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, 23 March 2016

Advice Post- sticking to the plan!! :)

Today I thought I would write the first (haha, or maybe not so. It's more than likely that I have written a postof a similar kind some time in the dim and distant past. I've just written so many blogposts at this stage I guess I am beginning to lose track of them :( !! ) of my advice posts dealing with certain aspects or particular challenges of recovery. And so here are my tips, based on my own experience of what has and has not worked for me, of how to follow/get back onto following a meal plan....

  • One of the hardest but most important things you can do is to tell someone about how much you are struggling.
Yes, I know what you are thinking. "I can't tell them. They will be mad. They will be upset. They won't understand why this happened." But please believe me when I say this...recovery is one of the hardest things you will ever have to do in this life. And recovery without support is a hundred times harder. It is always, always best to be as open and as honest as possible with your friends, family and support system. They can only help you if you reach out to them.
This comes from the girl who took a whole six months to finally reveal the truth to her loved ones, about how she had relapsed on returning to college and lost weight as a result. And it was one of the most difficult and painful things I ever had to do, to tell them that, yes, I had relapsed, I had lied to them, I had fallen victim to my eating disorder once again, had allowed it to take control of me. But since that day I have not looked back once. I have been doing so, so much better, now that I have Mam supporting me. Because doing it on my own did, in the end, prove to be too hard.

But there is enormous power in togetherness and it was through that crucial support and help that I was finally enabled to find my feet again; to realise that I did, after all, have that strength and courage deep inside me. the strength of a great white swan, soaring upon the storm clouds as they rage and thunder around him. the courage of the young, delicate seabird who has stretched his wings and stepped over the edge of the cliff face, trusting himself to the winds, and the strength of his own wings.

  • Write up the meal plan in full and stick it somewhere where everyone can see it.
It can be the fridge, the noticeboard, the kitchen door or above the doggy's basket on the wall if you prefer. Just somewhere obvious where you and the people you are living with will constantly be able to see it.
  • Buy yourself plenty of the foods which you like and enjoy.
common sense I know, but I mean, what's the point of trying to force yourself to eat things you don't like??
Take my meal plan, for example, which is basically comprised of all the foods which I love to eat. I can honestly say there is not one food item on there which I don't, quite the opposite!! And this, consequently, makes it much easier for me to follow. After all, eating toast generously slathered with peanut butter, or regularly indulging in numerous mugs of Mam's hot choc is something which, to be honest, I don't really find too difficult to do at all anymore, haha. They're just too yummy to resist, and I know that by having as much of these delicious foods as I want, I am only helping my body to repair itself, and basically doing the equivalent of shaking a clenched fist in ed's stupid gaping face.
  • Tell someone about what you plan to eat today/show them your food diary for the day.
this puts pressure on you to follow through with what you aim to have. And you will feel under pressure and feel some anxiety, but just remember, thisis a "good" kind of pressure, essentially, and the only way you are going to destroy that anxiety is by directly doing that thing which directly causes such feelings of agitation.
  • Make things in advance if possible, to lessen the chance of being convinced by ed to skip/"conveniently forget" to have something.
I know you can't do this for everything, but it's just something which might do for a few things, particularly if you are a person like me who hates wasting food. I am most certainly one of those people (maybe a bit too much so!!) and so the general idea of this is that if I were to get something out of the freezer, say, the night before for my morning snack..and then once its out the freezer and defrosted, then you have to eat it or it will just go to waste, essentially - you get the idea. As I say, this might not work for everyone and I know it still requires a good bit of willpower to actually make the food item/get the food item out of the freezer etc for starters!!
  • Bakeand make your own meals/snacks.
again might not work for everyone but if you are like me and love to bake and cook, this is great as eating more and sticking to your plan consequently means you have more excuse to bake and experiment with new things. ;)
  • Develop a sound support system and get as much help and motivation as you possibly can.
If I am feeling a bit nervous or agitated about a certain meal/snack etc what I usually do is go onto my Facebook and answer one of my messages if there is closest friends are aware about my efforts with the meal plan and just talking to them and knowing that they are cheering me on makes such a difference to my motivation. And if I have the camera handy and I am having something which looks as delightful as it tastes, I often can't resist sending them a wee the Lizzy hot choc I had this morning for example.. ;)

  • Reintroduce things gradually, don't take it on all at once. 
Start off with the foods/meals/snacks etc which you fund the less overwhelming. Once you get back into the routine, then it's time to start challenging yourself...
For example for me, when I started eating morning snack again with a hot choc. Well, first I started off by making sure I had a full mug of hot choc, every single morning, for abut four days in a row..and then I added in a small handful of nuts to go with it. In a few days again, a hot choc and a big handful of nuts. choc, spelt toast and peanut butter. Then half a bagel, peanut butter and hot choc. And now? Well, now I can happily say that every single morning I have not ONLy a hot choc and a, now I have a hot choc and TWO snacks instead of one. Like this morning, for example: hot choc and a good handful of salted cashews at 10.30, then half a seeded bagel + tbsp pb at about 12.15. And boy did I enjoy it. And its true, that at one time - only a few months ago, so to speak - this would have been totally unthinkable for me. Yesterday while I was rummaging through some notes in my bag I found a diary in which I had taken some notes of my daily intake during the period back in October, during the period when I had started to restrict again. And I can honestly say, I was appalled, shocked and incredulous..let me tell you, one of the first thoughts that popped into my head - a few seconds after running my eye over the words and actually comprehending just how measly my intake was back then - was...jeez, that amount would NEVER be enough for me now..I'd be starving, if I ate that little. It just all goes to show that, no matter how big, scary or impossible change may be, you CAN do it and you should never let anything or anyone stand in your way. Whether that be fear, doubt, uncertainty; the cruel taunts of ed, dragging you down and telling you that you cannot do it. You CAN resist and defy all of them. Don't let anything stand in the way of your recovery!!!!

Anyway, ahem. Once again I seem to have swayed off topic somewhat. Apologies. ;)
  • Establish a little routine.
For example , on Mam's work days, I always have my hot choc and afternoon snack when she comes in from work at 5.15 . Then we sit by the fire together and talk about our days. Likewise, on Mondays when Im at college until the afternoon, I always try to meet with a friend for coffee (or again, hot choc in my case!!! ;) for coffee at 10 am. Just little changes like that make it so much easier. Always , always try to eat with others..I know this might not always be possible, but whenever it is, do. Make others aware of your routine. My afternoon snacks at the weekends is always crumpet + pb and mam is fully aware of this..then she always buys me fresh crumpets from tescos on friday afternoon and we have them toasted later on after our afternoon walk!!

I hope these are of some help to anyone who is struggling with this particular branch of recovery...which is, I suppose,one of the most important and fundamental aspects to the physical recovery from an eating disorder in terms of nutrition and weight restoration...but which, at the same time, represents one of the most difficult. But hear me now when I say: difficult does NOT mean impossible...and there is absolutely nothing that you cannot do.

You can, and will, defeat the ED Voice. <3 xxx

Oh and one final point i felt that it was important for me to make. In my last post I included my own meal plans, all of which are loosely based on my ones from hospital (but altered, of course, to suit my own schedule and food preferences!! ) Now I don't calorie count but I would estimate that they are roughly about the recommended amounts for recovery (2500 + ). I thought it important to clarify here that if you are in recovery and about to start the refeeding process, it is very important that you do not go onto a meal plan like the ones I am currently on straight away as this could cause refeeding syndrome , which can be very dangerous. Instead you need to start off on a lower amount and then gradually increase to 2500+.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

The Wild Rose...

So with the soft winds came the beautiful New Spring.

A time of life and light and fertility. A time when the seed of the wild rose, having been held down by the cruel grip of winter for so, so long, is suddenly pricked into life by the warmth of the sun.

The wild is rising and the roses are wild. And so the wild seed rose, to become a flower...

A beautiful, wild rose.

And just like the wild rose, so I will embrace my new freedom, my new wildness. I will let myself grow, because I know that I can be strong. I will let myself rise up towards the light, having broken free from the the cold, icy grip of Ed.

I am no longer the helpless prisoner of Ed...

No, I will be free and wild. I will become like the wild rose.

So I made an importnat decision yesterday...I have decided that I am now ready to up the plan that bit more. Having discussed this with Mam yesterday, alongside the fact that I think I feel ready, and alot stronger, for it now, that is what I have decided to do.

Scared? You bet; I'm plain terrified if I was very honest. At the back of my head there is the Voice, screaming, screaming, screaming away like a soul in torment ; like a demon, the demon that it really is and always will be. No! You - Can - NOT!! You wil not! Greedy, lazy girl! The amount you are eating already...twice as much as normal people!! Ten times more! A hundred milions times more than what you used to eat when you were with me. You shall - not - do it...

But do it, I most certainly WILL.

Emmy is a lot stronger now, than she ever, ever was.

This evening, after a long, draining and difficult day at college, I came in, dumped my bag of dog-eared papers and dreary, odious volumes of Mary Wollstonecraft and The Faery Queene by the door of my room and went straight to my laptop with the intention of opening up Word Document. It's wasn't long before I was tapping away, a Mammy hot choc close to hand (as usual ;) ) and a determined, no-nonsense briskness to the movements of my fingers.

So I wrote up a number of potential meal plans, A, B and C. A is the one I've been following up till this point, B being the one I start off on tomorrow. And C is the next one I'll go onto if I feel I need to increase it again.

I've decided to do this for a number of reasons. Firstly, I guess it is because I feel ready to increase it now. I think my body has more or less adjusted to the meal plan at this stage; my appetite is most certainly back with a bang and I have felt alot more hungry and peckish in general.(Unfortunately, there are still a few of those bloaty, no appetite at all days - but thankfully these aren't too frequent and I've sort of learned to just take them in my stride anyway, telling myself that my body is probably still a bit confused and messed up and that, in time, this should all sort itself out!!) And yep, it's true, there have been a few days when I actually wanted to eat more than my meal plan specified. Now, being brutally honest, I wasn't quite brave enough to go and have that extra bit on these ocasions - ED won that one, unfortunately, with its loud convictions of how greedy and extravagant it would be of me, to have more than what's written on your meal plan..!! Like how could you even consider such a thing? 

What a load of tosh, Ed...

Yet another one of its countless lies. But I know better now, anyway, and I sure as hell won't make the same mistake again.

And also, another important reason I have for increasing my intake, is that I really want to keep up my walks with Benny..especially, now that spring has sprung here Ireland. and the countryside is blooming...brimming with the freshness and new growth and vitality, alive with the ssights and sounds and vibrancy of early spring.

And I know it would be so awful if I had to give up walking my beloved Benny, all because of ED, again. But I know that if I am to keep it up, I have to make sure I am eating enough: more than enough, to be precise. Therefore, I think it is all well and good that I am increasing my intake. The more energy I have, the better.

And well, anyway, one thing I definitely do know is for sure, is that...well,the more food I eat, the better really; and if I feel as if I am able and ready to eat more, there is absolutely no reason why I should not. After all, the more food I consume the more energy my body will have at its disposal to put into repairing and restoring all the damage caused through restriction.

So anyway, here are my current Meal Plans!! Plan A is what I've been on the past few weeks. Plan B is the one I am going onto next, starting from tomorrow; Plan C, will be my next step, if it comes to that - I'm going to see how the next couple of weeks go :) <3 xxx

Meal Plan A

Breakfast :7.30

·         Wholemeal or multigrain toast + 1 tsp peanut butter
·         Good bowl of cereal – 2 weetabix/cup maltwheats/shreddies etc, with 100 ml milk minimum.

Morning Snack 1: 10.00 - 12.00

·         1 snack from Snack List 1
·         Hot choc number 1 of the day (heehee more to follow!! ;) ) made with full fat milk and lots of heavenly tesco drinking chocolate powder.

Lunch 13.30 – 14.30

·         brown submarine roll/1 toasted white submarine roll/1 soft crusty roll/1 mini baguette/wholemeal bread/wholemeal toast/wholemeal bap/soda bread/baked potato, buttered, with
·         Protein filling: Ham/Turkey/Chicken/Tuna + mayp/Pink salmon/Cheddar/Soft boiled egg/Hardboiled egg + mayo/poached egg/Mozzarella/Baked beans/some kind of soup with
·         Salad: tomato/beetroot/spinach/cucumber/sweetcorn etc.with
·         A portion of fruit – apple/banana/portion strawberries/nectarine/handful cherry tomatoes/etc.

Afternoon Snack 16.30-18.00

·         Hot choc <3
·         1 snack from snack list 1

Dinner 19.45-20.30

Varies every day!! ;)

Dessert 21.00

The BEST DESSERT ON EARTH which is of course: a big chopped banana, loadssss of warm custard, followed by lots and lots of chopped chocolate (about a bar’s worth..often more though :p) scattered on top. Oh, and of late a wee chocolate biscuit has sneaked in there, too. Not that I’m complaining or anything. ;)

MILKA OREO... all melted into this divine, gooey, chooclatey bliss...ooooh I'm in heaven!! ;) 

Nighttime snack 22.00-23.00

Hot choc/Horlicks/Ovaltine. (But usually hot choc!!! ;) )

Meal Plan B

Breakfast :7.30

·         Wholemeal or multigrain toast + 2 tsp peanut butter
·         Good bowl of cereal – 2 weetabix/cup maltwheats/shreddies/ready-brek etc, with around 100-125 ml milk.

Morning Snack 1: 10.00

·         1 snack from Snack List 1
·         Hot choc made with full fat milk

Morning Snack 2 12.00

1 snack from snack list 1

Lunch 13.30 – 14.30

·         brown submarine roll/1 toasted white submarine roll/1 soft crusty roll/1 mini baguette/wholemeal bread/wholemeal toast/wholemeal bap/soda bread/baked potato, buttered, with
·         Protein filling: Ham/Turkey/Chicken/Tuna + mayo/Pink salmon/Cheddar/Soft boiled egg/Hardboiled egg + mayo/poached egg/Mozzarella/Baked beans/some kind of soup with
·         Salad: tomato/beetroot/spinach/cucumber/sweetcorn etc.with
·         A portion of fruit – apple/banana/portion strawberries/nectarine/handful cherry tomatoes/etc.

Afternoon Snack 16.30-18.00

·         Hot choc <3
·         1 snack from snack list 1

Dinner 19.45-20.30

Varies every day!! ;)

Dessert 21.00

As above!!

Nighttime snack 22.00-23.00

Hot choc/Horlicks/Ovaltine. (But usually hot choc!!! ;) )

Meal Plan C

Early Morning Snack 7.00

1 snack from snack list 1

Breakfast :8.15

·         2 slices of multigrain, spelt or wholemeal etc toast + 1 tbsp peanutbutter /1 multigrain bagel +1 tbsp peanut butter
·         Good bowl of cereal – 2 weetabix/cup maltwheats/shreddies/readybrek etc, with 100-125 ml milk minimum.

Morning Snack 1: 10.00

·         1 snack from Snack List 1
·         Hot choc made with fullfat milk

Morning Snack 2 12.00

1 snack from snack list 1

Lunch 13.30 – 14.30

·         brown submarine roll/1 toasted white submarine roll/1 soft crusty roll/1 mini baguette/wholemeal bread/wholemeal toast/wholemeal bap/soda bread/baked potato, buttered, with
·         Protein filling: Ham/Turkey/Chicken/Tuna+ mayo/Pink salmon/Cheddar/Soft boiled egg/Hardboiled egg+ mayo/poached egg/Mozzarella/Baked beans/some kind of soup with
·         Salad: tomato/beetroot/spinach/cucumber/sweetcorn etc.with
·         A portion of fruit – apple/banana/portion strawberries/nectarine/handful cherry tomatoes/etc.

Afternoon Snack 16.30-18.00

·         Hot choc <3
·         1 snack from snack list 1

Dinner 19.45-20.30

Varies every day!! ;)

Dessert 21.00

As above!!

Nighttime snack 22.00-23.00

Hot choc/Horlicks/Ovaltine. (But usually hot choc!!! ;) )

ohhh and here is my snack list if anyone is interested, haha. ;) Now I would consider these as medium snacks...again I'm going to see how it goes but if necessary I might have to bbring in Snack List 2 which consists of bigger ones. I make these pretty genrous, though. Ganache Elf does love her snackies!! ;)

  • ½ bagel + spread +1 tbsp pb
  • Cheesy scone + spread
  • Blackberry/white/wholemeal/fruit/oat scone + spread 
  • Hot cross bun + spread
  • Crumpet + spread and 1tbsp pb
  • Teacake + spread
  • Cereal/muesli/granola bar
  • Big handful (about 40g) salted/unsalted cashews and peanuts
  • 1 slice of multigrain/wholemeal/spelt toast + spread and 1 tbsp pb
  • Rye/soda/oat bread + 1 tbsp pb
  • Cereal + milk
  • Granola + milk or on its own

Oh and one more thing - if anyone has further snack inspiration/ideas PLEASE link them/sendthem on to me i would be so SO grateful!! ;) .

And I do have ideas for a Meal Plan D, haha, but I dont honestly know if I will need that (but I know I can't just assume, who knows. I was on alot of Fortisip in hospital, which I hated, and I don't plan on going back on those again as they tasted so artificial and yucky to me!! But anyway, that aside - the point Im making is is that sometimes the body needs ALOT of calories to get to where it needs to be. So we shall just have to wait and see how it goes!!! :) xxx

You are the wild rose...

Stretch out towards the light. Allow yourself to be free.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

We have the Power to Break Free... xxx

It's over two weeks now, since that crucial Sunday in late February. the Sunday which changed everything, for me. the Sunday which saw the tables turn on my eating disorder once again; the day upon which, having struggled and floundered in the dark, icy sea for so, so long, I finally achieved what I initially thought would never truly be possible; and which enabled me to firmly and decisively takes the reins of my recovery back into my own hands.

As I outlined in my post from last week, sticking to the meal plan no longer represents any major difficulty for me, now. As I mentioned before..a few months before, it was a completely and utterly different scenario altogether. And I remember it; I remember exactly the way I felt. How I would lie, on opening my eyes each morning, as the faint light of the pale new dawn would steal through my window to illuminate my room with a faint rosy glow,  and ruminate about how much I so desperately yearned to make that vital change; to eat what I knew that my body needed, to follow my meal plan; to smash the chains forged by ED and to break away from its cruel and deathly cold embrace. To reach out to my loved ones, to allow them to reach me; to let them into this cold, harsh, desolate world in which I had become so hopelessly lost.

Every smile that I would fake; was like a shard of ice breaking through my skin, slicing to the bone and causing bright red droplets of blood to ooze to the surface. Every lie that would escape my lips; was like the pain that encases your fingers and your hands on being exposed to the chillness of freezing winter air; a chillness that freezes the blood in your veins and creeps into the marrow of every bone. I'm fine, Mam. I am okay. I feel grand. I ate my lunch. I had toast and cereal before I left the house this morning. Yes, I made myself dinner. No, I don't want anything to eat. Of course I haven't lost weight. 

Lie after lie after lie. The chill had seeped from my veins into my heart. My whole body became numb with the cold, so numb, that I could no longer feel anything. It had become a way of life for me. hopelessly I allowed myself to succumb to its icy embrace, so that the cold water filled my lungs. I knew I was going to drown, but I would not, could not, find the stength to reach out.

But despite that initial pain and fear and anxiety; despite that crippling, all-consuming, overpowering sense of self-loathing, and the belief, as hard and as solid as concrete, that I truly cannot, and will not, ever be able to do it...

Did it, I did. 

and no.  There was no magic medicine or miracle pill that I had to take, in order to make me finally take that terrifying huge leap forward. No. What it took was an incredible amount of willpower, courage, and determination. And the love and support of my Mam. Thats what finally gave me the strength to pull myself out of that icy black sea; that's exactly what it took to give me the power to break through those chains. And since that day I have not looked back; not once. Following my meal plan is more or less habitual to me now. There is no longer any inner debate, on any particular day, over whether I will have my morning snack or not; whether I feel "hungry" enough to prepare and eat breakfast; whether I have "earned" a proper lunch or a scone with my hot chocolate. It's just something that I know, I absolutely have to do.

And now, I know that I have passed through the most difficult early stage of refeeding - the "bloaty", constantly full, nauseousfeeling type stage. If you are currently going through that stage right now, please, please please please - and I know I am repeating myself here. Please DO hang on in there!! I swear, it DOES get easier but you just have to stick with it. I understand all too well how hard the first stage really is. It's not just hard; its god damn fucking awful and it really, really sucks. But. You just HAVE to take a long, deep breath and say to yourself, when you feel as if you can't keep going and just want to give in right there, saying, "surely, restriction was better than this...I felt so much better when I was hungry.." NO. Snap that thought right out of your head.  You have to keep going, keep on eating as much as you can, following your meal plan and fighting, fighting the Voice in your head. And as I say..persevere, and your efforts will be rewarded. And that comes from a girl who stuggled enormously with this phase of recovery. If it wasnt for mam being there to comfort me, and perhaps for my own sense of determination. I don;t think I would have made it through. But i did AND SO CAN YOU. I can truly say it is so worth it. It's actually quite a nice feeling to get your hinger cues back  - again, a little daunting at first, but we need to welcome and embrace this sign of the bodily systems getting back to normal after having been suppressed and deprived of vital energy for so, so long.

And so on that note..its time for me to reflect on this. I'll talk abit more about this topic tomorrow, but I wanted to mention it here, and having written that wee motivation testimony above, I thought it might be good to include here in order to prove to you that ultimately, eating DOES get easier and your body does adapt to it, even begin to feel hungry, as in my case,. So much so, that I now feel ready and prepared to take the next massive step.

The decision: is it time to up my meal plan a bit more ?

I suppose this coming Sunday might be the ultimate determinant in finalising this decision. Thus far my weight has been going ok, I have gained; but I know from experience that there often comes a time when the body requires that extra bit of energy to reach its setpoint; meaning, of course, that the intake of food that it needs has to be increased once again.

Anyway..if anyone could give me any thoughts or advice on this, please do let me know, I would appreciate it so so much <3

I thought that perhaps I might write a few advice posts giving my thoughts and tips of how to cope with just some of the things I have struggled with, and overcome, so far in my recovery. Now I am not in any way saying I am an expert on any of this and please do not assume that I am - that would be a mistake! But that said, I feel as if I do have something of value to offer to others who are going through a similar struggle or experience, and I really want to reach out now and help those in any way I possibly can. <3 xxx

Now I'm a very sleepy and groggy Emmy - so it's on with the fluffy dressing gown and off to the Land of Nod with me..good night everyone, my thoughts and prayers are with you all <3 xxx

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The one, and only one, that I will ever, ever have...

This morning after breakfast saw me sitting at the table in front of my laptop screen once again, gloomily pushing my memory stick into the side of the computer with not the slightest degree of enthusiasm. The reason for that being, this particular memory stick was the one upon which I have saved my two 1500-2000 word essays due in roughly a week's time. Writing essays like this, or anything really to do with my college course, is something which, for me, more likeable to being tortured with hot pincers than having to compile a supposedly engaging and stimulating piece of writing; something which my fellow students in English would probably have no major difficulty in producing, at all. But that's not the case for me, of course. Because I am the girl who is different. I am the girl who is different from everybody else.

I scanned the various sentences and paragraphs upon the pages before me, and felt tears of frustration prickle my eyes. It' doesn't make any sense. There is absolutely no chance that it is ever going to get past the pass mark. 

I had been sitting there for almost fifteen minutes now, and I had not written a single thing. My hands slowly began to tighten into fists; and a steady bludgeoning began to reverberate through my skull, resonating along every artery and every vein. My whole body became taut with tension, a tightly wrapped coil which has been stretched to its absolute limit. And then...then, there was the Voice.

I desperately tried to calm myself, forcing myself to breathe deeply and slowly through my nose, straightening my spine in my chair; pushing back my hair from my face in an attempt to cool down my flushed, hot cheeks. It was a mammoth effort. Like trying to push an elephant up a mountain; like scrabbling, in futile desperation, for the coin that has slipped from your fingers to tinkle away down the dark, greasy plughole. That's how it feels like for me, sitting there, trying to write my third year English essays. The words, the sentences, the arguments that I want to make, come floating towards me like wispy, paper-thin clouds, so close I could almost reach out and grasp them; but then, they always, always slip away. Leaving me fumbling around in the emptiness, groping desperately from the words that are there, so close to me, but always, always just out of my reach. 

And this is what I know is proving to be such a massive, enormous, soul-destroying struggle for me. Trying, struggling so desperately to get through my college degree, pushing and pushing relentlessly until my head feels like it is going to split open and my whole body cries out with the fatigue and the pain of knowing that it is not, and never will be, ever enough. This is my second attempt at third year English Studies at Trinity, and I know all too well, that this course was not and never will be made for me. And it is a struggle. Every single day. There is no escape from the shame, the razor-sharp pain of regret which cuts into you like a knife, embedding itself into your very soul, like a thorn which has wedged itself into your foot. knowing that I chose to take the wrong path, the wrong course. It presses down on me every day, making me feel stupid and useless and selfish, naive and pathetic and deplorable.  with the workload I receive every week, and never, ever get done. And then there are the essays...

Unfortunately for me, the return to college last September was one of the most significant factors in triggering my relapse. I have spoken before about how, in going back, it suddenly hit me hard just how far I really was from real recovery; and how deeply and hopelessly entrenched I still was, in my eating disorder. I had tried to kid myself into thinking that I was ready to go back to studying at a third level institution again; that things would be better, this time. And the fear of the hospitalisation would keep me safe from Ed. But I was wrong. so very, very wrong.

It wasn;t long before I found myself in an all too familiar situation. Crying my eyes over a blank laptop screen, as I fumbled desperately through the empty recesses of my brain; clawing for the right words, the right sentences, hating myself with all of my heart and soul, branding myself as useless, an ineptitude, the dumbest and most stupid person on earth, for not being able to compose what my fellow English students, no doubt, would have produced as effortlessly and as easily as water passes under a bridge. but I was wholly incapable of that. The Voice in my head seemed to have taken over me: it had became so loud, so persistent, so deafening. There was no escape from its cruel dictations; no hiding from the malignity of its penetrating gaze. It knew all my weak spots and vulnerabilities; and took great pleasure in exploiting them. And before I knew it, the restriction had began in earnest again. A skipped lunch or a conveniently forgotten breakfast; a polite shake of the head on being offered a free biscuit by my lecturer who always had them in her classroom. Ed, as it had once before, had become my coping mechanism.

What choice do I have? I would silently weep into my pillow at night when everyone else was asleep; when there was no chance that the stifled sounds of my sobbing could be heard by any living soul. I clutched the lifeless forms of Ducky and Peter Penguin to my shuddering body, sprinkling their soft fur with the moisture of my tears. There's...there's no way out of this. If I choose not to eat the Voice is satisfied; the storm in my head is silenced. But deep inside it's like my heart is breaking; the guilt is tearing me apart; and then, there is the But then, if I choose to eat. My head...exploding. The storm raging...I can't focus, I can't do anything. There's no way on this earth I could write a 5000 word essay, like this...can't...escape...the storm in my head...

But that all changed that day two weeks ago now, when I promised Mam that I would never let her down again; that, from that day onwards, there would be no more lies, no more deceit, no more secrecy. That I would give everything to my recovery; and that, no matter how . But before I made that promise, I had grasped her strong brown hand and had whispered to her that I couldn't do it. Im going to fail college, Mam. I cant recover and study at the same time. I cant let you down mam..But I cant waste anymore of your money.

I felt so torn then, at that moment. so lost, so broken, so afraid.

but, like she had done so many, many times before, ever since I was a little girl, Mam was there for me to hold my hand in her strong, warm one. And to gently and firmly turn me onto the right path. So I knew, exactly then, what it was I had to do, and where I had to go.

The road to recovery...
One day, we will make it there, together. <3 xxx

But I guess, since that day, I now realise what is truly important, in this life.
recovery should be, for each and every single one of us, something which should be made our top priority. For, think about it this way...

There will always be another chance in life, to go back to college or take up that degree.
There will always be another job. Another degree, another place at university.

But we only have one body.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Getting back my hunger cues!! ;) And realising that it is me who has the power...

Texting my friend on the train home on Monday, I asked her how her day had been and what she was currently up to. Her reply: "Ah it was grand Em, was just workin on d thesis and am now cukin d about u what u doin?!" My reply consisted of a range of smiley emoticons, including one of a little squirrel munching on acorns. "eatin again hun!"  Because that, after all, was exactly what I was doing again: having one of my many on the go snacks; on this occasion, about 40 grams of roasted peanuts and cashews, the jumbo ones that mammy gets for me in tesco, which are chunky, salty and very moreish indeed, it has to be said. I pressed send and then sat contently back in my chair and munched on a particularly large cashew. My friend answered almost immediately though, sending me a thumbs up symbol and a number of cheering emoticons in order to convey her approval. "Gud woman urself, Em!"

And it's true, last week, I actually did allow myself to feel a little bit of smug self-appraisal: something which doesn't come very naturally to me at all, I can assure you! Well, I guess It felt even better in that I was basically stuffing it in ED's stupid gaping face. That's how I picture it now, you see, every single time that I eat. ED, staring  and gaping in sheer disbelief, its formerly cruelly twisted, sneering mouth now hanging open like some sort of stunned goldfish, barely able to quite comprehend what is currently taking place before its very eyes. That being, of course, my revolution. The one who ED thought was weak, the one who it oppressed and enslaved: she is now fighting back, and fighting back with a vengeance. And, in the same manner and approach which ED took when it first came into my life, all those years ago, she is not prepared to take any prisoners. Only one of us can win this battle, Ed.

One of the nicest things of all is though, is that what I initially feared would never, ever happen has, in fact, happened!! That being, the return of my (actually, pretty damn good!) appetite. Im sure you dont need me to tell you the effects anorexia has on the digestive system - not that Im an expert on this, or anything. The little I do know, I have gathered solely from what I have experienced myself while being in recovery, and from what I have read online. But it is very much true to say that when you restrict your intake for an extended period of time, the stomach seems to shrink and you lose a good proportion of your appetite. This was certainly the case for me anyway. To think, that only just a few months ago now, I would have felt bloated and stuffed from eating a measly bowl of cereal, and that an apple was plenty sufficient to keep me going for a good few hours until lunchtime.

What the feck...?!!!

Yep, the very thought of that now makes me want to shake my head in disbelief...

I am now following my meal plan 100% every day and I have to say I am really enjoying doing so!! Yes, I am not going to lie, it was very hard and scary at first. I felt bloated and uncomfortably full and was convinced that I would never e able to keep it up. The food intake that I knew I now had to consume, appeared enormous. But this time, I gave it my absolute all. And that is what recovery takes...that is what recovery requires. Your absolute 100%, over and over again, hour after every hour, day and every single day.

It's true. the first few days are tough. But please, please hear me now when I say this. It DOES get easier. The discomfort WILL go away, eventually (but ONLY if you persist with the process and do NOTgive up half way.) You CAN, and WILL get through this. You can. You just have to breathe, take courage, and let it go. Let go of all those rules and regulations, the fears implanted by ED which have established themselves as your principals for life. It's NOT true. it's time to scrap those principals...destroy them, totally and completely. For those ED rules will destroy you if you let's time to be brave and tear them down.

When I fell back into restrictive ways, one of the things I was constantly fixated with was NOT being full. Fullness =  panic and anxiety to me..and more than likely, some form of restriction when ever I could get away with doing so. They very thought of it now seems crazy to me now, but I know very much at the time how real that fixation was. It impossible to break. But break it I did.

I guess the most important thing I want you all to get out of this post, is this. Fear - fear created within your own head, by your own mind - is a powerful, powerful thing. But not as powerful as YOU.
It is you, not your thoughts, who ultimately is the one who has the control.

You can choose to act upon these thoughts and fears; let them control you...

Or you can choose to overcome them. YOU can choose to be the one who is in control. YOU can choose to overpower ED.

So continue where I left off before I went off on a tangent again. Having persisted with following the meal plan for about a week or so, determinedly plodding on, fighting the voice and the anxiety and making myself eat even when I felt full and bloated and food was the last thing on earth I wanted to touch - I began to notice how the constant bloaty feelings were beginning to gradually lessen as the week wore on. And I could clearly see the signs of my returning appetite: I began to feel peckish, even hungry, despite the fact I was not restricting. It was scary at first, and I felt somewhat daunted and confused aout what was happening. but then, I realised that this was a GOOD thing; and that I have absolutely nothing to be apprehensive about.  In fact, I feel fully ready, depending on how weigh in goes on sunday, to up my meal plan that one bit more, if that's what beating Ed is to entail.

Anyway, here was morning snack today <3 I made a beautiful loaf of my alltime favourite bread, wholegrain spelt with pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Having deftly cut the loaf (oh how I love doing that <3 ) into thick slices after breakfast this morning, I put aside one of the said slices, bunged the rest in the freezer for further snackies during the week, and then popped the reserved one in the toaster, pottering to the cupboard to get out a plate AND of course the jar of one of the most divine concoctions know to human kind (aka. peanut butter ;)) while waiting for the battered old toaster to work its magic. And then, ta-da...a mug of Mammy's hot choc, and generous slathering of Utterly spread (ahem. or should I say the Aldi equivalent. ) and, of course, a good dollop of peanut THAT's an exceptionally yummy morning snack... ;)