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.:)

This is Me...and this is My Story.

This is the Story of Me...



Hello :) thank you so much for clicking onto my blog...you have no idea how much this means to me. And I know I don't know you, and that you don't know me, but I hope that through my blog you will come to know the girl behind and beyond her eating disorder...I hope that you will be able to find something of value to you. I hope that through my blog I can provide you with help, advice, support and understanding, as well as comfort in the knowledge that, in this long, hard battle to which there might seem no definitive end to...i want you to know that in this fight you are never, never alone, and it is most certainly a fight that you CAN win. All you need to do is believe.

My name is Emily Snelgrove and I have suffered from an eating disorder for roughly nine years. Having been in a state of denial ever since I initially developed the disease, I finally - after eight years of restriction, over exercising, and depression-type symptoms - acknowledged to myself that I had an eating disorder and that I needed to take action, right there, right then, before my illness, essentially, cost me my life.



I was born in a small town on the coast of Kent in April 1994. I lived there in Kent with my family for four years. Then, in 1999, my Daddy was offered a job with the Irish Department of Transport. We sold our house in Deal, and bought a new property in County Laois, in the very heart of the Irish Midlands.


I attended a small local school in Mountmellick for the duration of my primary school years. I was happy there. I had loads of friends who I loved with the fierce adoration of a young child. My days were blissfully sunny and happy. I did Irish dancing and Speech and Drama there, and played recorder and ran around with my friends during breaktime. I had no sense of self-hate or self-disgust; neither, in the very least, did I once think I was fat. Rather, I could wear dresses and pretty clothes on special occasions or when the weather was fine, and twirl round in front of the mirror and smile and think I looked beautiful. And that was how it stayed, for the whole 8 years I was at St.Paul's. Never did I once suspect that it would come to an end.


But in the autumn 2006, as the leaves of September began to change and fall, everything did, of course.


This year I commenced my secondary school education, in an all-girls school in Mountrath.


I got off to a bad start at Brigidine, despite the fact I would grow to love this school and get to know people who would become some of my dearest and closest friends.


But at the beginning, it was tough, for me. Suddenly all the confidence and assertiveness I had attained in primary school was gone. I became shy and and awkward and withdrew into myself. It was made even harder by the fact I knew absolutely noone in this big, scary new school. All my friends had gone elsewhere and I felt very, very alone.


We had so many lessons of various different subjects. One day in home economics we learnt about healthy eating, and obesity. That very same week, we learnt about the very same topics in Biology, than S.P.H.E.


Suddenly I started to become extremely self-conscious, and sensitive to the appearance of everyone around me, too. I was never fat, not even chubby. I was just at a healthy weight for my body size. Neither had I ever considered myself dumpy, plump, overweight. But, that very week, those few words began to creep into my mind. They terrified me. Suddenly, everyone in that whole entire school seemed to be slimmer than me. Self-loathing took hold of me and I jumped onto the conclusion that it was my appearance that explained the reason why I had no friends.


Perhaps if I became thinner....maybe they will like me more.


And so that's how it all began, really. The first changes were small and barely noticeable. I began by cutting out all of the treat foods which I loved. Chocolate was first, and then the little cakes I used to have in my packed lunch. Biscuits and chips and ice cream, apple pies, jam tarts, fruit pastilles. Not long after, I - or should that be, my eating disorder - turned its attention to other aspects of my diet. I became painfully minimalist in everything I ate. Emmy always had to have the smallest of everything. The smallest bowl of cereal, the smallest portion of potatoes, the smallest roll, the smallest bit of butter, the smallest breakfast, lunch, dinner. I became fixated on doing at least some form of exercise every single day, regardless of the weather and how much work I had to do. I felt that I had to walk at least 10 or 15 minutes a day - and the more I could do, the better. In the earlier years of my eating disorder, however, the obsession with food and eating was more my primary focus than exercising. It was when I went to college that my problems with overexercising began to evolve.


By the end of first year, I was steadily but surely losing weight and my Mam, having become aware of the weird, edgy behaviour I displayed around the dinner table and the fact that I seemed to be alot slimmer than I used to be, gently encouraged me to try to eat more and gain a bit of weight again, but I never really paid her much attention. The summer of that year, we went on holidays together to California. It was an amazing holiday, but my memory of it is tainted as this was the first holiday which I shared with my eating disorder. And that ever-present, heartless little voice did, in a way, ruin what I had looked towards as a dream holiday with the people I loved.Mam began to get upset, too. She threatened to bring me to the doctors when we got back home, saying that my weird behaviour around food had not escaped her attention, as neither had the fact that I had lost alot of weight over the past year. I begged her not to bring me to the doctor's, and made the first of the many false promises I would make over the course of my eating disorder: that I would gain weight, that I would be good, that I would eat more and put an end to my obsessive, compulsive behaviours.


I didn't, of course. Second year was hardly better, and neither was our family holiday to Kent, my homeland, in the summer following that year. My eating disorder remained with me for the whole six years I spent in secondary school education. I had my ups and downs. Third year and sixth year were actually good years in terms of my eating disorder, for it was in these two years when I found friendship and direction in my life. It was in third year when I became close friends with a small group of girls in my class, and, for the first time in what seemed like an eternity, I felt somewhat accepted for who I was. And then, of course, there were the exams: the Junior Cert in third year, and the Leaving Cert of my final year at school. The exams actually helped to lessen my eating disorder's influence over me somewhat, as I, having always been a fairly studious worker, was desperate to achieve good grades in my exams, and to make Mam and Dad proud of me. 


I studied hard in sixth year, and my efforts were rewarded as I did very well in my exams, obtaining the points that I wanted. My heart was set on going to Trinity College to study English, and, in September 2012,I left the security and comfort of my childhood home to embark upon a whole new journey of my own: that being, of course, the transition from school to college.


I became very unhapy again when I came to Dublin. I was lonely and felt more isolated than I ever had felt in my entire life. My shyness had overcome me again when I had first arrived on the college campus, and I found it more than overwhelming to approach people and introduce myself, let alone go out with them, mix with them, strangers I barely knew. I missed my family, and my home, terribly. My life had been turned completely upside down, thrust into a frightening, unfamiliar world in which I was floundering desperately, struggling to keep afloat. And my eating disorder seemed to provide the only way out. In addition, I had dscovered, to my despair, that the college course that I had worked so hard to get enough entry points for did not in fact suit me at all. To be quite honest, I hated it. I blamed myseld for having made such a fatal and potentially costly mistake, and my sense of self-loathing which had initially estabblished itself bback in my secondary school years continued to grow and grow. 


I couldn't study, I couldn't write, I couldn't even focus in lectures. My eating disorder had compltely and utterly taken over. I lost alot of weight again, and finally, one weekend in November, Mam quizzed me as to whether I was eating enough up at college. I lied again and told her I was, and that I couldn't really understand why my weight had plummeted. Mam begged me to try and put on a bit more weight, as my underweight, frail little bbody was causing her enormous concern. As I had done so many, many times before, I cried my heart out with shame and misery, at the thought I had caused her so much pain, worry and stress. I promised her I would try to change. And I did try, I really did try. But it was like all those times before...my eating disorder let me try to change, but it didn't let mechange. And, after a few weeks of eating well and regularly once again, the thoughts crept back in, the Voice took full hold...and I was just back where I had started.




And so this vicious pattern continued, over and over again. I went back to college after the Christmas holidays; my weight dropped again. Then over summer 2013, I prevented it from becoming dangerously low, since I was at home again and eating much better, with Mam keeping a close eye on me, ensuring I ate all my meals and making me hot chocolate with full-fat milk. I was out of the danger zone again. The voice of my eating disorder faded, a little...but then the summer was over and second year English beckoned. I made a silent pledge to myself that I wouldn't slip into old habits again. That I would cook for myself and eat proper meals, and treat myself whenever I felt like it; to take better care of myself. If not for myself, for my loved ones. No matter how lonely or awful things got, I would try...again...for them.


I was no better...No wiser, no less sick, no freer from my Eating Disorder. The first couple of months of second year passed relatively well. Relatively.At least I ate proper meals, frugal as they might be. But after Christmas, things took a turn for the worse again. I became isolated and depressed...and that of course compelled me to turn to restriction and overexercise once more.

But then, in May of that year, something happened...something clicked deep inside me. I finally realised the truth which I had been denying for so many, many years. You have an eating disorder Emmy. You need to do something about it, right now...you need to destroy that Voice in your head before it destroys you... 


What did I do...? I made the very first step in what was to be journey towards recovery from my restrictive eating disorder. I told my Mam. I told her everything of what I had done, the thoughts and mindset that dominated my head, the feelings, the fear, the anxiety...everything. And she understood me, and she held me tightly in her arms as I cried and she told me that she still loved me, despite all the lies and the deceit and the failures. And she told me that we were going to beat this thing, together.

Looking back on it now brings happy, bittersweet tears to my eyes.It was the first summer since 2006 in which I didn't feel compelled to restrict and eat as little as possible. I gave my all into getting better...to enjoying food and life again.

I knew it had been a close call, and that, in some respects, I was lucky to be alive...


And I did gain weight, this summer. My face began full and bright once again, my stomach and waist expanded, the rib and hipbones which had once protruded from my body no longer were so painfully visible. I put weight on around my torso, waistline, stomach and waist. And I was, really and truly, so, so happy and proud. I thought that I had beaten my eating disorder. I thought my problems were over.




But what I didn't realise was...my eating disorder was still part of me, part of my identity. And I was still unconsciously being controlled by it, in numerous aspects of my life. I had made enormous progress. I had faced a massive proportion of my fears and had overcome many of my demons...but yet, some still remained.It was not until October, a few months later, that the real truth hit me, hard. 

While walking Benny during one of our customary morning walks, I suddenly elt a strange, achey sensation in the instep of my right foot. I assumed that I had just pulled a muscle or something and that it would get better in a couple of days, but it didn't. I ignored it for two weeks, refusing to let myself rest and deter from my oridnary day-to-day activities. However, after two weeks of discomfort and minor pain, I reluctanly limped to the small doctor's clinic at the far end of Trinity, which was free for all stduents. 

It was that day when it felt like my whole world had been torn apart, in earnest. The quietly serious, yet kindly middle-aged doctor I saw that day gently told me that the reason my foot woukldn't heal was because I was very underweight, and he strongly suspected that I had an eating disorder. 

He arranged another appointment for me in a month's time, and I left the clinic in a state of complete and utter wretchedness. I didn't know what I was going to do and I was terrfied in case my Mam found out about what my doctor had said and the steps he might take if I didn't gain some more weight. 

Before my next appointment, I gve evrything I had got into putting on weight once more in the hope that I would convince my doctor that he was wrong and that I didn't have an eating disorder. i cut down on my walking, I increased my snack intakes, I started to eat more calorie-dense foods such as cheese and peanut butter and oils on my salads. I tried, I tried so, so hard. But unfrotunately, what I didn't realise was you can't just cure yourself of an eating disorder in a matter of four weeks, and solely just gaining a bit of weight. 

On the 21st of November 2014 I went back to the clinic at Trinity. My doctor calculated my bmi and told me that yes, I had gained some weight. But, no. No, it wasn't enough...it wasn't enough to just gain some weight, unwillingly at that, and then be enaled to declare yourself healthy and free of an eating disorder. No, he was still going to refer me to St. Patrick's Mental Services...he was still going to officially diagnose me with an eating disorder...

I left Trinity that month, having been signed "off-books" by my tutor on the grounds that I was not "Medically fit" to continue with my studies there, and spent Christmas at home with my family. On the 6th january, I attended the clinic in Dulin for the eating disorder assessment which had been arranged for me by my new consultant and her team. The fuction of the assessment was to determine the causes, the symptoms, and the severity of my eating disorder and to decide as to whether I would benefit most from daypatient or inpatient treatment. The whole procedure took just about three hours. By the end of those three hour, the lovely female pychiatrist who had spoken to me for the near duration of the whole test gently informed me that I was to be admitted as an inpatient.

Two weeks later, I left for the hospital with Mam and Dad beside me, leaving behind everything that |I loved and that was familiar to me. My two bbeloved doggies and my cat, my garden,  my kitchen in which I would spend many an hour stirring saucepans and whisking cake mixture, my little room with the bunny posters and cuddly toys. My home. The home which I loved. The home in which had become to home of my eating disorder, inevitably, an the home which I must now leave in order to recover.

I spent nine weeks in the hospital undergoing treatment for my eating disorder. During my stay, my consultant, having interpreted the results of the Dxas scan i had gotten done during my third week in hospital, diagnosed me with severe osteoporosis. My bones are now weak and brittle, as aresult of starving my body ever since the early years of my teenhood, and can break easily if I were to ever have a fall or an injury.

It's been a long, hard, and extremely painful journey. So many tears, so many blows, so many fears. And I have lost count of the amount of times I have said to myself, no. I can't do this. This time, I really cannot go on.

But I did. I did carry on, I did keep on trying, and, several months later, here I am. I'm now a daypatient. Still not fully recovered... but I know one day I will get there. I know one day we will all get there, together. Recovery, happiness, and freedom. I believe that nothing is impossible... And that is what My Cocoa Stained Apron is all about. 


Life is too short to be anything but happy...
Falling down is part of life.
Getting back up is living.















3 comments:

  1. It breaks my heart to read your story <3 You've gone through so much, I know for sure that you will come out the other end, stronger and braver than ever. Keep fighting little Emmy. You're a tough cookie I can see that. I'm here fighting with you lovely xxx <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. <3 aww hun <3 how can i ever thank you enough. Your support and kind selflessness really moves me every single time. Thanks a million for your lovely words and thoughts hun. Im always here for you an I truly believe we can make this journey together. <3 xxx

      Delete
    2. <3 I'm always here for you too. Let's fight this. Onwards and upwards! Xxx <3

      Delete