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.:)

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.


  1. Deeear,
    you can`t imagine my most recent Google and youtube searchings...___EXTREME HUNGER:::::Dear, can i write my thoughts and fears and whatever?

    1. Of course dear!! write to me as much as you want!! I got your email; thank you so so much, I will reply as soon as possible dear! Hugs to you <3 xxx

  2. Hi Emily - I think you should definitely have the food that you are craving, its not "giving in" - your body is obviously in need of it so why not just have it and enjoy it? I am a great believer of listening to your body, it knows what it wants and needs, so if that's peanut butter, let it have it! Don`t feel guilty for fueling your body, ever.
    You may find not having your breakfast at the same time as looking at your study work helpful.If you completely separate the two you may find it easier to concentrate on each one rather than both at the same time, or do you think you need distraction whilst eating? I am just thinking it must be hard not to let each affect the other, hence separating the two?
    I think you are doing amazingly well and well done for fighting forwards in your recovery. Every day is another step closer to a healthier you and I know you can do it. You have so much going for you, remember that and stay strong :)

    1. Thank you so so much for your kind comment, it was just want I needed to read today! <3 and I do think you are totally right. As I say, I think I just feel particularly guilty about these "cravings" as it's all for the foods that I already eat a very large amount of - say for example peanut butter; I have about a couple of tbs three times a day! - but at the end of the day, I suppose it isn't really the most important thin to be worrying about; of where I should be getting the extra calories from.

      And thank you so much too for your suggestions re the's definitely worth a try. I just know that in the afternoons my concentration is appalling, that's why I always try to do it in the afternoon. It's so tough trying to recover while being at college and I do regret going back in a way, but I suppose there is no point just regretting it now.

      Thank you so much again for everything, your comment really did mean so much to me today.

  3. XXXX Hope you`re having a good day :)

  4. Chewing your food helps loads with the bloating. Remember that your stomach has no teeth and since digestion starts in the mouth, it gives the process a great start! Don't worry about the hunger too much. It does disappear with time! How's the meditation going? It can be confronting at first to sit with yourself, but hang in there. Again, It does get easier with time!

    1. Thank you so much for your advice! It really is so much appreciated <3
      I haven't tried it yet (the meditation) though I really want to - I haven't a clue where even to begin - do you have any advice on where or how you can start? I suppos there might be things on youtube that might help beginners - I may google it tonight and find out. Thank you so much again! <3 :) x

  5. It can be as simple as focusing on your breath. Letting it flow in and out without force. Whatever thoughts come up, just let them be. They can't hurt you and like water over rocks, they soon disappear. That's something to hold onto during the first few attempts as it can be confronting at first. Sometimes your mind won't be quiet- that's ok as the process is never truly perfect. After all, everything is on a constant state of change and the process of meditation is no different. As soon as you fight and try to resist your bodies natural process in any way, your body will react by tensing all muscles, creating stress- which is something you obviously want to avoid.

    Another thing which can help is to focus on a sound or imagine what you want your life to look like- don't worry if it's unrealistic, the point is to get you relaxed. As you do, you'll find your breath calms on its own. It's a lovely way of honouring your body's ability to keep you alive.

    Yes, there are plenty of YouTube clips. Explore what's around and see what suits you. Have fun exploring! :)

    1. <3 thank you so, so much for this. It sounds really good and I really can't wait to give it a go. I also think it would be a really helpful technique in helping me to overcome overexercise. I am definitely going to look into the Youtube clips for sure. Thank you so much again. I will let you know how I get on through the blog!:) xxx

  6. Hi Emily - something I have found very helpful to ease stress and relax me are the spoken word relaxation cds. I just go somewhere quiet, pop on my headphones and listen away - and I have found this works for me. The cds take you away in your head to places like the beach, the countryside, a river bank and also get you to check your breathing. You can find them on Amazon. You may find trying these useful too - I just thought I`d mention them.
    Hope you are well and looking forward to Christmas! Take care and have a lovely day xxx

    1. Hello :) Oh my goodness thank you so much for this! They sound really good - just the sort of thing I think I need, in all honesty. I really think that they would help me alot - thanks so much for the recommendation. I sort of have in the past in stressful situations tried to "transfer" myself mentally to a palm fringed beach (I have a distinct image in my head from a picture I saw once) but it isn't quite enough to just conjure this up by myself. So perhaps the CDs will help me somewhat in this :) Happy Christmas to you too! Thank you ever so much :) xxx