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.:)

Monday, 27 June 2016

and this is where I stand... xxx

Now believe it or not, THIS post was what I originally intended to write on Thursday - but then, as I was sitting there contemplating what to write, it occurred to me just how tricky beginning a piece of writing can really be, and that in turn led me to the reflection of how often, in human life, beginnings can be very, very hard. Especially in regard to recovery. So needless to say I ended up blogging about something completely different from what I initially I planned...but I guess that's all part of being a dreamy writer like myself ;)

So...before I go off on a complete tangent AGAIN. I wanted to tell you a little about where I am at, now. Five months have passed since I initially set out on a new journey, my battle against the relapse.

Firstly, in regard to weight gain. as i mentioned before, I am more or less weight restored now. Mam and I are both very much determined that I don't get too caught up in, or bogged down by, an exact number or particular "ideal" weight. What is an ideal weight, anyway? Why should I live my life in fear of that certain number, the "threshold" which I cannot cross? That voice in my head is telling me now that I cannot go beyond this certain weight. But I know..I need to find a place where I am at peace with my body, but at which my body is at its healthiest, the best it can be. And this number could be higher than that which Ed has set for me. I know, in my head, what this number, this limit, is. Its what I am at now: Ed screams at me that I cannot go any further.

Does a flower have a target height at which she ceases to grow? Will she stop at a certain limit; even though she has not gained her full strength? 

Physically, I am healthy. People might look at me now and see a girl who has recovered.

But I know my journey is far from over. I know, I still have many miles left to climb.

But just how am I going to do this? Well, I suppose now I need to take my own advice. To stay strong and positive, and believe that I can and will get there. And actively work on accepting my body and treating it right. I have made progress in this area already. I just need to keep this up now and work on every single one of my weak areas.

As regards to college...well, I got the results of the exams about two weeks ago. I looked at them, expecting , and prepared, to see a fail. A fail, because my second attempt at third year English in Trinity inevitably turned out to be as hard, as painful, and as exhausting as all the years which preceded it. I struggled. I relapsed. I faltered and didnt think I'd be able to go on. I was in as bad a state as I was, before I went into hospital last year. But then, something clicked deep inside me; and despite the terror and the pain, there was that little light. A little light which fed me strength, and courage, and hope. And suddenly little Emmy found that she did have the strength to stumble on.

I thought the recovery road had disintegrated into nothingness; that I had fallen from the wayside into a deep and bottomless pit from which there was no hope of  escape. But it was my strength which allowed me to pull myself out of that abyss. The hands of my loved ones were stretched out towards me, and this time I reached out to them, rather than let them slip away from me. I tore down the walls that I had built around myself: walls of isolation and loneliness and pain.

I realised that I had to make recovery my new priority. Doing so was extremely difficult: it went entirely against my nature, for this time to put myself first. Branding myself as lazy and selfish and greedy...that was my first, initial reaction, and I very nearly fell right back down again. I was so, so torn; and indeed, heartbroken. I just wanted to get through this course, and make my loved ones proud of me. But I knew, if I dedicated myself to recovery, and exposed myself to the pain and discomfort and anxiety that recovery inevitably involves - my studies would take a massive hit. I was already struggling as it was; but to face the distress and pain of weight gain, while attempting to study at university, was something which I knew This might sound strange to a non-ED person, or someone who does not know alot about anorexia. Weight gain? Sure thats easy, some might say. The reality, of course, is the entire opposite. My new mission to gain weight following my relapse was every bit as painful and every bit as difficult as all of the times in the past. But I knew, that this time, I could not let college get in the way of my attempt to free myself from the thing that was destroying me.

Always , always remember...

There will always be another chance:
Another chance to sit that exam.
another chance to get that university degree.
Another chance to get that new job, or that promotion.
But there will never ever be, for each and every one of us, 
another body; another heart,
another life.

So don't wait until tomorrow,
To make that change.

Act now, before it is too late.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

The First Step...

Beginnings. Beginnings are often tricky, in a way. Sometimes, they can even be difficult, hard, obscure. Take for example me yesterday evening, when I initially set out writing this post. I had sat there, with my laptop upon my knee upon my little cosy chair in the sunlit conservatory, staring contemplatively at the screen in front of me for ages, my fingers resting motionlessly upon the laptop keys. It was so hard to know exactly what to write. There were so many words, so many things I wanted to say. So many thoughts and concepts and images, twirling and spinning like swallows upon the wing, round and round in endless circles in my head.

But beginnings are often the most crucial part of any task or goal that you may set yourself. It remains to be said that they are often the hardest part of all. Whether that be a difficult exam, the start of a marathon, a climb up a mountain or the commencement of a hospital stay. Because beginnings can be overwhelming, and scary. It is at the beginning when those voices begin to creep in, whispering to you that you cannot do it.

And it's the same with recovery, of course. The first, crucial step, is always, always the hardest.

But you must, and can, make that crucial first step.

How to do it? How can you do it, even? How can one take that terrifying first step, when it feels as if you are literally stepping off a tall, rearing cliff, into nothing but emptiness, into never-ending infinity?

I wish I could somehow reach out to you, make this first step just that one bit easier. Because the truth is the first step is painful and often very hard. But you need to do it, for there is only one choice. To remain motionless where you are, entrapped in this gulf of pain and fear and misery, or to take that terrifying step forward, forward into what seems like endless nothingness, but within that nothingness there is a beautiful glowing light which burns and sparkles like rising golden sun of the new dawn...

I suppose, in my recovery journey, I made a number of crucial first steps. That day way back in 2014 , when I finally acknowledged the excruciating truth that I was suffering from an eating disorder. Up till then, I had been in denial: but that all ended, on that day.

And my terror threatened to suffocate me, because my eating disorder had become my life and restriction, my sole purpose. The prison of ed had encompassed my world entirely. But despite all that..I took that first step. I told my mam, I told my loved ones, I reached out to them, I poured forth the secrets of my heart. And then...I started to eat, again. And then when the relapses came and the hospital admission, I knew that I had fallen, fallen back into ed's dearthly embrace once more. But every single time, I forced myself to get back up to my feet. And then though my body faltered out of the fear and my heart felt like it would cease to beat for pure terror ...yet I still took that step, forward, once again.

There is hope, there is hope, there is so, so much hope, for you. You just have to believe it, believe it with every fragment of your heart and soul. And never give up, and never let the fear paralyse you; to never let it stop you from taking that first fundamental step. <3 xxxx

If I could do it, so can you...

I thought I would break down the First Step into a number of different steps; all of which helped me when I was at that place at the beginning of that long and seemingly endless road.

Taking the plunge
Hope and self-belief
Eating disorder therapy

Facing the fear
Ignoring and defying the Voice
Reaching out for support.
Staying strong

Self monitoring
Talking to others
Educating oneself
Positive affirmations

Taking the plunge: quite possibly the hardest but most important part of the First Step. By taking the plunge, I essentially mean diving straight into recovery - the unknown, the pain, the discomfort of recovery. It means immediately putting aside your fears and excuses, It means directly confronting the eating disorder head on.
Hope and self-belief .A vital part of taking the first step. Stepping into recovery the under the conviction that your case is an entirely hopeless one is bound to end in failure from the beginning. You need to believe in yourself; believe, that you can and will get through this.For where there is belief there is always hope; where this is hope, there is a fire that will never burn out.
Eating disorder therapy:. I think it is important in recovery to get some kind of psychiatric help. And if not at the first stage, at the latter stages; when the mind is in a better state to be able to combat and fight the eating disorder thoughts.

Facing the fear. As in, doing exactly what you are most afraid of; whether that be eating a fear food, or allowing your body to rest, increasing your food intake or getting to your body's healthy set point. You have to directly face those fears.  The only way to destroy those fears is to confront them head on.
Ignoring and defying the Voice. Which involves, inevitably, doing the opposite of what it says. Every time you succeed in doing so, you are consequently rendering the eating disorder that one bit weaker.
Reaching out for support. You should never feel like you are alone in this battle. Reaching out to your loved ones and closest friends One should never underestimate the power of unity, love, and friendship.
Staying strong..and refusing to give up. You have to be aware that there will be hard times ahead..but be able to face those hard times and to refuse to let them drag you down.
Time. Dont take the first step, assuming that the journey which you are about to embark on will be over in a couple of weeks, or months. The road to recovery is long and cannot be rushed in any way. Give yourself time to recover and don't expect impossible things of yourself.

Self monitoring. It doesnt matter what your situation may be; self monitoring is important, as it is you and you alone who has the ultimate control of your recovery. I would really recommend keepingwritten records of everything - food intake per day, progress made, areas you are struggling in, etc. Set yourself goals and share them with your loved ones to pressurise you into keeping them. It can be daunting but it so important!!
Talking to others.again, this one was essential for me. It involved opening up to my loved ones an telling them of each and leaving not one ED habit unconcealed.
Educating oneself. Whether that be through books, websites, blogs, or eating disorder group meetings. I think ed awareness is crucially important to both the sufferer andhis/her carers and supports. Eds ar complex mental illnesses and are very difficult to comprehend. So it is important that everyone is made aware of how they affect the sufferer to prevent tension and misunderstanding. Also I think it is very important to educate onself upon the potential health effects and consequences involved.
Positive affirmations. Just repeated to yourself, aloud or in your head, particularly when the anxiety hits. Having lots of positive quotes stuck in handy places like laptop screen, on your mirror etc..I always found those particularly helpful.

My favourite song at the moment has to be Birdy's Wild Horses..I love this song so much and I find it just so spine-tingingly beautiful. And meaningful, too, particularly in regard to recovery.

I will survive and be the one who's stronger.
I will not beg you to stay.
I will move on and you should know I mean it
Wild horses run in me... <3 xxx

I will survive this, Ed.
For it is I who am the one who is stronger.
I will not beg you to stay...for it is now time for me to move on.
Step by little step takes me further, further away from all the pain that you caused me.
Further away from you...
I have taken the first step.

Monday, 20 June 2016

My little candle became a flame; the flame, became as bright as the morning sun...

It started off so small, my rebellion. My rebellion against the relapse.

At first it didnt seem like I had a chance. My heart was broken and my spirit was torn. My fear - seemed so vast, so immeasurable, so limitless. There didn't seem to be any hope left for me. That hope was as slender as the flickering slivers of light on the dying embers of a rain-soaked fire.

But despite all that I still surged forwards, reaching for that change with outstretched hands.

And over the past few months...I know I have climbed many mountains. I have faced, and withstood, so many, many storms.

I reached out for support to my Mam and closest friends.
I dedicated myself to sticking to my meal plan and I got myself back on it alone.
I stuck to my meal plan every day.
I consciously increased my food intake.
I took on the enormous task of battling my eating disorder, by myself. I kept on going to college, I struggled onwards with my course. All the while I was fighting a battle of my very own. The other people at Trinity were oblivious to it. But I knew that I was fighting for my life.
I sat my exams and I got through each one. Even though i felt ready to crack under the strain and the anxiety...I told myself I had to be strong. And on each and every one of those exam days I ate as well as I would have on an average day. And I told myself...I would be ok. This was an exam, nothing more. An exam did not define me. If I failed this exam, than there would be always be another one; another chance to sit, and pass. But this might be the only ever chance I get, to save myself, my body. There would be other exams but there would be, for me, only ever one body. And I knew that the time had come to treat it right; and to prioritise my recovery...

And not once during those storms, did I let my little fire wink out.

Of course, the owner of that Voice is far from gone. It is still there, perched doggedly upon my shoulder every day, bending itself over to whisper softly in my ear and fill my head with its threats and obscurities, its cold, manipulative lies. All it would take would be for one small step back and then my candle will flicker again, be toppled over. But this time, though, something is different. The flames have become more than mere flickers: they are dancing, leaping, glowing like ambers. The girl who is called Emmy has changed. And her flame is stronger than ever before.

So many other things too, try to dampen my flame; try to pull me down. But now I know I need to dispense with each and every one of them. The perfectionsim, the obsession, the constant talking myself down. You're useless. You're a waste of time. You're surely the most stupid human being who ever lived. These thoughts revolve around and around inside my head, echoing and reverberating. Trying to establish themselves as my fundamental truths; striving, with the ruthless intent of a leopard closing in for the kill, to block out all of my light. The worst of it though is that you can't escape it. How can you escape a little, but so cruel, voice which resides in your very own head?

The answer, I have learned, is this. you can't, essentially, escape it... But you can choose to fight it, resist it, defy it with every single breath. The Voice can and will be silenced. But the onus now lies on us to strive against it now, to stand tall and brave and strong.

And my little flame burns brightly, shining like a diamond, a glowing, sparkling star. And it burns and glows and becomes stronger...

And this time I will nurture it. Nurture it, let it grow.

The storm may rage and the rain may fall. The wind may blow hard against me...but this time, the wind and the rain cannot touch my little bright light. This time, my light will not be extinguished.

This time my light will shine on. <3 xxx

Thank you so, so much to evryone who commented and sent me well wishes during my blogging absence. It meant the world to me and I thank you with all my heart.

I thought I just needed to clarify before I sign off just where on earth I have been the past few months since I ceased to blog.

If you recall, back in September last year, I disappeared from my blog as this was the month which marked the beginning of my relapse. However, this time this was not the case. I stopped blogging for a number of reasons which I just want to briefly elucidate now. Firstly, what with the exams fast approaching, I felt as if I could not dedicate to my blog the time and the care that I would have liked, so I thought it were best if I distanced myself a while from my beloved Cocoa Stained Apron for fear that it would interfere with my studying. This was a source of great sadness and frustration to me, as I love blogging and hated being separated from it, but I felt as if I didn't have a choice.
Secondly, and here I am being very honest in saying that of course, there were times in my relapse-recovery that I felt extremely negative, down, and depressed. It was hard; it was so very, very hard. There were times when I felt I had to give up. There were times when I felt ugly, unattractive, fat, a failure, repulsive. And I felt so afraid that somehow, during those times, my negativity would manifest itself on my blog, if I chose to write. Another factor, then, in my decision not to blog. And thirdly, my little negative voice also had allowed me to convince myself that my blog was useless. Yes, this was exactly what I had allowed myself to think and believe.

But now, as I say, Emmy has changed, and grown.

I know I am not ugly, fat, or worthless.
I know my blog is not useless. It is my blog and my place, a place of memories and reflection, of sharing and healing.
I know that recovery is hard. But also, that recovery is possible. That if you refuse to give up, and keep on going, despite all the fear and the hardship and the pain. That one day, we will get there, together. That one day, we can and will be free.

And, last but not least..I don't have any exams coming up!! :D (more on this later - think I need to update you on where I am at at the moment in regard to college :o )

So now the time is right for me, to return to what I love. It is time for the Ganache Elf to resume her blogging journey again, for so much has changed since that day all those weeks ago, when a young girl with fear in her eyes embarked upon one of the most difficult and challeneging stages of her recovery journey: the fight back against a full-blown relapse. But I did it. I did it, and here I am now. A happier, healthier, stronger Emmy who is ready now tomake her voice heard. <3 xxx