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?


  1. Emily, have you talked to your mum about how you feel in this place, and about the little changes in diet that you have made here? Well done for your fortitude in travelling thus far, and thank you for the beauty and clarity and integrity of your writing.

    1. thank you so much for your words and kind thoughts. I think it would be best if I tried to open up to mum. it will be hard, but I know deep down it is better to get things out in the open. As uin the past keeping things covered up had not very nice results.

      Thank you so much again, your comment meant so much to me today! Thank you and take care! :) x

  2. Your body has its own wisdom and is constantly maintaining balance because its job is to keep you alive.

    A little extra weight is really not a big deal, it's mostly, food, fluid and muscle- which weighs more than fat and only you notice it. If it helps, count it out: total weight is X. X amount is fluid, X amount is muscle, X amount is food. I found it to be a really good way of soothing things and counteracting any nastiness from the voice. No one else will notice, and if they do, you can always walk away. I used to turn the comment on its head by saying "It's great, isn't it?" and smile.

    Give your body a decent amount of time to time to settle. It does know what its doing. Having said that, if, at the end of the day, you really can't cope, you've proven to yourself you can lose the weight, so, with that reassurance in mind, give it a go! You've got nothing to lose and everything to gain! Think of all the things you can do with your life now that don't involve weight or food and list them. Do you want to travel, write a book, learn a new skill?

    One day, you'll look back on the darkest of days from a happier, healthier place and think "this is why I recovered"

    1. Thank you so so much for your comment and for sharing your wuisdom and insuight wuith me..i really appreciate it so much; thank you ever so much for thuis <3

      What you say is so true and I think that that uis a really helpful way of thuinking about weight and appearance; and one I most certainly am going to adopt from this point onwards!

      Thank you ever so much again for your words and advice. Take care. <3 xxx

  3. Dear Emily,
    I really agree with the person above about your body knowing what it's doing, and the need to give it time.
    You mentioned a couple of months ago that you still didn't have your periods back. For me, I found that a really helpful staging post in recovery. Until they came back, there was a clear sign that the body was not really happy yet. And when they did come back, then there was every reason to keep trusting the body because it is not like they come back and that shows everything is all right -- they come back and that just marks the beginning of a new phase of full recovery. I found that gave me more confidence about letting my body gain weight way beyond what I was comfortable with -- like the person above said, it has a wisdom of its own. I've also read that estrogen is part of the physical conditions for cogntiive recovery too....
    I don't know whether this is helpful or not, but I think it made a difference to me when I was closer to where you are. At all events, I do hope the sun shines brighter for you soon, and this comes with every good wish, at the start of a new week.

    1. Hello :)
      Thank you so so much for your very meaningful comment. It really meant so much! And reading it really helped me to see more clearly just exactly what I need to do - keep on eating plenty, just as much as before, and allow my body to find its set point. I am particularly anxious to get my periods back as I have been told that if I do not I will never be able to improve my osteoporosis..

      Your comment was SO helpful and once again thank you ever so much!! It really makes me feel ten tuimes better to know that I am not alone and that I have some really lovely readers who are there for me when I am feeling down, frightened, or confused.

      I hope you have a lovely week too. Please take care and thank you ever so much. Xxxx

  4. ps - an apology! I am sorry, I wrote this morning: but I was thinking of a post of yours from much longer ago. I do apologise.

    1. Please don't apologise!! There really is no need. <3 xxx