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 nearly twelve 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.
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.
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.