too aware, that if it had not been for Mam keeping an eye on me; and for the fear of the weekly weigh ins starting again, then things might well have gone a whole lot worse. But, as it happened, me and Mam seemed to "nip it in the bud" just in time: allowing me to tentatively tread back onto that path again; a path I have been treading now, for over two years which have fleeted by like darting dragonflies.

But I mean, I know it is wrong; that it is because of other people that my relapse was not as severe as it could have been. And it is just another testifier to the extent that I am no way near recovered. As is the fact that I was feeling painfully nervous at the thought of going out last saturday night to the restaurant down in Emo. It was mam's birthday and everyone else was looking forward to the evening; everyone, that is, except for me. The only feelings that I had was fear and desperate anxiety; alongside the enormous and crippling guilt that, on Mam's special evening, all I could think about was my own terror.

 Everyone else's exchanges about what to wear and what they were going to order that night floated above my head like little wispy clouds - so distant, so picture-perfect, so far, far removed, from me. How I would love to be able to chat excitedly about going out for a meal like that.

And I wonder, if..
if I ever really will.

Because I said last year that this time would be different.
But yet, ED lingered, and I remained the same.


Every time we went out for dinner in Mallorca,
I never enjoyed a single moment of it.
Now all I can remember of those nights was the fear, the anxiety.
ED took away memories I should have made with those that I love.


Last Saturday night I sat with my sister and her boyfriend who had come down to stay with us for the weekend of Mam's birthday. We chatted and chatted long into the night; about a variety of things, really, including my eating disorder and countless phases of weight gain, then relapse.

Seeing them go the next day was enough to break my heart, as I know it might be some time before I see them again; though I know one thing that will remain with me today is all that we spoke of that night.

It;s me, and only me, who has the power to save myself.

Others can advise you and motivate you and guide you gently back onto the right path. But ultimately it is you who has to fight this battle. No one else can do it for you. The power, the determination, the strength and the defiance in the face of what might be the most harshest of odds. It has to come from you. You have to become your own soldier,because at the end of the day, it is your life which is at stake here. Your life, your body, your health and your future.

"Postponing" real recovery till after I have finished college is more or less pointless. Because when college is over my eating disorder will simply seek out another "reason" to put off what I have to do for another day or week or month or year. The time is now and anyway, I am more than aware that, for me, time is running out.



And so.

Here is a question for you, Em, I said to myself as I sat at the table with my fingers resting poised upon the laptop keys. What's to stop this time round from just being merely a repeat of your last failed attempt to beat this sh** once and for all??




It's blind faith. Like stumbling through a tunnel. A tunnel that winds and winds in endless spirals and disorientating loops; a tunnel lined with sharp stones which cut and shed blood. A tunnel which seems like it has no end; only a beginning, a beginning which leads back to a place in which you have stood for so many days, months , years - looking in. Looking in, yet too afraid to step forwards now and embark into that yawning chasm of darkness.

There was familiarity there, at the place before the tunnel. Comforting, safe familiarity. A familiarity as cold and as final as death.

Because that's exactly what that place was.

And like all things, that tunnel has a beginning, and an end. An end which might seem like the glistening moon of a clear night sky: so beautiful, so distant, so impossibly out of reach.

But there was someone who dreamt of reaching that moon. And he stopped at nothing till he had achieved that dream.

A beginning, and an end. I do not have much, but, I have a beginning, and a dream.


This time it has to be different...
And so this is where I begin.
  • Continue to follow my meal plan to the letter, and consider increasing it even more if I feel that I am ready to do so. I've already made a couple of increases over the past few weeks; both of which were hard to make, but..I did it. And now I know I have to Stick to my meal plan, every hour of every day, and allow myself to eat MORE than this when I can!!
  • Now, this second thing...is going to be one of the hardest. That being to reduce exercise and physical activity while regaining the weight.                                                                                   Just to explain: during my last relapse-recovery, I continued to walk and cycle every day. I'm not going to make speculations about how and why this happened as to be quite honest I don't know enough about all the sciency stuff and I don't want to mislead anyone. But I knew deep down that I really, shouldn't have been doing it - or at least, not quite as much as I was. My biggest difficulty is that I love it; both walking  my beloved Benny (and now Daisy) and riding my bike through the sweet countryside are two things which give me so much pleasure; especially at this time of the year, on those crystal-clear days; when the leaves are crisp beneath the feet and the sun slips through the sky like a rosy pebble drifting through the still blue waters of a lagoon.  They give me so much joy.                                                                                    But it's true to say that I do feel "compelled " to do it sometimes, even if I don't really have much time on my hands, or if the weather is more than disagreeable, or, in the past, if I had a foot injury - I would still do it. And that, I know, is because of my eating disorder, and its constant and relentless drive to make me burn as much calories as possible.I would find myself prioritising going for my walk over many other things; and that, if I did not do it, I know my anxiety levels would go through the roof. But at the same time...I know it is something that, deep down, I know that I need to do, and that I would benefit enormously from if I were to. But more on this in my next blog post. 
  • This past year, just as I did in 2015, I restored my weight (to a minimally acceptable bmi) only to then immediately start to restrict again by consciously reducing my food intake. Both of these times, I was led to believe by my eating disorder that  my metabolism was damaged and that hence I would continue to gain weight on reaching my "target weight" if I did not revert back to restrictive amounts. And so. This time. This time I have to be wiser, smarter. Smarter than Ed. Stronger than the Voice. And on reaching that weight target I know that time time I have to keep on fighting , fighting harder than ever. It's true to say that that is quite possibly the hardest part of the path leading up that mountain; the darkest section of the long, winding tunnel. Because I know, this time, I have to continue eating, continue nourishing, continue to fight and allow my body to find its healthy set point. I don't know what this is and that in itself is terrifying. But I know, ultimately, this is what I have to do. Or I will never be able to improve my osteoporosis; or properly repair the damage that 11 years of anorexia has reaped upon my body.
  • And finally, a few other practical things which I believe will help me to make this year different. These include writing a book of which I have been deliberating for some time(more on that later) and continue to blog (which I knowwill greatly assist me in keeping and staying on track through my sharing of progress with my readers - and , most importantly of all,the continuous love, support, encouragement and motivation my amazing readers they share with me every day. <3 xxxx
  • And then..what I am hoping to do next year: a year out, in which I might try and get a little job, but also to set aside the time and energy that the hardest part of recovery - that being, of course, the mental part - requires. I would really like to be able to attend proper counselling and get my mind to the right place.
Together...
let's make 2017
the year that we make the Change. <3 xxx

Sunday, 18 December 2016

It was time to bite the bullet..

7 am Saturday morning.

I finally emerge from the kitchen, my hands full of an assortment of different edible items.

A large jar of Tesco chunky peanut butter and a hunk of extra mature cheese wrapped tightly in crinkled kitchen foil. A bruised banana and a tub of buttermilk spread which had seen better days given all the times that I have managed to drop it. A bowl containing 2 weetabix and a jug with precisely 125 ml of warm milk. I dump these on the table and then I remembered that I hadn't got the cookery so I went right back in and got myself a couple of knives. Then I went back again for the one with the serrated edge for the cheese and then finally a measuring spoon and a teaspoon for the peanut butter. And then, finally, I sat down, and waited for my toast to pop. 

I glance at my watch. A pang of anxiety shoots through me. Oh. God. five minutes passed already, and I hadn't even started my breakfast. Five minutes less of writing being done. Five minutes more that I did not spend staring at the abysmal thing that is my attempt at a Children's Lit essay...

My morning routine is, you see, to get up, sort the doggies out (give them their food and let them outside to do their "business"), sort my own stuff out, then sit down and have my breakfast while looking at the blog or emails or whatnot. And then. After that. The part of the day which I dread and detest the most.

It's not what you would call an exactly joyous scene. I sit and I stare for a few minutes at the scraps of sentences upon the laptop screen in front of me and try to conjure up something else that I could write. Sometimes something comes. More usually, something does not. As the minutes tick by I start to feel more and more agitated. My heartbeat quickens and the room suddenly becomes unbearably hot; even claustrophobic. My very skin seems to itch and prickle unpleasantly. The blood pounds wildly in my ears, as loud and as sonorous as drumbeat.

My mind drifts helplessly like a piece of driftwood upon the dipping, swelling waters of the ocean. God I am going to fail this module. God how did I ever get this far with this degree? I am stupid, I can't do it, I...I...

The predominant thoughts which repeat themselves over and over again. But there is also..something else. Food. Yes, food. I have just eaten a massive breakfast but yet I cannot stop thinking about food. Interspersed with these assertions that you are useless and you are pathetic and stupid and worthless piece of sh** there are these thoughts, vivid images of food. I try to put them out of my head; but I might as well have tried to break a pebble in half with my fingers.

"I'm not hungry," I groan to myself, but yet, even while I say it, I know that isn't entirely true. Physically, I feel stuffed; my stomach feels tight and uncomfortably bloated. But yet...there is still this sort of, craving , I suppose, for more. I look up from the laptop and stare unhappily at the jar of peanut butter sitting some inches across the table from me. I don't want any more. I want to get up now and pick it up and put it right back in the cupboard where it belongs. But at the same time..by God, do I want some peanut butter right now. I want to reach across and stick my big teaspoon into the jar's gooey depths and devour spoonful after spoonful.

Now, you can imagine the sort of feelings these thoughts inevitably evoke for me.Feelings of self-disgust and repulsion - Oh my god!! you have become SO greedy!! - mixed thoroughly with an unpleasant, sour-tasting blend of intense and bitter frustration. Because this, of course, all adds up to making writing that essay that one bit harder: or maybe more than a bit, shall we say. Ah, my lovely English essays. Writing them...writing them is like crawling up a hill with your eyes closed. You don't have a clue where you're going or how you're going to get there; and with every knock and every stone that you collide with you're sent tumbling back down to where you started.

Every morning we go through this process. I sit, Istare, I write nothing. I am literally consumed by these thoughts of food and how stupid I have become.

I suppose, this thing or whatever you want to call it which I experience at breakfast time - the intense hunger for more, while at the same time, not being really hungry at all - is perhaps some kind or form of that phenomenon entitled "extreme hunger", which, I've heard, is a most common occurrence for anyone who takes that terrifying plunge into the effort of recovery. But I mean..what can I do?? How on earth will I be able to complete three 5000 word English essays when I suddenly can't even focus properly on stringing a sentence together in my head?

Bite the bullet. An expression which I suppose is highly relevant for this stage of recovery. Because I guess that's what I really need to be doing. Screw the essays. I've read that it's important that..if you get these weird "cravings", despite tangible physical sensations of fullness, than you should just bite the bullet and give into them. To literally bite into that food and eat as much as you want. Because that is what your body needs. Does it feel unnatural? By hell, it does. But is it unnatural?? Well, rationally, I don't suppose it actually is. Because, if you think about it...if you have deprived yourself of proper nourishment for any given length of time, it's only natural that your body now is using every faculty of its powers to try and make you want to eat more and more, right? It's starving. It's deprived of vital nutrients. And so if physical fullness (due to the smallness of the shrunken stomach?) is getting in the way of its attempts at signalling you to eat more...well, I guess it's just going to try and use another method at getting you to eat more than you might actually want.

This is all going by what I have read myself online. My knowledge is a bit scattered and scanty but I know that much AND I know, deep down, that yep, I could eat more; more than even my meal plan which I have, for a few weeks now, been sticking to religiously every day. The physical fullness isn't so bad that I feel I am going to be sick and unable to move if I do give into these cravings or mental hunger. Nope. I could eat more. My biggest concern of all is the fact that these cravings seem particularly geared towards what some people might term as not being "proper" foods - I would never get them for things like fish and meat and stuff like that, essentially, but for things like toast and chocolate and peanut butter and cereal drowned in hot milk - and just to clarify, I am currently eating alot of these foods and have not restricted them for some time. But yet despite that, I would find it really difficult to eat a good portion of chicken, say, or a generously filled sandwich at lunch. But at breakfast I feel as if I could just eat and eat and eat and this also applies to snack times when I eat these sort of foods; and then of course after dinner, when I want nothing more than my banana and lashings of hot fresh custard with heaps of my favourite chocolate.

Ok. Onto the meal plan. I'll talk more about that one tomorrow. But for now I just will continue on. Biting the bullet and biting into the food which I know is my medicine. I need every single scrap and calorie I can get. And the essays are the essays. Are they going to determine my future health and well-being? Are they going to be the ultimate decider between life and death; the thing that determines whether I will be able to attain a functioning, healthy body; or whether I will remain underweight, infertile, severely brittle-boned for the rest of my life; unable to work or socialise or even think clearly without any difficulty? Well, Em? Are you going to screw up everything because of an essay? Or are you going to bite the bullet and take the plunge and...save yourself?



It's me and only me...
who has the power to save myself.



Friday, 16 December 2016

Relighting the candle.. :) xxx

Hello everyone. <3 xxx

It'stwenty past ten and I am sitting by the fire with Mam and Dad in the front sitting room here in Derryguile. The crackling of the fire accompanies the soft tapping of my fingers upon the laptop keys, while, down at my feet, Benny snores his way across the dewey grasslands of his dreams.

Twenty past ten and the night is still young, but the tiredness that bludgeons in my head makes it feel as if it were a whole lot later. Soon enough I will be joining Benny in my own dream landscape.

But I felt compelled to write a little before I head to my cosy little bed with the soft green coverlet and crumpled pillows. Because over the past few days, I really have rediscovered something which, in my second relapse, I thought that I might have lost forever, this time. That being my joy in, and love of, blogging. If you take a look at from whence I first started my blog, there have been a good few gaps before the most recent one. I don't think they were as significant as this one, though. College constituted one of the main reasons for my ceasing to blog; I could literally not sit and write a blog post, no matter how much I wanted to, without being consumed by anxiety about the work that I was not getting done". But that said, there was, of course, a big part of me too which was powerfully and intensely ashamed.

Ashamed that I had gone back on myself again; having come so far since my relapse last year.  Ashamed that I had allowed my return to college to just turn into a repeat of last year. Ashamed, so deeply, palpably ashamed, of myself for being the weaker one again. I had let my blog, my readers, my loved ones down. The thought of that was enough to make me want to weep bitter tears upon my pillow every night.

And alongside all that, then there was also something...something else. That little voice, niggling away at me, again: Your blog is stupid and useless. Noone reads it; its of no use or help to anyone. You might as well just stop now, you imbecile!! Delete that pathetic excuse of a blog post; you have an essay to write!!

But yesterday,  I made a decision of my own; pushing  away that scornful, mocking Voice with its constant flow of criticisms and relentless stream of mocking taunts. No, ED:  I am going to start blogging, again: Because I want to, and I feel, quite ardently, that there are things that I want to say and share with the world. I have a story to share and advice to give; it is only ED, i know, who wants me to remain entrapped within its crushing, suffocating silence. But no. It is time for the Ganache Elf to don her little apron once again. it is time for the real Emmy to dig out her dog-eared blog draft notebook and translate her thoughts to words once again
.
Blogging has helped me so much in my journey to recovery; and I know that it will continue to do so. I really hope that by sharing my experiences and insight that I will be able to help others in any stage of recovery; or indeed anyone who has ever been touched by a mental illness.
But now my eyelids are heavy with sleep and my beloved kitten mug is now vacant of hot chocolate. ;) so I am going to sign off for now and potter off to mo leaba; but before I do so I just wanted to thank you, every single one of you, who read my blog or left comments on a post; who thought of me and wished me well. I can't stress how much this means to me.

Thank you so much for helping me to find the path that I had lost,
And for helping me to reignite
That beautiful, golden, radiant little candle 
which for so long remained hidden from me...
but which now I have found again, and set alight with unafraid hands.
That little candle that has a very simple little name.
Such a small little word
for something so incredibly powerful.
That candle is called hope.
Like the twinkly lights that shine upon the Christmas tree,
Hope throws off the darkness and fills my heart with its glow.

Good night everyone. xxx

This isn't our real fire  - its the fake one we have in the dining room!! But I love the way daddy has adorned it with these gorgeous fairy lights. Just looking at it every evening is enough to give me that warm fuzzy feeling to the very tips of my toes. ;) xxx

Sunday, 11 December 2016

The Flames...


Wipe away those tears, Em. They aren't going to change anything.
They're not going to write this essay for you. They're not going to change the fact that you seem to have become a complete and utter imbecile...

A typical day in the life of Emmy, Trying to write her English essays.

So I stood up then and rubbed furiously at my cheeks, angrily chastising myself for letting those tears fall from my eyes. Then, I reread the sentence again, pulling my jumper tightly around me, gripping the soft material with my fingers. The words float around in my head, echoing mockingly; grating together like knives being scratched across a steel plate.

there's that queasy, all to familiar sensation bludgeoning in my head; the subtle reminder that yes, I have been here before. The past few years have been all but the same.

What is wrong with me?

Have I become completely...stupid? Inept?

 I almost feel like reaching out with trembling fingers to scratch those hateful words upon the screen with my very fingernails. Fingernails which are short and worn, on fingers with skin the texture of sandpaper. How I am ashamed of them. Just like I am of everything about my own body.

It seems like forever since I wrote in my beloved blog; though college, of course, did not permit me to do so for the past few weeks, months, of the latter part of 2016. After such a beautiful summer, autumn took on a more darker shade for me. I became weaker and started to restrict again, reestablishing a familiar pattern which seems to be set in motion every fall of every year.

But then, at long last, came the crucial moment of realisation.

Not sure exactly when and where this little moment actually happened. Perhaps it was when I was walking with mam and she said to me, very tenderly, that I was looking just "a bit too thin" again, and I saw the pain in her dark green eyes. Perhaps it was when we picked up our new rescue dog Daisy, four weeks ago, and I took her out on the bog with Benny for her very first walk. I called her by name and she ran to me, placing her head in my lap as I crouched down to enclose her in my arms; wanting her to know that she was now safe, and loved. Noone will harm you here, I whispered. But her big brown eyes were penetrating into my own, as if she, too, was trying to convey to me an unspoken message.

I know that, Emmy. But you have to be well enough to look after me.


Daisy

Daisy is right. I have to keep myself well, to look after her. She is a two year old, jet black collie cross; and is, as the saying goes, as mad as a hatter. Daisy will need lots of long walks. She loves having someone to run and play with, to throw her sticks and then chase after them with her. All things that I want more than anything else to do with her. And which I have been, over the past few weeks. She has already stolen my heart.

But if I were to choose to give up now - to relapse, wholly and completely - than I know all too well that my health and energy will fall, and shrivel, like the fallen winter leaves lying dead upon the cold, hard earth.

My osteoporosis will worsen. the slightest fall or trip might well break an arm, a wrist, a leg.

And this second - or maybe not second; my weight has gone up and down on the scales now for as long as I can remember - has taught me a vital lesson about a fear which Ed had for me established as an undeniable reality.

I realise now that my fears about my "damaged metabolism" were, after all, just that. Fears. All these convictions that I would not stop gaining and that once I was weight restored I would have to revert to restrictive amounts in order to maintain and stabilise my weight. They were lies. Nothing more. From this weight loss I have been able to establish a fact.

Fact:

I can eat what I want.



Yesterday evening I sat by the open fire in the sitting room, watching the golden orange flames leap and dance in the hearth. Transfixed by their beauty, I pushed myself slightly forwards. The delicious heat of those flames drew me ever nearer  I stretched out my legs and wriggled my ice-cold toes. As I gently eased off my socks, though, intent upon feeling that warmth upon the bare skin of my feet, an icy shudder passed involuntarily through my body, brought on by what lay beneath the soft wool. Dry, cracked, broken skin; flaky to the touch, rubbed red raw on the edges of some of the toes.  I hate my feet, I had whispered to myself despondently, and had swiftly pulled back on the socks, so my eyes could no longer look. They are ugly, so ugly. Just like the rest of my body...

But this is Ed. This is Ed and what he has done to me. One thing he cannot touch is my strength and power of resistance. One thing he cannot take away is my resolve to carry on, no matter how many times I may fall.

Though on the outside, in the eyes of the world I was a "healthy", normal girl...
They could not see what I hid behind my smile, behind my healthy, weight restored body.
And that thing which was inside me made me despise what I saw in the mirror.

The storm continues to build. The thunder roils, the clouds bunching together into one thick, inter-penetrable mass. The noise drowns out everything. I cannot think. I sit in class and I cannot hear what the lecturer is saying. I drift in and out of the conversation, a tiny bloodless smile fixed rigidly upon my lips. I don't really understand what is being said. Psychoanalysis. Koros. Something about linear and cyclical time in children's literature. The words float above my head like pollen grains suspended in a summer wind.

There is just so much... noise, in my head. A crashing cymbal and a raging thundercloud. A tornado which keeps on revolving and revolving, threatening to destroy everything in its path.

But though the storm may continue to rage, I know I have to continue to fight on, Despite that bitterly cold wind which cuts into me like a blade; despite that icy rain running in rivulets down my face.

I said I'd do it in 2016. I will make a full recovery. I'll find the real Emmy. Not some twisted, skeletal version of myself. Not a girl who feels like she is dying inside. I'll make it there in 2016. That;s what I said, this time last year, as I desperately fought to pull myself from the wreck of my first major relapse.

But those sentences by this time sound so familiar; because I know I have said them to myself several times before.
In 2014.
And 2015. And now it's the end of yet another year.

I know alot has changed, since this time last year...

But yet, at the same time, one crucial fact remains unaltered.

I am no freer than before..
 This will be my twelfth year, with Ed.

You might as well give up, Emmy, that voice whispers to me. Give up. So much easier. So much more simple. You know you'll never get there...

In a way I suppose, succumbing to that voice will be like drawing so close to those flames in the blazing fireplace, so close that my skin is set alight and I am consumed and completely destroyed by the flames...

As that is what Ed has the power to do, ultimately. Unless I consume the food that my body needs...it will, quite remorselessly, consume me.

Unless I break free. But yet this is the thing that I yearn for so desperately, at the same time..there is that part of me which remains terrified, which wants to remain subordinate to this malignant thing which resides inside my head. And so. Breaking free. It will be no less as painful as reaching out and closing my open hand around one of the bright and beautiful flames in the roaring fireplace; before then proceeding to crush it, crush the hot flame within my clenched fingers. It will burn. It will singe the skin to the very bone.The pain, the sheer terror, will be unlike anything that I have ever before known.But I know here lies the ultimate, defining decision. I can choose to let it win; or I can choose to extinguish it. To destroy that thing which will destroy me if I do not take action first.

Every day...

just need to remind myself...

that recovery, not college, is my new priority now.

I must feed myself and destroy this illness...

Not feed this illness and destroy myself. 


Saturday, 29 October 2016

Back to Basics...

The swallows flit across an lilac-peach sky.

The sunlight slants through a canopy of leaves the colour of candlelight.

Flowers fall and blossoms wilt. The branches of the slender-limbed hazel shudder gently in a chill breeze which cuts into the flesh like a knife.

The rowan and the hawthorn hold aloft their garlands of deep scarlet berries. Some of the berries lie crushed upon the face of the earth, shining wetly like droplets of fresh blood.

And though the whole world changed around me,
I still...
remained ...
the same.

It's been a while since I last wrote. Not out of choice, of course; I would never willingly just abandon my blog and cease my weekly writings. But that week two months ago, there was a sense of change in the air; hanging heavy like winter fog in front of my eyes.

And ahead of me, the new college term loomed ominously over my head like a threatening storm cloud upon a grey winter's day.

And so my Morokia notes were tenderly gathered up and put away in the depths of my wardrobe; whereas my various favourite "reading spots" - which ranged in location from the front seat of Mam's Nissan to the petal-strewn table at the rear end of the conservatory - became frequented, not with my dog-eared copies of the Wheel of Time, but with college books and endless piles of refill pad paper covered front to back in my messy, spidery handwriting. The beautiful, golden summer finally had come to an end.

And on a breezy morning in late September, I found myself standing before that familiar arch in Dublin City Centre, the wind tugging sharply at my long unadorned hair as I gazed upon the structure's stony regalness.

Back again. But I don't feel any different.

I'm still that little lost girl at the gates of Brigidine, watching all the people hurry past me, feeling; so hopelessly inadequate, stupid, inferior.

And as I walk these bustling halls and corridors, I have never felt quite so alone.

I sit in the classroom and listen to the chatter of the other students around me. But it feels to me as if I am perched upon the pinnacle of the most desolate, lonely mountain. A mountain from which I can clearly see the signs of human life below me. So close, but yet; so far.

The one companion that I know is here with me - who is waiting for me, at every corner which I turn - is Ed.

Ed was here the first day that I stepped through the Front Arch of Trinity. Ed's been here with me ever since. Sitting in a lecture hall, trying to study in the library; walking through the bustling arts block and trying to avoid every stranger's eyes. Ed is there with me, breathing down my neck. I can feel its hand upon my shoulder, turning me to where it wants me to go.

And this year, I know, is no different.



There are times when I want to be like those falling leaves...

To be blown away with the chill autumn wind, to float gently across windswept moor, to be swept into the surging river, to be carried away, forever...

But no. I know that that is my depression talking; that somewhere deep inside there is a little seed waiting for the light to shine upon it so it can grow. I need to realise that I am not a helpless case. I need to realise that I can nourish that seed, let it push itself upwards, and let it...blossom...

But how?
How do I do it??

Well. I guess it's back to basics...



To nourish myself. And to hell with getting upset about college work I cannot do. Normal reaction: I cry, I weep, I berate myself and label myself as an imbecile. And then? I don't eat properly. My head becomes clogged up with thoughts like I cannot eat that because I know I will just think and think about it excessively afterward and well you will be sitting in that lecture room for a good two hours..you must eat less to provide for that, Emmy. Cymbals, crashing in my head. What I would not give, for them to be silenced.

Ed. Yes. It's time I talked to you. I starved myself for the whole duration of my teenage years and beyond. Because of you, Ed. And now what do you do? You tell me that I need to keep on eating less. That your body no longer needs this food, because you reached a healthy weight, and -

I know it's me and only me who can fight this fight; who can defy and resist these endless, endless lies.

I know that I have to keep on fighting.

Stumbling blindly along this long and lonely road.

So I know that now I need to be open and honest and reach out for support to my loved ones and my readers. To stop avoiding the scales and face up to reality.

And to remind myself, once again...

of why I chose recovery; and why, I chose to fight.





And so this is exactly what I am going to do...

  • Get back onto my meal plan, properly, with no little missed bits or exceptions.
  • Check my weight once a week, no more, no less.
  • Make goals and weekly challenges in my notebook as I know I still have many fears to conquer and disordered behaviours to overcome.
  • Get involved with something not to do with college which I think I might enjoy..and which will enable me to meet and interact with other people..hard and scary but I know I need to get out of my comfort zone and I think too that it will help distract me from the anorexic thoughts.
  • Be open and honest and seek help and support. 
  • Help myself by weekly journalling and self-checks, and try to use some of the tools which I learnt in hospital, but since then have long since completely forgotten about. But it's past time to dig out those tattered sheets and put them to good use.
I know I have said this so many, many times, but...it is the ultimate truth.

Each one of us will only be given one body.
This is the one and only body we will ever ever have.

It's not like an object which you use once and then dispose of. It's not an item of clothing which can be crudely fixed if it has been broken or badly damaged. The body is resilient and will do all it can to keep you alive. But there's only so much that it can take. There's only so much restriction and deprivement of vital energy and nutrition. There's only so much overexercise and starvation and lack of essential vitamins and nutrients. Sostop putting off what you need to start doing today. Today we choose recovery. Because there might well be no tomorrow for us. Tomorrow might just be that bit too late. <3 xxx

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Searching for that safe harbour...

Up and down, up and down I go; like a bobbing little sailing boat in the middle of a cold, raging sea. One minute, it feels as if I have crested a wave: next minute, i come crashing down again.

Stormy is a perfect way to describe how I feel right now. My emotions roar through me with enough strength and power, it seems, to knock me clean off my feet into the raging waters which course to either side of me.

When I feel joy, it feels so palpable  that I could almost reach the stars with my outstretched fingers if I wanted to. But when...when I feel pain...I feel as if I am being ripped apart like a piece of delicate paper. But this, I suppose, is what you call recovery. I reach a little high point; then, suddenly and horribly, am flung right back down to the earth again, landing hard upon the cold, unyielding ground. I know the drill. I have to get right back up again; wipe away the tears, dust myself off. And carry on.

I must not...
I must not lose sight...of that beautiful little light...






Yesterday, when I felt the depression-type thoughts begin to kick in - it was late at night; I had had no contact from anyone I knew; the perfect combination, in my case, for the feelings of bleakness and despair which are more or less familiar to me now - I picked up my polka dot notebook, sat down uin my little chair and had a good, long think. About...about numerous things. About the shape my recovery has taken the past few months; and what, essentially, I have to do to brighten that beautiful little light.

Many weeks have passed now, since the day when I weighed myself and realized that I was "weight restored". Nearly two months, roughly; or maybe just one and a half. How long it has been is really of little consequence. That is not going to be the subject of this blog post; but rather, what has happened, since that day.

And also before we proceed any further, just to say that it is fully intentional that I inserted the quotation marks on the final two words of my first sentence. The reason being that I felt that I needed to remind myself - andj, of course, my readers too - of the actual importance of understanding what that word means. Weight restored. Taken to refer to that state of when an individual has reached an apparently acceptable healthy body weight. But does it indicate actual healthiness? Should it be regarded as the ultimate goal of the recovering anorexic; the final milestone upon the road, upon which having arrived at they would be ale to call themselves healthy?

I answer my own question with conviction, as I am all too aware of what the truth of this subject really is. The answer uis No, it does not. Weight restored does not at all necessarily mean that youi are healthy, in either body OR mind. And I - as well as so many others, I am sure - have allowed themselves to be lured into a false sense of security, that the minimum healthy bmi range is what we should FORCE ourselves to stay at.

So yes, I know it is true that there are some individuals who do have naturally low bmis. Buit it's a rare thing, so I have read. For the vast majority of people, the low bmi range is still much too low.

Do not make the mistake and think that I, in writing this post, have successfully managed to take on this scientifically proven theory in relation to my own weight and bmi. Truth is, I have not. Rather, I know it is true - as I do many things in regard to anorexia - but one thing that my Voice most certainly excels in is convincing me that what is right and true for "most" people uis by no means applicable to me. A size 10 looks nice on any other woman, Emmy, but most certainly not on you. Its ok for everyone else to eat like that, Em, but if you do you will most certainly get fat. Most people have a healthy weight range higher than bmi of 19, Emmy, but you are an exception to that. 19 is just that bit too high for you, I think.

And so the lies go on and on. Problem is, of course, that I allow myself to believe them. And today I thought that it was about time that I sat and reflected about the extent to which my progress since reaching weight restoration stage has been controlled and affected by these lies.

Meal Plan

When I reached the target weight mam had set for me, I immediately expressed to her how worried I was about "How I should eat now." Having dedicatedly followed my meal plan for the past five months and not having ever had to worry abouit what and how to eat - all I had to do was stick to the plan; after all; there was no uncertainty; no indecision - this sudden actuality of NOT having to follow a plan anymore was, to me, more than just a little frightening. My mam calmed me down and advised me to keep on eating as I had been. "We need to make sure you maintain first," she had said. "And anyway, it is not going to do you any harm at all to gain just a bit more, Em. Your body might not have reached it's healthy set point yet." Initially, I had felt soothed by her words. Determined. Yes. Who could say, i had thought, that I was at a healthy weight yet? Whatever happened, I would not let mam down. I would continue to eat as I had been before, and we would thus see what happened.

The first two weeks afterward were easy enough. I felt motivated and my appetite was still as good as ever; I stuck to my plan just as I had bbeen since than day in February. But then, slowly but surely, my motivation began to creep away from me. Niggling doubts began to creep into my brain; doubts which were really, of course, the Voices of ED in disguise. I began to question my diet and my food intake again. Was it really right that I ate so much bread? Toast at breakfast; half a bagel with my nuts and mid morning hot chocolate; a roll at lunchtime followed by a toasted crumpet inthe afternoon. Wait, Em, the sly voice whispered. There must be a reason why the media are always slamming bread? Why do you think your mum does not eat bread anymore? I think it best that you cut down, just in case.

That was the fuirst thing that I really changed, that week. A few other little alterations happily established themselves; changes so tiny and minute that I and only I could have noticed them. The contented dipping into the peanut butter jar became more controlled and more regimented; the amount of cereal I ate uin the morning; my servings of carbs at dinner. Tiny, minute changes. But my question - to all of you now - is that should I be concerned about them? Or are these dietary changes all good and acceptable;completely normal for a weight-restored twenty two year old girl?

Weight

Me and mam both agreed that we we were going to try and move away from the scales and the weekly weigh ins on reaching my target; so the Sunday checkups were accordingly dispensed with. A massive part of me was delighted, of course. I hated those weigh ins and the feelings of anxiety and self-disgust that always accompanied them, whether I had maintained or gained that particular week. But to my surprise, when I heard mam say the long -awaited words - no more Sunday weigh ins, Em! - the sense of relief I felt was small, barely noticeable. It was mainly overruled by the strong feeling of fear that coursed through me, right then. If there are to be no more weigh ins..then how will you know if you gain more weight? What if you go over the target??

But..the thing is... I told myself that I would allow myself to get to my healthy set point, and if this meant gaining more weight, I would do it. But of course, as with so many parts of recovery, this is easier said then done. And I am afraid, so so afraid, to let go of this rigid self-control which my eating disorder imposed on me so long ago, and which, of course, still lingers with me now.

At present I am still unaware of what my weight is, still. There is one voice which is screaming at me that I must go and check it - I bet you have gained more weight!! I bet you have gone over your target, you..!  - whereas another part of me is too afraid to go and look. But I will need to know, eventually. Truth is I don't know what to expect when I step on the hated thing again.

Feelings and emotions

I would love to say that I have felt better in myself since reaching the target weight, but the reality is of course that things were never going to be that simple. And, unfortunately, having worked so hard to get to this place, my Voice is now as loud as ever before, hurling insults at me every day about how "awful" I look now that I am weight restored. And worse.

I suppose it is a measure of my own strength that I have managed, so far anyway, to not let the Voice effect me drastically and induce me to turn back to anorexic behaviors. 

But I feel...trapped, and, at times, completely devoid of hope. I want to go on, but I do not know how to. I sat and thought, and I did cry, a little, too, because I just want this to be over. I want there to be a magic button there beside me which I an reach out and press, and then I would fall asleep and wake up...and I would be...I would be recovered...

But is this an impossible dream..?

All I can do is..try to keep going..and use all that I have to try and get through the next few days, weeks, months. Years. How long am I going to feel like this? Is there no end to this pain?

How do I reach the safe harbour?







Monday, 12 September 2016

The Little Light in the Darkness...

I knew it would never be easy. I knew, that this path was going to be a hard one. The hardest journey that I ever will make. But never did I anticipate just how...how dark this road was going to be. Especially at this exact place: the place after weight restoration.

I often liken the recovery journey to a scramble up a long and lonely mountain. And that is what it is; to me. But halfway up that mountain, the  path winds into an impossibly dark chasm. A chasm which I have no choice but to step into, stretching out my fingers as I try to feel the way. I cannot see here; I might as well be completely blind. There is no way of telling what lies ahead of me, or what traps and holes might open up beneath my feet.

That glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Sometime it winks mockingly ahead of me, the faintest speck in the blackness of this cavern. But then, as I start towards it desperately, it winkles out and ceases to exist. I know it is out there somewhere, beyond the pitchblack darkness; but I have no idea how I will get to it; just how exactly I am going to proceed.

Because this is truly what they call blind faith. Walking a tightrope with your eyes closed, precariously balanced with your hands thrown out to either side. A thin little leaf clinging to its twig, which with every puff of wind is almost cast off and blown away. I feel fragile, vulnerable, unprotected. And, above all, I am more afraid than I have ever been in my entire life.

So easy to turn back now; turn back, and try and flee from whence I came. Back to that familiar, seemingly comfortable place behind me.

But that was the place which almost killed me... 

And then I know that I have to go on.

And so I step into that chasm and then I close my eyes. because with my eyes open I can see the darkness, trying to close all around me. But in my mind's eye I can paint a completely duifferent picture: images which glow with soft, golden colours. Colours which serve to warm the very blood in my veins.

These images are simple enough; to anyone else who might have seen them at the time that my eyes did. But, to me, they are more beautiful than the sparkling stars of a clear winter night sky; more precious than the most priceless of gemstones in the vastest of treasure hordes. And their beauty and value have caused them to be forever inscribed to my heart; never ever to fade or be taken away. And this darkness cannot touch them.They shine like stars; they glitter like diamonds. But stars and diamonds, to me, are worthless in comparison to what these images contain.

These little images show people as well as words. There is my mam enveloping me in a hug, that very first day when I set out on my battle against my eating disorder. Here are the words of the comments of my readers on the day of my previouis blog post; when I felt like I was drowning in despair; that because of the way that Ed has broken so much of what I had, life appeared so empty and broken and hopeless. There is the memory of I and my best friend, screaming our lungs out as the CĂș Chulainn rollercoaster, having reached the crest of  105 m, plunges down towards the ground at the speed of a plummeting stone.

And so I let these images fill me with strength. Because they remind me that I am not alone; that I was not, that I never will be, alone along this long and difficult path through the chasm.I know that this is my battle; one that I and I alone can fight. They cannot carry me; they cannot fight for me. But I know that they are there beside me. I know that they will help to guide me towards that beautiful glimmer of light.

That little light in the darkness is just there in the distance now; seemingly so small, so far away, so distant. But this time I will not cry out. I can dance through this darkness now if I want to, spinning and gliding over all those holes and pitfalls. Ed need not touch me, or catch me. He might try to take hold of my hand and lure me to join him in his own seductive dance. A dance which I know the steps all too well now; a dance which I have trodden before, in the certainty that I could not cross this darkness on my own, to step my own way.

And before I knew it Ed was spinning me to his own tune again. A tune which led me right back down, back through the tunnel, to that familiar, familiar place...

But I know that, deep down inside me, there lies the strength and the courage to to break completely away from you...

And so I step lightly forwards into the darkness, letting the love that radiates from those images pulsate through the blood in my veins. And in the distance I see the little light in the darkness ahead of me. At times its brightness dims and winks out; at times it might appear a million miles away; like some beautiful faraway star suspended in the vast infinity of the heavens. But though the stars of our galaxy may not always be visible to me, I know that they are never truly gone. Just like my little light in the darkness.

And I know that if i keep on believing - that if I never allow myself to lose hope - that one day I will find my way to that shining star. That I will reach the end of this dark and lonely road; and step into the beautiful valley, where soft grasses and sweet wildflowers do grow.



Thank you so much for always being there for me..I mean every word of what I wrote here..your words fill me with strength and hope and give me the courage to strive on with this fight <3 xxx

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Everything that it did not take, it left broken.

There was a time when I did not think about how easily things can be broken. The happy, carefree, innocent little girl that I was.

Around the landscape of my childhood I would run and jump and play, my big blue eyes taking in every detail of a world that shone around me in such vibrant, dazzling, enchanting colours. Colours which thrilled me and excited me; which served to irresistibly arouse my curiosity; prompting me to reach out with probing fingers to discover and feel and learn.

And then there came that day upon which I had to learn that vital lesson. The slender crystal glass upon the fireplace in the red-wallpapered sitting room; its brim overflowing with delicate, lush sweetpeas which filled the very air with their fragrance. I was lured to the glass like a bee drawn to nectar: a thing of such delicate, simple beauty that I felt compelled to reach out and touch it. I wanted to brush the tender petals of those dainty little flowers against the bare skin of my cheek; to inhale their perfume into my nostrils; to lose myself in the feelings and fantasies that that scent spontaneously evoked. Suddenly I could be a princess in a story, gazing out of the window with a handful of fragrant blooms clutched to her breast. In that childhood world, I could be anyone that I wanted. It was a world alot less crueler than the one which I was really born into.

But then the glass slipped from my fingers, those beautiful petals fluttering like moth wings as they fell away from me towards the hard ground. My hands moved to somehow save those delicate flowers: at the expense, of course, of the glass in which they had been contained. It hit the wooden floor with an ear-splitting crash; sending shards of glittering crystal skittering to all four corners of the room. Realisation of what I had done hit me like a fist between the eyes. Sitting down amongst those pieces, my fingers still clutching the few flowers which I had managed to save, I had cried bitterly, unable to fully comprehend the devastation I had wrecked upon the helplessly vulnerable object that I had barely seconds ago just held.

So that was the day when I finally realised that things could and would be broken. Broken, so, so easily: All it takesis that one fatal little slip.

And from that day on I was consistently vigilant and careful. My touch was gentle and my hands were meek. I knew that things could be broken. And I was prepared to take all measures to not let anything else in my life be damaged by my actions.

But little did I know that something would do the breaking for me.

It's ten years now roughly since that day. That day in September 2006, when I went into secondary school. Ten years since I became aware of that Voice which I now know as my little Ed.

It began to take things. It did not give them back. The more and more I would give in to him, allow him to take from me, the more greedy he would become. There was no such thing as enough, for him: he would always ask for more. And more did I give, desperate to please him, willing to hand over anything to make him cease his relentless onslaught.

And now so much of what is taken, is broken, seemingly beyond repair. My osteoporotic bones, weakened and brittle, never again to be strong. My confidence. My ability to concentrate and ability to remember things. All of those things, and more, have been taken. But there are other things which I valued yet more, which have been taken, too. Friendships and relationships; trust and love and joy. All gone, broken. Broken by ed. And yet why do i still give in to him? Why do I still let him control me; the thing that has destroyed so much of my life?



There are some days when I just feel so broken. Both my mind and my body feel as fragile as that delicate crystal glass that I destroyed all those years ago. But this, in a way, is worse; as it feels as if this time, it was not all because of me. I was not strong enough; I had allowed myself to slip up, to be broken and snapped like a brittle, thin twig. if only perhaps I had been stronger, then maybe my broken pieces would still be intact; maybe I would still be whole. But no, I was weak. Ed was stronger than I was. At times I want to weep out of bitterness, just like that little girl that I once was: to cry bitterly for the loss of the things that were so precious; those things that I know cannot be replaced.

This is not the life that I want to live; a broken, shattered way of existence. Because even though I am weight restored, I am not by any means recovered. Ed still controls me, Ed still wants to take from me until there is nothing left to take. It wants to break all that I have and that I love. It has already broken so much of what I had. Relationships and bonds that I thought could not be snapped apart; but Ed's touch is sharper than a knife's; just as deadly. I do not know how to fix what is broken. I can only try, and hope, and pray that I can mend them.

And I suppose the only way that I can hope to do this is choose with my heart to recover. To recover full circle; to climb the mountain to the very top. Otherwise I know that everything will be broken. Including, myself: in body, soul, and heart. 

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

On the Outside, so much has changed. But can I really change what lies deep inside?...

As I walk down the street I keep my head down and my eyes averted. I hope, futilely, that no one notices me. I hope that not one single person will glance in my direction as I pass down towards the library, hugging my copy of the Great Hunt to my chest. my long hair falls down my back in one long, uncombed cascade. My eyes are shadowed with dark circles; my face is devoid of any make-up. But it is not for these reasons that I keep my gaze fixed to the ground beneath me. It is not for any of these reasons that I walk as if I were treading upon glass.

I wonder what they do see; the ones who do happen to notice the girl who hurries by them so timidly. Would they just see a healthy, normal girl, a girl who is just in a hurry to get somewhere, and out of shyness avoids meeting any body's eyes?

If only, they knew.
This bmi, this number on the scales, an apparent indicator of healthiness, of being a step freer from Ed. But those numbers do nothing to change how I feel inside.

On the outside, so much has changed; since that day I committed myself to the gruelling task of gaining weight alone. My skin has a glow which wasn't there before; my hair is softer, stronger. My hands are no longer wrinkled and dry; the knuckles no longer cracked and bleeding and sore. I have a bust and my hipbones no longer protrude from my body. My legs and arms are no longer like thin little sticks which looked as if they would snap like a twig if I were to fall. I no longer look like a walking skeleton. My body has changed from that of a girl's, to a woman's.

If only I could say that I have changed on the inside, too.

Because that, I know, is where my illness really lies.

I'm not going to lie and say that peoples comments no longer affect me. Neither can I look in the mirror without wanting to look away again immediately, tears misting my eyes and a hard lump wedging itself in my throat. I cannot make myself like what I see: the healthy, strong body that I, through my own hard work and perseverance, now possess. Neither can I make myself want true recovery for myself. All along, I have been doing it, for those who I love and care for.

The last part of this mountain is steep and sharp-sided. The rocks here are jagged and cut me as I try to cross them. The hardest part. Yes. Here is the hardest part of my journey. This is where I stopped and gave up the last time: this is where, after having climbed so far and crossed so many valleys and gullies, I let myself fall down. for fear of what lay ahead of me; of the remaining gullies and rifts that faced me. The last part is shrouded in darkness. For though my body has changed, my mind is still the same: and this last part of the journey terrifies me.

If only the final stretch of this mountain was gentle and soft beneath my tentatively treading feet. If only the path that winds on in front of me was lined with soft sweet grasses, easy to follow and easy to tread. If only. But rather, what lies ahead is treacherous and painful. There are thorns which leave me bleeding; nettles which sting me and bring tears to my eyes. And now I know that I was wrong; at the beginning of this long, hard journey which I seem to have been travelling for so, so long. I thought then that weight gain would be the hardest part. But no. Now I know I was wrong. This is where the hardest battle of all will be fought.

But I know I have to close my eyes now and scramble blindly forward onto those sharp, jagged rocks. There is no shortcut or way around them; onto them, I must go. I know that I have to embrace this pain.




Wednesday, 17 August 2016

So this is where I fell...

Yes, it was at this very place where I stand now...

A place upon my path leading up the mountain...a moor, where there are flowers trying to grow, but, beyond that, there is a precipice...a precipice I have to cross.

When I was at this place a year ago now, I was, as I am today, weight restored...



People would look and see a girl recovered...
But they did not know what pain I hid behind my smile...

But I was, and am, something else, too, something which other people cannot see. That being free; free from my eating disorder. I was not back then; and I know, that I am not now. Weight restored. A state of being which means that my body is now relatively healthy. But am I cured of an eating disorder? No, I am not. People might look and see a girl who is recovered; but that is where they are wrong, so wrong. How much I weigh is totally inept in measuring how healthy I am inside.

And the last time that I stood in this place, of weight restoration. there was a wretchedness; a bitterness which twisted deep inside my heart, unseen and unfelt by anyone else but me. And a hatred: a hatred of my new body. a hatred which was as audible, as palpable to me as the harshest of sirens: which could not, would not, be silenced.

The compliments that people would give me back then, would burn in my ears like acid upon the surface of the tongue. The words would roar sonorously through each and every passage of my mind; reverberating and echoing, repeating themselves over and over. No matter where I went, no matter what I did, the echoes were there, taunting me. The kind, loving words of my friends, my family: translated into the cruelest mockings by the cunning whispers of E.d.

She said that you looked well today...

she meant, of course, that you have gained weight, that you are fat.

And I believed it. I believed what it told me. And little by little, ed crept up behind me. It's ok to miss lunch, every now and again. You are weight restored, so it doesn't make a difference. It's ok to cut down on your carbs, Emmy, don't worry. Even better if you just eliminate them altogether.

And that is where I fell.

Fell into a place, which I had once sworn to myself I would never fall into again. But Ed is, and always will be, a trickster, a deciever, and a liar.

But now here I am again, at this place. It would be so so easy to fall, I know. The way ahead is as slippery as a glacier. As slippery, and equally as treacherous.

One false step, and I will slip, and fall over the edge. Just like I did the last time.

But since then I have changed, and grown...

The storm might blow over the tender little flowers, at first; seizing them and tossing them mercilessly to the ground. Because they were not ready, or strong enough, for those winds. All that is left then is a barren and broken landscape. Upon which, it seems, nothing can grow...

But there are some things that even a storm cannot touch. That is life, and hope, and the ability to start again.

And even though I fell before, I made myself get back up again.And I changed and grew and learned from my past mistakes. And now I know I am strong enough to face the storm. To stop it from causing me to fall.

And now I know that I do have what it takes to keep me from falling off that precipice...

And that this time, at the place where I last fell, I can be stronger than my eating disorder.

For starters, despite the fact I am weight restored, I am still eating the same amount, roughly, as I did when I was gaining weight.
I'm not going to try to pretend that doing this really scares me...but that, I have learned, is what true, real recovery is really about.

I have pledged to myself to listen to my loved ones, over the manipulative whispers of the Voice inside my Head. For I know what will happen to me if I let myself give in to that Voice. Now more than ever, I have to fight, and stay strong.

And in addition to that I am focusing on my weak points and feel motivated and determined to confront them. I am aware of exactly what they are; and that it will require true commitment and effort from me if I really am going to change. But I know that all I can do is try. If I do not try then I wil never be truly free from Ed.

So this is where I fell.
The same place; roughly, the same time of the year. The leaves of the beech trees are tinged now with the gold of early autumn. The flowers in the garden quiver gently in the soft wind. Their petals are vibrant, but some are already beginning to droop ever so slightly. The brink of another autumn: a time of change and transformation. And soon those golden leaves will shrivel, and fall.

But watching them now, my heart will not ache as it did last year, when I felt like one of those falling leaves; those wilted petals. No: this time, I see beyond the decay. I see instead the infinite beauty of nature; of a cycle which, in its never-ending rotations, there is always new life, new growth; and always, always hope.

So this time I will not fall. I will stand tall and strong  and will not falter. I will keep my head up and my heart strong, and I will continue my ascent of the mountain.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

The road continues on.

I guess I have been in this place before...

It feels familiar, while at the same time, totally, completely alien. A planet I have been trying so hard to reach; but which I knew that I had stepped on; once, some time, before...

And as I step onto that planet there is an immense sense of relief, of joy. I've done it. I reached my target weight. But then...then at the same time, there is this fear. Not the fear of actually being here, walking on this strange soil. But rather, what lies ahead waiting for me, in the darkness. I am scared because I don't know what lies ahead. Weight restored. I no longer need to gain weight. But...what if I do, anyway? What happens if I continue to gain?

How on earth do I even eat now? I had thought to myself, in confusion. They didn't tell me how to do this, in the hospital: the focus was purely on what and how to eat when you are gaining weight. But now I am here in this strange, but somehow familiar, new place. What do I do now? What will happen to me? I feel so lost, confused, disorientated. Ahead of me lies a vast, deep gulf. Delicately I step upon the only way across: a narrow, sharp-edged precipice.

So easy now to fall off that edge, off the edge of this place, to be swallowed by the darkness. But what lies ahead is just as terrifying as what lies below. The obscurity, of the future. Shall I cross that edge? Or shall I let myself fall? Fall, into where there is, essentially, a familiarity, for me...

Familiarity, because I have lived in that...other place for almost half of my entire life: in the prison of my eating disorder. And yes, it was familiar. But it was, more than anything, a living, breathing hell.

Because that's what living with an eating disorder is...

Nothing but pain, and loneliness, and fear.

And no matter how scary and unfamiliar the future is for me, I know that I have to keep on going...forward.


The road continues on...
And I know, that I have to keep on going forward,
up and up the long and lonely mountain... 


On the morning after I looked at the scale and saw, recognised, that I was actually weight restored. I woke up and then I just lay there for a few seconds, my thoughts revolving like meteorites streaking across a jet-black night sky.

What do I do now? How do I eat today? Do I restrict? Do I eat less? Do I compensate? Do I pound the roads for a good hour this morning to burn off the calories I will consume?

No.

This time, things will be different. As scary and as terrifying as it is, I am, for the meantime, going to keep on eating to my meal plan. Rather, this was what I have been doing, for the past week. It is like walking out on that precipice with my eyes closed. It is blind faith. But I am going to take that step. I am going to follow the advice of my loved ones, rather then listen to the Voice which tells me that it's now time to restrict, or cut back.

It is hard. It is so, so hard. For the battle is far from over for me. I have to continue fighting on: as hard as, if not more than, I was when I was eating to gain weight.

This time, things will be different. Because this time, I am not going to just stop and give in halfway. Around this time last year, things were alreeady beginning to slide backwards. I had started to cut down on my intake. I was beginning to tell the odd lie to my loved ones about what and when I ate. The little habits which I thought I had long since destroyed were slowly but surely creeping back in. Basically, I had given up in my fight. I allowed myself to fall.


But this time, things will be different.


The road continues on.