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, 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. 💜

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.💙

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Where the sea meets the rockface....

There's not much to be said for my experience at university. From the very beginning, Trinity became a place in which I felt like a tiny, non-descript, little white pebble; a pebble lying upon a beach of shining, glistening gemstones. Those gemstones never lose their sparkle: they are remarkable, flawless, perfect in every way. And then there is me, the dull, insignificant, pale little rock; not wanting to be noticed while simultaneously yearning for someone to see its pain.When the sea rolls in, the gemstones keep their ground; the pebble, on the other hand, is torn away and dashed haplessly against the rocks.

Tossing and turning, I try to make sense of my situation. Well, I am alive. I know that much. Though it's true to say tht life with an eating disorder is really just beneath a cold, oh, so ice-cold sea. Because noone can see your pain; in here. Hidden beneath those swirling waters, its easy for people to forget that you are still there.

Deep in the water, your emotions become numbed. Hard to see, hard to feel, hard to breathe.

Four more months. That's how long I have left at Trinity. Every day I pray my silent little prayer. Dear God, please, just let me pass. To me these final few months will be like traversing a cliff face of black rocks; black rocks with cruel, tooth like, razor sharp edges. So much rests, it seems, on me getting through them successfully; of reaching that shining, golden prize lying in wait at the other side. That being? A degree. A piece of paper that will certify that I am a Trinity graduate. But what if I don't make it through? What happens if this - the final, final term of the four year degree which has caused me such endless heartbreak and unhappiness - is destined to be the one in which I will trip, and fall?

A failure to me, as I see it, wil destroy me. It will tear my heart and rip me into pieces; break me, as a body is broken when it falls upon those sharp, pitiless rocks.

And then there is this sea. So cold, so deep, so desolate. And those gemstones twinkle all around me, so near, but yet, so impossible distant from me. They are proper Trinity students, a Voice in my head mocks. and you will never be one of them.

You are going to fail and then that will be the end..of everything.

I have to try..try to get out of here.

But what...what is the more important thing..?

To get out of this sea? The sea of my eating disorder?
Or to sacrifice everything in order to traverse those rocks..?

Because that what I have been doing essentially, for the past four, five years I have been in Trinity. Letting recovery fall by the wayside; prioritising college, college work, over everything - including gaining or maintaining an acceptable weight; and all the various other aspects of my recovery effort. The reasons for me doing so are both manifold and complex. But the primary one is that which I know all to well that to dedicate myself 100% to recovery would mean that my college work would inevitably suffer.

This being, of course, because of my fear of the effects of a true recovery effort upon my work ability, my concentration. I will give you an example. Today I awoke and thought that as part of my morning intake I would make myself a cheese and mushroom omelette. The image swelled in front of my eyes, tantalising, tempting. But then, I shook my head, pushing it away. Because I knew what would happen if I did dare to do such a thing: my anxiety would shoot through the roof; I would dwell upon it for the whole entire morning, the Voice would explode through my head, labelling me with no end of obscenities.

And thus rendering any atempt of concentration literally impossible.

But can I afford to really..well, postpone a true recovery effort, now...?

Can I afford to wait for another few months ?

But I am scared and so afraid. The chasms between the rocks loom below me, dark and threatening, insidiously menacing. If I were to fall into them, so much would be lost, it seems. The degree. Thousands upon thousands of wasted college fees. The pride and delight of my parents and family. That security of being the girl who passed. No. If I fall onto the rocks now, I will be forever branded as the girl who tried, and failed.


I only have one body, right?

Can I afford...can I afford to put it at risk? Sure, four months is four months, but I mean...

How do I know how damaged it is right now?

And so the battle rages on between the rocks and the sea.

Put college first Emmy. It's only for a few months, like. And then you can recover, if you want. But I know you don't really want to. I know you want to remain with me. 

No. I want to...I want to recover. Right here, right now. I can't go on like this. I need to regain the weight; yes, the final few kilo, and beyond...! 

No, you selfish b****! How dare you? How COULD you?! You're willing to sacrifice all the money your family threw at your degree, all because you just want to leave the skinny girl behind? That's what you want, is it? You REALLY want to stop being the just-a-bit-too-thin girl? You want to end this, right here? I will not let you, Em. We're in this together, you and me. Emmy and ED, hidden beneath the sea, stuck together forever, like a limpet attached to a pebble wedged in the sand.

If only I - that pebble - had the courage to wrench that limpet from my back. But I am desperate, so, so desperate, to cross those rearing rocks. And as the days flicker past me, that burning question rages across every passage of my mind. What do I do here. Please, someone tell me what to do.

To emerge from the ice cold sea..
Or to dedicate, for that time that is left...
everything I have into scaling those terrible, terrible rocks which I know, if I fall upon them now,
will tear me apart like thorns ripping through paper.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

My Little Blue Swing...

It was my favourite place, as a child. The Garden of my childhood.

It became my own little Garden of Eden, of sorts: but also, my Secret Garden; or a place which wasn't really a garden at all.It was a rainforest, a desert; a tropical island, a fantasy kingdom. A wilderness that ranged as far as the eye could see. A kingdom of grass and trees and flowers the colours of the rainbow; of which I was its only queen.

And at its very heart was a little blue swing with green pulley ropes and a narrow wooden seat.

The little blue swing as it is today, minus its seat, sadly. 😔

Often of a fine evening, when the sun began to sink behind the dusky forms of the rosy-tinged mountains, I would slip out to my garden and skim across the dewy grass. I would clamber into that seat and grip the soft rope between my fingers, my toes arched like a ballerina. I felt like a golden-feathered eagle, ready to lift my wings and take off from the ground.

Then I would inch my way back a little on my toes, my heart beating in my chest like a coursing rabbit's, and then I would lift my feet and let myself go.

The rushing air slapped at my face; my hair lifted from my skull to stream behind me like a rippling golden banner.

Benny in his summer garden

Yesterday while I was outside, pegging the washing out on the line, I glanced across at my old blue swing, now rusty and covered with cobwebs and fine green moss.

I remembered how it felt going up - the sheer elation; the longing to not come back down to the ground. And then, having reached the point at which I knew I was going to fall back down, a strange, sharp sense of some indescribable fear.

 And so I suppose that the dips in my motivation to recover are like the rise and fall of the swing.

The strength, the vivacity I feel when my motivation has shot upwards like an arrow loosed from a bow; and then, the counter feelings; ones of fear and doubt and sadness; ones which swiftly move to establish themselves as soon as I begin my descent.

I get a little lift..when eating something I really enjoy; getting a hug from my mam, a comment from a reader, talking with a friend who understands..

but when I am alone, or full, or looking at my body in the mirror...I come crashing down to earth with a cry...

How do I keep it up?

How do I allow that motivation to climb up and up; and, once it has got to the top - to stay there, essentially?

But then I came to realise today, standing outside, my tired eyes fixed upon my little blue swing.

Going up, and coming back down is inevitable.

It's an unavoidable part of recovery.

Recovery is not like a swing that never comes back down. It's more like a dipping, swinging rollercoaster: you go up, you cry out with thejoy, the delight, the exhileration at being on top of the world. But then you see you are going to come back down again, and your heart swells with both fear and apprehension.

But it need not fill you with fear, as you can and will survive them..

So rather than seeking to achieve that impossible feat; of striving to avoid and completely  inhibit those dips and falls in motivation...

I must learn to be brave and steadfast, and face them, head on.

And I now have identified precisely the things that will help me see these times through.

  • Talking to a friend who understands and will not judge me.
  • Reading through the past comments of my readers upon my blog.
  • Playing with Daisy and stroking Benny's velvet like head, or sitting on the sofa with the warm fuzzy ball which is Felix upon my lap.
  • Talking to Mam; or Gran, or my sister.
  • Reading through my reasons to recover and reminding myself again and again of the importance of fighting on.💛

And I know, that if I keep on fighting, keep on persevering, keep on being as strong and as brave as I can every single hour of every single day - that some day I will reach a place where I do feel on top of the world. Recovery is the highest place that I could ever hope to go. Getting there is like reaching the very top of the shining peak of Mount Everest; beautiful and glowing with pearl white snow. It is a place where there will be more highs than lows, It is a place where I will experience peace within myself; high above the choking grey clouds of loneliness and depression and self-hatred. That's recovery. It is there and only there where I will be able to again experience those sensations I had felt when swinging upon my little blue swing. The exquisite, palpable, authentic sense of joy: the kind that stems from that being in that state of true and beautiful freedom. 💜 xxx