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.:)
Monday, 10 April 2017
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.