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, 28 December 2016

Look to the Sky...

The cool northerly wind pawed at my exposed cheeks as I climbed out of my neighbour's car, in the middle of a bustling supermarket car park in which shoppers intently searched for spaces like hungry lions hunting for gazelles. Not surprising, really: it was Wednesday, the day before Christmas Eve, and it seemed like the whole population of my small home county had descended upon Portlaoise in order to get all their essentials purchased before the big day itself.

"Thank you so much," I had said to him, and he smiled and assured me that it was no trouble. I had got a lift off him into Portlaoise to start the big food shop for mum. I had an hour to kill before I headed into Tesco as it wasn't until half 4 or so till mam would be able to get out of work.

Usually, whenever we did this of an evening, I would cycle into town and make my own way. But, on being offered a lift from James, it suddenly occurred to me that this was the perfect opportunity to test myself. Because that morning, it had rained heavily, and I had forgone my usual romp with the doggies for a quick five minute potter around the daisy field.

An hour to kill, Em.

Anxiously, I looked to the sky.
It was long past mid afternoon at this stage; and the pale yellow orb of the sun was now beginning to slowly inch its way towards the western horizon. The sky was like an endless expanse of pale blue velvet, interlaced, here and there, with wispy, peach-fringed clouds of lilac-grey and creamy pink.

One more hour of daylight...

I have shopping to do, things to get..

But you haven't done any exercise today. Oh it's going to rain tomorrow! Aren't you going to make the most of this lovely dry afternoon?

But...I said that..

I would..reduce...

But you haven't done anything...the shopping can be done tomorrow, are lazy, you need to move, imagine how anxious you will feel later if you don't do anything now...

And then you will be all moody and won't be able to focus on your college work tomorrow morning..the anxiety, oh, Em, you know full well you won't cope with it...

And so I bowed my head in acquiescence, adjusted the straps of my bag upon my shoulders, and walked.

My three furry friends <3 

Looking back now to that evening, I know that it was wrong.

it was compulsory, it was what ED wanted me to do. I love to walk. Walking with Benny and Daisy upon the heather-covered boglands; trotting alongside them along woodland tracks scattered with pine needles.But here? Upon the concrete streets of Portlaoise; alone, with a heavy handbag slung across one shoulder? No. In this instance, I did not really want to go off power-walking: I wanted to go to Home Store and More and buy some picture frames; before then proceeding to the pound shop to purchase wool and gift bags and Weetaflakes. Did I really want to be wandering the streets of Portlaoise in endless circles for forty-five minutes? No, I did not. But yet, because I had not been able to walk that particular morning, I felt absolutely compelled to do so.

Em, why are you afraid of not exercising..when you have some weight to gain?

But that is the point, isn't it, after all. I am afraid. So, so afraid. I am so scared to gain weight again even; despite all the times when I did so before.

I know that I have to do it.

And so I cast my mind back to that moment when I raised my head to stare up into that beautiful sky; on that cold, pearl-bright December evening, no more than a few days ago.

Up there, birds had been wheeling together on the wing; the jet black crow with his harsh grey beak; a bottle green starling with flecks of silver upon his nape.

So free, up there; in that endless blue infinity; so far removed from all the troubles in this world.

If only I too could grow my own wings and join them. If only I could fly, and soar, and be free. Be free like I have never been for so, so long.

 But I am a human; not a beautiful bird. I have to work with what I have.

 I have lungs and a heart and a head in which a mind is contained. A mind which, I realise now, has the power to set me free from this snare.

I think, for my next post (and I really, really hope that you will do the same too if you are in a similar position as I am ) I will compose my Reasons to Recover list...

Because I truly believe this is such a worthwhile exercise to do; if you find yourself  in this state of ambivalence. When you are teetering on the brink between recovery and relapse, perhaps; or if you have embarked upon the road upon the mountain, only to have fallen down upon the stony ground, overcome with the fear of where this road is going to take you.

You are not alone.

This is me right now and I am afraid too.If there was some way I could make this road easier for us, I would cross the oceans of the world to find it..

But there is one thing that I know I posses: I have my words, my voice.

So perhaps, through reflecting, and writing, and sharing, and exposing, I will help both myself and others to recover...

 I may not have much, but I have my voice..

Monday, 26 December 2016

The greatest ever gift...and the greatest ever leap..

Before I begin, I just want to stress again how incredibly touched I am over the responses I have been receiving here on My Cocoa Stained Apron since I resumed blogging. I really do mean it when I say it means more than the world to me. It may not seem like much when you decide to write and post a comment on here, but, to me, every single message and response is worth so, so much more than just a few words upon a screen.

It makes me feel so glad that I decided to return to this little thing which is my blog; a little world in which I know I can truly be myself. It's here where I know I can pour out my heart if I want to; it's here where I am free to expose my biggest fears and anxieties and try and shape them into coherent words and forms.

It's here where I can reach out to others in the knowledge that I will not be judged for who I am and from what I have been suffering since childhood. It is here where I can be just Emmy. A girl with an eating disorder, yes: but also, one who has hopes and dreams and passions; a girl who is just trying to find her way along the slippy crags and lonely moors of a mountain known as Recovery.

Hard to believe this was Christmas two years ago, not long before I went into hospital.
But have I changed that much between now, and then...?

Christmas. For me, Christmas has always been a special time, being synonymous with being at home surrounded by my loved ones, and the joyous act of buying, wrapping, and giving a gift; and the excitement evoked on receiving one. It is a time when I suppose the love I perceive human beings have for each other is brought into patent expression. And that in itself is a beautiful, beautiful thing; more beautiful than any diamond wrought star glittering high upon its sparkling Christmas tree.

Though it's true to say, over the past four years or so, each one which passed me was marked by intense and palpable sadness; and a joy wehich was always bittersweet. I guess, now that I am older, I have become more sharply aware of how quickly the time is flitting by me.

How these precious moments we spend together as a family, might well be the very last of these times. Or how many Christmases I have spent with Ed. How many months, years, that U have done. It's now been well over a decade.

Ten Christmases, which essentially have been the same:the same fears and the same anxieties; the same desperate longing to be totally and completely happy; to not dwell, for one single moment, about the portions at Christmas dinner or the difference in the eating times. To not think for a single instant about weight and shape and what I will eat that day.

And I know that the greatest gift that I could give me loved ones is to choose to recover. To dedicate my heart and soul and every last drop of my energy towards recovery. And this isn't just true for me; it holds true for everyone.

So if you, like me, have suffered for any given length of time, choose to make your new year's resolution this year to be one which ultimately will prove to be the scariest, most daunting, most terrifying decision of your life...but also one which give you back hope, and life, and freedom once again. The one which will ultimately save your life. The one which will allow us to break away from this harsh, cold, disparate world created for you by your eating disorder. Because it is a different world; a world in which there is only pain and suffering and hurting; and, inevitably, one which is overshadowed by death.

On the outside that world might appear so aesthetic, so ideal. Before you entered it, it was like you were standing looking across a great river, to a world lying upon the other side which, in comparison to your own, appears so attractive, so vivid, so ideal. It's a world of snow-white glaciers and glittering skyscrapers; so appealing to your hopeful eyes.

You are drawn to that world like a bee to a lily's golden nectar. Because it seems like in there, all your problems will be solved; all your needs and desires instantly fullfilled. It offers you things that your own world does not provide for you, you believe. This was how I felt, anyway. I thought that, leaving behind my old world...I would find what I - that young, naive, innocent version of myself - truly wanted. What was it? Many things. Confidence. Beauty. Control. To make myself different. I thought that I was a boring, plain, ugly thing and that Ed's world was the only route through which I would be transformed.

But I could not be more wrong.

Ed's world did change me, alright: but to a shadow of the person I once was. And I now realise fully just what his world really is like.

The glaciers there are of ice so sharp and cruel that my skin was torn to shreds on stepping upon them.

I thought that on climbing those towers, I would be on top of the world. Id feel more in control, more capable, than ever before.

But I - just like so many, many others - became a prisoner in those towers. And now everything that you value falls away, separated by a hundred billion miles. All there is, and the other sole occupier of this cold, sterile, barren world.

Because that is what the world of the eating disorder really is like.  And this is what it can do. It separates; creates a seemingly impassable gulf between you and the world and the people you care for; everything . It isolates, distances, and destroys.

But we remain there; entrapped in this cold, harsh, inanimate world of pain and suffering. Because it's our new normality; it's as if we never knew anything different. And the river separating our two worlds now seems as deep and as vast as the infinite expanses of the ocean.

It might seem an impossible thing to close your eyes, feel your way through the dark, then realise the river is there right in front of you. Right in front of you and all you need to do is take that one massive leap.

But I'm here - I'm HERE, at the bank of this river; I know what I need to do...
but it's just...taking..that massive, massive jump, and then, starting to swim...I won't be able to do it...I'm not strong enough...!

Why must we fear the river...
when, deep down, we have the strength to swim through its waters?


Believe you can, and you will.

And I will repeat this to myself every day, because deep down I know ir is the truth. And though ED might try to make us believe otherwsie,

there is enormous strength deep down in every single one of us.

Enough strength to cross that river...
Enough strength to reach the pinnacle of the mountain.

Make this year the one in which you give your loved ones the greatest gift...
And the one in which you take the greatest and most bravest leap that you ever will take in your life.

Why fear drowning in the river...
when we are already drowning in the depths of ED's world?

Thank you so, so much for taking the time to read my blog in 2016.
I really hope 2017 will be the one in which we conquer our fears and achieve our greatest dreams.

And so for the latter part of this year I want to talk a little more about the particular challenges I face and my endeavours to overcome them; and also, posts which I hope, in composing, will set in stone for me how imperative it is that I make recovery, this year, my priority.

I really hope that through the words of my writing, I will be able to reach out and help others in their struggles too; and make a true difference to someone's life.

But I know that, ultimately, I will never be able to help anyone unless I rescue myself.

You know what you have to do, Em. 

The happiest of Christmases to all my readers,

Near and far, no matter where you are. <3 xxx

Thursday, 22 December 2016

This time, it has to be different...

Reflecting upon the first blog post that I made earlier this month, i realised that what had happened to me over the later part of 2016 stands as the fourth time that I had slipped into a"relapsed" state since I started my degree at Trinity. Each one of these relapses has been marked by a return to college and a resumption of restrictive behaviour patterns; and a consequent drop in my motivation, mood, and then of course the weight.

Each of them followed what I suppose can be viewed as being a "good" period in terms of my illness - being at home, during the summer, with Mam there to keep an eye on me; with no outward pressures of essays and assignments or of just fitting in at Trinity. I say good, but really, I know it has never been exactly...ideal. My weight has dipped and gone up again more times than I care to remember; but my mind, I know, has remained entrapped, all that while, in a state of static, unchanging bondage. My weight was always changing, but my mind remained the same.

 And though this year's relapse was certainly no way near as bad as previous ones, I'm aware, all too aware, that if it had not been for Mam keeping an eye on me; and for the fear of the weekly weigh ins starting again, then things might well have gone a whole lot worse. But, as it happened, me and Mam seemed to "nip it in the bud" just in time: allowing me to tentatively tread back onto that path again; a path I have been treading now, for over two years which have fleeted by like darting dragonflies.

But I mean, I know it is wrong; that it is because of other people that my relapse was not as severe as it could have been. And it is just another testifier to the extent that I am no way near recovered. As is the fact that I was feeling painfully nervous at the thought of going out last saturday night to the restaurant down in Emo. It was mam's birthday and everyone else was looking forward to the evening; everyone, that is, except for me. The only feelings that I had was fear and desperate anxiety; alongside the enormous and crippling guilt that, on Mam's special evening, all I could think about was my own terror.

 Everyone else's exchanges about what to wear and what they were going to order that night floated above my head like little wispy clouds - so distant, so picture-perfect, so far, far removed, from me. How I would love to be able to chat excitedly about going out for a meal like that.

And I wonder, if..
if I ever really will.

Because I said last year that this time would be different.
But yet, ED lingered, and I remained the same.

Every time we went out for dinner in Mallorca,
I never enjoyed a single moment of it.
Now all I can remember of those nights was the fear, the anxiety.
ED took away memories I should have made with those that I love.

Last Saturday night I sat with my sister and her boyfriend who had come down to stay with us for the weekend of Mam's birthday. We chatted and chatted long into the night; about a variety of things, really, including my eating disorder and countless phases of weight gain, then relapse.

Seeing them go the next day was enough to break my heart, as I know it might be some time before I see them again; though I know one thing that will remain with me today is all that we spoke of that night.

It;s me, and only me, who has the power to save myself.

Others can advise you and motivate you and guide you gently back onto the right path. But ultimately it is you who has to fight this battle. No one else can do it for you. The power, the determination, the strength and the defiance in the face of what might be the most harshest of odds. It has to come from you. You have to become your own soldier,because at the end of the day, it is your life which is at stake here. Your life, your body, your health and your future.

"Postponing" real recovery till after I have finished college is more or less pointless. Because when college is over my eating disorder will simply seek out another "reason" to put off what I have to do for another day or week or month or year. The time is now and anyway, I am more than aware that, for me, time is running out.

And so.

Here is a question for you, Em, I said to myself as I sat at the table with my fingers resting poised upon the laptop keys. What's to stop this time round from just being merely a repeat of your last failed attempt to beat this sh** once and for all??

It's blind faith. Like stumbling through a tunnel. A tunnel that winds and winds in endless spirals and disorientating loops; a tunnel lined with sharp stones which cut and shed blood. A tunnel which seems like it has no end; only a beginning, a beginning which leads back to a place in which you have stood for so many days, months , years - looking in. Looking in, yet too afraid to step forwards now and embark into that yawning chasm of darkness.

There was familiarity there, at the place before the tunnel. Comforting, safe familiarity. A familiarity as cold and as final as death.

Because that's exactly what that place was.

And like all things, that tunnel has a beginning, and an end. An end which might seem like the glistening moon of a clear night sky: so beautiful, so distant, so impossibly out of reach.

But there was someone who dreamt of reaching that moon. And he stopped at nothing till he had achieved that dream.

A beginning, and an end. I do not have much, but, I have a beginning, and a dream.

This time it has to be different...
And so this is where I begin.
  • Continue to follow my meal plan to the letter, and consider increasing it even more if I feel that I am ready to do so. I've already made a couple of increases over the past few weeks; both of which were hard to make, but..I did it. And now I know I have to Stick to my meal plan, every hour of every day, and allow myself to eat MORE than this when I can!!
  • Now, this second going to be one of the hardest. That being to reduce exercise and physical activity while regaining the weight.                                                                                   Just to explain: during my last relapse-recovery, I continued to walk and cycle every day. I'm not going to make speculations about how and why this happened as to be quite honest I don't know enough about all the sciency stuff and I don't want to mislead anyone. But I knew deep down that I really, shouldn't have been doing it - or at least, not quite as much as I was. My biggest difficulty is that I love it; both walking  my beloved Benny (and now Daisy) and riding my bike through the sweet countryside are two things which give me so much pleasure; especially at this time of the year, on those crystal-clear days; when the leaves are crisp beneath the feet and the sun slips through the sky like a rosy pebble drifting through the still blue waters of a lagoon.  They give me so much joy.                                                                                    But it's true to say that I do feel "compelled " to do it sometimes, even if I don't really have much time on my hands, or if the weather is more than disagreeable, or, in the past, if I had a foot injury - I would still do it. And that, I know, is because of my eating disorder, and its constant and relentless drive to make me burn as much calories as possible.I would find myself prioritising going for my walk over many other things; and that, if I did not do it, I know my anxiety levels would go through the roof. But at the same time...I know it is something that, deep down, I know that I need to do, and that I would benefit enormously from if I were to. But more on this in my next blog post. 
  • This past year, just as I did in 2015, I restored my weight (to a minimally acceptable bmi) only to then immediately start to restrict again by consciously reducing my food intake. Both of these times, I was led to believe by my eating disorder that  my metabolism was damaged and that hence I would continue to gain weight on reaching my "target weight" if I did not revert back to restrictive amounts. And so. This time. This time I have to be wiser, smarter. Smarter than Ed. Stronger than the Voice. And on reaching that weight target I know that time time I have to keep on fighting , fighting harder than ever. It's true to say that that is quite possibly the hardest part of the path leading up that mountain; the darkest section of the long, winding tunnel. Because I know, this time, I have to continue eating, continue nourishing, continue to fight and allow my body to find its healthy set point. I don't know what this is and that in itself is terrifying. But I know, ultimately, this is what I have to do. Or I will never be able to improve my osteoporosis; or properly repair the damage that 11 years of anorexia has reaped upon my body.
  • And finally, a few other practical things which I believe will help me to make this year different. These include writing a book of which I have been deliberating for some time(more on that later) and continue to blog (which I knowwill greatly assist me in keeping and staying on track through my sharing of progress with my readers - and , most importantly of all,the continuous love, support, encouragement and motivation my amazing readers they share with me every day. <3 xxxx
  • And then..what I am hoping to do next year: a year out, in which I might try and get a little job, but also to set aside the time and energy that the hardest part of recovery - that being, of course, the mental part - requires. I would really like to be able to attend proper counselling and get my mind to the right place.
let's make 2017
the year that we make the Change. <3 xxx

Sunday, 18 December 2016

It was time to bite the bullet..

7 am Saturday morning.

I finally emerge from the kitchen, my hands full of an assortment of different edible items.

A large jar of Tesco chunky peanut butter and a hunk of extra mature cheese wrapped tightly in crinkled kitchen foil. A bruised banana and a tub of buttermilk spread which had seen better days given all the times that I have managed to drop it. A bowl containing 2 weetabix and a jug with precisely 125 ml of warm milk. I dump these on the table and then I remembered that I hadn't got the cookery so I went right back in and got myself a couple of knives. Then I went back again for the one with the serrated edge for the cheese and then finally a measuring spoon and a teaspoon for the peanut butter. And then, finally, I sat down, and waited for my toast to pop. 

I glance at my watch. A pang of anxiety shoots through me. Oh. God. five minutes passed already, and I hadn't even started my breakfast. Five minutes less of writing being done. Five minutes more that I did not spend staring at the abysmal thing that is my attempt at a Children's Lit essay...

My morning routine is, you see, to get up, sort the doggies out (give them their food and let them outside to do their "business"), sort my own stuff out, then sit down and have my breakfast while looking at the blog or emails or whatnot. And then. After that. The part of the day which I dread and detest the most.

It's not what you would call an exactly joyous scene. I sit and I stare for a few minutes at the scraps of sentences upon the laptop screen in front of me and try to conjure up something else that I could write. Sometimes something comes. More usually, something does not. As the minutes tick by I start to feel more and more agitated. My heartbeat quickens and the room suddenly becomes unbearably hot; even claustrophobic. My very skin seems to itch and prickle unpleasantly. The blood pounds wildly in my ears, as loud and as sonorous as drumbeat.

My mind drifts helplessly like a piece of driftwood upon the dipping, swelling waters of the ocean. God I am going to fail this module. God how did I ever get this far with this degree? I am stupid, I can't do it, I...I...

The predominant thoughts which repeat themselves over and over again. But there is also..something else. Food. Yes, food. I have just eaten a massive breakfast but yet I cannot stop thinking about food. Interspersed with these assertions that you are useless and you are pathetic and stupid and worthless piece of sh** there are these thoughts, vivid images of food. I try to put them out of my head; but I might as well have tried to break a pebble in half with my fingers.

"I'm not hungry," I groan to myself, but yet, even while I say it, I know that isn't entirely true. Physically, I feel stuffed; my stomach feels tight and uncomfortably bloated. But yet...there is still this sort of, craving , I suppose, for more. I look up from the laptop and stare unhappily at the jar of peanut butter sitting some inches across the table from me. I don't want any more. I want to get up now and pick it up and put it right back in the cupboard where it belongs. But at the same God, do I want some peanut butter right now. I want to reach across and stick my big teaspoon into the jar's gooey depths and devour spoonful after spoonful.

Now, you can imagine the sort of feelings these thoughts inevitably evoke for me.Feelings of self-disgust and repulsion - Oh my god!! you have become SO greedy!! - mixed thoroughly with an unpleasant, sour-tasting blend of intense and bitter frustration. Because this, of course, all adds up to making writing that essay that one bit harder: or maybe more than a bit, shall we say. Ah, my lovely English essays. Writing them...writing them is like crawling up a hill with your eyes closed. You don't have a clue where you're going or how you're going to get there; and with every knock and every stone that you collide with you're sent tumbling back down to where you started.

Every morning we go through this process. I sit, Istare, I write nothing. I am literally consumed by these thoughts of food and how stupid I have become.

I suppose, this thing or whatever you want to call it which I experience at breakfast time - the intense hunger for more, while at the same time, not being really hungry at all - is perhaps some kind or form of that phenomenon entitled "extreme hunger", which, I've heard, is a most common occurrence for anyone who takes that terrifying plunge into the effort of recovery. But I mean..what can I do?? How on earth will I be able to complete three 5000 word English essays when I suddenly can't even focus properly on stringing a sentence together in my head?

Bite the bullet. An expression which I suppose is highly relevant for this stage of recovery. Because I guess that's what I really need to be doing. Screw the essays. I've read that it's important that..if you get these weird "cravings", despite tangible physical sensations of fullness, than you should just bite the bullet and give into them. To literally bite into that food and eat as much as you want. Because that is what your body needs. Does it feel unnatural? By hell, it does. But is it unnatural?? Well, rationally, I don't suppose it actually is. Because, if you think about it...if you have deprived yourself of proper nourishment for any given length of time, it's only natural that your body now is using every faculty of its powers to try and make you want to eat more and more, right? It's starving. It's deprived of vital nutrients. And so if physical fullness (due to the smallness of the shrunken stomach?) is getting in the way of its attempts at signalling you to eat more...well, I guess it's just going to try and use another method at getting you to eat more than you might actually want.

This is all going by what I have read myself online. My knowledge is a bit scattered and scanty but I know that much AND I know, deep down, that yep, I could eat more; more than even my meal plan which I have, for a few weeks now, been sticking to religiously every day. The physical fullness isn't so bad that I feel I am going to be sick and unable to move if I do give into these cravings or mental hunger. Nope. I could eat more. My biggest concern of all is the fact that these cravings seem particularly geared towards what some people might term as not being "proper" foods - I would never get them for things like fish and meat and stuff like that, essentially, but for things like toast and chocolate and peanut butter and cereal drowned in hot milk - and just to clarify, I am currently eating alot of these foods and have not restricted them for some time. But yet despite that, I would find it really difficult to eat a good portion of chicken, say, or a generously filled sandwich at lunch. But at breakfast I feel as if I could just eat and eat and eat and this also applies to snack times when I eat these sort of foods; and then of course after dinner, when I want nothing more than my banana and lashings of hot fresh custard with heaps of my favourite chocolate.

Ok. Onto the meal plan. I'll talk more about that one tomorrow. But for now I just will continue on. Biting the bullet and biting into the food which I know is my medicine. I need every single scrap and calorie I can get. And the essays are the essays. Are they going to determine my future health and well-being? Are they going to be the ultimate decider between life and death; the thing that determines whether I will be able to attain a functioning, healthy body; or whether I will remain underweight, infertile, severely brittle-boned for the rest of my life; unable to work or socialise or even think clearly without any difficulty? Well, Em? Are you going to screw up everything because of an essay? Or are you going to bite the bullet and take the plunge yourself?

It's me and only me...
who has the power to save myself.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Relighting the candle.. :) xxx

Hello everyone. <3 xxx

It'stwenty past ten and I am sitting by the fire with Mam and Dad in the front sitting room here in Derryguile. The crackling of the fire accompanies the soft tapping of my fingers upon the laptop keys, while, down at my feet, Benny snores his way across the dewey grasslands of his dreams.

Twenty past ten and the night is still young, but the tiredness that bludgeons in my head makes it feel as if it were a whole lot later. Soon enough I will be joining Benny in my own dream landscape.

But I felt compelled to write a little before I head to my cosy little bed with the soft green coverlet and crumpled pillows. Because over the past few days, I really have rediscovered something which, in my second relapse, I thought that I might have lost forever, this time. That being my joy in, and love of, blogging. If you take a look at from whence I first started my blog, there have been a good few gaps before the most recent one. I don't think they were as significant as this one, though. College constituted one of the main reasons for my ceasing to blog; I could literally not sit and write a blog post, no matter how much I wanted to, without being consumed by anxiety about the work that I was not getting done". But that said, there was, of course, a big part of me too which was powerfully and intensely ashamed.

Ashamed that I had gone back on myself again; having come so far since my relapse last year.  Ashamed that I had allowed my return to college to just turn into a repeat of last year. Ashamed, so deeply, palpably ashamed, of myself for being the weaker one again. I had let my blog, my readers, my loved ones down. The thought of that was enough to make me want to weep bitter tears upon my pillow every night.

And alongside all that, then there was also something...something else. That little voice, niggling away at me, again: Your blog is stupid and useless. Noone reads it; its of no use or help to anyone. You might as well just stop now, you imbecile!! Delete that pathetic excuse of a blog post; you have an essay to write!!

But yesterday,  I made a decision of my own; pushing  away that scornful, mocking Voice with its constant flow of criticisms and relentless stream of mocking taunts. No, ED:  I am going to start blogging, again: Because I want to, and I feel, quite ardently, that there are things that I want to say and share with the world. I have a story to share and advice to give; it is only ED, i know, who wants me to remain entrapped within its crushing, suffocating silence. But no. It is time for the Ganache Elf to don her little apron once again. it is time for the real Emmy to dig out her dog-eared blog draft notebook and translate her thoughts to words once again
Blogging has helped me so much in my journey to recovery; and I know that it will continue to do so. I really hope that by sharing my experiences and insight that I will be able to help others in any stage of recovery; or indeed anyone who has ever been touched by a mental illness.
But now my eyelids are heavy with sleep and my beloved kitten mug is now vacant of hot chocolate. ;) so I am going to sign off for now and potter off to mo leaba; but before I do so I just wanted to thank you, every single one of you, who read my blog or left comments on a post; who thought of me and wished me well. I can't stress how much this means to me.

Thank you so much for helping me to find the path that I had lost,
And for helping me to reignite
That beautiful, golden, radiant little candle 
which for so long remained hidden from me...
but which now I have found again, and set alight with unafraid hands.
That little candle that has a very simple little name.
Such a small little word
for something so incredibly powerful.
That candle is called hope.
Like the twinkly lights that shine upon the Christmas tree,
Hope throws off the darkness and fills my heart with its glow.

Good night everyone. xxx

This isn't our real fire  - its the fake one we have in the dining room!! But I love the way daddy has adorned it with these gorgeous fairy lights. Just looking at it every evening is enough to give me that warm fuzzy feeling to the very tips of my toes. ;) xxx

Sunday, 11 December 2016

The Flames...

Wipe away those tears, Em. They aren't going to change anything.
They're not going to write this essay for you. They're not going to change the fact that you seem to have become a complete and utter imbecile...

A typical day in the life of Emmy, Trying to write her English essays.

So I stood up then and rubbed furiously at my cheeks, angrily chastising myself for letting those tears fall from my eyes. Then, I reread the sentence again, pulling my jumper tightly around me, gripping the soft material with my fingers. The words float around in my head, echoing mockingly; grating together like knives being scratched across a steel plate.

there's that queasy, all to familiar sensation bludgeoning in my head; the subtle reminder that yes, I have been here before. The past few years have been all but the same.

What is wrong with me?

Have I become completely...stupid? Inept?

 I almost feel like reaching out with trembling fingers to scratch those hateful words upon the screen with my very fingernails. Fingernails which are short and worn, on fingers with skin the texture of sandpaper. How I am ashamed of them. Just like I am of everything about my own body.

It seems like forever since I wrote in my beloved blog; though college, of course, did not permit me to do so for the past few weeks, months, of the latter part of 2016. After such a beautiful summer, autumn took on a more darker shade for me. I became weaker and started to restrict again, reestablishing a familiar pattern which seems to be set in motion every fall of every year.

But then, at long last, came the crucial moment of realisation.

Not sure exactly when and where this little moment actually happened. Perhaps it was when I was walking with mam and she said to me, very tenderly, that I was looking just "a bit too thin" again, and I saw the pain in her dark green eyes. Perhaps it was when we picked up our new rescue dog Daisy, four weeks ago, and I took her out on the bog with Benny for her very first walk. I called her by name and she ran to me, placing her head in my lap as I crouched down to enclose her in my arms; wanting her to know that she was now safe, and loved. Noone will harm you here, I whispered. But her big brown eyes were penetrating into my own, as if she, too, was trying to convey to me an unspoken message.

I know that, Emmy. But you have to be well enough to look after me.


Daisy is right. I have to keep myself well, to look after her. She is a two year old, jet black collie cross; and is, as the saying goes, as mad as a hatter. Daisy will need lots of long walks. She loves having someone to run and play with, to throw her sticks and then chase after them with her. All things that I want more than anything else to do with her. And which I have been, over the past few weeks. She has already stolen my heart.

But if I were to choose to give up now - to relapse, wholly and completely - than I know all too well that my health and energy will fall, and shrivel, like the fallen winter leaves lying dead upon the cold, hard earth.

My osteoporosis will worsen. the slightest fall or trip might well break an arm, a wrist, a leg.

And this second - or maybe not second; my weight has gone up and down on the scales now for as long as I can remember - has taught me a vital lesson about a fear which Ed had for me established as an undeniable reality.

I realise now that my fears about my "damaged metabolism" were, after all, just that. Fears. All these convictions that I would not stop gaining and that once I was weight restored I would have to revert to restrictive amounts in order to maintain and stabilise my weight. They were lies. Nothing more. From this weight loss I have been able to establish a fact.


I can eat what I want.

Yesterday evening I sat by the open fire in the sitting room, watching the golden orange flames leap and dance in the hearth. Transfixed by their beauty, I pushed myself slightly forwards. The delicious heat of those flames drew me ever nearer  I stretched out my legs and wriggled my ice-cold toes. As I gently eased off my socks, though, intent upon feeling that warmth upon the bare skin of my feet, an icy shudder passed involuntarily through my body, brought on by what lay beneath the soft wool. Dry, cracked, broken skin; flaky to the touch, rubbed red raw on the edges of some of the toes.  I hate my feet, I had whispered to myself despondently, and had swiftly pulled back on the socks, so my eyes could no longer look. They are ugly, so ugly. Just like the rest of my body...

But this is Ed. This is Ed and what he has done to me. One thing he cannot touch is my strength and power of resistance. One thing he cannot take away is my resolve to carry on, no matter how many times I may fall.

Though on the outside, in the eyes of the world I was a "healthy", normal girl...
They could not see what I hid behind my smile, behind my healthy, weight restored body.
And that thing which was inside me made me despise what I saw in the mirror.

The storm continues to build. The thunder roils, the clouds bunching together into one thick, inter-penetrable mass. The noise drowns out everything. I cannot think. I sit in class and I cannot hear what the lecturer is saying. I drift in and out of the conversation, a tiny bloodless smile fixed rigidly upon my lips. I don't really understand what is being said. Psychoanalysis. Koros. Something about linear and cyclical time in children's literature. The words float above my head like pollen grains suspended in a summer wind.

There is just so much... noise, in my head. A crashing cymbal and a raging thundercloud. A tornado which keeps on revolving and revolving, threatening to destroy everything in its path.

But though the storm may continue to rage, I know I have to continue to fight on, Despite that bitterly cold wind which cuts into me like a blade; despite that icy rain running in rivulets down my face.

I said I'd do it in 2016. I will make a full recovery. I'll find the real Emmy. Not some twisted, skeletal version of myself. Not a girl who feels like she is dying inside. I'll make it there in 2016. That;s what I said, this time last year, as I desperately fought to pull myself from the wreck of my first major relapse.

But those sentences by this time sound so familiar; because I know I have said them to myself several times before.
In 2014.
And 2015. And now it's the end of yet another year.

I know alot has changed, since this time last year...

But yet, at the same time, one crucial fact remains unaltered.

I am no freer than before..
 This will be my twelfth year, with Ed.

You might as well give up, Emmy, that voice whispers to me. Give up. So much easier. So much more simple. You know you'll never get there...

In a way I suppose, succumbing to that voice will be like drawing so close to those flames in the blazing fireplace, so close that my skin is set alight and I am consumed and completely destroyed by the flames...

As that is what Ed has the power to do, ultimately. Unless I consume the food that my body will, quite remorselessly, consume me.

Unless I break free. But yet this is the thing that I yearn for so desperately, at the same time..there is that part of me which remains terrified, which wants to remain subordinate to this malignant thing which resides inside my head. And so. Breaking free. It will be no less as painful as reaching out and closing my open hand around one of the bright and beautiful flames in the roaring fireplace; before then proceeding to crush it, crush the hot flame within my clenched fingers. It will burn. It will singe the skin to the very bone.The pain, the sheer terror, will be unlike anything that I have ever before known.But I know here lies the ultimate, defining decision. I can choose to let it win; or I can choose to extinguish it. To destroy that thing which will destroy me if I do not take action first.

Every day...

just need to remind myself...

that recovery, not college, is my new priority now.

I must feed myself and destroy this illness...

Not feed this illness and destroy myself.