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...

...one 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. 




8 comments:

  1. Congratulations on finishing your program!

    Here is a mantra that I have found helpful: Different things are right for different people at different times in their lives.

    It's great that your mam and her friend are finding enjoyment in an exercise program. It is also great that you have the insight to recognize that, at this time in your life, an exercise program is probably not something that is going to enrich your life or improve your health. That's okay. Neither way is inherently better. Thrash any feelings of guilt to dust and take pride in finding the strength in doing what's right for your body right now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. aw thank you so much ! <3 And thank you too for sharing your insight with me..this mantra is so true and one which I am determined to take very much to heart.

      That is the thing though, we have to focus on ourselves, and not be like sheep and copy what everyone else is doing. Everyone has different needs, as you say. Thanks so much for everything again <3 x

      Delete
  2. It always seems like deep inside you have a compass that points you to the truth -- though you are scared, and frightened, and timid, and unsure of yourself, and lonely, it always seems like you do have that compass and more and more you are able to recognise it for what it is.
    Your experience is so different from your mum's that you know that the things that are not-that-bad for her are radically against true health for you. But you are each in your own ways trying to reach for life and health, thought what it looks like and the way you perceive your way to it differ. And, the intensity of need is different for you from for her.
    When one is getting better from a mental illness, I think sometimes it feels like getting addicted compulsively to spotting the point of one's own compass and clinging to it whatever the storm or the conflicting pointers outside.
    E.g. so yes today I messed up. But yesterday I followed the compass, and it gave me a glimpse of the most world-changing freedom. Having tasted and smelt that freedom, and the elation of untold joys of life through things that are "normal" to many, but strange to me ... my gosh, how I am hungry for more of that Life and Freedom.... When one's recovering from mental illness, one cannot afford to let go of the compass, because one loses sight of it, and conversely the intensity of what it opens up is so radically world-changing that one craves it and craves the strength to hold fast to it more and more....
    The storms will pass, the relationships will heal, the things that hurt now won't hurt forever, but life, life won't wait, it is poured out each day for us to cherish or lose. Let's try to welcome it :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you so, so much! for taking the time to write all of this too. I am genuinely so touched.

      I love your idea of the compass..and it's so true, like in the next few days after this particular evening, the temptation to do strenuous exercise workouts in secret was very,very strong, but yet, I did not give in to it. I knew that to do so would have felt so wrong.

      Your words fill me with strength and hope, thank you ever so much. I too want this freedom so much and now know what steps I need to take to reach it.xxx

      Delete
  3. Firstly - well done for getting this far! It is amazing what you have achieved - now you can "get to know" your new, healthy body and enjoy the strength that it gives you.
    As far as the exercise problem is concerned you must remember to do what is "right" for YOU - doesn't matter what everyone else is doing. In your heart of hearts you know when your impulses are getting out of control so you must listen to your sensible voice and not be fooled by impulse and ED again. I know this is so, so difficult but you owe it to yourself and how far you have come to give it a try. Do some exercise, but in moderation. The day will come when you are able to do more and because you enjoy it, not because you feel you have to. It is important too that you continue to eat enough if you are exercising.
    I wish you well with getting through this. When you feel tempted to do more than you really know you should or when that voice is really strong, stop a while and reflect on how far you have come, all the hard work you have put into recovery. You don`t want to throw that away really do you. You can ignore the voice telling you to do more, you are the stronger one now. In time that voice will get quieter and quieter - you can beat it, I know you can!
    Good luck and take care xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello and thank you so very much for your comment <3 it really meant so much! It's such helpful advice and I really do appreciate it <3

      It really is the toughest thing, overcoming these compulsions. But your words have given me anewfound sense of purpose and determination to beat this.I don't want to go through life with this constant anxiety and inability to relax. And you are so right, I can deep down realise when what I am doing is not right or ok. I think it's also important to remember that although I may be weight restored, there's absolutely no guarantee I am at the healthy set point yet, so it's best to take it easy for now!

      Thank you so much for your kind thoughts I'm so grateful <3 xxx

      Delete
  4. Hi Emmy - Do you follow Izzys blog "life without anorexia"? If so she may be able to give you good advice about exercise as she suffered from exercise addiction herself. Maybe you could give this a try?
    Congratulations on your recovery success and weight restoration!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. aw thank you so much! <3 I did at one time - I have always loved her blog so much but lately I haven't been reading blogs at all! I shall definitely give this a try I am willing to try anything that will help me, even if it's just a little. Thank you so much for your comment I am so grateful <3 xxx

      Delete