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.:)

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.


  1. You know , Dear, our mantra...vertebrae and stuff...
    ...and in the end, YOU will be defining your recovery...with exercise and how much, but as long as it still an urge, it is not healthy...
    And, stay in mind - your" minimal healthy weight" might still be an unhealthy weight for your body!!!
    Love, until soon, Dear!

    1. <3 thank you, dear.. and oh do not worry, hun, I do not want to feel like I have to "stop" when I reach the minimal, like I did the last time..that is not the aim.. but to get there is in itself such a difficult thing.

      I just wish so much I could overcome this mental block dear - why is reducing/stopping so scary?

      All my love, dear, hug you! xxx

  2. Dear Emmy - No, reducing your walking by 5 mins is NOT enough :( I don`t know how long you normally walk for but you need to cut back more than this - I would suggest you work out a new route to walk and time yourself for no more than 30 mins from home and back again. I`m sorry if this sounds tough but you have to be firm with your ED and not compromise or give in to its demands. A 30 min walk will still give you the freedom to clear your thoughts/head and will provide the change of scene that you desire. Believe me, your body and your recovery will thank you for it. You need to take things easier in recovery and nurture your body, its no good at this stage saying you will do your normal exercise but eat more - that is bargaining with ED and you KNOW it will try to talk you out of this.
    You have to be strong and fight this compulsion otherwise you will just be undoing all the good work you have already done. When you are a safe, healthy weight you can begin to exercise more if you want, but please give your body the chance to heal first. I know you are close to your goal weight but you are not there yet. Bide your time.
    I would suggest you plan something to do with your time that you would have spent walking, something different - and not uni related. How about beginning to read a new book, read a magazine, take up a new hobby or interest - I personally found adult colouring books very therapeutic when I myself were unable to do any exercise at all.
    You owe it to yourself Emmy to try this. You have come so far and have fought so many tough battles. Don`t let the voice inside your head win.
    Stay strong, stay fighting and be determined.
    Take care xxx

    1. <3 thank you so, SO much for such a helpful, kind comment <3

      Oh no, I understand that a 5 minute reduction will not be enough..what I meant by that was, to start off by reducing by 5 minutes, and then, after a while, reduce by 10 and then so on...and then by process of reduction to narrow it down to a much shorter amount. But doing that is itself absolutely terrifying.. :'(

      But your suggestions were so helpful...thank you so, so much. You are absolutely , 100 % right..I should, no buts, cut down to a max of 30 mins a day. But how, HOW is the question - it is, truly, like a mental block in my brain. I know I need to reduce; it makes perfect logical sense to me and I am totally aware of the benefits of doing so. But yet, when it comes to the time I usually go out - I can't stop myself; I "automatically" do the usual amount. Do you have any advice of how I could overcome this? Or is it simply a matter of doing as you say..distraction, sitting through the screaming, horrible anxiety?

      Thank you so so much for sharing with me your insight and advice. You are amazing! Thank you <3 xxx

    2. Hi Emmy, When it comes to cutting down on your time spent walking/exercising I`m afraid you just have to do it - set yourself say 30 minutes from the moment you leave the house until you return - set the alarm on your phone/watch - and stick to it. You may find it helpful if you are out for a walk to take someone else with you, they can help make sure you keep to your time limit and guide you away from going a longer distance. Make out a new route to follow so again you won`t be tempted to further your distance along the usual path.
      When it comes to feeling anxiety about shortening your walking/exercise time I`m sorry but there is no easy answer to this. Yes you will feel anxious at first but this will pass. You need to replace your time you would have spent exercising with something else, and after a short while you will fall into this routine and it will get easier. It is also all about changing your thoughts and mindset. Try not to think negatively about the time you are having to exercise, instead think positive thoughts like although it is shorter you are still getting out in the fresh air, you are still exercising but allowing your body to heal and in time you will grow stronger and healthier and able to do more. Mindset is everything. Have something to look forward to for when you return home - have a bath with your favourite bubble bath, or make your favourite drink, read a book specially chosen and kept for this time of day only, depending on the time of day you are exercising and your meal plan - make yourself something really nice to eat. For me, my greatest distraction was having a long hot bath followed by time spent colouring. I spent some time looking at Amazon at all the adult colouring books and discovered a wonderful range called Creative Haven. If you are interested in trying adult colouring check these out - they are by far the best. To begin with my new routine felt very strange and yes, it was hard. But in time it got easier and I can now say that I am used to it. I no longer desire the punishing schedule I used to put myself through each day, instead I enjoy my walking time for what it is and also know that I am helping my recovery instead of jepordising it. Try to keep thinking positively about what you are doing and remember that it doesn't have to be forever. When you are fully weight restored and eating properly you can gradually do more, although I will also add that you need to have a healthy attitude towards exercise as well - its no good putting yourself through punishing routines just because you have a compulsion to exercise, you need to exercise because you enjoy it. It shouldn't be an obsession. If it is then you need to work on this.
      I also found it very helpful to read Izzys blog, life without anorexia as she has posted quite a bit on exercise addiction. Reading past posts certainly helped me.
      Try to stay positive and think of the nice things you can do instead of exercise - this is special "me time" with you doing things you really enjoy/want to do - so no uni work! Spend the time indulging and pampering yourself - I`m sure you can think of things to do - and believe me, it won`t be long before you really get used to doing it.
      Good luck and know that I am thinking of you. If I can be of any further help, just ask xxx

    3. <3 Again, thank you so, so much for your reply. Your kindness and thoughtfulness have totally blown me away, I appreciate this more than words could ever say.
      You are so right, I know that there is no easy way around this - it is simply a matter of doing it; there's no quick fix or magic button (as neither is there in any other challeneg we face in recovery..)
      But your suggestions are really helpful and I am going to definitely put them to good use - so thank you ever so much for that <3

      I can definitely think of loads of things I can spend my "me time" doing - more blogging being one of them ;) ! And I really completely agree with everything you say.. it will sort of be like a goal for me, something to work towards - to be able to exercise as much as I like again (but NOT as a compulsion). Maybe even I will be able to take up a whole new activity. I've always wanted to do pilates, yoga or running, but have never been able to do so because of my weight.

      Once again, thank you ever so much - you must have spent alot of time writing what you did and I really am so grateful, thank you <3 and for the offer of help too, that means such alot <3 take care and good luck too, you should be so proud of what you have achieved, I wish you all the best for your continuing recovery <3 xxx

  3. Dear my omputer is roken as I put tea over the does not work properly at all anymore...and no faeook...fear I have to uy a new one....hate it...was an AWFUL day....would like to talk to you so muh....until monday I hope...( I am soooooooooooooooo supid....)...hug you Theresa

    1. <3 oh my dear I am so sorry to hear about this :( Do not worry though dear, there is no rush to get back to me or anything...hope so much you are ok, I understand your frustration very well..I had a similar problem not so long back and it is awful :( all my love..hope you are doing ok hun xXxXx

    2. Yes of ourse there is "rush" to get ak to you my Dear...hope you are ok

    3. <3 Aww thank you hun <3 I look forward to hearing from you soon <3 much love!xxxx