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.:)

Friday, 29 December 2017

Changing Skies.. xxx

Walking through the snow towards the canteen the other night, a flash of moving light to the east caught my eye. I swiftly glanced upwards, and a tingle passed over my skin. A shooting star, leaping down from the heavens, descending towards the earth in a tiny orb of silver radiance.

But that was only the start of the show. As I watched, transfixed, allowing what I had just seen to sink into my consciousness, I suddenly realised that the whole sky was aglow. Given the clearness of the night sky that particular evening, the Northern Lights were given the opportunity to manifest their full sublimity. Pulsing riverlets of soft, glowing colours - aqua green, predominantly; interspersed with rose pink and mauvey-purple - snaked themselves across the sky's infinite expanses, some of them fading and diminishing as I watched, others growing stronger, throbbing like the artery of a quickening heartbeat. It was minus thirty, but at that moment I was totally oblivious to the cold. All other perceptions fell away and retreated from me as I stood absorbed in my spectating of this wonder.

My experience last night stirred many different sentiments in my breast. Awe at the natural beauty existent in nature, in this frozen wilderness so far from my home in which the aesthetic was palpably present despite its raw harshness. appreciation of the moment of being here and now; terror, at the recognition of my own smallness and insignificance as a human being, in the face of nature's omnipotence. But also there was a feeling of enormous and powerful transition. Standing there, I could physically feel the potency of the change unfolding in the skies above me.

It turned my thoughts toward myself, my own life; toward the changes that had occurred within the own sphere of my existence, this year. In 2017, my life path had passed through so many new and unfamiliar landscapes; had taken me to places in which I had I had been challenged and tested and forced to confront my deepest and most paralysing of fears. There had been moments of sheer terror, of discomfort, of deafening and crippling anxiety. There had been times when it seemed all my hope had receded, like the final few dregs of water in a sun-baked desert. There had been times when I had told myself that I could not physically go on.

But 2017 has been a year of a change. And just like those dancing lights in that breathtaking northern sky, these changes have ultimately, been as exquisite as they have been terrifying.

And I, ultimately and crucially, have been altered and fundamentally changed as a result of all these struggles.

And now I know it is time for me to look forwards towards the new year, and reflect upon the other ways in which I can nurture positive progress and personal change. To look back on the year that seems to have slipped by me now so quickly, like darting troat in a stream. And in doing so to recognise what I have achieved and what I have overcome, and to use that recognition of my own strength to power me forwards now in my ongoing journey up the long and steep mountain.

And that is of what my posts over the new year are going to consist. Looking back and looking forwards. Acknowledging the changes I have already made and reflecting upon the ways in which further changes need to be made.

2018 has the potential to be just like the beautiful Aurora. Bright and beautiful and full of glowing colour. And changing. Ever changing. And this time I know I am ready. I am ready to embrace the change. πŸ’—

2017 πŸ’š

I do apologise if some of the details of this are inaccurate...I will have to scoop deep into my memories in order to write these posts ;) and though in many ways last Janaury seems less than a heartbeat ago...simultaneously, it seems like a whole millennium has passed since then. And so much has changed and varied since that very month!

Anyway, time to focus on the task in hand.  πŸ’•πŸ’•


The new year often marks a new beginning for many; a time of potential renewal and change, of new beginnings and fresh starts.

And since Janaury 2017 represented the beginning of what was my eleventh year with my eating disorder, it was with some great earnestness that I regarded the new year and its associations of renewal. And perhaps with some urgency. A new year meant I was another year older. Another year closer to hitting that crucial 30s mark; when peak bone mass would be achieved. Seven years remained for me to get my period and make my own oestrogen, and enable my irreversibly brittle bones to stengthen themselves as much as was possible. For once I hit that tirty mark, there would be no other chances.

Following my relapse in September, I found myself in that familiar state of ambivalence once again. There was that part of me which longed to recover, and was trying to make me turn onto the path of recovery, to commit myself to the painful and difficult process of gaining weight once again. And then there was that part of me which recoiled from doing so. And everytime I made a half-hearted attempt at grasping the reins and taking control of my recovery once again, it wouldn't be long before I found myself wavering, losing grip, and then dropping them onto the ground once again.

But in the early days of 2017 I could feel something builidng up inside me again. Something I had been lacking for what seemed like such a long time.

That being that raw, vehement  determination to beat anorexia; and find that beautiful place in which I could blossom like a new bluebell in a meadow. πŸ’—

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Through the Rough Waters

I have to keep going, no matter what. Whether the waters be still or rough I know I cannot give up now.

I have all the reasons to in my head, crystal clear and sharply defined. The reasons to eat  and let my body be what it naturally needs to be. The reasons to recover. Te reasons to ignore the screaming demands of the voice and carve my own ilittle path.

I have all the reasons. I have all the infomation and knowledge. If there was one thing that Emmy can claim to be fairly savvy on, it's anorexia. I know all about the different ways in which it can affect the body as well as I do the shape of my own face in the mirror. I can recite the factors which can come into play in developing the disorder, and could easily give you a concise account of the signs and symptoms to look out for. I know it so well, after all. ed and I have been friends for a long, long time.

So now it's time to act and use that knowledge as power.

But with me there is always... a but after the if. If I choose to recover I will help to improve my osteoporosis. but then the sly voice breaks in.

But you've already caused enormous damage. Your bones are already ruined. Your short and titchy and have an abnormal frame. The damage has already been done, Em. It's too late to start making changes now.

And I always tend to listen to the last part more than the first, to fixate on what it's saying. You're already short and ugly. That's the one that repeats itself more recurrently these days.

I guess it's because I'm so constantly reminded of it. Being within a group of thirteen girls in my accomodation here, no prizes for guessing who is the shortest of all of us. I feel it whenever I am stnaidng beside someone else or when we take a picture out in the snow.

This morning downstairs in the little warm room where we dry our clothes, I stood and stared at the mirror for a very long time. My eyes travelled from the short legs to the small torso and then to the head. I particularly studied the roundness of the face. Another thing that I hate. Why do I have a face that is so fat and round? I thought to myself bitterly. Self-loathing swept over me in an icy wave, chilling me to the bone.

I do feel it here; the constant feeling of inferiority. It's not something anyone here has caused through actions or words. Rather, it's just me and my thoughts. The thoughts that have the potential to kill my happiness and rip it to bloody shreds. Im The shortest one, the ugliest one. I compare myself every day to everyone else and ruminate miserably on my own deficiencies. And what makes it worse is knowing that I could have changed this. Well, maybe not the face, but most certainly my height, and perhaps my frame. For to me it is all just so ugly. Repulsive and unattractive. I search and search but I cannot find a fragment of prettiness - let alone beauty- there.

Part of me wonders as to why I care so much. Why this, in the face of everything I've been through, is liable to make me so, so unhappy.
If I could escape these thoughts, I would do so in a heartbeat. But it's not so easy when they've been there for as long as I can remember.

I remember the last time I thought I looked "pretty". Standing in front of the silvery length of glass which we all know as a mirror, but to me, as much an instrument of torture as the hated scales are.

That was a moment in a past life, before the transition that changed everything. I was twelve years old and was performing in a school play. I had on a blue dress that twirled about when I spun and emphasised my then newly budding breasts.

That was the last time I felt pretty. Ever since that day, I slowly sank into self-hatred, a deep and murky sea out of which it is not so easy to pull oneself out of.

If only I could find the way, because I know that these feelings of inferiority are getting in the way of my recovery. All those ifs and buts. If I gain weight I will help myself but...I don't really see the point, because I am ugly, and putting on more will simply serve to augment the ugliness which is already there.

Why has my happiness always been so tied up in how the world sees me? I could so easily sink now but I know I will not let myself. I have to kick hard and fight to stay afloat, as I know that these waters which I have to swim through, are rough.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Beautiful horizons... xxx

So long since I last wrote, here on my beloved blog. The blog which has always been more than a blog; more like something of a place of refuge and sanctuary, a place in which I could open the concealed door to my heart and lay bare all my heavy and crippling secrets.

 But the past couple of months passed me by in a swift, streaking blur, seeming to move through the sphere of my existence like a meteorite hurtling at lightning speed through a frozen winter sky. And what a meteorite it was.  It blazed  bright before my eyes like a fragment of molten rock chipped off from the surface of the sun, a rock which had been to be cast by some giant hand towards the earth, and which, on having reached its final destination, had lost not a fraction of its sublimity.

It was vibrant and it was beautiful. But it was also frightening in its intensity.

For me, that was what the latter part of 2017 has been really like. There have been some incredible, unforgettable moments. Moments of such beauty that to look back at them brings happy tears of gratitude to my eyes. There was fear there too and there was uncertainty, but these were intricately balanced by a sense of renewal and change.

For a changed girl I have become. And not only just changed, but changing.

I am writing to you from my shared accomodation in the heart of Finnish Lapland. Yes, I actually got here; and I'm not going to lie by saying that it has been easy.

For by god it has been hard.

The first week I spent here was one of the toughest of my life. It's been a totally and wholly different experience to Barcelona; and one which I would like to talk about in detail very shortly. But today I actaually can hold my head up and say I feel proud. Proud for being brave enough to come out here and once again face the most malignant of all my demons. Because ED wanted to come for the ride, of course. As he always does. I got on that plane and ED was right beside me in the next passenger seat. He was furious. What the hell do you think you are doing? So you think you are strong enough for this, do you? You pathetic girl. I am going to make your life a misery. Of course, the main reason why ED had such a bee in his bonnet, was because he knew that here I would be removed from all familiarity. And one thing ED doesn't like is a change in routine. He likes to know exactly what he is going to do and how he is going to do it.

And I had no clue as to what was going to by lying in wait for us in this frozen, snow-shrouded landscape. No idea as to what the food would be like, what sort of lifestyle I was going to lead there, for the four weeks of my contract with a winter holiday tour specialist here in Finland.

No idea as to whether Id be able to do any sort of exercise, whether I would be able to eat the foods that I usually did eat - or the controlled amounts that I would usually choose to have, back at home - and ED hadnt a clue either. And so you can imagine as to why he was kicking up such a fuss.

But here I am now and one thing I can say is that I am beating back ED. I am coping - more than coping. Im doing well.

There's so much more I want to write on here, but I'll try to all space it out over the course of the next few days so my posts dont get too long.

But one thing I want to say is..I am so happy to be alive. I realise now that it really was worth all the struggles. All the tears I cried and the pain that was so strong, it almost seemed like my heart had been cracked in two. All the anxiety that I put myself through, all the hardship, and all the times that my spirit was nearly broken. So many times were my hopes reduced to nothing more than pieces of chipped, shattered glass; but with each and every time I picked the m up again and doggedly pieced them back together. I suppose that is what got me this far, all along. No matter how many times the little candle flickered and nearly went out, I did not let it die. Instead I nursed it tenderly, no matter how hard the cruel raw wind tore at the  little flame.

And I can sense that change in the air around me now, like the delicate scents of the budding garden in mid spring, when new life springs forth and soft blossoms adorn the swaying branches of the rustling trees.

And with my heart overflowing with hope like sweet water splashing out from a crystal fountain, I look toward the horizon now and think about how beautiful it is. And realise that mine can be just like that too. πŸ’›

A beautiful future could well await me, and I think now I have everything I need to make it so. πŸ’š

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Breaking the Law

The Gospel according to ED.

You shalt not have more than you normally do.
You shalt not say thank you for your food, or that you are hungry or that a food looks delicious.
You shalt not do any less exercise than xx amount.

etc. etc. etc.

signed, by Emmy, and also signed and authorised; by ED.

For as long as I can remember, I have lived by certain laws, certain rules. Certain codes of behaviour that I went out of my way to obey, at all times. And God forbid if I ever dared to disobey them. The repercussions of even contemplating doing so were always positively hideous.

Ed would do more than kick up a little fuss. Oh no, it was always alot worse than that. He would scream and shout and tear at me with cruel sharp talons. The channels of my brain would suddenly be overflowing with garbled, tormenting comments. You are fat. Eating that will make you fatter. Oh my God Em!! What are you doing??!! You are going to blow up! Don't you dare even consider it, girl!! 

It was sort of like the equivalent of being imprisoned in a high walled jail. Every failed attempt at escape would be met with torture, and threats of further barbarity if resistance did not cease. For a very long time I simply stopped trying to object. ED would nod, suitably satisfied, as his captive became weaker and more submissive with every passing year. She became too weak and too withdrawn to even think about escaping, again. The walls of the prison stretched higher and ever higher.

So that's why I suppose, upon that day three years ago, when I first made that first crucial, tentative step, onto the road up the mountain which we all know as recovery. That the anxiety, that horrible, screeching Voice, as loud and as piercing as a siren that can not be terminated, was enough to cause me to crumple to my knees with agony, if I had let it. But. There was something there that was just as strong as the anxiety. That being the pain of the guilt I had felt, when I had looked into Mam's eyes and told her I had been lying to her, for so long, about everything.

And that guilt and pain then were enough to drive me forward. Along with the love that I felt for my Mam, and the knowledge that if for nothing else, I could do this, for her.

Years later and I'm a different girl to the one I was those three years ago. A different girl, but in some ways, unchanged. And one of those ways in which I have remained the same is that I still abide by ED's many rules.

To fling wide the gates
and escape from Ed's prison,
once represented, for me, an impossible dream...

And as I walked tentatively forwards in recovery - choosing to gain weight, being admitted to hospital; allowing myself to tell those I loved that I had an eating disorder - I in time began to recognise and question ED's rules; and then - slowly but surely - I began to disobey them. It was not easy. By God, it was hard. But I knew that I had to do it. Whenever I found myself faltering and afraid, I closed my eyes and thought back to that day, the feel of Mam's warm hand on my shoulder. And I used that to drive me on. Because I knew that Mam would forever blame herself, if I died.

But now back to the half-recovered ED girl. Yes, she has broken many, many of ED's rules. She is no longer in medical danger. Some might think that she is recovered.

But she isn't.

Rather, this girl has a good long way to go, yet. And still many of ED's rules are still in place, and fully intact. She's escaped Ed's gaol but the oppressor is following her trial, coming after her. He steals in front of her and throws bricks directly across her footpath, blocks that collaborate to form obstructive grey walls and block the winding road up the steep sided mountain.

She knows that if she is to have any chance of ascending that mountain, she is going to have to break and destroy every single one of those walls.

But how?

Well I have some tools. These are my weapons of choice for chipping away at the cracks in ED's wall. I will use my own hammer and chisel to prise away the building blocks of ED's walls.

If I could leap straight over them, I would. But this time instead of wringing my hands and hanging my head in defeat, telling myself that I can't get over them...

Instead I approach them with my tools at the ready. Ready to start working on these walls. It's going to require time and patience and effort, and strength. And bravery. Yes, because the gaoler that initially constructed these walls is a fucking scary thing.


I've figured that I have all these things.

I've figured that I've got what it takes. I've figured that I am capable of breaking the Law, and making my escape from custody.

ED's custody.

And I've got something now that I did not have before. Something that has given me extra strength. I'm doing this for me, as well as for mam and all those I love. That crucial, crucial recognition; the actual acknowledgement of which  I have been unable to make for so, so long.

For now I have began to realise that the real Emmy wants to escape from custody, too.

She's now willing and ready to break ED's Law.

What it would be to be flying free,
like those bubbles..πŸ’™

ED's rules...

  • You can only have the amount set by me of any particular food. 
  • At breakfast: no more than 100 ml of milk, less than 30 g of cheese, etc. And minimise everything as much as possible.
  • Always take the smallest/thinnest part of everything. The thinnest slice of bread off the sliced pan. The smallest potatoes in the serving bowl. The smallest crumpet in the packet. etc. etc.
  • At dinner if I think you have too much on your plate then put some back in the serving dish when noone is looking.
  • You must always pick bits or crusts of bread, potatoes, etc.
The rules extend to how I act around food and how I speak about food too. For example.

  • You're not allowed to say that looks lovely I'm hungry thanks Mam that was really nice, I enjoyed that etc.
  • When you eat you always have to appear as if it's a chore. Show total lack of interest in what you're eating and push the food around the plate. 
  • You also have to eat as slowly as possible and cut food into tiny pieces.
  • You're forbidden to clean your plate, your bowl, your mug. You have to always leave something behind.
And to top it all off...some more general rules..

  • I have to do at least xx amount of exercise a day, and the more the better.
  • At all costs you must not gain anymore weight.

I could go on. And on. And on. Because Ed's rules are endless so long as I remain with him.

What Ed says...
I have to do the opposite.

It's time to break His Law.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

I Can.

And so in my mind sprung a new sense of purpose; one which was as fresh and as bright as the first ebony-white snowdrop of the early spring.

And now that I've finally found it - after months of searching and sifting and digging deep inside myself - I now eagerly seek to nourish it, to let it grow. To let it spread its roots and anchor itself firmly in the ground; to let it sprout leaves and buds and drink in the sunlight's liquid gold. Ever growing and ever strengthening is what I am aiming towards now. Harsh winds may batter at the slender stems and tiny bell-like heads of this little plant that I have sown, but behind that seemingly fragile appearance lies a deep and hidden strength.

It must grow then despite the odds. Despite the harshness of its hostile exterior environment and the force of those bitter winds that seek to rip it clean from its foundation roots. Despite the cruel frosts that shackle it in white-tipped bindings; despite the cold and the wet and the rain that lashes down upon those nodding heads, soaking and saturating and weighing down each stem; forcing them to bend and bow.

Yet bow flat to the ground my flower will not do. For after every battering and every bending and every storm, the flower will straighten itself upwards again, letting the rain droplets roll off it, letting the frost's fingers melt and slip silently to the ground like the tears I have lost and now, forgotten.

I recognise now that there's been a number of different elements which have been hindering my growth for quite some time, now. And to let my snowdrop grow, I thought it past time that I recognise these elements for myself.

I find it hard to talk about the reasons why I have not "succeeded" at recovery when I should have, could have done; and that's partly why I felt the need to identify these reasons and look more closely at them. I'm trying to learn to be more gentle with myself and not to feel shame for being weaker than Ed in the past.

The Elements that have impeded my growth...

  • For a very long time I always find an excuse to to "put off" a true commitment to recovery. It was always a case of I'll get through college first or I'll wait until I'm ready, or for when someone else tells me that I need to gain a bit more weight.                                                          Now, though, I have recognised that I can't afford to wait any longer. And it's no good waiting for that longed for statement that at one time I would not have beared being able to hear. I've made my own decision to gain weight. Because I know that this is the only way which I will enable my body to fully heal and recover, from all the damage, internal and external, caused by Ed.
  • Wanting to please others, not wanting others to think I am being lazy/selfish/self-absorbed by seeking therapy. For a very long time this was a core belief of mine: that to do therapy was a selfish thing for me to do or alternatively, that others would think me selfish by doing so. And isn't it weird how, if someone I knew were to approach me and say they were considering seeking help, I wouldn't hesitate to urge them towards taking the necessary steps in doing so. But no. For myself, it's different. It's like I've made myself my own greatest enemy. The most important thing for so long for me has been pleasing others.
  • Similarly, a great deal of it comes down to what other thinks/say about my body and appearance. So they say you look well, the Voice whispers. Well. Hmm. So if you look well now, what will they think or say if you gain any more weight? By God! You will look hideous. You will be hideous and all those people will be thinking to themselves how ugly you look. This for me has caused alot of difficulty in the past, and has reinforced my belief that I should try and maintain on the lowest possible healthy bmi.
  • And alot of it came down to fear. Fear, as raw and as sharp as the most bitter of winter nights. Fear of being bloated and for my already distended stomach to "balloon up" even more than it already has. Fear of not doing exercise and having to listen to the screaming voice inside my head. But the other day I made a crucial recognition. So many of these fears are illogical.
So now I need to focus on my goals which will help me this sprouting seed to strengthen and grow.

I'm not going to settle for just leaves and shoots. Now, I want flowers. I want to grow to the very best that I can be. This time, I am determined to not allow myself to be trampled back down into the earth.

There is a feeling burning inside my heart that feels akin to that which I felt upon that day that seems so long ago, now, on that sun-soaked day in early May this year, when I left Trinity for the final time and hurried back through the streets of Dublin. The memory of that day will always stay with me, lingering at the corners of my mind like the fragrant scent of a room bedecked in flowers.

There was sunlight in my hair and on my cheeks, but not quite as bright as the beautiful flames that burned in my heartupon that particular day. I had felt, then, that I truly could conquer anything. I had got through the five years of Trinity and had sat my final exams. I had faced my biggest fears and had charged right at them, cutting through them like a prow through the grey waters of a rough sea.

So instead of saying I want to do this, I say, I can.

I can.

I can gain the final bit of weight I need.
I can beat the depression, the anxiety, the fear.
I can defy the Voice in my Head. I can recognise him what it is. A thieving, cheating, manipulative liar.
I can go to England and try out my new job. And if it doesn't work out, I can make the mature decision that it's not for me, and look for something else.
I can be the person that I want to be.
I can beat anorexia.               

Since my last post, I've been putting into place a few alterations to my meal plan. It's been far from easy, of course - needless to say, I feel as if my head at present is the site of a very violent shouting match between Ed and Me. But. I've actually been coping relatively well.

Everytime I approach eating food, every time I feel too afraid to eat more, every time I find myself the bloating is so bad I feel as if I want to push away my plate and refuse to eat for the remainder of the day. That's when I say - often aloud - that I can do this Ed . I remind myself of what I wrote on here, the advice of my readers. And most of all. What will happen if I choose to embrace Ed.

I can do this Ed. It has become one of my many new mottos. And there's nothing you can do or say which is going to stop me, this time.

  1. Let's make the milk victory a bit more of a regular thing. So I'm going to have the 125ml as a minimum from now onwards and as much cereal as I want.
  2. As a general rule: the meal plan is a minimum and I can eat extra or more of anything if I can. No, cross out "if": I can eat extra of anything BECAUSE I can!!
  3. I've decided to up my protein a bit more too in a way which isn't too scaryπŸ’ͺ                        Since mornings are definitely still my munchies time, it made sense to add in something extra here. So for early morning snack, instead of my usual one egg with a round of bagel and seeds, I thought I'd up this a bit more, mainly..                                                                                         - having 2 scrambled eggs, 2 poached eggs or 2 boiled eggs, or even a yummy omelette (haha well they're all yummy - I LOVE eggs!! <3                                                                                    - or having 1 egg and 1/3 can of baked beans                                                                                -- or 1 egg and half a can of sardines/mackeral. And being generous with those seeds on the bagel, as they are both yummy and nutritious.                                                                                    Sunday morning was a rare proud moment for me, when I actually made myself scrambled eggs for the first time in what felt like an age. And I REALLY enjoyed them!! I love eggs in all forms, but up till now have never had the courage to eat this particular concoction of yellow fluffy loveliness, given that, of course, it consists of two eggs rather than one. But I've done it now and proved to myself that I can, and I know that I can do it again and again and again, from now on. 
  4. No more meagre bowls or portions of anything!! Having BIGGER handfuls of nuts, BIGGER bowls of cereal, and not minmising on my protein portion at lunch - just little things like that which I think will make all the difference.
  5. I'm going to focus in particular, on my protein intake at lunch and dinner as this is something that, for some reason, I have always fallen down on in the past.
  6. And I'm going to throw into the mix another few easy ways of getting more energy for my body. A tablespoon of wheat germ on my cereal, extra nuts, be more generous with my salad dressing, lots of nut butter, etc.
  7. And last but not least, to follow my new rules which are the reverse of ED's, and more on this in my next post, in which I am going to talk about just some of Ed's many, many rules and regulations which I am now going to break. πŸ’ͺπŸ’—πŸ’–


Friday, 13 October 2017

The Step

A few things prompted me to write my last post; compelled me to speak out about the pain and frustration and the agony of what is the longing to completely let go, but yet, simultaneously, being so intensely, paralysingly afraid to do so. It's a fear which is as numbing and as real as that when you're about to leap out a plane; stepping right out into thin air with nothing but the parachute upon your back. The very thought of that single step is enough to freeze your very blood out of fear.

But it's the mind that's the worst, here. It skips ahead of you and paints such pretty pictures, of you falling through the endless nothingness of the sky's infinity, the scream being ripped from your lungs and the cold air hissing violently through your ears. Imagined catastrophes wrap themselves around your mind's eye, so that you're unable to see anything else. Images of you falling through space and breaking your body upon the awaiting rocks below; of you, just falling and falling forever, with nothing to hold on to save the memory of what it once was like to be upon solid, firm ground.

And so, with these images having anchored themselves like heavy rocks upon the seabed, you suddenly declare to yourself you can't do it. After all your plans, all your preparations, all your courage mustering; all your best intentions. Now all of those just lie in a useless heap upon the floor, reminding you of what you see as your failure.

But I cannot do it. 

I can't overcome the fear.

But, I ask you now, is it the thoughts of the fall or the actual step which bites into you the most?

I'm telling you now, it's the actual step.

There's enough strength in each and every one of us to achieve anything in this life that we set our hearts to.

Including recovery.

It's just the fear that stands in our way. The fear and the doubt.

But doubt and fear killed more dreams than failure ever did.

Thoughts and doubts can kill. My story is living proof of that. I look back now to when it all began. It wasn't any external factors that caused me to move onto that distorted, polluted road which was Ed's; a road full of poison and damp soaking holes, a road which slowly caused my body to break up just that one bit more with every single hateful, yet irresistible step. No. It wasn't any living person, any physical thing that caused me to become ill with anorexia. Rather it was the Fear, and the Doubt, and the Thoughts. The Thoughts that ED implanted within me, and forced me to nurture. Thoughts that I wasn't good enough, wasn't pretty enough, wasn't cool enough, wasn't skinny enough. The thoughts that in order for me to have the slightest chance of making friends and losing some of my inherent ugliness, I needed to lose weight.

Later, the thoughts were of similar lines, and equally just as deadly. Thoughts that I deserved to die and that starving was the best course of action to achieve it. Thoughts that to gain weight, I would be repulsive; and the world would reject me. And many of these still linger with me now. Deeply ingrained beliefs, as obstinate and unmoving as the most deepset, heaviest boulders of sheer granite rock.

I cannot, this time, let the doubt and the fear take any more of my life away from me, for any longer.
I've already lost alot of years to my eating disorder, through the fears and doubts Ed created within my fragile, vulnerable mind.

Now is the time for me to fight back.

Now it's about recognising that those deeply ingrained beliefs which I mentioned above are not so deeply ingrained that I do not have the strength to budge them. To push them away and set myself free. To take that step out of the plane into the Unknown. The Unknown which is true recovery.

Yesterday morning I took one such single, tiny step, one which to many might seem trivial and irrelevant, but for me resembled something more of a triumph. For a good while now I have reverted to being fixated on having 100 ml max of milk with cereals in the morning. But today, on approaching the fridge to take out the bottle. I wondered. I wondered if I could make it more. Whether I dared to push aside the fear and pour that bit extra in the jug.

No, screamed the Voice. No! It'll fill you up too much! Because if you have more milk you'll have more cereals, and you'll blow up like a balloon! You won't be able to have as much later on! Don't you dare, girl! Don't you dare! 90 mls in that jug, that's ALL! Don't you dare!

I won't, I answered, timidly, but then stopped, pausing, thinking of the last post I had wrote.

And that's when I realised..
It's only a fear. A stupid, irrational fear.
What need I fear of just a bit extra milk???

Milk is good for me, right? I have osteoporosis. Osteoporosis = my bones need all the calcium I can get. Ditto.

And before I could ponder it for any longer I had seized the bottle and poured it out and added the cereal and then....

then I ate.

A tiny victory, but at the same time, it felt good. It felt good to be a victor for a change. Becuase for a while now it seems ED has been smirking an awful, awful lot, at my apparent inability to increase my meal plan that wee bit more.

But I know I can't just stop here, now. I need to do a bit more than that. The "milk victory" felt good but that's not where this thing is going to end. There's alot more I know I need to do here.

If I really want to gain this, let's pause and rephrase that.

If I really want to be healthy. To get my periods back. To silence the Voice once and for all. To give my bones the best possible chance to be as healthy as osteoporotic bones have the capacity to be.

I dug deep inside myself, searching for answers, the iron hard truths, the impermeable facts that neither time or force can change. Why? Why am I really afraid of being a higher bmi? It's not a case of physically not being able for it, after all. I've put myself through the gaining weight process a number of times. True, not with a target of this higher bmi(s) in mind, but it was still very much an intensely difficult, grueling process which takes an exhausting toll on both the body and mind.

I'm afraid to gain and reach this bmi because...

  • I'm afraid of what my body will be like. I am afraid that I will hate it. I feel ugly now at this current weight and I am convinced that, at an even higher one, I will feel completely repulsive and vile.
  • I'm afraid that then, people will see me as completely "recovered" (if they do not do already) and assume I no longer need any help and support to beat Ed.
  • I'm afraid that, if I increase my meal plan again, I won't be able to stop eating 4000 + calories on having reached the target weight, and will just keep on gaining and gaining.
  • I'm afraid, yes, of facing the physical and mental unpleasantries of gaining weight good and proper again. The screaming anxiety, the horrendous bloating, the constant declarations of "you are fat, Em" resounding through my head.

There are more, I know; but those are the main ones.

So now I have to gather my own weapons; prepare myself for ferocious war, once again. War with Ed. I'll retaliate his list of no you can'ts with a list of my own. Oh yes I f***ing can, Ed.

I'm currently reading Life without Ed by Jenni Schaefer. One of the most crucial aspects to recovery from anorexia that Jenni identifies is distinguishing and constructing your own voice, separate from Ed's.

So here is my own voice. Speaking loud and clear, now.

I need to gain this final bit of weight....because...

  • Wake up, Em, and face the reality here. You have serious osteoporosis. And you know all too well that your period ain't gonna come at this weight. No good drifting on and pretending it's all ok, because it's not. You may not have taken your consultant's advice back then. But take it, now. And stop closing your eyes to the truth.
  • By gaining this final bit of weight I will be able to fully restore my health. All those other parts of the body damaged from over a decade of anorexia. My nails and skin and internal organs; my concentration, my memory. You might not be able to see the internal damage, Em, but you know all too well that it's there. 
  • I won't feel so tired and listless and lifeless all the time. Gaining these final few kilos will give me the energy to laugh and smile again, to live.
  • And last but not least. It will be in my best interests to get my weight up for my new job in February. It's by no means an office job or anything like that, by the way - it's quite a physical job in which I will be on my feet alot of the time. I'm not saying I'm an unfit person, but I'm not exactly what you would describe strong and vigorous, either. But, to get my weight up beforehand, will mean I can work at my very best, physically and mentally.

So now I have some new goals, new priorities. Which I am going to fix right in my head, now. Time to step up to the plane door, take one deep long breath, and step out.

That terrifying step...
But one I need to take to save myself.
Because one day this plane I'm riding will crash, and burn; with me, along with it.

Time to go, Ed.

Time to go.

I'm gonna take this jump and you're not coming with me. This time, you stay behind, old friend.

This is my own step, which I alone can take; for myself.

For me and for my life, and for all that recovery stands for.πŸ’—

Yesterday I finally plucked up the courage to approach Mam and ask her for help. I told her everything: my current struggles with Ed, my aspirations to try and gain a little more weight and my fears around having to do so, and my difficulty in dealing with people's comments as regards my current shape and weight.

Mam listened as I knew deep down she would. And it felt, right then, that the enormity of taking that huge, overwhelming step had lessened.

I know Mam can't take this big step for me. But to know she is there - ready to give me that gentle, yet firm push forwards whenever I can feel myself faltering - has given me so much comfort and has made me feel both safer and braver. Now I'm ready to jump without once looking back. My courage roars defiance in my breast like a lion facing the retreating hunter with his net. Oh yes, ED. I'm ready, now. I'll be your captive for no longer. 

Thank you, Mam. I dedicate this post to you. πŸ’–πŸ’•πŸ’— 

Thank you also - SO much - for everyone who has commented and wished me well over the past few weeks. Your words mean so so much. I am honoured and humbled by your sincerity and thoughtfulness. Thank you πŸ’—

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Letting Go...

So here are some facts.

Some facts about Emmy Snelgrove that the world does not know, or see.

But these are the cold hard truths that press down upon my shoulders each day, as heavy and as grey as the severe, ice-capped mountain, and equally just as bleak. If not more. There is beauty in that mountain, but every inch of these facts are ugly.

I am 23 years old, though looking at me, some might think I'm alot younger.

Yet despite having the outer semblance of a girl, I have the skeleton of an old woman.

I have osteoporosis.

I don't get periods and I never have done. Sometimes,when I lie awake in the darkness of the night, watching the twilight patterns upon the creamy ceiling of my room, I wonder if I ever will. Whether my ovaries have simply given up, or have been permanently damaged through years of restriction.

And of course. I've had anorexia for 11 years. For eight of those years I was significantly underweight; for the most part of that eight, severely so. And then, for the other three. Consisted mainly of my weight bobbing up and down like a slung yo-yo upon a tight string.

So those are some facts about Emmy Snelgrove.
The facts that she doesnt want the world to see, but yet, at times, feels like screaming out loud. Especially to, well, you know. The oh you look well or healthy comments.

I'm currently maintaining between 41.8 - 42.5 kg.
Meaning that my bmi is around 17.7 to 18.

I suppose, for some people, this bmi's ok.
But I know deep down for me, it is unlikely that it is. As I type, I remember my consultant's parting words to me. On my last meeting with her, within the mental hospital's stifling grey walls.

I would advise you, young lady - given the severity of your osteoporosis and total absence of periods - that you get your bmi to above 19, preferably 20 or above.

I had smiled meekly and nodded my head. I was listening, but not to her voice. A different one inside my own head.One which, as soon as those numbers had left my doctor's mouth, had aroused itself, a restless wraith awakening from a fitful sleep.

Who the f*** does she think she is, Em??
Don't you worry, Em. You won't listen to her. She clearly doesn't have a clue what she's talking about. 

There's no way on this earth you are going to let yourself gain until you get a bmi of 19...
And 20?? You'd rather die, right.

And I had listened, and agreed.
With Ed, that is. Not with my consultant, with her many, many years of experience and knowledge, working with and treating those with eating disorders.

A couple of years later, and here I am.
Wishing, once again, that I had chosen to listen to someone else; and not the ever-spouting wisdom of ED.

But. At least now I have the strength to say I can get beyond the minimum healthy bmi, if I choose to.

I know I can do it. If I just let myself do so. It's just the letting - the letting go - part. It's just - so bloody - hard.

For me, the fear of letting go now is akin to that I would feel if I were hanging off the edge of a cliff face overlooking the sea: under which, raging waters churn and roar, more fearsome than a wild beast.

My fingers are latched in a white knucked grip to this cliff edge to which I've  been attached to for as long as I can remember. And yet despite the fact that this hostile crag has torn me and broken me countless times, I still have this fear of letting go. The sea below is so dark and terrifying, as unknown and as frightening as the blackest abyss at the furthermost corner of space.

But somehow -

sometime -

I need to realise that it's long past time, to let go.

And so this is the meal plan that I've been studiously following, ever since I got back from Spain in late July.

Your thoughts. What do you think about it? It's true to say I like this particular eating schedule very much - the variety of foods, the frequency of the times that I eat, the inclusion of all the foods which I love and the exclusion of those that I don't. But it is enough to gain the final bit of weight that I need?

Given my current lifestyle, I don't think so.
I walk twice a day with my doggies and go for the odd cycle sometimes down to the local village. I don't sit around. I'm a busy girly. So I guess this is why I am maintaining on this instead of gaining.


  1. 100 ml milk + cereal (usually Weetabix or ready-brek)
  2. 1 slice spelt/wholemeal toast + spread
  3. 30 g cheddar cheese
  4. 2 tbsp peanut butter
Morning snacks
  1. Half a multigrain/wholemeal bagel + spread
  2. 1 egg, boiled or poached
  3. Handfuls of sunflower seeds (I dont really measure them)
  4. 30 g mixed nuts
  5. Milky hot chocolate.
  1. Chicken/tuna mayo salad with spinach, vegetables, tomatoes, roasted peppers and dressing.
  2. Banana/apple/melon
Afternoon snacks
  1. Cereal + 50-75 ml hot milk
  2. toasted crumpet + spread + 1 tbsp peanut butter.
  1. Main course: varies depending on what we cook but it's usually the basic protein + carb + veggies
  2. My all-time favourite dessert: chopped banana, lots of hot custard, and a bar's worth of chocolate on top with the odd cadbury's chocolate finger or whatever's going begging.
  1. Milky hot chocolate.

I have a few ideas of what I could do to make it better; if you have any, please do feel free to share them here. Hearing the advice of my readers really has helped me so, so much in the past and continues to do so, every day.πŸ’—

But for now, I'm going to sign off, and focus on what I have to do. The thing I want more than anything else in the world, but yet of which the mere thought of strikes real fear into my heart like a knife blade been thrust through flesh.

Letting go. One of the hardest, most painful parts of recovery. But let go, I will and must.

I have to face the pain and the fear now, or spend a lifetime having to cope with a different pain; the pain of regret.

The regret of knowing that I could have changed things, but chose once again to hold on, and put off.

But now it's time to let go.

Let go I can, and must.

Friday, 6 October 2017

The Final Autumn.

How I have always loved this time of year.

Walking in the forest through carpets of leaves; carpets which are richer and more breathtakingly beautiful than anything ever devised by the human hand. A treasure trove of natural, unspoiled beauty; ripened and matured like a perfect mellow peach fruit in high summer.  Coppery leaves interspersed with gold. Blood red berries and primrose yellow needles upon every sprig of the larch tree. Autumn swirls around like a twirling dancer, bringing vibrance and colour to everywhere she touches.

But she's a different dancer to Spring. Spring lingers to gently nourish her craft, to tend the delicate buds and make them open, to caress the dew-soaked ground in order to make the sweet new flowers grow. Autumn, though, does not pause for a breath. She breezes through those woods to the tune of the winds that she makes blow, winds which are no longer warm and raise a goosebump upon unprotected skin, or which make the scraggly flowers that remain upon the ground shiver and curl further in on themselves, as if striving to protect those petals that remain. Delicate. Oh so delicate, like me. Like the flowers I watch and wait for the inevitable. The transition which is long awaited and dreaded at the same time.

By and by the last leaf will drop; branches, once so bountifully adorned, will be bare and skeletal, clawing a clay-coloured sky with their bony, outstretched fingers. The rich copper carpet will become brown and dull, littered with tiny, broken flower petals and stems. The Change had to come. It was already here. And now Winter has solidified that change, meaning that what was once so beautiful and sweet, is now gone.

And now that is how I feel now as I prepare for the Inevitable Change.

For what was beautiful and sweet to me will now soon be gone. The life at home which I loved; the life at home, which I knew one day must end.

But maybe this is for the best.
I knew that, one day, I would have to leave my beautiful, sweet home.
The home where the conifers grow closely together, their branches forming a tunnel of jade-green branches.
The home where the ebony blackbirds call their sweet songs.
The home where the leaves of the maple tree fall and grow. Grow and fall, in an endless cycle of change.

And for so long, this was me.

I'd grow a little, but every time I'd always fall down.
Over and over and over again I'd repeat this endless cycle.

Home. The home that I loved. But it was here where I did something wrong.

For home is exactly where, for years,
Instead of noursihing my body and allowing myself to grow,

I nourished and sustained a monster.

I've made my decision, for now.

I'm going to go to Shropshire in February. I'm going to go there with an open heart and an open mind because I know - deep down- that there's a good chance that this is going to be a job I love. And if I get there and find I'm really struggling, then I can always come back home. At this point in my recovery, I know myself well enough by now to be able to tell when I'm relapsing.

I've also decided that I'm going to seek therapy once I've started earning. Last night I googled therapists in the nearest big town where I will be based (Shrewsbury). I was pleasantly surprised at the availability of counselors in the area there. And I felt an unfamiliar sense of power and control. To know that once I was there I would be taking steps to tackle ED right where he stands. To know that this time, I would not be alone, and would be given further tools to help me win this fight.

But, even until then, I know that it is imperative that I give this battle every single thing that I have.

I've got a few ideas about how I'm going to do this...

  • Talk to Mam about how I'm trying to gain a bit more weight, because I know then she will help me and give me a boost of support when I need it.
  • As of yesterday I started my beautiful new recovery journal, which I am going to set aside a designated time each day to write in. Opening up the brand new hardback yesterday to examine page upon page of unblemished, unmarked whiteness gave me a refreshing sense of renewal. It seemed to signal the beginning of something new; the rekindling of renewed motivation. With a few things. Motivation to gain weight and motivation to recover. To get myself fully and completely back on track. And to have courage and be more positive, and fight the depression as hard as I am going to tackle ED.
  • And of course..I am going to blog a bit more regularly and write out all my thoughts, goals and endeavours on here (regardless of whether they're successful or not.) Hearing from my readers has always been a source of enormous help and comfort to me. I can't even begin to thank you enough for all the comments over the past few weeks. You might not think that they were of any great significance, but I can honestly say that your comments and support mean the whole world and have got me where Im standing today. <3 
  • I also am going to try out some other forms of self-help, namely meditation, which I have never properly done before and really want to try out for myself, and also reading recovery-focused self-help books. I've a list of a few which I really want to try out. I'll make sure to post my thoughts about them on here about each one.

So now I have to look forwards, beyond the winter, beyond the cold and icy pain.

Because beyond the pain and sorrow at having to leave my home behind, I know that there is a new chance, of a new and beautiful beginning. A chance to find myself in a new place. A chance to grow. Like the tiny flowers laid down by the winter's cold, I know that I can grow upwards. I just need to seek out the sunlight, let it pour over me, allow myself to be strong and whole.

And like the darting swallows that return every Spring, I know that I will come back here. The good bye need not be forever.

But I have to give this new seed a chance. A chance to grow, and blossom.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Crossroads of Thorns

My head was revolving in slowly spinning circles. I could hear a voice on the end of the phone line, but the voice was distant, echoey, as if I was standing in a long, high tunnel.

Deep inside me floated an immense bubble, a bubble of what could only be described as elation, and excitement. It floated tentatively towards the surface, awaiting to be pricked or even burst with the force born out of exhilaration.

But burst it I did not. That bubble floated, lingered, and then quietly, ever so gently, fell back to the ground, to become no more.

This was the afternoon following the telephone interview that had resulted in me being offered the job in England. Now I think this gives me the opportunity to clarify up things a little here. The past few months I have been applying for jobs right left and centre. The main reason being my Oh-god-I-have-to-please-them mindset had gone into overdrive. I had tossed my old plans of local part time job and therapy aside, committing myself to a new course of action. I was driven. Applying for jobs gave me a buzz from knowing that by doing so I was proving a point to others. Because deep down I know I did not want to enter the working life straight away. But. I was applying because I wanted to prove to everyone I was trying.Then no one can say I'm being lazy and sponging off others. Then noone can say I'm wasting time and money by simply devoting to therapy for the year.

And yet even as I painstakingly filled out application forms, I don't think I really heard the voice of my unconscious mind.Im going to apply for all these but I know I wont get them. I just have to try. Try to get a job and prove to everyone that I'm trying. 

I wish - very much - that I hadn't chosen to do it, and had instead heeded the advice of my readers, urging me to follow my heart and focus on myself.

But no. I had to please others again, didn't I?

But let's get back to the story.

And so, yes, the afternoon after I was offered the Shropshire job for February. I received...another phone call. I had had a Skype interview for this one earlier last week. The job? Santa's Elf. All the way over in authentic Finnish Lapland.

Now, when I saw that job, I knew I had to apply for it. The thought of me, dressed in an elf suit, leaping around singing christmas songs and welcoming rosy-cheeked children to a winter holiday resort was one which I could only describe as magical.

And so I applied for it. And was offered an interview. Still hadn;t really hit me, then, that they were actually, properly considering me. In my head, noone could possibly ever want to hire Emmy Snelgrove. I mean, what was there about me, I had thought, that could possibly make me stand out amongst all the others? They're all talented, they all have skills, experience, qualities which I could only ever attain in my wildest of fantasies.

Why would they employ me?

Useless, dumb, pathetic Emmy Snelgrove.

This was what I whole-heartedly believed. And still do, but, for a different reason. I was offered the job.

And yet, as with the apprenticeship in February, now as looming and as ominous as an overhead raincloud...

I find that I'm so scared to do it.

Santa's Elf. Oh god how did I want that role. But where have the bubbles of excitement gone?? Now all that remains in the fear, and the doubt. Heavier and more crushing than a water logged blanket, pulled right down over my head, encasing me in the darkness. So dark and heavy I want to suffocate. I want to scream and shout and cry like a neglected child. I don't want to go! But I do - just not - not now!! Argh!!!

So many go. But then, so many reasons not to.

The concern in mam's eyes when she saw how scared I was. Her gentle words, telling me that if I dont want to go, its ok. You can stay here and be with us for Christmas Emmy. But I dont know how to advise you, because you really wanted that job so much.

The wording of the contract itself, repeating over and over in my head in a monotonous, droning voice. It spoke of the challenges involved in working such a harsh and bitterly cold winter environment, and that employees must ensure that they are physically and mentally able for such challenges.

Well. Am I able?? My weight's ok. Depending on which way you look at it. My bmi's just shy of 18. People tell me I look well. No stranger could look at me and see a girl who has had anorexia for half her life.

But most of all, the one thing that is holding me back, is the fact that to go away for over a month over Christmas would mean that I have hardly any time left at home. Hardly any time left with my family, hardly any time left here in the place which I love. Hardly anytime to prepare myself for February, if I go. Hardly anytime left to focus on myself before I enter the working world.

But I mean...I've been trying and saying for as long as I can remember that I will dedicate myself heart and soul to my recovery. But still I seem to put it off. I need a therapist. I know I do. But I can't afford one.


Oh God I hate decisions.

I feel like I'm standing now at the most dark and hateful of crossroads. Thorns beneath my feet standing where I am now, digging into me. Im bleeding and want to escape the pain, but I dont know where to turn to, now. I don't know which way to go to escape the pain; or whether which way, will just bring me more thorns and pricks in my side.

I just don't know which way to turn.

Friday, 29 September 2017


Commitment. It's something that I, several times in my life, have possessed. A dedication; to various different people, different causes. I remained committed to my studies at Trinity for those five difficult years, despite the fluctuating state of my mental and physical well-being and the ferocity of the storm raging inside my head. I committed myself to studying for my Leaving Cert, so driven I was by my dreams of success, and the prospect of Mam and Dad being proud of me. And I steadfastly committed myself to Daisy when she was too scared and afraid to eat, coaxing her to take food from my open hands and making her realise that here, with me, in her new home, she was safe and need not fear the cruel hands which had beaten her, ever again.

Committed. It's something which I tentatively hoped that perhaps I was good at essentially being. But now I find myself struggling to commit to that one other thing; one which, for as long as I can remember, I've let myself brush to the side.

My recovery. I see it now as the equivalent of wandering across a vast, arid desert. In the desert there are mountains which rear up tall and steep, but which at their very tops hold oases. But you have to climb in order to reach those beautiful green spaces. And then, once you're done, you shouldn't just stay there. You look towards the next mountain, mount it, and carry on.

But for so long now I have seen the oases; seen, but never approached. They beckon to me, glittering emerald-bright in the golden rays of the sun, but as I gaze upon them I see the climb, and think of the struggle and the pain inevitably involved in reaching their summits.

And I recoil with fear, and resume on, on along the same flat, featureless, bleak desert path. One which just leads on and on across this endless dry landscape, flanked always by those soaring mountains. Each one of which I see, and smile at wistfully, before shaking my head and moving on.

I never struggled to commit to the loved ones in my life. Or to my studies, to concrete things which I believed would make others happy, or which were helping me to achieve the greater good, which I thought would bring me happiness and success. But recovery is a different ball game. The ball was passed to me long ago in 2014, and since then I've been running with it, running but failing to fling out with my hands and cast the ball into the net to score a goal. I haven't dropped the ball and I dont think I ever will. But neither have I scored, for a long, long time. Sometimes I think I'll play on forever. Forever until I die.

Yesterday I was offered my first real job.

Not a five week thing, no. This was the real, real thing. I would be based in Shropshire and England and would live on site and work six days a week. I would be due to start in February.

I did not expect to be offered this job, by any degree. I just saw it, fantasised about it, and sent off the application without even giving it a second thought.

But then the company got back to me. I had an interview, and was offered the job.

But as soon as I put the phone down I was blinded by hot, stinging tears. I ran into the kitchen, where those two beloved doggy faces peered up at me, piercing me to the very soul with those deep brown eyes. I knelt by their baskets and sobbed and cried until there was no tears left.

Why was I crying?

Because I want that job. It is like the dream job that I always wanted. But I do not want to leave home, leave familiarity. I dont want to leave my mum and dad and my dogs. I dont want to leave Felix and my beautiful garden with the rustling eucalyptus tree.

And I guess, yes, that I am afraid.  For another reason.

Because I know that I'm not recovered.

Because I know there's a good chance I could go backwards again. Barcelona was proof of that.

More than ever this year I wanted to take some time for myself, focus on recovery, focus on myself. It was my first chance after five years to do this.This year would be the year. The year I'd smash ED for good and forever. The year I'd show the world what I was made of, and find myself, find the real Emmy. And then, said the beautiful fantasy in my head, I would be ready and able to take on the world, find the job that I loved, find love, find happiness. All as a healthy, recovered, girl. The girl who fought anorexia, and won. And not just a half recovery. Half recovery isn't recovery. Half recovery is half a life, and that's not what I want, or have spent so long fighting for.

But several things have got in the way of this beautiful ideal. The unintentional pressure placed upon me by others. The reality of the job situation in Laois, where part time jobs, especially for inexperienced people like me, have become something of a rarity. But most of all it was myself that stood as the biggest obstacle in my way. As usual I felt this desperate need to please; to prove to others that I was strong and no longer weak, that I didn't need help, that I was the girl who had "sort of" recovered.

And now I feel as if I have become lost in the desert, lost, to the point at which I haven't the faintest clue of where I'm going or how I'll get there. I want this job. But, I do not want it now. Now I want to be able to commit myself, wholly and completely, to recovery. Yet even as I write those words I know that that, too, is not completely the truth. I'm scared to commit to true recovery. Scared of what others will think, scared of what my body will be like, scared of no longer being with ED.


Strange how those two things that I want more than anything else to commit myself too, are simultaneously, what I'm so intensely afraid of.

And I know I only have a limited time to decide.

Decide whether to commit to that job or not.

Decide whether or not to commit to true recovery.

Friday, 22 September 2017

The girl who would not bleed

They won't hurt me again. I won't ever, ever let them break down my walls. I'll be guarded and careful and keep my heart wrapped up tight in swaths of stifling cloth. I typed the words furiously, fingers rapping against the keyboard, tears streaking down my face to land in messy plops upon the surface of my laptop.

I will not bleed. I won't let them. From now on it's me and noone else.

No sooner had I written the words though I knew that I did not mean them. Because truth is I'm a girl who is naturally open and honest and warm. A girl who loves intensely and deeply and craves to be loved in return. A girl who realises that she needs to let others in, needs those others to help her carry her forwards, to reassure her that she can bare that heavy, heavy cross.

And it's not them who make me bleed, anyway. Rather, it's me. I'm the one who is making myself so hurt and torn inside. It's me after all who controls my response to events; who chooses how to react to that comment, who makes a decision to take those words right to the heart.

It's me who has the power to say I will not bleed. I won't let myself, not them. And Ed. Always Ed.

For he's the one who scored gashes across my heart, broke it so deftly with his cruel, nimble fingers. And so many times. So many times that I have lost count.

But now I say. No more, Ed.

I am the girl who will not bleed.

Yet even as I write those words again I cannot help but grimace at the irony set deep within them. Of course, that's just what I am too, literally speaking. Yes. The same girl who has been told on numerous occasions that she looks "healthy" and well, and yet, the same girl who has still not had one single period. She literally will not bleed. Is it wrong of me to wish that the world would just keep its comments to itself?

But no good saying all this and writing it. No good just saying that oh, yes, I will be strong and no longer let ED cut me open. I now need to take concrete actions in my life; actions which will bring about the physical and psychological changes that together constitute what I see as true recovery.

And even as my heart lies in bloody, shattered pieces, pulsing upon the floor, I still hung on to my tattered shreds of hope.

That's what'll keep me going and which will drive me on. On and on as the thunderclouds broil thick and heavy, and the rain slashes down upon my face.

I will get through this. I'm stronger now than I ever was before.

And so, I am going to conclude this post with some real, concrete actions, to move forwards.

Because action is power. And hope, and that refusal to give up, could well be my greatest ever strength.

  • Get into the habit of checking my weight once a week again. No more, no less.
  • Learn how to deal with the much dreaded,  you look well.                                                        Ah, the agony of  that so simple little comment; three short words in a single sentence, a sentence which has the same devastating power as a massive avalanche would crashing down upon my head. It was something, those days when I was very underweight, that I wasn't of course at any point faced with, at all. Back then it was you need to gain weight, Emmy. Something that deep down I wish people would say to me now. Because I know in my heart I should be trying to gain weight. It's no good trying to convince myself I am "healthy" and well at this current weight at which I am at. People may not know it, but I know that it is the truth. The fact that I will not bleed is enough evidence for me, for that.                                                    But to learn how to deal with this comment is something of a crucial matter for me, given that my inability too in the past has nearly caused me to go completely off track, even, relapse. Late last summer I could not sit and eat a meal without hearing that lady in the library's voice reverberating through my head. Telling me that I had a chubby face. That's only one of several instances in the past in which I have been sent tottering on the edge as a result of that simple little comment. 
  • Write a list of the Cold Truths. I think this is something that we all should try to do in recovery, as it can serve as a bit of a wakeup call if you find yourself drifting. I'll share my own in my next post.
  • And I would like more than ever now to commit to some kind of therapy. Though the problem is, though - no point trying to deny it - to even endeavour to do so is in itself something which I find myself reluctant, even scared, to do.                                                                             Why?? There's a few reasons, really; some of which are totally illogical; others, maybe not so. I'll talk about this very shortly.
  • And now more than ever I need to conquer my remaining fears. I need to feel the fear and do it anyway. I'm currently reading the book by Susan Jeffers, the title of which holds a lot of resonance for me. As soon as I started to read that book the sparks began to fly off the pages. I realised everything Susan was saying was so directly relevant for me, or for anyone in recovery. Feel the fear and do it anyway. It's ok and normal to have that fear. Everyone does. But the difference is between people who succeed and don't succeed in conquering their fears is that the successful people say to themselves that they can handle it. And so. Now I repeat that same sentence over and over in my head. I can handle this. I'm the one in control. I have the power to overcome ED. 
And the girl whose heart was bleeding and torn in two will stand up, now, and despite her wounds and scars will keep on going, on and on, with the sunrise directly in front of her.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Soul Searching

So I looked at the numbers. And yes. I am, strictly speaking, underweight by a couple of kilo, going by the whole science of bmis, if you can call it that. And when I stepped upon those scales and saw what it was I experienced a range of different emotions. Surprise at first because ED had built it up so much in my mind that I had definitely gained alot since I last checked it. And then - no point in trying to deny it - relief. Relief that I hadn't gained, because since going to Spain and coming back, there has been no further progress in that regard, really - in fact in Spain I was eating less than I do when I am here at home - and the thought of having put on weight while actually eating to gain was enough to freeze my very heart with fear.

So, there was that. And I thought - stupidly thought - that seeing those numbers which I both longed to see and yet dreaded, would be enough to set myself straight with my recovery path again. Or rather, in keeping with my previous post, not set me straight but set me climbing upwards, with a fresh sense of purpose blossoming in my mind. But at the moment I feel as if I am stuck fast in the mud, as opposed to wading resolutely through it. So many different thoughts crowd thick in my head, suffocating and stifling, clogging up my brain like sludge caught in a pipe. What are you doing? Why don't you gain weight? Why are you still eating? What the f*** are you going to do next, you useless, hopeless girl..

The only thing that I can say for myself is that I am still eating. The same amount, day in day out, sometimes that tiny bit less when my resolve weakens and I want to throw in the towel. But every day I feel like falling backwards and giving up, I remind myself of what's at stake here. My bones and my body. My fertility and future life.

At least it seems I have conquered just one of my old demons. That being my former turning to restriction on the days when I feel depressed or upset, or that everything is pointless. The past few weeks, I have had a few of those. Arguments over ED with mam and dad, or over my lack of enthusiasm, so it appears, about what I want to do with my life, with my future. And then I experienced something which I can only describe as the tearing of what was, for me, a slender, beautiful hope. It was needle-thin all along, anyway - as fragile and as delicate as a paper-thin sliver of the finest crystal - but to experience it, to catch that tiniest glint of something so exquisitely, indescribably beautiful, only then to have it ruthlessly torn away from me as the sea rips away the tiny shells from the rocks, was enough to tear my own heart, right in two. That beautiful hope now lies broken upon the floor, shattered spectacularly into a million tiny shards, shards which cut me and make me bleed even as I try desperately to pick them up.

Why are they cruel? I wanted to weep in anguish. Why did X say that stuff if he didn't really mean it? Why can't Dad understand why I am like this, having lived with my habits and compulsions for over eleven years?

All I want to do right now is curl up in my little bed and sleep. Go to sleep singing that Avicci song that I love, of which a certain line of lyrics hold so much meaning for me. Wake me up when it's all over. Because right now I don't want to be awake in this fear-filled, never-ending mess.

But despite these crippling feelings I know I will go on. I will. When mam and dad had gone to sleep last night I went into the shower and turned on the water full blast. Stepped in and let the damp warmth seep all over me. Stepped in and felt the tears trickle down, as steady and as sure as the water dripping down.

And then I sang another song to myself, and by the time I step out of the bathroom and slip towards the stairs leading to sleep and oblivion, my body and my eyes are dry.

I'm all alone,
But finally,
I'm getting stronger...
I didn't know what I had to do,
I just knew I was alone.
People around me, they didn't care.
So I searched into my soul.

It might take me some soul searching before I figure out what to do and where to go from here. But I know I will. I will fight this thing or die trying. A life spent fighting for my recovery is surely better than laying down my arms now and surrendering to the demon's crushing jaws.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Straight lines

Several months have passed since I passed through the gates of Trinity, for what was the final, final time.

Several months have passed since I sat my last exam and signed off on the final chapter, the chapter of what had been, for me, an exhausting and painful journey through university.

And even since then my lifepath has been far from a dreamy stroll through a garden of summer flowers. I faced the frightening unknown of what awaited me in Spain, along with the fundamental but overwhelming decision of what path I would follow now, now that my time at Trinity was over.

Because it's true to say that I was fighting my college battle, with no particular destination or purpose in mind. I just knew I had to get through it, no matter what. I wasn't entirely sure what the light at the end of the tunnel actually would mean for me; or if, there even was, a light.

At times it felt as if there was no way out of this mess that I had created for myself. For it was me, after all, who chosen to come to Trinity. It was me who had eagerly sought out, and accepted, this course. And it was me who was now paying for my mistake, and for my rash, hasty decision.

But this year - 2017 - was one in which the path up the mountain touched upon some crucial, fundamental milestones; milestones which I never before even dreamt that I would lay eyes upon, let alone reach out to with disbelieving, trembling fingers. I got my degree at Trinity. I left the comforting surroundings of my home to work in Catalonia for five weeks, thrusting myself into the unknown with both fear and enormous bravery merging themselves within my heart. And, once again, I committed myself to that gruelling, relentlessly difficult climb: the climb up the mountain, of recovery. It was January after Christmas when I took full control over my relapse again, and since then I donned the attire of the recovery warrior, bravely approaching food and eating every day with bravery and determination and persistence.

But now it seems like I am on auto-pilot; that my progress, having reached a certain point, is just continuing on, without the slightest incline or decrease. I eat every day but my eating has become very rigid. I eat the same good amounts every day but I never once even contemplate increasing them. I do the same exercise, eat the same foods, at the same exact times. I feel like a computer programmed to do the exact same thing without the slightest alteration or adjustment.

The reason I don't change my current course of actions is, of course, the uncertainty. I don't know whether I should really try to put on a bit more weight. I don't know what my natural body realy looks like, what other people will say and think, and, of course, how I will deal with it. I don't know what I want to do with my life, what course, what job, what career, what future. And most of all I don't know if I will cope. Cope with that body, that life, that work schedule. Cope with anything.

But now I realise it's time to stop, and take a deep breath.

Auto-pilot mode has been beneficial to me, up to this very point, when all was required of me was to keep on eating the set amounts which I knew were enabling me to gain weight and restore my health. But now, it's time to readdress and rethink. To reflect on now exactly where I stand. And to put into practice all the plans and goals which I set for myself, but did not manage to achieve.

But it is, as with many things in life, the beginning of doing just that, which is the hardest part.

Take breakfast this morning for example. As I sat there at the table I thought to myself, well, Em. Are you going to do it? Eat even MORE than you usually would? And so filled with resolve I went to the bread packet and took out the very top slice, the crust - thicker than any other piece of that loaf - and put it into the toaster, pressing it firmly down with determination propelling my fingers. But then as I waited, the Voice began to murmur, again. It whispered about the profile picture that I had just uploaded to Facebook, exactly a week ago this day. You looked ok in that. your stomach was not so bloated as it is now. And you know Em what will happen if you were to eat that extra bit of bread. You know how fat and ugly it will look, and you know just as well how I'm going to give you a hard time over it.

I thought about the resultant disgust, the resultant anxiety, which I would inevitably come up against if I were to do the thing that minutes ago I had felt so resolute about. How I would spend the entire morning being preooccupied with my tummy, convinced - regardless of whether it was actually true or not - that my tummy had suddenly ballooned up more than ever, all because I ate just that one bit more of toast. (Out of all the foods I eat it's true to say that bread products make me the most bloated.) I shook my head, angrily trying to push away the doubt which was clutching to me tight. But Ed had forced open a crack in my resolve, a crack which was now widening to form a chasm, a chasm which I knew I was going to fall into. And once down there, he would have won. And won he did.

I found myself cutting up that lovely thick crust into about eight different pieces, three or two of which I put miserably to one side. I did not want to do it, but ED forced my hand.And wedged so tightly in that stifling chasm I didn't have the means to resist him.

So auto pilot Emily walks on with a heavy heart. Walks on in a steady straight line which is as flat and as featureless as the dullest, most unbroken landscape. The landscape of half recovery, I guess. I could wander and wander and wander forever here, always going along that same old line.

 Or I could go up, to go forwards. Starting right here, right now. Today. And I suppose a start would be for me to press publish on this post, now, and go and do the thing I've been avoiding now for a couple of months at least. That being to go and check the weight on my scales, and face up to the reality of whether or not I am still underweight.