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.:)

Friday, 29 September 2017


Commitment. It's something that I, several times in my life, have possessed. A dedication; to various different people, different causes. I remained committed to my studies at Trinity for those five difficult years, despite the fluctuating state of my mental and physical well-being and the ferocity of the storm raging inside my head. I committed myself to studying for my Leaving Cert, so driven I was by my dreams of success, and the prospect of Mam and Dad being proud of me. And I steadfastly committed myself to Daisy when she was too scared and afraid to eat, coaxing her to take food from my open hands and making her realise that here, with me, in her new home, she was safe and need not fear the cruel hands which had beaten her, ever again.

Committed. It's something which I tentatively hoped that perhaps I was good at essentially being. But now I find myself struggling to commit to that one other thing; one which, for as long as I can remember, I've let myself brush to the side.

My recovery. I see it now as the equivalent of wandering across a vast, arid desert. In the desert there are mountains which rear up tall and steep, but which at their very tops hold oases. But you have to climb in order to reach those beautiful green spaces. And then, once you're done, you shouldn't just stay there. You look towards the next mountain, mount it, and carry on.

But for so long now I have seen the oases; seen, but never approached. They beckon to me, glittering emerald-bright in the golden rays of the sun, but as I gaze upon them I see the climb, and think of the struggle and the pain inevitably involved in reaching their summits.

And I recoil with fear, and resume on, on along the same flat, featureless, bleak desert path. One which just leads on and on across this endless dry landscape, flanked always by those soaring mountains. Each one of which I see, and smile at wistfully, before shaking my head and moving on.

I never struggled to commit to the loved ones in my life. Or to my studies, to concrete things which I believed would make others happy, or which were helping me to achieve the greater good, which I thought would bring me happiness and success. But recovery is a different ball game. The ball was passed to me long ago in 2014, and since then I've been running with it, running but failing to fling out with my hands and cast the ball into the net to score a goal. I haven't dropped the ball and I dont think I ever will. But neither have I scored, for a long, long time. Sometimes I think I'll play on forever. Forever until I die.

Yesterday I was offered my first real job.

Not a five week thing, no. This was the real, real thing. I would be based in Shropshire and England and would live on site and work six days a week. I would be due to start in February.

I did not expect to be offered this job, by any degree. I just saw it, fantasised about it, and sent off the application without even giving it a second thought.

But then the company got back to me. I had an interview, and was offered the job.

But as soon as I put the phone down I was blinded by hot, stinging tears. I ran into the kitchen, where those two beloved doggy faces peered up at me, piercing me to the very soul with those deep brown eyes. I knelt by their baskets and sobbed and cried until there was no tears left.

Why was I crying?

Because I want that job. It is like the dream job that I always wanted. But I do not want to leave home, leave familiarity. I dont want to leave my mum and dad and my dogs. I dont want to leave Felix and my beautiful garden with the rustling eucalyptus tree.

And I guess, yes, that I am afraid.  For another reason.

Because I know that I'm not recovered.

Because I know there's a good chance I could go backwards again. Barcelona was proof of that.

More than ever this year I wanted to take some time for myself, focus on recovery, focus on myself. It was my first chance after five years to do this.This year would be the year. The year I'd smash ED for good and forever. The year I'd show the world what I was made of, and find myself, find the real Emmy. And then, said the beautiful fantasy in my head, I would be ready and able to take on the world, find the job that I loved, find love, find happiness. All as a healthy, recovered, girl. The girl who fought anorexia, and won. And not just a half recovery. Half recovery isn't recovery. Half recovery is half a life, and that's not what I want, or have spent so long fighting for.

But several things have got in the way of this beautiful ideal. The unintentional pressure placed upon me by others. The reality of the job situation in Laois, where part time jobs, especially for inexperienced people like me, have become something of a rarity. But most of all it was myself that stood as the biggest obstacle in my way. As usual I felt this desperate need to please; to prove to others that I was strong and no longer weak, that I didn't need help, that I was the girl who had "sort of" recovered.

And now I feel as if I have become lost in the desert, lost, to the point at which I haven't the faintest clue of where I'm going or how I'll get there. I want this job. But, I do not want it now. Now I want to be able to commit myself, wholly and completely, to recovery. Yet even as I write those words I know that that, too, is not completely the truth. I'm scared to commit to true recovery. Scared of what others will think, scared of what my body will be like, scared of no longer being with ED.


Strange how those two things that I want more than anything else to commit myself too, are simultaneously, what I'm so intensely afraid of.

And I know I only have a limited time to decide.

Decide whether to commit to that job or not.

Decide whether or not to commit to true recovery.


  1. I know how you feel. You're afraid that the new job will smash the efforts for taking care of yourself in that critical period of your life. Recovery has taken a large portion of your time.. you feel sickened by how much longer it shall require to actually reach it. Dearest, this is your time to listen to your intuition; set the fear aside and let your creativity and instincts ablaze. Jobs will always be there, it's not a thing to worry about. However, it's a chance for you to decide on what you truly need today. Do you need to get out of your comfort zone and start making magic by leaving your life behind? Or is it time to actually sit down and find beauty within the comfort to reassure your anxiety and fear?

    It's your time to be true to yourself and do what's best for you. Oh and you'll be grateful when you decide for listening to yourself and your needs will be the best decision you could ever do. It's a step to get closer to yourself, to sprout a self-love that will be there for you, eternally.

    Good luck Emmy. It will work out as long as you've got the mindset.

    1. thank you so so much <3 <3 your words really helped me in more ways than one. I've made a decision now, one which I will talk about in my next post. Making the decision is quite often the hardest part. Thank you ever so much for this! :) <3 xxxxxxx

  2. Dear Emmy,
    It is intense and difficult isn't it?
    How would you feel about telling the potential employer your situation--openly and honestly? They may be understanding and supportive, they may hold the job for you, or indicate ways forward with you? It may be a step forward in trusting others, and conquering the bits of Ed that prefer to isolate you from secure relationships that do not depend on Ed?
    Congratulations on getting the job, by the way! How lovely. And what a nice sign of warm recognition and respect from the big wide world!

    1. thank you so so much for your comment! <3 It really is, I really appreciate your advice so much <3 I WISH so much I could tell them, yes. But I'm so afraid of rejection. It's a job involving kids and I'm so worried that if I was to open up and reveal how I'm struggling, they'll turn me away. Am I right in assuming employers dont want to hire those with mental illnesses?

      Thank you so so much <3 Your words helped me alot tonight. thank you <3 xxx

    2. Dear Emmy, thank you so much for your reply too! I think there are several answers to that:
      1. It is illegal to discriminate against people on grounds of mental health. Every employer knows that, and wants to respect the law.
      2. Of course, your concerns are not just about the law -- you wouldn't want to work with someone who was grudgingly conforming to the rules, but obviously didn't value you because of the mental illness. My guess is that those kinds of negative experiences are out there, but my experience is that that is not the norm in our culture now (I live in England). Most people (employers, colleagues) really genuinely want to show respect and support you. They may not understand -- as you know, nobody who hasn't been personally touched by it really does get it. Or they may turn out to have been personally touched by something related, which gives them deeper sensitivity. Mental illness is so common, that most people have been touched either in themselves or in someone close to them. My experience has always been good -- people's support can be a bit clumsy and inappropriate sometimes, but that's a matter of learning together how to work with each other most effectively. We are all trying to get to know each other and support each other in different struggles. I would be very sorry indeed if you were unlucky, but I would be very hopeful and rather trusting that you would have a good experience.
      3. If it is a job with kids, then all the more reason to tell. Firstly, they're more likely to be used to the idea of mental illness, because it comes up among the kids (it is also in the media a lot at present). Secondly, if you want to work with kids, then it is good to set a good example of handling your own mental health with maturity and in the ways you would like them to imitate. One of those is turning to others when you need help and support, recognising your limitations as well as your strengths. Every single person on this planet has both, and we all need each other. We all have things where we are ashamed or afraid of rejection. Of course sometimes the fear is too great, but when one reaches a place where one can turn to another, the whole system gets stronger. My guess is that your employer AND the kids AND you would benefit from this kind of openness. And just think how much you can help the kids too through this!
      4. It might actually be a good test of whether this employer is a good person to work for anyway. If they are not supportive, then I would tend to think they're probably not worth working for, quite frankly, and you'll just end up with other problems (even if not ED related) further down the line.
      5. Last night I was watching a video that someone else posted, whom also started following a long time ago now, when I was still struggling myself. She's in a difficult place: she tried to keep working, keep hiding her struggle, and she has ended up in very, very poor health. Now she just wants more than ever to be rid of the ED, she is being totally open with everyone, and she said she was amazed how supportive her employer was, even though he seemed unapproachable. She too is working with kids, I think. I thought of you, and I just hope that you don't end up trapping yourself in a cycle of prolonged struggle, relapse, secrecy, in increasingly complicated circumstances, till one day you really hit rock bottom worse than ever before. I really hope that you can build on how far you have come, and keep climbing for that light up at the top of the mountain...
      But, whatever you do, you are still loved and respected by those who know you at any level, even if just through the words of this very well written blog!

    3. ps just to add to what I just wrote -- basically, employers have *chosen* you because they have perceived the gifts, qualities, skills that they are looking for. They *want* you. And they see it as their role to help you flourish, because if you are flourishing, then those gifts can also serve in their employment context.

    4. <3 thank you so, so much for this!! You are so kind for taking the time to write such a long comment! I will write a proper reply later (Im just heading out the door as we speak) but really, i do appreciate this so much and just really wanted ti extend my heartfelt thanks to you. <3 xxx

    5. Thank you too, Emmy. In the end, of course you must do what *you* most deeply believe is best.
      I'm only a reader, nothing more. I hope you'll be able to talk things through with those you love, and find peace in yourself with whichever way forward you take. In the big scheme of things, what is best for you is the same as what is best for those around you, since it is always best for you to flourish as the person you were made to be.

    6. thank you so much for your kind, wise words. It's posing a bit of a challenge for me to follow my own intuition, but Im hoping that with time and practice I will become better and recognizing and doing what is best for me. Thank you so much again. Im so grateful to you! <3