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.:)
Tuesday, 26 April 2016
we had booked that holiday - a two week stay in the quaint Villa Selene; set in the spectacular surroundings of the Northern Mallorcan countryside - not long before my admission to hospital in January, one of the most difficult and challenging experiences in my life. My heart had soared at the thought of it, at the time. To a twenty year old girl facing her first ever hospital admission for treatment of anorexia, that single, beautiful shard of hope was like a sparkling, pure white diamond shining brightly in the pitch black darkness of the coldest and most harshest winter night.
I had believed, with all my heart and soul, that this was going to be my summer: my first summer, without ED. That I would emerge from the stuffy, uniformly white walls of my prison, as a changed girl. That this holiday would be the holiday: that, this time, I would step off that plane and feel the hot Mallorca sun upon my face, and be able to laugh, drink up that sunlight, in the knowledge that Ed was not there with me.
But of course, in reality, recovery is, or never will be, that easy.
And going into that hospital..I suppose, I had let myself slip into a dream world; a dream world which, I suppose, I still am very much lost in, even now, having learnt alot about myself and recovery since then. But my dream world is one which is constituted of elements of both the dream and the nightmare. Because along with the romantic ideals of what I so desperately yearn things to be like..there is thatother half, that other half of the dream world which I have become so firmly entrenched in. A hellish, dark, menacing land of thorns and rocky crags; strewn with withered, shrivelling flowers of dusky blood-red. And this is the landscape of my mind.
Sometimes..it does feel as if I am dying inside... There is just no way out of that world - you can't just simply "wake up". And neither, of course, can you flee from it. you can't escape the forces at war inside your very own head.
And so, here I am now. I know that all I can do is to keep going, even though at times I feel as if this battle inside my head is one which I just won't be able to survive. It is just so exhausting, so draining, so excruciatingly, painfully hard. And its true...sometimes, it feels as if I have no purpose. I'm just stumbling along looking for the light, but not even really quite sure, what that light actually is. What is...what is my recovery? How will I ever be able to change the way I am?
I am longing now for these exams to be over and done with. To be able to walk away from the Front Arch of Trinity and inhale the sweet air of freedom, allow it pass into my body and enter my bloodstream; let it warm every vein, every bblood vessel, ever aveoli of my lungs. No more exams, essays or deadlines. No more shame and comparison and feeling like the inferior, nonsensical, useless girl surrounded by intellectuals. But I know, even as I look toward the summer with the warm touch of hope glowing in my heart, that there is a sense of poignancy and fear and intense, bitter loneliness. I don't want to be the loner anymore. At one time, it was me and ED and that, much as it pains me to say it, was enough, for me, because I was too sick, and lost, to care.
But now things have changed. I want to get better, I long to be free, with all my heart and soul do I yearn for rtrue, real freedom. A freedom which will make my heart soar like an eagle on the wing; a freedom which will be endure with me, mellowing and blossoming like a budding eucalyptus in the high summer. A freedom which isn't transitory and fleeting, to be granted only then to be stolen away once more, set on a pinnacle far out of my reach: a delicate little rosebud blown away from me by the cruel winter wind, forever out of reach of my desperate, groping fingers.
Monday, 18 April 2016
I am referring, of course, to college. It's the final stretch now of what has proven, once again, to be a difficult and painful year for me. The essays are all done, now. All that remains are the exams, which i now lok towards with fear, dread, and apprehension. But behind all that fear and the doubt and the uncertainty, there burns this one small, barely distinguishable, but fervent light. I fix that light in my mind's eye, now, protecting it as I would a fragile little candle with its tiny, flickering flame.
Summer. The season of warmth and colour and sunlight. The season of long, sun-soaked days of sublimity and cloudless skies, when the blazing orb of the sun casts down its rays of gold and liquid amber to caress the shimmering face of the earth. The season, that can be seen to revive each and every part of that world. The idyllic country garden or the pebbly, windswept beach; the lonely mountain top or the bustling city. The season....the season of freedom.
But I chose not to go away this summer. Mam and Dad will be going to Mallorca again; but this time, I will not be going with them. And it is not because I do not want to. With every inch of my heart and soul I wish that I too will be sitting in the car with them, with my battered sunhat and faded flipflops and mucky runners wrapped up in an unsightly plastic bag. But when mam and dad were arranging the holiday and finalising their decision about whether theywere going or not, I was in the depths of my relapse. When Mam asked me that anticipated, dreadful question, on that bleak rainy day last October - that being, of course, if I would like to come with them to our long-established favourite holiday spot - my immediate reaction was one in which I experienced an assortment painful, conflicted feelings. Sadness and longing, fear, anxiety, desperation. But, most of all, the sharp, throbbing ache of regret.
I hope with all my heart though that this summer will be long and golden and beautiful. But there is something which I want to...I want to feel this summer, which I have never, for the past ten summers of my life, have been permitted I want this Summer to be different...this time, I want something to change.
Because yesterday I turned twenty two and I realise that I don't want to remain entrapped, no more. I have been entrapped for almost half of my life... This Summer I want to be free.
They couldn't see the storm that raged deep inside...
They couldn't see the chains that bound my heart and soul and mind.
For then, even then...I was anything but free.
Wednesday, 13 April 2016
Well, my main intention in writing this post, was to convey something which I hope will serve as an important and worthwhile reminder to everyone; including myself as I strive to move further forwards in my journey to recovery...
We all tend, on those hard, dark, difficult days - those days when the storm clouds gather themselves together to block out the weak, feeble rays of a dying, watery sun; a sun which provides the only source of light in the darkness of a hostile world - to catastrophise; to believe that we cannot move any further forwards; to believe that we will remain trapped, helpless and devoid of hope, in this cold, dark, desolate place forever, or to fall further and further down into the fathomless abyss that has no end. Or to just remain eternally lost, in a maze in which every turn just leads to another dead end: another unpassable and inhospitable wall which affords you no chance of admittance. Round, and round, and round you go, searching, desperately searching for some way which you can escape from this terrible, bleak place in which there is no body but you and that Voice inside your very own head; a Voice which has the power to taint and corrupt every single thing that you love; a Voice which has left you torn and broken inside. The murderous Voice of the Eating Disorder, from which there might appear to be no method of escape.
But it is in times like these when you need to draw upon all that strength and determination and courage which you possess deep inside.
Just think about...all that you have been through. All that you have overcome and all that you have faced. Oh, so there is a voice which is trying to make you convince yourself, that you have not achieved anything, that you have spent your entire life controlled and helpless to the crippling power of fear. Dont believe a word of it. You can and will be strong.
This time a few months ago...
I was restricting every day.
I had completely and wholly abandoned any notion of the meal plan. The days which i would actually eat a proper three meals were few and far between. As for snacks..well, let's just say they were virtually non-existent. I ate, but every single mouthful was monitored and controlled. I was not consuming enough nourishment for my body and my physical and mental state rapidly declined.
I was relapsing...but I didn't allow myself to acknowledge it.
i had cut out so many of the foods which I loved.
But now, it's a completely different story...
I stick to my meal plan every day. This means for me: three meals, three good snacks, three milky drinks, and my favourite dessert. The temptation to restrict is ever present; that much is true. ED;'s whispers are continually in my ear, painting the advantages and benefits of being skinny in the most attractive and appealing of colours. But I have learnt that in fact, I AM strong enough to resist and defy that evil, scheming voice; recognise it as the liar which it ultimately is.
I no longer hold back from eating the foods that I love. Because after all I know that my body needs them and deserves them. I know that there is absolutely no reason on this earth I should feel guilty for having two, three or even four teaspoons of pb on my crumpets or my toast; or having a generous bowlful of Shreddies in the morning with lashings of creamy warm milk.
I recognise that yes, I did let myself down and I did relapse. I was starving myself again and had succumbed, wholly and completely, to the ensnaring embrace of my eating disorder. But I know now that I cannot let fear, and shame, and remorse and guilt stand in my way. A relapse is a relapse; nothing more. It should not be regarded as an eternal lapse or a fatal, unmendable failure; or a complete and total abandonment of recovery. As a dear friend once wrote in the beautiful handmade cared she made me while I was an inpatient: Don't let one stumble in the road be the end of your journey.
And all these steps, all these small but crucially fundamental bricks which make up the road which we call PROGRESS...were ultimately only made or achieved; because I made a conscious and purposeful decision to change. And if I can do it...well. So. Can. YOU. <3 xxx
So I know that what I need to do now is to draw upon that strength and determination that has brought me this far along my recovery journey; to enable me to make the next few steps along this long, winding, difficult path towards the p to allow me to lay down the final few bbricks in the road.
The next steps that I need to take...
- Conquer the "carbs at dinner" fear. A stupid and irrational fear which, oddly enough, only really established itself during the past few months during my relapse..it wasn't something i used to struggle with so much before.
- It's true to say that dinner is definitely the meal which I find the hardest still, and which I know I still need to really focus on. In terms of, engaging in the conversation at the table, fighting the anxiety, not cleaning my plate etc, in addition to the carbs thing too of course.
- Lunch is still something too, which I need to be extra careful on, so I will continue to work on this as appropriate.
- To never, ever hold back from eating that little bit more, if more is what I want.
- In time, I might need to consider upping the meal plan again, depending on how my weight goes. This will be hard I know, but I have to say..the fear of eating more, increasing The fullness and the bloating is the thing which I find the most difficult to deal with.
To face, head on... with the heart of a lion as he roars his defiance at the bars of the cage which has imprisoned him; with the spirit of the darting swallow on the wing, twisting and wheeling across the magnificent, sublime backdrop of that infinite blue sky. Freedom. We are all made...to be free. To be at peace with the world and our bodies. But directly across that beautiful path which leads to that freedom, lies the greatest obstacle of all which could ever possibly stand in my way...
Friday, 8 April 2016
I stared at the hefty volume in some sort of amused bewilderment, before stepping forwards to relieve her of her burden. "Thanks a million!" I exclaimed, looking down at the monstrous text that i now held in my hands. Iris Murdoch's the Green Knight. And I was supposed to have this read for Friday.
On initially seeing the book, and glancing over the short description the lecturer had inserted at the top of the week's tasks sheet, I was pretty much expecting the text to be laboriously complex, unengaging, and difficult to read. However, a few pages into my humongous doorstopper of a novel, I discovered, much to my surprise, that I was actually enjoying it. In a strange, oblique sort of way: the story is complicated, full of abstract language and sensuous naturalistic imagery; and as I read I could not help but ponder as to whether or not I was actually picking up on everything that professor Murdoch actually intended an active reader of her text to do.
But yet, despite all that, this text spoke to me, touching my heart and speaking to my soul in ways which I hadn't in the least anticipated. And I could relate, if not palpably identify with, a number of the novel's various and strikingly diverse different characters. One of these was the girl Moy. Naive, innocent, childlike, little Moy's special relationship with the external world is explicit from the beginning of the novel; as is the extent to which she is something of an outsider in her own closely-knit family circle. Because Moy is an oddity, in a way: she is patently, fundamentally different from her bookish, elegant sisters; indeed from all of the other members of the small circle of friends known collectively in the book as the family.
And Moy can be seen to embrace this difference, while at the same time, it can be seen to be tearing her apart...
Reading Moy's story, was enough to bring tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat. Because I could really...feel, her pain; that sense of fragmentation deep within your own sense of self. Because, likeMoy, I know that I am so very, very different. That I am an oddity, that I am set apart from the other girls at my age. It feels as if we occupy two entirely different worlds.
There is that part of me..that part of me which does not care, that I am different. I am a dryad; a nymph, a spirit of the woodlands. I am a flowergirl with wild rosebuds in her hair and daisy chains around her neck. I am an explorer, a tree climber, an elf, a keeper of the forest's hidden and secrets. I can run through daisy strewn fields with Benny at my side, my hair wild and loose and streaming behind me like a banner; my leggings, torn and snagged from branches and brambles, Here, there are no judgmental eyes to gaze critically at me with scorn or disapproval. I can be the wild girl of the woods...I am free.
But then...then, there is that other part of me; where lies a pain so sharp it seems like it might slice my heart in two; a thick, interpentrable root of despair, stemming directly from that knowledge that yes, I am different, I should not be like this; I am so fundamentally and critically different from the other girls my age. That this is not the way it should be, for a bordering on 22 english girlin the modern world of the twenty-first century. No social life, no relationships, no job, no dependence.
How...how do i negotiate my way through this? I want things to change; I want to wear a pretty dress and pencil eyelincer onto my eyes, to go out there into town in a group of giggling girls, and dance my heart out on the dancefloors of those sparkling, glittering nightclubs, feel the beat of the music pulsate with my heart and fill my body with its irresistable rhythm. But yet, simultaneously, there is that massive part of me which is desperate, so painfully, agonizingly desperate - for things to remain the same. To never leave home; the home that I love and where I feel safe, the sanctuary where I can take refuge from the cruel eyes of the world.
Friday, 1 April 2016
Like that moment today when I opened the kitchen cupboard where I keep my bags of salted nuts. As I opened the door and took out the bag which I had opened this past Monday, I thought..shall I bother weighing them out..? No, I won't. I know it's about a handful.
That about. In Ed;s terms, that single word, more often that I would like can become a less than.
Part of me, of course, says to myself that I am being stupid for making a fuss about such small, minute things. But the other part of me rejects that other voice; because I guess, it's quite possible, that that voice telling me to stop being so "pernickety" might be just another mutation of the ED voice, the one which wants me to backtrack on myself and undo all the progress that I have made over the past month. Because I know all too well that these things can start off small. I was talking alot about how the relapse occurred with my close friend yesterday, and it made me realise just how totally sneaky the eating disorder just is, the way it creeps back up to you, whispering seductively in your ear the soft breathy promises that you are only being sensible. Sensible, to forget about the meal plan now, and just start to eat like everybody else does. Healthy, to totally cut out eating toast for breakfast, or to forbear from eating a snack with your hot chocolate. Perfectly acceptable,, to skip lunch every now and again, because you are just simply too busy to sit down and eat something. Ah, yes. The endless lies of Ed. And I believed every single one of them, and like the helpless butterfly being lured into the spider's web, so I became entrapped into this enmeshment of lies and secrecy and deceit.
So, yes. I think it just all comes to show, that that little voice which is telling me that I am just being silly and obsessive for dwelling on such small details, is in fact just another form of Ed, trying to lead me right back to the path of ruin once again. And i know more than anything that i cannot let that happen.
But anyway: weekly goals.:)
1.) To continue to follow Meal Plan B down to a tee.
The days when I am in my home environment I have been doing really well in sticking to my increased Meal Plan. It's the days when I am at coll which are proving to be my downfall.
In a few weeks time, this problem will more or less be obliterated in that I will be finished at coll apart from the exams and I will be at home for most of the time, but for the remaining few weeks of lectures I know I have to be astute and tackle this obstacle accordingly. I suppose this means really, making sure I am not convinced by Ed to "not bother" bringing hot choc and some soda bread and pb, AND the nuts, all in my bag to coll. Or from holding back from asking a friend to go for coffee. You are too busy to go, you don't need it, one skipped hot choc won't hurt - yep, I recognise now that that clearly is Ed, trying to sway me off track again...and I would rather go to hell and back then let him succeed.
Again, the old difficulty of making lunch when I am alone or making it for myself. When it comes to having egg or tuna mayo as a filling in a roll, say, I manage that fine because I guess, it is an exact amount which I know I need to have - 1 egg, or half a can of tuna - with a good dollop of mayonnaise. but then with cheese it's different, and cheese, is something which I adore and like to eat regularly at lunchtime. But because there's no exact amount I know I should have..this often gives Ed a chance to slip in. its as if there is an invisible hand holding that cheese knife for me, telling me that that is fine and that there's plenty enough there..but no, I know that oftentimes it is not enough. The same goes for ham and chicken too. This is something which I realy want to work on as protein is something which I know is so important for my physical recovery right now.
3.) Carbs at dinner.
Another ED habit that is proving very difficult to budge..not serving myself enough potatoes/rice/bread etc at dinner. I know the amount that I need to have and that I want to have - I just need to shout back down that Voice which whispers to me, oh, you have enough, ooh that's plenty emmy. - and give my body the fuel and energy that it needs.
4.) Bigger snacks.;)
I am in general pretty good when it comes to my snackies..I enjoy them so much and generally I feel more hungry at snacktime then at lunch and dinner. So I am just going to ensure I keep this up, and make my snacks that wee bit more generous. Meaning, lots and lots of pb on my toast/half a bagel/crumpet etc, a good, big handful of nuts; etc etc etc.
So I guess that's enough goals for now, haha. Overall, I am doing okay. Collage is getting me down alot, and at this point I am just longing for it to all to be over, for the weight of the pressure be lifted from my shoulders, for the sadness and the shame which has enveloped my heart in a cold, tight fist to relinquish its crippling grip, so I can fly again, free as a bird. because right now, every smile that I allow to pass my lips; every ebb of joy which surges through my veins on realising I have won a victory against Ed. Each moment of happiness is interlaced with melancholy; tinged with a sadness that I cannot brush away. Like the small, but ultimately fatal first few spores of a waxing, corrupting fungus on the surface of the beautiful fruit.
But I know that all I can do is try. Try, and do my best. And I hope that soon, some day, then the rain will cease to fall and the pain will fade away.