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.:)

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?


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 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.