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.:)

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The Last and Final Stretch... which I know is the toughest of them all.

So this was it. I had done it. I weight restored by myself, despite the fact I was at college; despite the fact that the past few months was one of the most stressful and most difficult times of my life.

And here I am now at the last and final stretch of this journey. The stretch at which I need to be stronger than I ever have been before.

Because this is the place at which I always fell back down.

This is the place where the real battle is fought; the battle in which there can only ever be one winner.

Me, or ED.

Which one of us is going to lose?

Which one of us will be destroyed?

Me - two years ago and then, two weeks ago. And I'm both the same girl that I was, but, at the same time,  different..

This is a place at which I've stood, a good many times before.

I stood here in the April of 2015, the year in which I was admitted to hospital. I remember the feelings of disgust and revulsion that flickered through me back then, the day I realised I was weight restored.

Weight restored. To me, those two words were synonymous with fear and dread and hatred. Weight restored. I didn't look in the mirror and see "healthy," or "better". I only saw what my eating disorder saw. which was, of course,  "fat".

Fat. Repulsive. Oh how much better you looked when you were skinny, when you could feel those slender bones.

It wasn't long - a few months later, at the most - I started to restrict, again.

The months passed, flickering by me like moths across candlelight,  as I sank ever deeper into the illness which had stolen my youth. Then one day, a hand reached towards me and pulled me up, up towards the surface once again. But she could not pull me the full way. I had to learn to swim again, to fight against the dark, swirling waters in which I had nearly drowned.

I fought against that ingrained belief that there was no light, that true recovery was just not possible, for me.

Slowly, ever so slowly, I inched my way up the long and lonely mountain.

But not enough had changed; not enough to keep me climbing upwards; not enough to send me toppling back down once more, as soon as I returned to college again for my final year at Trinity.

My falls were mainly caused by two common phenomena.

Those being, actually being at college - where I felt lonely, intensely stressed, and unaccepted - and my resentment of my new, healthier body. And each time I became weight restored I always did the same thing. I self-examined, I fostered hatred in my breast. I nurtured self-loathing as fiercely as a mother bird guards her nest. And every time I thought the very same thing. I hate myself. I hate my body. I am fat and repulsive and I am going to now eat less.

But this time I am determined for things to be radically, fundamentally different.

I know I cannot restrict.

But it's hard, so hard, in this diet-obsessed world in which we live.

But at least I can now say that I have two things in my favour which, at one time, I did not possess.

Those being, that I no longer despise my stronger, healthier body. Rather, I am actively working each day to accept it, to nourish it, to value it as my most treasured and most precious possession.

But there's still many so many obstacles standing in my way; obstacles which, I know, I have to overcome to be free.

My relationship with exercise probably constitutes one of the biggest of those obstacles.

My exercise compulsion-obsession is something which didn't develop as early as my eating disorder initially did. In the early days, food was the sole problem. But then, ED turned its attention to the handful of physical activities I enjoyed back then, too. These were namely walking and cycling. And it was then that what was once a beloved hobby and a pastime rapidly evolved into a compulsive addiction.

In my latest relapse-recovery, however, I conquered it  to some degree when I was regaining weight. But now, I know, that feeling of having to do a certain amount has crept slyly back in again, urging me to do more when I have already done enough. And I would be only kidding myself if I said that I don't go along with it, because that's exactly what I do do, more often than not.          

 Again, I think what makes this so, so tough, is the fact that we live in a world in which we are all encouraged and urged to do exercise, that one should exercise more and eat less, etc, etc, etc. And this makes the road all the more rocky for someone recovering from an eating disorder, whose relationship with exercise has always been far from perfect.                                                                                      

It was with some dismay that I realised that this old fear had come back, this time last week to be exact, when I was travelling home from my Granny's house in Leicester. On that particular morning I had gone for my usual wander at Gorse Hill, one which I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of. But later on, while I was travelling home, the anxiety began to kick in. It's not even exactly what you would call a particularly long journey - an hour in the car to Birmingham, an hour in the air, and then 2 and a half hours home on the air bus. But ED, needless to say, didn't warm too much to the idea of sitting down for four hours in one afternoon, with only "a few slots" of walking in between.       

The anxiety I experienced on the journey home was persistent, relentless, and excruciating. Oh, yes. That old fear is back and it's back with a bloodthirsty vengeance.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 I know that this is going to be one of the toughest legs of my journey. I know that this is probably going to be the hardest obstacle for me to overcome. Because it's so hard to ignore the exercise and diet programs which are plastered all over the internet, the telly, the magazines. It's so hard to ignore other people, to focus on myself. It's so hard to not feel I should be doing as much as possible of the one thing which I have always loved, but which has simultaneously become an obsession from which I am powerless to disentangle myself .        
It is in this one single instance that being at home has not in fact helped me, as far as exercise is concerned. My mam completes a grueling exercise program every day of every week except Sunday. When my friend came around to visit me this gone Friday, she and Mam were both discussing cardio and programs enthusiastically (my friend only just joined a gym a few weeks ago). I had hovered nearby, trying not to listen but unable to help myself. Oh God. Should  I not be doing this too? Guilt throbbed its own insistent beat in my chest. The enthusiasm in Mam's eyes made me want to cry.  I felt like running out of the room, away from those beloved voices which spoke of the thing which I longed to do, but which I knew ED wanted me to do, too. I felt confused, afraid, uncertain; pathetically and wholly vulnerable. And intensely and painfully aware of just how far I am from being completely free. 

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

From Darkness into Light..

My hands trembled as I held out the blue answer booklet. The invigilator, having not noticed my shaking fingers, took it from me with a smile, and moved on.

I sat there dazed, not quite able to comprehend the feelings that surged in my breast, crashing against one another like the white tipped waves of the ocean.

I had done it.

I was here.

My time at Trinity was finally, finally over.

And so I stepped out of the stuffy, artificially lit exam hall, stepped out from that crowded space in which the dozens upon dozens of  excited human voices intermingled and wove into one another to make one confused, violent cacophony of sound. Stepped right out of there, towards the square of yellow light which led into the outside world. 

Another world, to me. I felt as if I was making both a literal and figurative transition, from one place to another.

Into a world of sweet and beautiful freedom; a world in which my sorrows would melt away like chips of sharp ice being thawed by the delicate kiss of the spring sun. 

I was free. I had done it. I had finished my college degree.

And it did not matter that my exam hadn't gone brilliantly, and that I had ran out of time on the question involving a discussion of two of the course texts' lack of human empathy. It did not matter that, when I had entered that very same exam hall two days before to sit my first exam, it had suddenly hit me, like a stinging blow to the face, that I knew not a soul in that place. I had felt like Robert Neville at the end of the I am Legend novel, looking out at the face of the brave new world and feeling totally, utterly isolated. That was what I had felt like. I don't belong here.

But now it did not matter.

Now, I no longer cared.

For I was free. Free to be me, to forge a new and beautiful future for myself, far separated from the pain and struggles of the past. I was stepping out from the darkness of my loneliness, stepping from that crowded world - a world in which I had been surrounded by people, but had always, no matter how many faces I could see, felt so, so alone, like a lonely, plain-feathered songbird struggling to fly amongst a flock of beautiful swans.

I was leaving behind the loneliness, the sadness, the pain of unbelonging. The constant feelings of not being good enough, that my existence was worthless to everyone and everything.

I was leaving behind that world, that day.

And so I stepped into the light.

And so I ran through the streets of Dublin towards my train, my hair streaming behind like wild uncurling banner, the late afternoon sunshine casting dapples of light upon my face as I passed beneath trees laden with the sweet green foliage of May. People turned to stare at me in surprise as I ran past, their curious gazes following me as I dodged between them like a minnow between reeds.  I suppose what they saw was sort-of  young looking girl, with a full, glowing face, purple runners on her feet, a black skirt with tiny roses, a white top which left her arms and shoulders bare and exposed to the sun. 

But over the past few months, that girl became wiser.

She learned quite a few new things. Things that weren't just related to the degree she was trying so desperately to achieve.

She learned things about herself, her world. Things about life. And ultimately things about her recovery.

She learned that she did have the strength to do this.

She learned to care less about what others think, and to just be herself.

She learned that she was strong and capable. That she has what it takes to achieve her dreams and goals.

She learned to take care of herself.

She learned that she didn't have to be the thin, skinny girl, whose potential to be loved by other is wholly dependent on the severity of her illness.

She learned to be the Real, True Emmy.

She learned that she could leave the thin, scared little girl behind.

And I think it was these vital lessons which got that girl through her exams, to the light beyond. It was these lessons which filled her heart with joy as soon as she stepped into that light and felt the warmth upon her face, felt the heavy, dragging weights being  lifted from her shoulders. It was these lessons that lightened her steps, that day she ran through the streets of Dublin, towards Heuston, and home. It was these lessons which taught her that she could be free. Free to break free from the crippling fetters of loneliness, pain, self-doubt. And to render ED ever weaker.

And though she still has some way to go, she learned that she will see this battle out to the very, very end.

There can only be two possible outcomes to this fight.

I can choose to let ED destroy me...or I can choose to destroy ED, and win the pure sweet freedom that true recovery inevitably brings.

And I've learnt now that I can make the right choice.

For it is time for me to be free, in heart, body and soul.πŸ’•

Friday, 21 April 2017

If Only...

If only things had been different.

If only things had not had to change.

If only childhood would stretch out forever,

extending out towards the horizon

like a desert's endless, sweeping sands.

But things had to change and I was powerless to stop them. Childhood ended; was torn away from me, snatched away from my flailing hands, a delicate leaf borne away by a callous winter's storm.

Ahead of me loomed the darkness of adolescence.

A darkness in which a black-cloaked demon waited, cloaked in its own shadow.

If only I hadn't been so stupid, so stubborn.

If only I had chosen to listen to my loved ones, rather than that monster in my head
which was dragging me down into its embrace, consuming both my body and mind.

Crushing me to pieces, spitting out only the bits which weren't even really me at all -

A hurting, angry, bitter girl, who snapped at everyone and refused to let anyone in.

If only I had listened.

If only I had been stronger.

If only I had chosen to fight back, before it was too late.

But the days turned to months; the months, to years.

My bones became weak and brittle,
crumbling like flaking winter leaves.
My body became weaker. Friends stopped caring, began to slip quietly away.

I was alone. Alone, with nothing, but a broken body and a broken heart.

I forgot how to really laugh, how to really smile.

I forgot how it felt to feel alive.

My happiness, shrivelled up,

like a tender flowerbud exposed to a harsh, cruel sun.

And I look back now and see a countless number of if onlys.

At times like this, it's hard to want to keep on going forwards, searching for that longed for light.

Not knowing whether there is a light, or if there is any point in searching for it.

But try I must and keep trying, we will.

I don't want there to be any more if onlys.

I can only hold on to what is left to me, now. Hold what I love close to my breast, and take those tentative steps forward.πŸ’™

Monday, 10 April 2017

Blind Faith

Thursday afternoon, 2pm, saw the enactment of a isolated personal drama in the sitting room of just  one of Derryguile's well-dispersed houses.

The crisis involved only one hapless subject. That being me, needless to say. Like some sort of bizarre scene in a soap drama, music played gaily in the background as I crept into Mam's room and took the scales out from under the bed. Shoot me down, but I won't fall. I am Titanium. Mam, listening to Sia in the front lounge. After lunch, she had left me sitting rigidly in my little chair in the conservatory, surrounded by towering white mountains of page upon page of study notes scrawled in my messy, untidy hand.

I had felt a sharp jolt of cold, hard guilt as the ice-cold steel had met my probing, nervousfingers. You shouldnt be doing this, a little voice had chided at the very back of my mind.

But stronger than that there was another voice, urging me on. Oh yes, you do. You need to see how f -

No, not fat. I answered, trying to sound firm, resolute. Not fat, no. Im gaining weight, and I need to -

No,  no, no. 

It was there again, stronger than ever.

you're just becoming fat. There's no point trying to deny it...

No! No, I am not! I am not. Leave me alone. Leave - me - ALONE!!

Yes, yes, yes!! you are, just look! Look at your stomach and you'll see the proof...!

A sound escaped from my throat: half snarl, half sob. Stumbling like a blind man, I fled from the room, the scales tucked under my arm.

I placed it upon the wooden boards of the sitting room and sat back on my heels, staring at it for a few moments. Such an ugly, unsightly thing, these scales. I hated them. I hated them with a bitter, throat-clenching, tangible type of loathing: one which seemed so palpable that it was as if I were able to clutch that hatred with my very bare hands.  They represented, to me, an abhorrent instrument of torture. A bloody rack upon which a victim would be placed, to be torn and broken and wracked with indescribable agony.

Yes. That's how I feel every time I step on that horrible, horrible square of blue steel.

This was my torture; and ED, of course, was the torturer who would turn the bloody cogs into motion.

But I knew that I was going to do it. I knew what I was going to feel when I stepped on it; knew, all too well, the sensations that would ripple through me as I watched those numbers flash upon the screen. I knew I was going to be  plagued by screaming, relentless tormenting.

I place one foot forwards as if I was stepping right into a pit of vipers. Reluctantly, the rest of my body follows. I don't want to look at the digits appearing between my toes. More than anything, I want to walk away right now. To step off that hateful implement and bury myself in those papery hills of notes. Even driving myself to irritable distraction trying to memories points about Beowulf's androgynous heroism was more preferable, to this.

But I knew, sadly, that to flee to those hills would afford no escape for me. No escape from the Voice, ever whispering in my head.

What do you weigh? Oh, I bet you weigh four times the amount that you did the last time. Just look at yourself in the mirror, and you can;t deny the proof...

I looked. And as soon as I did I wanted to cry. Instantly my head was the scene of the violent, ear-shattering explosions as the Voice let rip to its anger.

What!! Oh my God!! That makes you a bmi of .....!!

No, no!! That can't be right!!It couldn't have gone up that much since the last time..!

It's 3 kg more than the last time I got weighed at Trinity...!!

Oh god, oh god!! That means I've gained...gained...gained at the rate that I did when I was an inpatient...

On and off, on and off I hop like a flustered bird, stepping on, stepping back down again; all the while peering down to that cruel numerical screen between my agitated, jerking toes; my emotions escalating between red hot anger and desperation, to fear, ice-cold fear, to utter, crushing misery. Ive gained weight, ive gained weight, and its much, much more than I had thought it would be...oh, no, god, please..calm this storm inside my head, please. I cant do this, I cant do this....

When Mam came in about half an hour later, I was still there, in the exact same place, my body trembling like a leaf in a gale, my face streaked with hot, bitter tears.

Since that day, I have not been near the scales. Mam talked to me, calmed me down, and quietly suggested that we "leave the weighing to your nurses at Trinity".

Different scales, different weights - that's what she and others have reassured me; and this is what I am now making myself believe. But that moment has remained with me, lying on the very edge of my memory like scummy residue upon the surface of a pond.

Testifying the extent to which I am still terrified of gaining weight. I am doing it; that much I do know: but the fear remains as immense and palpable as it did, all those years ago, when I first embarked upon my journey to recovery.

So many different, separate fears which branch off this one; all of which are intrinsically linked to it; all of which I am as helpless to escape from as an entrapped fly from the spider's web.

What will happen when I am weight restored? What if I just keep on gaining?

Will I be able to pass my exams? Having prioritised, for the past few months...not college, but recovery?

How do I eat when I'm weight restored? Do I have to cut out stuff? Can I eat the same? What do I have to change?

Will the weight ever distribute? Or will I just have this...this..stomach...forever?

How long, how lonely, this journey of recovery. Sometimes I feel immobilized with the fear; the uncertainty, of just what lies ahead.

 It's like stumbling in the darkness of a seemingly endless, winding tunnel. Not knowing how, or when it will end. Not knowing at where, once you have reached that much longed for, sought for opening, just where will be that place which you have been searching so hard for.

How? How to get through this? How could we possibly take such a terrifying leap; when our eyes cannot see, just where this path may lead?

It's blind faith.

Learning to trust, and believe, in the process of recovery. To have faith in everything that recovery stands for, and to take on those fears with that fortitude beating in your heart.

In recovery, you have to have that blind faith. You have to do the thing which frightens you the most; choose to commit yourself to a process which will fundamentally undercut the ED-implanted beliefs about your identity and your body. A process which will change you, both physically and mentally. A process which necessitates you to draw every day upon every single ounce of your courage, determination, and strength.

And the most terrifying thing about  recovery is that none of us can possibly tell just where this journey will take us; or how and when it will end. So many unanswered questions; so many whats and what ifs.

My thoughts and prayers are with each and every one of you now. I reach out to you and hope that you will derive some strength from these words.

Have faith. Have faith in recovery; have faith, despite all those fears and endless spinning questions. Have faith, no matter what lies the eating disorder may throw at you. Have faith that this road - this hard, long, painful road - is going to take you to a place where storms will no longer rage.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Trying to Find the Real Me...

The bog resembled a reedy, gorse strewn paddy field. Water had collected in large puddles upon the ground; some of which had joined together to resemble miniature lakes and riverlets. Water dripped from the saturated leaves of the trees, drops of dewy moisture glistening like carelessly scattered diamonds upon the ground. Every step I took left a deep, malformed imprint upon the marshy soil; soil which now resembled liquid tar as sodden black peat was turned to runny mud.

Daisy, however, was as enthusiastic and exuberant as ever. If anything, the recent wet spell had served to raise rather than dampen her enthusiasm for our little morning walk. As soon as we left the road onto the mud track, she began to prance and buck like a horse that has been kept in over winter, her long pink tongue flapping out of her mouth like a banner. I reached down and clipped off her lead, and she was off, ears and tail streaming behind her, shooting across the field like an arrow from a bow.

I watched her for a while as I always do, the corners of my mouth involuntarily curling into a smile. But then my smile faded as I glanced down at my stomach, bloated, as usual, from the enormous breakfast I had just had. Benny, seeing my hands fluttering from my sides to rest upon my belly, looked up at me expectantly, thinking he was going to get a treat. But I was too preoccupied to notice. Despondent and discouraged, I walked on, Benny tagging behind me, his tail now hanging limp.

I walked along in a sort of daze, the Voice increasing in volume in my head: an insistent, relentless, scornful voice of malice. Oh look at you, oh look at you! Recovery really is great, isnt it?

I turned sharply as I heard a splashing noise behind me, before letting rip a yelp of exasperation. It was Daisy, and she was as muddy as if she had decided to taken a mudbath. Flecks of mud flew off her as she shook, showering me and Benny with dirty brown droplets of peaty, dark soil.

"Daisy!" I yelled, so loudly that a thrush took flight from the adjacent hawthorn hedge. Daisy's tail dropped instantly, and she cowered on the ground in a gesture of penitent submission.

My anger melted away like warmed ice, replaced instantly by a burning sense of shame and selfhatred. I mean what do you expect, you bitch? She's just a young dog!!!

Tears sprang into my eyes and coursed down my  cheeks. I kneeled in the mud and hugged both of my dogs tightly. Im sorry, I whispered into their soft, sodden fur. I'm sorry, I'm sorry. This isn't me, you know it isn't. Please don't think that was the real me.

Its times like that when I realise just how much that Voice has changed me.

It's not only the irritableness; the speed at which I can snap, suddenly and sharply, at the silliest or most insignificant of provocations. It's also the jealousy, the bitterness. The sense of terrible, deeply rooted wretchedness.

This hit me today when I saw mam preparing afternoon snacksfor Daddy and my brother. I had frozen where I was standing to stare, heat rising into my cheeks, turning them to flaming spots of crimson. My own snack was sitting on the counter, awaiting to be toasted and buttered. Prepared in that painful, agonising manner with which I always prepare my own food. Butter and peanut butter would be applied with tediously meticulous carefulness. The numbers of the teaspoons I was taking from the jar or the tub would be resounding through my head, repeating themselves over and over and over.

That's not fair. A lump wedged itself within my throat. That's not fair. Why doesn't she offer to do me anything? Does she not know how easier it would be for me if someone else prepared this for once?

I turned away, not wanting her to see the pain in my eyes. fleeing to the conservatory, I turned my face to the garden, trying to find solace in the dainty, paper thin leaves of the blossom tree.

Jealousy. I...I hate myself, for it, so, so much. And I never, at one time, would have thought that I was capable of feeling like that. But I know, that I am. That incident today was only one drop in the ocean. I know that there's been many, many more.

Surely that jealous, irritable, bitter girl who I have become is not the real me.

The Real someone else. That's what I want to believe.

The Real Me was a happy girl. The Real Me was a girl who always had a smile upon her face and always greeted the morning with joy and gratefulness in her heart. The Real Me didnt care about how many potatoes she had on her plate, or how many minutes she would walk with her family for their afternoon stroll in the woodlands. The Real Me was not surly and irritable over stupid, trivial things that really aren't worth even getting upset about.

The Real Me would have respected her body.

The Real Me would have done alot of things differently, to that obsessive, short-tempered, depressed girl I have become.


There is still time to find her.

The Real Emmy, the Real Me. A girl who is happy and healthy, inside and out.
The last time I couldn't accept it
But this time I have to fight harder.
This is where the hardest part of battle 
is going to begin ...

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Meal Plan Musings!!! ;) xxx

And so finally here is my meal plan post... I am so sorry for the lateness in this; unfortunately, with college as it is, I only have time to blog once a week at the moment😑

I wanted to share with you a few things in this post. Firstly, my new meal plan with the increases I added in this week. My weight's been going ok, but I decided to increase the plan again for a number of reasons..

  1. I know that the more I eat the better AND I actually feel ready now to add these increases. I wouldn't say my body has fully adapted, yet - I still struggle alot with bloating and fullness - but it's not unbearable and I feel mentally strong enough to increase my intake once more.
  2. I want to give my body, health, and metabolism 101 % chance of repairing itself. And in order to do this I think an increased amount of calories is going to contribute significantly to this process.
  3. Being at college, I am still moving around a good bit; so accordingly it would be good to get in some extra calories in order to compensate for this.
One of my readers asked for some advice re meal plans. Having been recovering alone for a couple of years now since leaving Pat's, I could really relate to my reader's situation - it's can be really overwhelming when you are on your own and trying to devise your own meal plan; even more overwhelming, of course, to have to accept that, when recovering from anorexia, it is both normal and necessary to have to eat much more than you might be comfortable with. 

So I really hope that this post helps anyone who might be about to embark upon that journey; who has decided to commit to this difficult task. But please believe me when I say it will be worth it. But it has to be you who wants to do this. You have to want to follow this through for yourself. Otherwise you are setting yourself up for a fall.

I learnt this the hard way. It's true. The past few years, since I started to recover...there was no wanting on my part. I didn't want it for myself and spent most of my time thinking how pointless it all was.

Small wonder then why it was never long why formerly blade-sharp determination very quickly became blunted, losing its edge and keeness. Small wonder then that the motivation which would at first sing in my blood very swiftly broke apart in my veins.

It's only now that my mindset has changed. It's only now that I have felt the first tiny, tiny, shadow-thin fragments; fragments of what I recognise now is that wanting to do it for myself.

And so every day I fight my unseen battle. Everytime I glance downwards and feel my throat tighten as I look upon my swollen, bloated stomach. Everytime I pour my milk into the measuring jug; every time I spread my bread and toast, everytime I eat that snack, even though eating might at the time be the last thing in the whole world that I feel like doing. Everytime I do these things, and more. I am constantly, constantly reiterating that fundamental truth in my head. Letting my own voice grow stronger, overriding and superseding that malicious sneering monotone which has oppressed me for so so long.

I have to stick to my meal plan because...

If I do not my oseteoporosis will only get worse..
My metabolism will be damaged and messed up..
I will never get my periods back..
I will be giving into my anorexia, an action which will make it all too easy for the ED voice to gain full control of me again, and get me back to where I started.

But anyway let's go onto the more practical stuff about meal plans.

just a small sampling of some of my top favourite ever foods..mammy's out of this world banana and custard with MILKA OREO 😍), Lizzy's specialty hot choc and my own roasted almonds still warm from the oven....πŸ’š

Making your own meal plan: the golden rules!!😊

  • Adhere to the basic structure for ED recovery meal plans: three meals, three snacks, every day, no exceptions.
  • The aim is for you eventually to be eating about 2500-3000 calories a day as a minimum (but see the third point below). It's very important to do this because it allows the metabolism to recover and also, bearing in mind all the damage restriction wreaks upon the body, it gives your body the vital energy it needs to repair and heal itself, too.
  • I did say this in a comment but it's ever so important so I thought I had best mention it again here!! That being..if you have been restricting severely and have been eating a very low calorie amount for a long time, then you must NOT start eating the recommended calorie amount in anorexia recovery straightaway. This can cause refeeding syndrome, which can be potentially very dangerous. Instead start off with a slightly lower amount (say, 1500) and then gradually start adding more and more in until you are eating the full amount every day.
  • Don't be afraid to eat MORE than the meal plan. If you feel hungry - whether that be physical or emotional hunger - just don't overthink it, just sit down and EAT. It doesn't matter if it's more than what's written on the piece of paper!! Remember, the more the better, ALWAYS. Bear in mind that in an inpatient setting, the patient essentially has to sit around all day and still eat 2500-3000 calories..and even then the weight gain process isn't exactly what you would call rapid. So imagine how much energy your body needs if you, like me, are recovering at home and still going pottering around the house, doing chores, going to college etc. So yes. Basically - eat. Eat as much as you can, as frequently as you can manage. Some people eat 5000 cals a day in ED recovery and that is OKAY. So no matter what the voice throws at you, KNOW you are doing the right thing. That little bit extra will just make you stronger. Stronger bones, stronger heart, stronger skin and limbs. A healthy, strong body: the most precious and valuable possession you will ever have.

And also just in case anyone wanted some Snack ideas...

- Sandwiches!! Yes. They ARE such good snacks..more than good!!. My favourite has to be toasted cheese and tomato...mmmmm <3 Mix it up by using different fillings, different bread types. Spelt, wholemeal, soda bread, and seeded multigrain are all personal favourites of mine. Fillings basically can be anything you want.There's no limit to what you can stick between those slices of bread!!
- Bagels..don't get me started about bagels..I love them. But I'm afraid Im kind of unorthodox in that I have them with peanut butter. And lots of spread and a good handful of seeds to sprinkle all over them.
- Crumpets. Oh. My. GOD I cannot get enough of those yummy, spongy, yeast-risen treats. Spread with loads of butterly and a great big spolodge of peanut butter....ohhh im in heaven!! 😍
- Teacakes, hot cross buns, scones and English muffins, spread with butter and jam.
- Your favourite chocolate bar. Homemade cookies or granola bars. Make your own!! It's fun and can be really motivating - the more you eat the more you get to bake ;)
- Nuts. But make sure to have the correct amount...a GOOD handful, about 30 g (and that's a minimum!!
- Yoghurt - natural or flavoured; add stuff to it - berries, nuts, seeds, cereal; whatever you fancy!!
- A boiled egg with a sprinkling of salt and pepper ;)
- Slices of cheese on crackers (Tuc have to be the best ;) !! )
-Ice cream....go and get yourself your favourite flavour and have a good bowl with some berries or chocolate shavings..mmm..πŸ’š
- Fruit..BUT I don't really think fruit counts as a snack by itself - try to have something with it 😊
- Cereal (with or without milk...though personally i dont think you can beat cereal and hot milk...sorry i know to some that might sounds disgusting BUT I absolutely adore hot milk poured over cornflakes or weetabix 😍

But in all honesty..? ANYTHING can count as a snack, really. Like my morning snacks are meals in themselves in a way. Like this morning, I got up, had breakfast by myself at 7 while mam and dad were still in the land of Nod!! And then at 10 they had their breakfast and I had my, haha, snack if you want to call it that...we all had boiled eggs and soldiers, which for them was breakfast, but for me was basically brekkie number 2. And I actually love eating like that now!!!πŸ’ͺ

I'm not really one for asserting that there is a certain kind of snack that you should go for, that some are better than others, blah blah blah. But if you are struggling to decide (and I can really relate to you as ED indecisiveness is something I STILL really struggle with... :( ) then I would say. a.) Go with your gut feeling (excuse the pun). Deep down, I think you will know what it is you REALLY want. and b.) Mix it up. For me for example, I wouldn't tend to have chocolate as my snack, as I always have  a bar's worth of choc on my custard and banaan after dinner, hence I don't really feel like having it at snack time. Instead, as you can see from my meal plan, my snacks consist more of carbs and proteins with a milk-based thing alongside. and c.) perhaps take into account the nutrients your body might be deficient in: if, say, you restricted a certain food group for a long time. For me, this was protein foods - something which I regret greatly now, might I add, as I'm sure that was a factor in my developing serious osteoporosis - so hence, as you can see from my own meal plan, I try to add in some form of protein into each of my snack times.

And so here is my own meal plan!! Now I haven't added in the calorie amounts, as I don't want to trigger anyone with all those numbers - and to be honest, I'm genuinely not too fussed about the whole calorie counting thing. It's one thing that I never really have had any issues with. I couldn't honestly tell you how many calories are in 30 g of cheese without looking at the packet...and that's the way I intend it to remain. Afew weeks ago, though, I actually forced myself to carry out the altogether tedious task of sitting down and working out for myself how much my meal plan actually amounted to. Solely for the purpose of just making sure I was eating to the minimums.

Now I know that my meal plan will definitely not be for everyone and I don't want anyone to think that this is the "ideal plan" (whatever that is). But this is what I love to eat and what I think if working for me. It's loosely based on my old inpatient meal plan with my own little adjustments..the most obvious probably being that I don't take energy drinks anymore..don't get me wrong, Fortisip are great and if you like them they can be a great addition to the plan. It's just for me I was never that keen on them - they bring me right back to my inpatient days - and I can't really afford them either. But anyway...I don't think milky hot choc is a bad substitute at all 😍

A. Breakfast: 7.00 – 8.00.

1. Approx 125 ml milk + cereal (2 weetabix/2 shredded wheat/bitesize shredded wheat/shereddies/malt wheats/wheat flakes/muesli/granola/corn flakes/ready-brek/porridge etc etc etc.

2. Banana/melon/strawberries/blueberries.

3. 2 tbsp or more of peanut/cashew/almond butter.

4. X 2 wholemeal, seeded ormultigrain toast/soda bread/oat bread/spelt bread/multigrain bagel + spread ;

5. 30 g cheese/ 50g smoked salmon/boiled egg. Sometimes I stick the cheese in the toast and have that yummy toasted sandwich I was blahhing on about above.

B. Morning Snack(s ;) ): 9.00 – 12.30.

1. Soft or hard-boiled egg/30 g cheese/40 g tuna mayo/50 g smoked salmon/30 g hummus/poached egg/small cheese and onion or spinach omelette/scrambled eggs

2. ½ multigrain bagel/1 slice wholemeal, seeded or multigrain toast/soda bread/oat bread/spelt bread + spread;

3. Handful sunflower/pumpkin seeds

4. Milky hot choc/Miller Rice/Rice pudding/ hot milk with cereal

5. 30-40 g mixed nuts ;)

C. Lunch: 13.00-14.00.

Stuffed tomato, mushroom or pepper with 60 g tuna mayo/egg mayo mix/cheese + salad + dressing + cold potatoes, couscous, or rice

Or Soup (butternut/chicken and veg/tomato + cannellini bean/red lentil etc etc etc.) + salad and protein/roll/bread ;

Or Omelette + salad/vegetables ;

Or Frittata + salad/vegetables ;

Or Tuna mayo/egg mayo/ chicken salad with couscous/cold potatoes

Or Baked potato + baked beans/tuna mayo/cheese + salad

Or Pitta bread/Wrap + fillings

Or Boiled/poached eggs + salad/toast or both

Or Baked beans+ salad/toast or both

Or couscous/rice with chicken/cheese + salad

D. Afternoon Snack: 16.15-17.45.

1. Milky hot choc/miller rice/rice pudding/hot milk with cereals

2. Crumpet, spread + 1 tbsp peanut butter/scone + spread

     E.   Dinner 
  1. Main course - varies depending on waht I/mam cook but its usually the basic protein + crabs + veggies.  
  2. And then, of course...the most heavenly desset on EARTH (in my opinion!! ;) ) : a big banana, lashings of custard, and tonnes of divine chocolate, all melting and molten on top....😍

    F. Bedtime

    Milky hot choc πŸ’›

I really hope that this has been of some help to anyone who is struggling...please do comment below if you have any other questions or require further advice πŸ’š


Sunday, 19 March 2017

Leaving behind the scared little girl...

Mam was cleaning in the kitchen, her strong, brown hands scrubbing vigorously at the stains upon the smooth paneled cupboards. I approached tentatively, my hands curling awkwardly at my sides, feet dragging reluctantly upon the tiles. my hope, flickering like a weak candle flame in a draughty, cold church. 

Seeing me, she stopped, glancing at me enquiringly. "What's the matter, Em?" she said.

My heart leaped into my throat; like a lithe young rabbit jumping towards the stars. The longed for, yet intensely dreaded words. I wanted to pour out everything then - but the moment flitted away from me, flecks of dust being blown away by the wind, passing through my groping fingers. And besides. I had - a question, not a full blown account of how much I yearned for her help, her support in what I was doing.

"I wanted to ask you a favour, Mam," I said. She smiled, straightened, flicked the dishcloth she was holding into the sink.I suppressed the urge to fling my arms around her; to release all of the aching troubles of my heart.

No, Em.

Get to the point.

"I was wondering mam," i began, my voice barely above a whisper. "I wrote myself a new meal plan amounting to about 3500-4000 cals. I was wondering if...if you could look at it for me..?"  My voice trailed off at the end; I had lowered my gaze to the floor as I spoke. But at the final few words I snapped my head up again. I had to see  and witness the expression on her face.

Something flickered across her eyes like the shadow of a bat flitting across the bright surface of the moon. I searched those beloved, dark green eyes desperately, with the fitful, desperate hope of the last survivor clinging to the wave-washed rocks.

"Ok, Em," she said, reluctantly, wearily. My heart felt like it had been cleft in two by a butcher's cleaver. I quickly turned away from her, my own eyes filling with a rush of salty tears. Pathetic, I know: but I had so badly, so intensely longer to hear, to see, that ready willingness to help me, which she had so readily exhibited in a former time, a former place. That being, of course, in the days of my hospital admission; when everything had been so centred on little Emmy's recovery.

But things, this time, are very, very different.

As I turned and went back up the stairs, painful, fleeting images began to dance across my mind's eye. Images of that bitter, bitter time: but embedded in the thick soil of that bitterness there lay a sweetness which now I longed for more than anything in the whole wide world.

That being the open support, and encouragement, of my parents, who at the time  had constantly and consistently advocated every single aspect of my recovery. Mam had sat with me through my most difficult meals and had held my hand everytime I would break down in tears over my bloated, distended stomach. Daddy would often ask me as to how I was coping with the meal plan, and offer gentle words of encouragement whenever we sat together and ate our spreaded scones together at half past 4. They were constantly checking in on me, asking me how I was doing. Every little goal I met, every single step of progress I took: each and every one of them, they would acknowledge with a hug or a smile,

But now all of that is gone.

Now...things are different. Mam and Dad aren't involved anymore. Now it is just me. Me, and a flimsy piece of paper upon which is inscirbed the meal plan that I wrote up for myself. Me and my broken spirit and my cracked heart.

And I know - I know, with every piece of soul - that I am the one who is to blame.

Because I know that they are beginning to give up. All those countless tears and countless promises, that this time, it will be different, Mam. I wont slip up again, I promise. All those countless ruined meals and failed attemots at "true" recovery. Is it any wonder that they have given up on this? Is it any wonder that - whenever I ask for thier direct support - they appear detached, disinterested, distant? Is it any wonder that they think, here we go, again. Emmy says she's going to recover.

I know that Mam and Dad think that this place at which I am now at - this semi-recovered state at which the sufferer is not "severely", dangerously sick, but yet, still sick -is the furthest I am ever going to reach in my recovery. I know this. I see it in their eyes and in their faces. I read it in Mam's face when I asked her that question after breakfast today. I hear it in Daddy's voice when he tells me, in the weary, resigned voice of the defeated soldier, to stop picking at my food and start eating like a "normal person". I sense it in that uncomfortable, loud silence that fills the space between us every time I try to express how much I am trying, or to make them aware of the battle I am continuing to fight, every hour of every day.

Mam and Dad have laid down their weapons.

They think the battle is over; won, by ED.

But this is where I have to prove them wrong.

This is where I have to show them that the Emmy they knew and loved was not destroyed, forever.

I have to prove to them that their little girl is not lost. Well no; let me rephrase that sentence. That their daughter is not lost. Because the truth is I am no longer a little girl. I am a young woman with an eating disorder, who still has, in some ways, the body of a girl. A young woman who has decided to take this fight into her own hands. Because she realises that she no longer can depend on her parents to manage her recovery for her. It's her who has to do the doing. It's her who has to be the strong one, now. For all the love that I bear for them, and always, always will. For all that they ever did for me, and continue to, every day.

Because no girl has known as much love as I have had, growing up here in the sweet leafy surroundings of my beautiful childhood home. And I know that my parents care about me. And that nothing in the world will make them happier..if I choose to recover.

And so I fight on. I look at my meal plan and feel a tiny surge of pride as I think to myself, well done, Emmy. Because I am sticking to it. I am doing it. I am getting stronger by the day. This second relapse has proven to me I am my own source of my greatest ever strength. I am doing it alone but I know that I am not alone. I know there are people in this world rooting for me. Willing me to move on; and leave that sick, frightened, thin little girl behind.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

From the little seed grew a strong, beautiful flower...

And from such small, tiny steps... a long, incredible journey is made. πŸ’–

My journey began some time ago. But I remember it as if it were yesterday. I remember the tears that I cried as Mam looked at me, the pain and denial in her own dark green eyes striking daggers of steel into my own weary, bleeding heart.

I remember the sense of self-hatred, the shame. The guilt that felt like a lead weight in my chest; threatening to pull me into the unfathomable abyss of despair. The recognition which we both felt, then. That I had anorexia.

But yet, most of all, I remember the warmth of my mother's arms as she enveloped me in a hug, holding me like she would have cradled me as a baby, when I was so young and innocent and untainted by the world's cruel pressures: when I knew nothing - and cared for nothing more - but the palpability of that love which is a mother's love for her child. The scent of Nivea lotion, wafting gently off her skin; entering my nostrils to soothe my thrashing heart. The words that she whispered to me, gently and softly as if I were no more than a baby girl still. It's ok, Emmy. We are going to get through this. After 8 long years, we finally knew it all. That I had anorexia, and had been actively starving myself, on and off, ever since that fatal first day at secondary school, at the tender age of twelve years.

And that's when my journey began. 

Upon that day a tiny seed was planted  inside me. A tiny, minute, miniscule seed: so small and weak and non-descript; so easily, blown away by the wind. But then that seed took root and started to grow. Now pulsing and vibrant, it pushed its tender shoots toward the weak sunlight above.

So many times though the growth of that brave seed was hampered, impeded, damaged. There were storms which bore rain, soaking the tiny seed's weak, newly developing tendrils, forcing them to curl backwards and turn back into the soil. There were weeds which wrapped themselves around the budding stem, pinning it down to the ground with their cruel, unyielding tentacles. There was cold and ice and jail, beating down upon that tiny, vulnerable shoot.

But yet, despite all the odds...that seed did not stop growing.

Recovery is just like that. There will be countless storms; countless setbacks. But know now - as I do - that you are capable of anything. That there is no limit to your strength, your courage, your journey.

I am now approximately 1.2 kg off the "minimum" healthy weight. (But as I said before I do not want this to be my target at which I feel as if I should make myself "stop" at.) As I've mentioned before, this relapse wasn't as severe as that which I fell into last year - I lost about 3 kg, at the most - but I'm not going to write it off as not being a relapse, because I know myself well enough to know that, before I checked myself short - I was falling back into some very, very bad habits and behaviours; and had thoroughly slipped into the mindset of oh, the little, the better. So no: it was a relapse. But I - through the help and support of my readers, my Mam, my Gran and a couple of my dearest and closest friends - managed to get myself firmly back on the right track. Leaving up the mountain, and not back down. And now I feel as if I am finally, finally climbing, rather than just inching my way slowly along the rocks and crevices. No. This time I can be the stronger one. Like the mountain lion which prowls the stony mountain path. Though the way is steep and drop beneath her immense, she is not afraid to fall. As she believes now in her own strength; her perseverance. And with courage in her heart she leaps and scrambles her way up the slope.

Now today I made a plan. A plan to further help me to get to the summit of this mountain. As I mentioned above I'm..well, almost there, sort of, if you are judging recovery from a purely physical perspective. Point is though that I'm not. I want to do this thing right this time. As I outlined before in several blog posts...throughout my weight gain, I found it too hard, too scary to make a concrete reduction of my exercise. Everytime I attempted to reduce it, I panicked. The anxiety hit me like a punch in the face; I found myself tottering, and, in the rush and fear of the moment, I gave in. So much pleasure, but yet, so much sadness and bitterness and frustration. Because I WANTED to do the weight gain this time the proper way. As in, eat 3000 + cals, and consciously reduce my walking/bike rides. The eating I have been managing, sort of: I don't calorie count, but I've been sticking to the meal plan which I was on when in hospital, with my own little alterations, of course ;) . And just over the past couple of days I upped it a little more by adding in another toast at breakfast (yay!! 😊) and some extra protein at lunch or breakfast.

But the exercise..ahh, that remained a stumbling block. But today I sat down here at my kitchen table, and instead of spending an hour doing college work, I said screw that for today I'm going to fix my mind on something which is going to benefit my health and my future. What did I do? Well, I made a plan, of sorts: a little day plan for a typical day at home/college (even though college is nearly over...four more weeks of lectures, and then study weeks and exams....)of how I am going to allot my time in order to successfully manipulate ED and reduce my exercise, for now. This is something I've been meaning to do for some time now, but which I kept on putting off - but no, no longer. And yeah, I know I don't have that much left to gain, technically. But. Who said the minimum is my target? ED? Well, since when was that fecker ever right about anything??

So no. I'm going to keep on going. I'll post my "plan" in my next post, and also my meal plan with all the increases (I hope that doesn't make it too boring for everyone 😞) and if anyone has any comments or feedback or suggestions about either I would be so, so grateful πŸ’“. Now. Before I go. I just wanted to extend my thanks to a number of people who inspired me to write this post. To my two dear friends who have helped me so, so much with their advice and support over the past few weeks (I hope they know who they are πŸ’š) and also all of YOU - you, my readers. Your comments and helpful advice means so, so much to me. I want to thank you with every piece of my heart. It's because of you all that I have made it this far in my journey. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And now I am going to go outside with Benny and Daisy, my camera in one hand. Not for a powerwalk, no: not for now. A gentle 30 minute stroll in the golden sunlight of the sweet new morning.

For today I feel truly happy to be alive...
And that I allowed my seed to grow, that day.
Grow, to become a flower...πŸ’š

One of the March daffodils growing in my garden. <3 xxx

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

This is what I am fighting for... xxx

And so I went back, back to Trinity, back to the place where I never felt as if I belonged, or was accepted. Late September, with golden crisp leaves falling all around me, dread clenching my heart in its ice-cold, bloodless grip. A sense of fear and uncertainty settling upon my shoulders like a wintry fog which drenches every pore of the skin.

 The months that followed felt like an eternity; an eternity of just drifting along upon the rough, turbulent currents of an endless, swirling ocean. I put myself through the necessary motions so that I just about managed to keep myself afloat - each day, I ate something; each day, I put off the ever-present suicide thoughts, clinging desperately to the flimsy lifeline flung out to me by the tiny, minute bit of hope that I had left: a hope that whispered stop, no, things wil get better...

Please, God, let them get better....

 And the days dragged on, and though I did not drown I felt like I was dying inside. An empty shell,plucked from the rocks, cast reeling into the raging, surging tide. That's what it felt like; that's what I was. Wave after wave of loneliness and depression, engulfing me.

But now. Now I have pulsed to the surface: a vibrant, beating heartbeat, pulsating with strength and life and hope.

Now I am like the long-winged seabird which was pulled into the murky brown depths of this hostile, bitter sea .Her feathers became saturated, weighed down with the water and with sheer, crippling fatigue and wretchedness. but then, suddenly, she found her strength again and propels herself towards the light glowing above.

And I look to the sky now and see that beautiful star, my star. The place where I want to be. The place where I will be able to say...

I made it. Here I am. 

Here, recovered.

The Light in my Sky...πŸ’—xxx

But I know, all too well, just how easy it is to lose sight of that diamond-bright star. To look up to the sky and only see the clouds; the jagged lightning. To only see the distance that lies between you and there, and then, on perceiving that distance, to allow yourself to be engulfed by crushing waves of despair and self-doubt.

So far away...I'll never, ever get there...

That's how I felt, too, so many times. I would see the star, and my heart would surge with hope. But then, merely a few days later, I was down again, slipping back into old routines, old habits that I had vowed to forever dispense with. And I lost sight of the light.

Rise and fall, rise and fall, like the dipping waves of the sea.

I want to keep that star in sight. Something to guide me through the tough times; when the seas all around me get too choppy and rough. And then, even when the clouds do roll in, reaching with their thick, smoky fingers to blot out and obscure my star. I will look bravely toward that sky, and whisper to myself something which I realise now is the most fundamental truth.

No matter how thick the clouds and violent the storm; no matter how rough and grey may be the raging winter sea....

We have to always remember that recovery is within our reach. And that we can and will get there...if we only just believe in ourselves.πŸ’“

I am fighting for...

  • For my mam and my sister and my gran and all my dear friends, who have always been there for me, who have always believed in me, who always helped me to get back up when I fell to the ground and thought that I could not get back up again. I could never have made it to where I am today, without them. πŸ’—

me and mam, not long after my hospital discharge...2 years ago now..
  • For my readers, who through their heartfelt support and encouragement gave me the strength to push on along the difficult long road, and who made me realise that I am never truly alone.
  • And, of course, for myself. For my freedom, for my future, for my life.  
I need to recover, because...
  • To remain where I am is to remain trapped in a living hell.
  • If I do not recover, my bones will further deteriorate.
  • To remain underweight will mean that my oestrogen levels will never recover. In my whole entire life, I have only ever had one lone, single period. Without oestrogen I don't stand a chance of improving my osteoporosis or having children.
  • I have spent half of my life being ill. ED has taken so, so much away from me. And he will continue to do so, again and again and again, until there is nothing left for him to take. 
When I am recovered, I will...
  • Be able to prove to others who have suffered as I did, that true recovery is possible.
  • Not feel so tired, lifeless and exhausted all the time. To be glowing with health and happiness and energy. 😊
  • Feel and look so, so much better. 
  • Concentrate properly again. 
  • Be able to work again on my two writing projects  - Morokia and The Hand Around my Wrist.
  • Learn to love and accept my body, and feel happy in my own skin.
  • Make all of my loved ones so happy and proud.
  • Eat in a restaurant without fear.
  • Have a woman's body, not a girl's. Accept my body and feel comfortable in my own skin.
  • Have curves, a bust and a bum. ;)
  • Be able to exercise when I want, for how long or short I want - to not feel under a conpulsion to do so; but to do it out of pure joy and pleasure; for that amazing, amazing feeling or moving my body and feeling how strong it has become. 
  • Wear a bikini and not feel ashamed or self-conscious...always, in the past, to do so was something that caused me so much shame and was always a case of being repulsed by either my weight loss or weight gain. But now all that is going to change. πŸ’ͺ
In order to achieve this, I am...
  • Make weekly goals in all aspects of recovery.
  • Eat to my meal plan every day as I have been - but to also add in any necessary increases as detailed below!!
  • Be open and honest, don't keep my struggles meshed up inside.
  • Make a list of ED habits and work on fixing them, one by one.
  • Challenge myself by eating fear foods.
  • Tackle quite the most difficult challenge of all - reducing (a GOOD bit, not just a little) all forms of physical activity, until I am weight restored.
  • Reach a healthy bmi (and not the minimum of healthy. )
  • When college is over, take the time to destress, relax and unwind. Then my plan is to get involved in something which will allow me to further distance myself from Ed.
  • Throw out all my old, skinny clothes and get new ones which will fit my healthy, strong new body. Mam says that we are going to go shopping around my birthday in April so I think that will give me the perfect opportunity to do this.. ;) 
  • Keeping that brightly glowing little image in my head. The image of me, Emmy, recovered. An Emmy sitting in our favourite Mallorcan restaurant in Mallorca, laughing and smiling with dancing lights in her eyes. Of an Emmy charging through the Daisy field in high summer, strong brown legs carrying her like a fleeing nymph across the ground. Of an Emmy whose smile is real and unfeigned; not a forced little curl of the lips, designed to hide the sharpness of my pain, my turbulent, shattered emotions.
That's what the real Emmy is like...

And so I continue to walk towards to light, my hands reaching for that star...

Ps... It was half past 11 when I made these lists and I am literally so sleepy and yawning my head no doubt I have left LOADS of stuff out..there are so, so many reasons to recover and I may indeed have to add in some more when I am a bit more awake. But for now, it's to the Land of Nod for this girl. Good night everyone πŸ’•

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

The hardest path...

6.11 am Tuesday morning. My alarm shrieked out in the silence, like the eerie cry of a barn owl breaking through the dawn's calm stillness.

My eyes snapped open as I lay motionless in the darkness. I had wrapped myself up into a cocoon like mass of blankets, my feet - prone to chill banes - snugly encased in my woolen penguin slipper socks. I felt decidedly, delectably cosy; completely and wholly safe. As safe as a cygnet snuggled between its mother's snow white wings; protected from both the cold of its surrounding environment and the harsh, ever watchful eyes of the world.

But as I lay there my brain started to tick and whir, pricked inevitably into awakefulness. No longer lost in the infinite oblivion of sleep, my consciousness became open to the thoughts that whirred around in my head like rotating windmills. Loud and quiet, soft and demanding.

And no possible way to protect myself from them.

Need to get up, need to get up. All that reading that needs to be done...

The essay on the Talented Mr Ripley and then that article on the Female Gothic. Then later translate Beowulf and finish off Sharp Objects...

And then...that essay...
the last one..for Hilary Term...yes, it has to be written...very soon... 

And you are going to fail it, because...

You aren't spending enough time studying...
you're too busy thinking about food and calories and your recovery...

Selfish little b....!

And then, the voice of reason, trying weakly to break through.

Hey, Em?

You know you said that...

if you were really serious about gaining weight...
You would cut back on your morning walk, a good bit? As in, perhaps knock off a good twenty minutes; and see where we go from there? 

Oh no, I groaned, shoving the thought away. Not today, please, Not today...

But dont you think you'll be sabotaging recovery if you don't do that Em?? Come on, think about it logically...!

Oh, doesn't it just make such perfect, rational sense? It, being to reduce or eliminate exercise for now, just until I reach and go beyond the minimally acceptable weight: and then, to reintroduce it slowly but surely, as something which I, as the recovering anorexic, worked hard to get back into her life. Something to be worked towards; that state of being in which I would be able to do as much as I wanted and felt like; with that sense of liberation in the knowledge that I have worked hard to get to this place at which I am now at; and, now that I am here, I can enjoy again that something which I had to temporarily reduce, or cut out. For the benefit recovery, my future health.  

But. this is the one thing that I am finding so, so incredibly hard to do. And why? Why, exactly, is it proving so goddamn...excruciatingly difficult to do so?

I made - in my usual haphazard attempt at rationalising these ed complications -  a list of the reasons why.

1.) It's true that I am still so scared about the impact to do so would have on my college work...yes, there's no point in denying it; this insistent voice remains with me day by day, forever chiding for choosing to not prioritise my academic efforts and attempting to put myself first. 
Since making my decision last week about college and recovery, I set aside some time to write out a list of goals, one for each day of the week. But the final goal...the final goal which I wrote upon my list was to reduce my morning walk, bit by little bit. But as of yet, I have not done it. The thought of it - of sitting there, trying to write my essay, while my eating disorder screamed and bellowed in my head with the ferocity of a roiling thundercloud - was enough to make my skin cold with fear. I could not see myself doing it.

2.) And then, of course, there's this...fear I suppose of losing the modest level of fitness that I have.
I say modest - well, I can climb hills with only a slight increase in my breathing rate. I can powerwalk, run for short bursts, stuff like that. Nothing outstanding, exactly; I've never been a runner or a jogger; never been a frequent user of gyms or swimming pools. But the whole while I have been ill I don't think there has ever been a time when I haven't done what I do every day; meaning that, I suppose, I have acquired a certain level of fitness which I am "scared" of losing.

3.) And then of course there is the simple fact that I don't want to cut down or eliminate, because to do so would equate to cutting out something which gives me so, so much joy.

I have to face the facts. Logically, I don't think I am ready yet for cutting it out.

I am not a believer in the theory that an anorexic exercises purely for her anorexia. For me - as I am sure is the case with many others - this is not the case. I walk and cycle for so many other reasons that that: to exercise my two furry friends, for starters. To get to college from the station. My walks give me some space to clear my head; to lose myself, for a time at least, in the treasure trove of natural delights extended to me by nature's beautiful, graceful hands.

But, of course, there is a compulsion side to it. I have tried. Numerous times. Tried to go for a day without doing something. The last time was sometime in..November, I think it was. Mam and Dad had gone out; I had resolved to stay at home, and read over my essay. I won't go out, I told myself firmly. So resolute and brave and determined. Until the Voice kicked in with a vengeance. The anxiety began to vehemently swell within me, a balloon being inflated to bursting point. I became intensely and uncontrollably afraid.

 I tried to calm myself by telling myself that I was doing the right thing, the best thing for my body. It didn't work, of course. And so out I went into the soft autumn evening air.

Oh the joy that surged within my heart as I stepped out onto the pebble-strewn pathway. The tender kiss of the sun upon my face; the caress of the gentle afternoon breeze teasing the strands of hair escaping loose from my hat.

But yet behind my delight throbbed a steady, insistent beat. As tangible as that joy which pulsed through my blood, it spoke of my remorse and bitterness and shame.
The shame of knowing that I was not strong enough. Bitterness at the knowledge that one of the things that I loved to do most of all - walks through the countryside in the golden light of the sun; loping across dewy green fields with Benny trotting by my side - was being twisted and tainted by that demon in my head.

I'm not strong enough for this.

A few months later, I find myself still stumbling over the same mucky, slippy ground.

But I wanted this to be the year when things were different; when I made a real, concrete change. And so I know that I need to change, too. In a sense that this time...I need to do things very, very differently.

It's only Me who can make this change, noone else.

We have to draw upon our own strength.

1. To make a new rule for myself. That being, If I choose to exercise, I MUST make sure I eat something extra, on top of my meal plan, to provide the extra energy for it. No excuses. It's a rule.

2. And to try to reduce much as I can without making the anxiety too unbearable.
To start off my just deducting 5 minutes from my morning walk...and then to take it from there. I'm not sure if it's going to be successful, but I know that I have to try.

3.) To try and encourage myself to reduce by writing down and rereading the advantages of doing so..

- It'll give me something to work towards...once I am healthy again, I can exercise when and for how long I want, in a healthy, non-obsessive way.
- An underweight body is a delicate body. Yes, and I am still underweight - 2 kg of so off the "minimum", true; but still, underweight. so that applies to me, too. despite everything which ED tries to tell me.
And so, if I were to fall or place a foot wrong, literally.. I could seriously hurt myself.
- And Ed is also very good at making me forget all the times in the past when I acquired injuries - especially in my foot - just by walking when I was underweight. Ed likes me to think that my body is Healthy" and strong, but it is not.
- I need to give my body a 110 % chance to heal itself...and right now, I know, deep down. That exercise at the moment isn't going to help that.

But it's hard, so hard. And I find myself once again in a state of frenzied, desperate panic; convinced that what I am doing is wrong, and selfish, and that it will negatively effect my college work; will inhibit me from obtaining that precious degree.

Only 2 more months!

Surely you'll be grand till then...!

No, ED, just..NO. I have to do what I can, NOW. It won't be pretty and it won't be perfect. But recovery never truly is. And I know what I wrote in my last post is so, so true. If I wait I will just find another excuse. And if I have to endure this inner mental debate in my head, every day till then...well, so be it. I just know that I have to try.

Try to walk the hardest path that I have ever trodden in my whole entire life.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

And then, the petals opened...

It didn't come to me as I had first thought it would: that day, all those years ago, when I took my first tentative step along the road leading up the steep, steep mountain.

It came slowly, gradually, softly. As gentle as a soft summer breeze; one which drifts its way across the heathery slopes of the mountains; rustling tender green shoots and saplings, delicately touching flower and leaf and stem.

It didn't come to me with the speed of a lightning bolt, hurtling down out of a cloudless sky to charge me with the fiery strength of the sun.

It didn't crash into me like a wave, hurtling against the stony outcrops of the windswept cliff face; showering me with foamy droplets of resilience; cleansing me, wholly and completely, of my fears of the unknown deep.

But it came.

It came to me like the tentative first few rays of the early morning sun of the dawn, rays which run their probing fingers gently over the contours of the land.

It came to me like the delicate first touch of spring: a touch which loosens the frozen soil of the ground, gently touching and caressing, calling to the buried seeds to awaken and grow.

That something being a true willingness to recover: a tangible, perceptible, vibrant burning to break free from the illness that became such an innate and seemingly inseparable part of me. It's more than just a feeling. It is a pulse that I can feel deep within me, right to the very depths of the innermost part of my soul. It bludgeons like a beautiful heartbeat, thrumming and pulsating like the rhythmic hoofbeats of a galloping wild horse.

It's more than just a flimsy little wish; floating, like a wispy strip of fine, filmy cloth; across the landscape of my dreams and whimsical fantasies: perceived only in my mind's eye, never to be seen, or felt, and impossible to realise.

But no, I want to recover. Right here, right now: regardless of the fear, regardless of the anxiety; regardless of the discomfort and uncertainty which I know will inevitably be involved. Because the previous times I know that I was never quite strong enough. The flower did grow, but it did not grow enough; for its roots became entangled in the tough, rope-like stems of the choking weeds which have so long pinned it down to the earth. Weeds that wrap their thick tendrils around that flower's tender, newly forming stalks; encircling the buds and pressing them closed, forcing that flower to bend backwards into the ground.

An ED is like that weed.

Stifling and twisting and suffocating, depriving of life and light. Enmeshing us in its vines; its vice like grip; a grip of pain and despair and wretchedness, a grip equatable to that of the predator's jaws upon the throat of its helpless, bleeding victim,

A grasp of death.

And for so long I remained locked within the cold, hard grasp of ED, entrapped and unable to grow.

Because the petals are opening and the newly formed buds are reaching towards the glorious sun. And like that sun casts its rays upon the land, illuminating it in the dusky glow of early morning, so too did the realization dawn upon me; gradually and gently, softly and slowly.

That now my own sun is rising...
That now, my petals are opening, and blossoming.
Now it is time for me to grow,
and to become the person that I truly want to be. πŸ’œ

And I know that this renewed sense of motivation does not mean that there will be no more tough times ahead. But. It is a feeling I have not felt for such a long, long time: and I can tell you now that that feeling is so, so incredible.

I realise now that there is no limit to my strength. That I can be as brave as a lioness, streaking after her prey: or as strong and as powerful as an eagle taking flight; beating her snowy wings together to soar and glide across the endless stretches of the soaring, white-tipped mountains of her home.

I feel like that eagle now. An eagle who has so long been a captive with a fetter upon her leg, tying her down.

Each time she tried to raise her wings and fly, that chain would drag at her, pulling her back down to the familiar, hated perch to which she had remained for so so long.

And so all escape seemed so impossible....

until the day she realised that she did have the power to break free from her chains.

It is time for me to soar to new heights. It is time for me to spread my wings and fly away from the clutches of Ed, forever. It is time for me to reach out my petals and grow. Now, not later. Right here, right now, right today. I will not put recovery off till college is over. I have made my decision, now. I can feel the palpability of my new strength coursing through my wings.

I write this post with tears of gratitude in my eyes. Gratitude for the amazing people in my life - they might or night not know who they are! - and to you, my readers..all of you, who have helped me so, so much in my battle against the illness which very nearly destroyed me and all that I loved, that I hold dear. You helped me to see the light and reach out to it with renewed strength in my soul; you helped me to find the path which I have sought and fallen away from so many, many times over the four years.You helped me to step onto that path with the knowledge in my heart that it is the right thing to do: that no, recovery is not something to be casually parceled and put away to one side, to a time when I am ready for it...because no, that time will never come. None of us will ever be truly ready to recover. There is no such thing as that perfect time. As a dear friend told me today, tomorrow is the first day of the rest of our lives. 

Now is the time to recover. Now is the time to give this battle our 100% of every minute of every day. Nothing is more important or as valuable than a healthy, functioning body. Getting a college degree should never be prioritised over health; for health, ultimately, is a precious and infinitely fragile thing.

 And you all helped me to see that, and realise it: and here, I just want to thank you; thank you with every part of my heart and my soul.πŸ’™