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, 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.


  1. Dear Emmy, I suspect that in your heart of hearts you know that working toward getting better from the ED comes first, without question. It does. You are right.
    This is all so complicated, and I wish I could simply give you a glimpse of what the kind of situation you describe looks like from 20 years later.
    Trying to keep it simple: there is nothing in the world more important than Life, real Life. It is not something you can postpone, you can't point yourself in the opposite direction from it for for four months or four minutes and a) be the same person as if you hadn't, b) find those four months or four minutes valuable or meaningful, no matter what someone writes about them on a certificate. If you were running away from Life at the time when you got a certificate to say how well you did, how will you feel when you look back on that?
    The degree may go better than you think, or maybe it won't, but at least if you dedicate yourself to fighting ED at this time you will all your life have the strength and confidence that come from knowing in your heart of hearts that you did that, you pointed yourself the right way when all was dark and the odds felt high, and you will know that you can face the next hurdle too.
    There are always ways forward with the other things, whatever happens. You don't need to know at this stage what comes next; you can't know that.
    I wish I could help you, Emmy.
    No matter where we are in life, of course we keep struggling with the temptation of pointing ourselves in the wrong directions. That is not unique to people who are sick. But there are differences in scale and in the level of suffering you are inflicting on yourself. As for those around you -- what would they want more than that you point yourself toward Life? If they didn't value that more than your degree, then they would not be worth listening to (on that subject); but it always sounds as though your family are the kind who would always choose Emmy over a Degree Certificate? I certainly would.
    Things are hard enough, don't make them harder for yourself by dithering any longer over how to steer the rudder or which stars to guide by!
    And know that you have friends who in spirit want to hold your hand in the darkness when you can't see where it is going.

    1. <3
      Reading this made me so emotional...thank you with all my heart <3 I cannot even begin to thank you enough...for so long now I have been floating in this ambivalence, and "that question" is ever present in my mind: "Shall I commit 100 % to recovery, today?" and the answer has always been in the negative. But you are so right..the time IS now. In my head it always seemed selfish..but I know, now, that is just ED talking. I am so glad that you reached out - thank you, again and again. I know now how I am going to steer the rudder. The difference in knowing which path to tread and which course of action to take feels INCREDIBLE. Thank you so so much for all that you wrote. Recovery cannot wait. Thank you , again and again. Your comment really has helped me so much...I know what I need to do right now. Take care and thank you so, so much!! <3 xxxxxx

  2. Dear, I hope you understand what I will write now and if it sounds hard it is due to my current situation....but you will cost even more money if you do not gain and eat enough NOW NOEW NOW....!!!
    Perhaps you will become a nursing case because of yourosteoporosis if you do NOT DO IT NOW...your body seems to be strong, but he IS NOT!!!
    I gained during the last year, you know, and the bone density decreased nevertheless...because it was NOT ENOUGH for also healing my bones...

    Dear, health issues can cost A LOT...yes, you might think i might exaggerate...and this was the way a thought a few yers ago....
    Emily, you will ALWAYS find a reason for not really recover....after college, there will come up other reasons, I am sure...
    and you will cost more moneyif you will never be able to work....
    go ahead, and if the price of a healthy body is failing at university, it is FREAKING WORTh IT...!!!!!!!!
    You will be able to "gain all the money back being healthy...but all these postpone reasons will go on for the next 5,6 ,7, 10, 20 years, and your life will be over!
    Please delate my comment if you do not want it hear!!!
    Hug you, dear, all my love!!!theresa

    1. <3 Hun I could never delete your comments <3
      Thank you so, so much, dear..this is actually SUCH a good point; it's so true...I know deep down how bad my osteoporosis is; and I strongly suspect since the last time I have got it done, it has not improved at ALL...because since then my weight just kept on dipping..
      So YES, dear it is so true, for both of us - the time is NOW. Not in another few months, weeks, days. Every day counts from this point onwards..
      And you are right, dear. Ed will seek out another reason to "delay", if I choose to put it off till summer.

      And I suppose dear..that piece of paper with the university crest on it that I want so badly..

      Is it really worth my future health, my life? No, it is not.
      Thank you so much for this dear..please write to me soon..I am thinking of you!! <3 xxxx

  3. Hi Emmy - don`t risk sacrificing your health for a piece of paper, it really isn't worth it and I`m sure your parents wouldn't want you to. You are far more important than that! Take each day as it comes and keep nudging away at that ED voice that is telling you to put recovery on hold until after your degree - because that time will never come. There will just be another ED excuse to put off recovery and always will be. No, the time is NOW. Get angry with your ED voice and tell it its a cheat and a liar that has robbed you of so much over the years. It is not going to suddenly do you any favours now and let you get through your degree in peace - it will always be there niggling at the back of your mind, egging you on to postpone recovery again and again. Fight back now whilst you are strong and don`t let yourself be downtrodden any further. You have your whole life ahead of you and recovery is all about making changes to your life. Make recovery part of that new life, not something to be tagged on when you have the time. You can work towards your degree and recover - the healthier you feel the more able you will be, and the more able you are, the higher your self esteem will be. You can do it! Yes, the path will be hard and rocky at times but never, ever give up. Don`t give ED the satisfaction. Believe in yourself, you can do it and listen to that voice instead that sits within your heart that deep down you know the right thing to do.

    1. <3 Thank you so, SO much for this <3 I appreciate your advice so much...and again, it all makes absolutely perfect sense, what you say. It is so so true. There is never a "perfect " time to recover. No doubt as you say, come the summer, Ed will convince me to put it off for another reason. It's been doing that for years..why should this time be any different?

      Yes and that is the key!! - getting angry with the Voice, talking back to it...identifying my REAL voice and making it stronger, the other, weaker.

      I came to an important realisation the past few days. That really, ED is just blowing this whole issue up.As my friend pointed out to me today...really, whatever decision I make, I am still going to struggle to concentrate and study, ANYWAY. If I choose to commit to college 100%..does that automatically mean I will study, focus better?! No, of course it does not!! Ed is stil going to be there, I will feel awful, exhausted, guilty and hungry.But if I choose to give my recovery my best shot..yes, there will be anxiety, it will be tough, but it is THE BEST for my health - something much more important than a college degree. But..perhaps there is a chance I will still pass? I think, on this occasion, it's just a chance I have got to take..for the sake of my health, my future, and my body.

      Once again..thank you so SO much...means the world to me, knowing people are behind me and cheering me on, it makes all the difference. Your advice really helped me today - thank you so so much for reaching out!! Take care and thank you with all my heart. <3 (Positive post on my renewed motivation coming very soon! :) ) xxx

  4. Good luck Emmy and I wish you all the strength in the world to continue with your recovery. You have made the right decision not to jepordise your health further. Take one day at a time and you will be better able to manage stress. No, it won`t be easy but it will get better and better and before long you will be flying. Find that beautiful place you want to be - I wish you wellxx

    1. <3 Thank you..thank you so, so much. The first few days will be very hard, I know. But I'm hoping that by taking things slowly - tackling one little challenge at time - that I will become stronger and more empowered, day by day. Deep down I know that it is the right thing to do.

      We only have one body...unlike college degrees, or a job, or money it is irreplaceable and each and every one of us should never forget that in this life! <3

      Thank you so, so much for helping to guide me onto the right path. I don't know what I would do without my readers helping me along! Thank you ever so much! <3 xxx