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.:)

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Hunger for More...

And so, it's back, again. Back again like a fluttering moth, one that refuses to go away, no matter how many times you flap your hands in a vain attempt to ward it off. Ignoring it doesn't help, either. But you don't want to hurt it because it's not there to harm you, exactly. It's not like a wasp with its malicious sting, or a blood-sucking fly which wishes to prey upon your blood. Both of those insects make me think of Ed: remorseless, predatory, parasitical. But this moth is slightly different. My old friend, the "extreme hunger". I groan and sigh and bemoan its presence in my life, once again. But yet I cannot condemn it. Because I know that it's there for a reason.

Since coming back from Mas Banyeres, the extreme hunger also returned, and in force. It was with some gloom that I duly acknowledged its presence, having naively assumed that Barcelona had seen the end of it: that niggling, yearning desire for more and more, even when I'd eaten enough to be physically stuffed. It's something I only really get in the mornings, but this is a fact that I have quickly started to hate, and deplore as much as its actual existence. Because the mornings are the one time when I like to write Morokia. Since coming home, I've barely written anything. And one of the main reasons for that is the fact that in the mornings the EH is proving slightly more than a bit of a distraction.

Take this morning for example.I woke up and then about half an hour later I had sat down to breakfast. The bowl of weetabix was quickly consumed, followed by a slice of toast and a load of peanut butter. After a portion of cheese I decided that it was time to stop and try to write for a while. Give me the next item, please, the hungry voice screamed in desperation, already eyeing the next food on the list which hangs in my mind every day, the all-too-familiar meal plan. Half a toasted bagel with seeds and spread, and then a soft boiled egg or some baked beans. No, I shouted back at it, in frustration. Just wait a couple of hours, darn you!! I want to write, I don't want to spend all of my wriitng time just eating....!!

About half an hour later - and with one sole measly paragraph done - I finally gave in, and ate. And was very quickly not just full, with food, but with self-disgust and and self-hatred, as perusual.

At the fact that I couldn't hold out and wait until everyone else ate, as a normal person would, insert quotation marks here, as that's what the voice in my head says in my brain. Not to mention at the bloating of my stomach afterward.

In Spain, the EH was still there, though, of course. Just not as sharply prominent; or rather, I was more effectively able to ignore, even defy, it. In the mornings I gladly thrust myself into jobs and tasks which would divert me from it. I did not eat as much there as I do at home at breakfast. And weirdly, by doing so, it was almost as if the EH was suppressed. Whatever the case, I was not eating as much, and didn't experience any cravings to do so, either. But now I am back home, on my meal plan again, and now this. What's going on?? How do I respond to these cravings and mental hunger?

No point trying to deny it, there's a hunger...for more.

But also there is a different sort of hunger. A hunger, a desperate need, to defeat ED once and for all.

So does that mean giving into the extreme hunger...and actually, really doing it, this time. Not just eating that wee bit extra, but actually making a conscious, concrete effort to increase amounts throughout the day.

But there's so many challenges and obstacles preventing me from doing this. People's comments spin in orbit around my head. You look well, Emmy. You look the picture of health. You look so much better now. And then, last year, one evening in my library, the stranger there. What chubby cheeks you have. That one still lingers in my memory, slowly twirling on a sharply pointed axle.

My heart's telling me I should try to gain a little more weight, to go beyond this...minimum. But doing that is so, so hard, when the world tells me that I look "healthy" as I currently do.

But can they see what's happeneing on the inside? Can they see my weakened bones and nutrient-deprived ovaries??

Having a hunger for true recovery might well mean....ignoring everyone's else's interpretations of me, the way I look, and behave. It's not about them, after all. It's about, well, myself. And my body, which I alone know more than anyone else.

But the path ahead is dark and covered in shards of ice. I step upon them, and a shiver runs through my body, at this pitiless, icy coolness. And I am afraid that that ice is going to crack, and that I will crack, along with it.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Catching dreams...

This morning I feel as if I am floating beneath fluffy, dove-white clouds. Clouds which may be thin and transparent; others, thick, solid, almost tangible. I drift between them like a pollen grain, suspended in the summer wind's soft breath.

All these clouds represent different things to me. Some seem fully formed and others, not so much. They represent to me my dreams and hopes. And how I long to alight upon each one of them.

But landing upon a cloud is a very difficult thing. Some may look solid but I know that they are not. If I were to reach out with my hands to catch one of them, I am afraid it will break apart in my hands. Disperse into a million tiny pieces, leaving me with a heavy heart and the remnants of a broken dream.

Is it really worth it to chase your dreams? Will they not escape you, evade you every time?

But that's not what I am willing to allow myself to believe.

My dreams. True recovery. To free myself, wholly and completely, from the Voice inside my head.  To conquer every single one of the demons which are still holding me down.

There are other dreams, dreams which I have held for a long time, but which I have never been able to catch hold of, since they are directly linked to the first one. To complete Morokia and to share my story with millions of readers worldwide. To find a job that I love and that I am good at, and to be at the healthiest that I could ever hope to be. Perhaps even to write my own story, one of recovery and strength and hope. And then there are dreams of being in a relationship and newfound love. Of places  I want to go to, sights and wonders that I want to see.

But I know that to achieve these other dreams I need to seek out the first one. Because without true recovery, I know I will only ever be able to brush the mere lining of those other clouds with my fingers.

But how will I ever be able to catch that beautiful dream? It seems to always just escape me , to hang just that little bit out of reach. Sometimes, it seems so close I can almost touch it, to taste its sweet delicateness upon my tongue, to feel its soft touch against my burning, yearning skin. Other times, it seems as cold and as distant as the snow-adorned mountain, a mountain so harsh and icily hostile that I recoil from ever attempting to reach its summit.

But I know that it has been long since I started to climb that very same mountain. I may only be halfway, but I am there, instead of being at the bottom. At one time I could only stare in wretched wonder, wishing that I had the courage to begin that long ascent.

And then I did.

But now I am halfway again at the point which I as never before able to cross. Just where does the path lead from here? The clouds are still far above me, shrouding the mountain peak with their billowy, feather light forms. But it's such a long road, to keep going along. And at times it seems so relentlessly, bone-wearily hard.

Both mountain peak and dreamy white clouds are still so far away, from me.
How can I ever hope to reach them? Catching them in itself now seems like such a beautiful yet impossible dream.

But I have something now which I did not have before. A new determination to give this fight all that I have got. To go into this battle with courage and hope aflame in my heart like a flaring torch. I am going to beat you, Ed. I am going to beat you, or go down still fighting.

Recovery is my new priority, my mission. And, if I fail, then at least noone can say that I did not try.

My Barcelona experience has helped me pinpoint my course of action in a number of ways. It's helped me to realise several things: about myself, my recovery, and what steps I need to take as I strive to move forward. It's reminded me that I still have so much work to do, yet. There were countless challenges and obstacles lying in wait for the girl with anorexia there, all of which reared their ugly heads on my wary, hesitant approach. Some of these challenges I managed to beat back down, overcoming them with the strength of my own purpose, my determination. Yet there were others which I fought against and lost. There were times when my attempts at fighting back were simply just not good enough, leaving me weakened, with only enough strength to vainly bang my fist against the unyielding surface, before being knocked to the ground and cast aside. Recovery was harder, there, away from the comforting, familiar surroundings of my home. I had to constantly keep my guard up high, and there was certainly more than one time when I let it slip and fall.

But. Aside from that. There was another thing that Barcelona reminded me. A fact that somewhere sometime I had realised, before, but did not nourish enough to fully acknowledge. above all Barcelona  reminded me that I truly have the power to do anything. Anything, if I set my heart and mind and soul to it.

Did I not climb the Via Ferreda, having not done anything remotely like proper rock climbing before? Did I not get thrown in at the deep end on my first day of teaching, having not been given any proper training or induction, only to walk into that classroom regardless to greet my pupils with a smile as if I had been doing this for all of my life? And did I not take the greatest leap of my life, by stepping onto that plane in the very first place? That step was so much more than a literal step, for me. It symbolised strength and resolution and enormous courage. It meant that I was facing my greatest ever fears, but yet despite my trepidation and terror, I was still going ahead and doing it, anyway.

And it is in this light I should see my recovery. My recovery, and the seizing of my dreams in trembling, exuberant hands.

I know deep down I have the power to do anything...

Anything, including this battle, and this long, long climb to reach the clouds. ๐Ÿ’—xxx

Monday, 31 July 2017

The last and final sunset, heralding a beautiful new dawn...

And so it was time for me to go home. After an incredible five weeks full of sunshine, smiles, laughter and unforgettable experiences, the sun was finally setting for me, on my time in beautiful Catalonia. But each sunset marks a time of change, a new beginning. For with the darkening of that lilac blue sky comes the night, a night which in turn will inevitably pale and wane as an orb of soft brightness appears upon the eastern horizon.

Sunrise at Mas Banyereres 

For me, that was how everything felt like, on that final evening as I gazed out of the small window of my plane with the massive engines humming and singing as we became airborne. Far below me, lay the city of Barcelona; its lights glittering like hundreds of scattered diamonds flung from the sky; its shore flanked by the ever moving sea which pulsed and ebbed as it kept its own ceaseless beat.  A scene of such beauty and finality - nothing could possibly have befitted more a way to end such an unforgettable trip - that tears automatically sprang into my eyes and coursed down my cheeks, moistening the pages of my book which lay forgotten on my knee. But I did not wipe them away. I merely kept looking, absorbing every detail of that view in all its sublimity. Soon the city began to fall away, being replaced by the soaring mountains with their thick covering of shrubby trees. Two different and inevitably contrasting landscapes; both contained within Catalonia itself; a land which once had been a stranger to me, but which now had become known, and loved.

But there was another stimulant behind my tears, tears which were of both sadness and joy. Sadness, at leaving such a beautiful place; in which I had so welcome, so accepted. Joy at being able to go home; home to where my family and friends waited for me with outstretched arms. No, but there was another recognition. A recognition that this night was not the end. Not an end; but a beginning. This night was a new dawn.

A new dawn which would mean that my adventure in Catalonia was only the start of what was a whole new journey for me. A journey of discovery and acceptance; a journey of learning, and new experience. A journey which would involve doing things I had never thought possible before; a journey, in which I would find myself, and nourish the real person who I really wanted to be.

That was how it felt like; in that bittersweet moment of exquisite joy, tinged by the droplets of poignant and tangible sadness. I had realised that this end was not a night or even a sunset. On the contrary, it was a new dawn: a sunrise, to something new and even more beautiful.

My time in Barcelona has been so significant to me in many ways. But above all else it has made me realise that I can in fact do anything. There are no limits to what I can achieve; now, it is time for me to leap upwards, upwards into the sky, and to dance amongst the stars.

I did it! I'm home! I got back to Ireland in one piece on Sunday morning and am now once again ensconced in my cosy little chair in the sun room here at Derryguile. And needless to say the post I had planned to write in the final week at Mas Banyeres just did not happen..I was as busy as ever meaning that unfortunately I didn't get a chance to update :'( but hey, it doesn't matter, because I can do it here, instead๐Ÿ˜‰ I really want to talk more about my experiences, and what I learned from them, and their relevance to my recovery. ๐Ÿ’šxxxx

Saturday, 22 July 2017

A battle that I fought and WON..xxxx

Barcelona. I knew the word and I guess I thought I knew the city - or did I? What defines to know a place? I had heard of it, of course; had claim to a somewhat scanty knowledge about where it was and what it was like there.

But never did I once consider that upon a day in June, approximately three years since I embarked upon the journey which is recovery from an eating disorder, I would be setting off on one of the biggest adventures of my life, to exactly that place - the golden glowing jewel which is Barcelona. And I've been here for over four weeks now, and this beautiful place has already stolen a piece of my heart.

I say Barcelona but perhaps it would be more correct to say Catalonia. As I'm not based in the actual city itself; but rather, in the countryside some little way inland. I'm just outside a little town called Centelles. It's small and quaint and full of that quintessential Spanish charm, with its narrow streets and ornate, high-towered church, the many bakeries whose windows are adorned with shelf upon shelf of tantalising delights, and its scattering of ice cream parlours which the Ganache Elf has frequented quite often of late. ;)

Making the decision to come here was one of the hardest things I had ever done in my life. I had so many fears and so many insecurities. What it would be like, would the other people like and accept me, would I cope being away from home. And then of course there was Ed, hovering in the back of my mind like a malignant wasp which refuses to be swatted away.

But I took that leap and threw myself off the cliff into the deep. A deep so unknown and so terrifying in its immensity. But then I discovered that instead of being drowned by that fear, of being borne away by that rushing tide, I could learn to master it, to ride those waves. And the waves would touch my face and skin, soaking me to the bone, but that cold fear need not touch my heart and soul. I could be like the graceful silver dolphin, cutting through those waves; I could be like the shooting white star, slicing through an infinite, ink-black sky.

This trip for me has been about so many things. Pushing myself beyond my comfort zone, and learning to learn that I could cope with being away from my beloved home. It's been a learning experience and an adventure. I've done things which I've never done before, met people who I know I will remember for the rest of my life. I've taught my way through four classes of bright eyed children, each one with their own story to tell, each one with their own different personality and different smile. Faces and names which have been inscribed on my heart. I know as time passes, the concrete images now fixed in my head will begin to fade. But I know that the memory of them will be with me forever, as will the joy that I found came hand in hand with their identifying of me as their teacher.

I have discovered that it is with children I want to work with, for my future. The sense of fulfilment I have derived from this job - the way the children's faces light up when I praise them for all their hard work; that sense of pride and fondness I feel tugging at my heart when I look through their homework and marvel at the progress they have made - is something like which I have never quite felt before, and want to feel again, once I return home. I only have one week left now - I've been four weeks here since yesterday, a fact that amazes me in itself - and my time in Catalonia has almost come to an end.

It has been hard. So hard , in many ways. But one thing that I know is that I do not regret anything about my decision to come here. It has changed me in ways which I know I needed to be changed. And now my life's path will bring me back home, home to that rugged little island perched on the edge of immense Atlantic Ocean, to that cream-walled Dorma Bungalow at the island's very heart. Mid summer in that bungalow's emerald-bright garden, where the eucalyptus tree rustles its aromatic, papery skinned branches and the sweet peas flowers stir in a soft summer breeze. And it is here where my recovery journey continues on. And I know exactly what I am going to do, and how I am going to achieve it. ❤

I'm so sorry for my blogging absence over the past few weeks - it's literally been so so hectic I haven't had a chance to write at all! Over the next few days I will hopefully get to fill you in on the stuff I've been doing while I've been here, and normal blogging will resume once I'm back in Ireland. Thank you so, so much for sticking with me and thinking of me, for all the comments and words of encouragement, the advice and support. It means SO much, it really really does! ๐Ÿ’—

Sunday, 2 July 2017

She learned to conquer the Fear...

It was the Tuesday after my birthday that I got the Skype call that changed everything.

I was sitting in the lounge - or the "sun room", as I like to call it. My writing room. The frontermost room of the house which the sun's first light spills into every morning. As that golden orb ascends into the sky, it casts golden shafts of sunlight through the brooms' enormous east-facing window, illuminating the faces of my loved ones' pictures upon the walls, causing the polished oakwood of the little oval table to shine and gleam with an almost fairytale-like quality. It's one of my favourite rooms in the house. It's here where I retreat to every morning to immerse myself in my own little world; that being, of course, Morokia.

But on that morning I was not sitting there with such a purpose in mind.

Besides me were bundles of Morokia notes I had brought with me to look at while I waited for the Skype app to ping. Pages upon pages of dog-eared A4 sheets, covered from top to bottom in my messy, scrawly handwriting that noone can ever decipher apart from me. Truth was I was unable to really read them, of course. The words would float like thin, wispy clouds in front of my eyes, drifting away whenever I tried to grasp them tightly to my quivering, pulsating consciousness. Yet at that very moment I wanted to be like on of those clouds, in the sky. Graceful, airy, suspended in that blue infinity forever, without any duty or obligation, any pain or regret.

A few months ago I had done something which I had never, ever done before.

I had applied for a job. Not just a local parttime job in a cafe or local store, all of which I've tried to get into before. It was a summer camp job, based in the renowned city of Barcelona on the South Spanish coast. It still makes me smile at the randomness of the way in which I found out about this job. I was walking out of Trinity through Front Arch, wrapped up, as usual, in the comforting folds of my daydreams, when a sudden chilly gust of wind reminded me that I hadn't got my gloves on, so I paused, slipping out of the way of passerbys to stand directly by the Arch's Wall. As I scrabbled in my bag for the gloves that I hoped I hadn't left in some random place as I am often wont to do, I suddenly realised I was standing by a billard plastered in dozens of small, typed notices and adverts. And I don't honestly know how and why, but one particular slip of paper called out to me. Spanish summer camp seeking young English teachers for July. Apply with cv. There were other details, all of which I read and committed to memory.

The old Emmy would have just smiled, and walked on. The Old Emily would have thought to herself how wonderful that would be, but that she would never be able to do it.

But this Emmy applied for that job. And a few weeks later, she had her first Skype interview.

I remember the feelings which coursed through me while I waited for my interviewer to call. Self-doubt, and disbelief, and scorn. You honestly think that you, of all people, are going to get this? As if they'd pick you. You'd be absolutely hopeless!! And alongside that there was the slimmest glimmer of hope. Please, may it go ok. Please may I get this job.

But alongside that hope throbbed a beating vein of fear. That fear wrapped itself like a snake around that thin thread of hope, crushing it in its heavy, suffocating coils. No no. Please don't pick me. I don't want to go to Spain, on my own. I would be useless at that job. Please God may she not pick me.

And then the Skype pinged and my trembling hand went to press accept. Then I remembered. There was another time, when I accepted a phone call. One that I knew would change things, forever. The one of the day they told me my bed was ready at the hospital.

And hadn't I felt fear and trepidation that day? Hadn't I felt surrounded by vast currents of terror; currents which tore at me with the ferocity of hunting lions, ready to bore me away and tear me apart?

And yet I faced that fear and thrust myself into that current, felt it ripple and surge around me, its power. And I realised that I was stronger and more powerful than that fear, if I chose to be. I need not be anymore the girl who drowned in her fears. Rather, I could be the one who fought those tides of self-destruction.

And this time neednt be so much different.

I could learn to conquer the fear.

And yes, I was offered that job, much to my shock and disbelief. And yes, I did accept it. The months passed like young damselflies skimming on the surface of the water, and before I knew it, it was time for me to go. To leave my beautiful home, so beloved, so familiar, so precious to me.

If I had felt fear at that day of the interview, the terror I experienced that Thursday when I left for Dublin Airpot, was that multiplied tenfold. What it would be like, would the people there like me or not, how would I cope in an actual proper working environment for the first real time of my life. And then of course there were the ED fears, forcing themselves insistently to the forefront of the others to blare out at me like high-pitched, wailing sirens.

But yet this time I refused to submit to them.

2017 has been the year of the change for me. This year I have overcome more thn I could ever have thought possible, or imagined. I gained weight by myself for the second time, nd this time found a level of acceptance for my new body which I never could put claim to before. I put my recovery first even though I was at college, and struggling to get through the finl last curucial term of that degree which had caused me so much heartbreak.

And then there was this. Barcelona. Another thing I could never have thought of as being possible.

I am learning to conquer my fears, not give in to them. And I know that I can use this strength to beat every single last one of my demons and let my light rise like a diamond bright star into a ebony black sky. And one day the clouds of depression which remain wrapped around me will part and fall away, and the final few chains of ED. They will weaken and I will take them in my hands, snap them like brittle kindlewood between my now strong and capable fingers. No longer a prisoner. No longer a girl with an ED. ED will become a thing of my past, a thing that was fought against and overcome, just like those fears which I faced.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Let the Flame become a Fire...

Every day, in both our natural and human worlds, change unfolds itself in striking, dazzling colours.

Trees don their lush green summer foliage as the detritus from the previous year decays beneath their roots, absorbing into the forest floor to nourish the new generation of the most minute forms of animal life. Young fledglings spread their wings and take that crucial leap from nest into air, finally stretching those tender wings, feeling the wind against their feathers and learning what it is to be able to fly. And then there are the human changes; changes in the lives of human kind. A baby is born and is cradled in its mother's protective arms. The young girl grows up to be a woman and feels sensations beginning to awaken inside her; sensations which are strange and overwhelming and yet irresistible in their potency.

But for years I felt as if all these changes were set apart from me; that I occupied a world in which everything remained still and static. Yet this world in which I remained entrapped in, like a limpet in its shell, rested tantalisingly close to that other world of change and progress and maturing. Every day I would peek out of my shell and look upon it, watching, seeing, witnessing, this universe from which I had been inevitably excluded. All those changes flickered past my eyes like moonshadows upon the surface of a rippling sea: beautiful, aesthetic, almost fantastical in their exquisiteness.

I watched my friends and loved ones grow, grow like the fragile new shoot growing upwards to sprout leaves and tender buds, buds which open to reveal the most breathtaking flowers which shine and glow like scattered diamonds against black silk. And seeing these changes would always strike me to the very heart. Because everyone, everything, was changing; yet I remained the same. The only change that had happened to me seemed to be that one, long over a decade ago, when what had been a young, innocent, blissfully happy little girl left behind the untainted landscape of her childhood, entering a realm in which innocence was corrupted and which all sense of self-worth which she possessed was smashed into tiny fragments, like a delicate fluted glass being shattered upon a hard stone floor.

And in that realm a darkness awaited, to which she duly advanced, submitted, and was lost.

And for years that's how things remained. No flickering candle burning in that darkness; no glimmer of rosy pink light, paling the permanently shadowed horizon.

But then upon one day a tiny spark was alighted. A spark which tentatively, weakly, gradually became a flame.

That single flame burned steadily, diminishing and strengthening alternatively by turns.

But never once did the flame surpass a certain attained level of brightness. It was a flame, not a fire.

But then something changed.

For me, 2017 has been different. 2017 has seen, for me, some concrete, palpable, tangible changes.

But yet despite the progress that I have made, I know there are still so many things that remain unchanged, and which I want to change. And even though I yearn for this change like the flower longs for the sun's warm kiss upon its outstretched petals, I fear it, greatly, too. I am afraid of being scorched by those rays which have to power to let me grow. The cold and the damp have been all I've ever known and I'm terrified to break free from it.

I'm afraid of letting go of the compulsion to exercise the set amount.
I'm afraid to totally let go of ED.
I'm afraid to leave my home, to be an adult. Afraid to be out in the real working world and to feel the judging eyes of others upon me.
I'm afraid to eat just that little bit more, and get my bmi up to the place where I know it needs to be.
I'm afraid of the change. It looks so beautiful, like a prancing golden lion, shaking his long, flowing mane.

But that lion roars and I flee from him, shaking out of fear and terror.

How do I embrace the change, if I am so afraid of it?

In a week and a half, it is Barcelona. And already I can feel the nervousness building up inside me. Layer upon layer, like a many-ringed onion, ready to burst out at the slightest tentative prick.

Words cannot describe the elation that soared through me when I realised I had been accepted for this job. Needless to say, however, that unsurpassed feeling of pure, raw joy didn't last very long. It was soon replaced by nervousness; and fear. Real, palpable fear that rages inside me like violent ocean currents, threatening to drown me, consume me if I were to let it.

There's so many fears revolving around my fast-approaching placement. A fear of being judged; a fear of being left out, of being unaccepted. A fear of being the loner again who treads the path of solitude. A fear of the challenges which will be posed by this total change of place and routine.

Most of all I guess it's the unfamiliarity; what is will be like, what they will be like, how I will cope with ED and whether he will win out in this strange new environment.

Over the first part of this year I have overcome so, so much. But now I have reached that certain point; the point at which the flame has never burned any brighter. Can I overcome my fear of this change? Will I be able to go out there and shine in the sun; or will ED creep in again, dragging me down into his shadows?

I have to be strong.
I have to realise and acknowledge the changes that I have faced in the past, and overcome. I never once believed I'd cope with hospital, or would conquer my fears to gain weight at home all by myself. Or that I would possibly get through college while maintaining a progressive and evolving recovery.

But I did it.

In each and every one of us there is the strength of the rising sun and the courage of the golden-maned lion.We can burn as bright as any crimson flame.

And I hope that come next Thursday I will take my own words of strength to heart. I hope that I will be able to walk towards a beautiful new horizon with an open and courageous heart, instead of wrapping myself in the protective, yet suffocating covers of my own fear.

For it is time for me to change.

Early February this year. And now I look at that picture and think, jeez, I'm surprised that the sea winds didn't blow me away in one puff!! ๐Ÿ˜–

Over the past few months, I have changed so much and travelled so far. And I know I just can't let the fear and doubt stop me now. ๐Ÿ’šxxx

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Not to run from this fear, but to fight it...

Last week, while Mam and Dad were away, I was an intensely busy girly. With both the house and the two doggies left under my charge, I had my week's work cut out. Not that this displeased me in the slightest. I wanted to keep myself busy; knowing that to dwell upon the house's silent emptiness in the absence of my loved ones would be enough to drive me insane, if I let it.

The day that they left, I thrust myself into my new schedule with desperate gusto. It was a carefully-planned timetable of sorts. Writing in the morning. Walk the doggies at 9.30 am. Mid-morning would be spent pegging out washing and other jobs. After lunch was designated for going into town, when I would hop on my bike and pedal into Mountmellick or Portlaoise, buying a few groceries and necessaries as required, going into my local library for a chat with the librarians and to pick out a book or two.

Then, having got home, I'd hurry out with the doggies again. On returning I'd have my snack and then sit for a bit reading over what I had written earlier that morning. Then the rest of the day would be spent doing more chores and cooking my dinner, before some knitting and then finally, bed.

It was a hard week from the point of view that I felt even lonelier than I usually would - hence my writing of my post about loneliness - but it was the being busy which essentially got me through it. And I didn't fail to notice, at the end of each of those days, the curious ecstatic buzz that I got as I sprawled on the sofa sipping a steaming mug of hot chocolate, and could feel a slight stiffness in my muscles. A feeling which I only ever recall getting, on having done a substantial quantity of exercise. It was akin to that I felt when I hiked the Wicklow Mountains in transition year. I knew it meant that I had done alot.

That buzz. There was no denying that I felt better, even uplifted by it. And I guess that's what's making defeating one of my oldest demons so very, very hard and challenging. Whereas I am fully willing to eat as well as I can - the thought of eating less actually repels me, now - I know I do not want to stop doing my set amount of exercise. The willingness is not there. I'm trying, but each day I find myself unable to do it.

Why did ED have to taint,
the one thing that gives me so much joy? 

And I know why I can't do it. It's because of that feeling - that feeling I get when the Voice in my head comprehends that I haven't done what he regards as "enough". I get as fidgety as I would if I were sitting on a cushion full of needles. I get as anxious as I would have if someone had just shoved an enormous 1 kg steak in front of me, tied me down and told me to eat it. I get as miserable as the dullest December day, grey clouds fogging up every piece of rational sense within my head. Oh my God, Em, you haven't done enough today. You have to do more! Now! When we get in from this walk, you have to go into your room and jog on the spot for ten minutes to make up  for what you haven't done.

But I feel so agonisingly confused. What's right and what's wrong? Whats normal and what's abnormal?? It's just so hard for me, because what I learned about how I should exercise as a recovered anorexic in hospital is essentially contradicted by the world around me, from what I hear and see every day.

One thing that I know is that the secrecy feels wrong. Nothing makes me more afraid then the thought of Mam becoming angry with me, on learning that her daughter does, on that rare occasion, do bouts of jogging in her room for very short periods, all because she can't just let pass a mere ten minutes not completed on a walk. Or the fact that I cycled 30 km last week all in one single day. Having done it, I felt ecstatic, overjoyed, formidable, powerful. But simultaneously there was a tiny, tiny part of me, knowing in my heart that it was wrong. What would Mam and Dad have said if they had known? Would they have smiled at my enthusiasm; or would they have just shaken their heads in concern?

I have to ask myself. Is my body truly ready for this? Am I healthy? No, I've come to the conclusion that it is not so, just yet. I have no idea what my ideal bmi really is, but I'm inclined to wonder as it really is this "magic" number of 19 at which I currently stand.

This is one of the few last demons that remain. But this one has a hold of me and it has a hold of me fast.

I look over the comments of my readers on my last post on compulsion, and they give me a sense of some comfort and direction in this directionless, comfortless mess.

If only I could calm the raging torrents of anxiety in my head. Because God knows I don't want to live like this. I want to exercise. I want to run, I want to walk, I want to climb hills and hurtle along the country lanes on my bike with my hair streaming behind me.

But what I don't want is this constant, niggling anxiety. This Voice which plagues me like a screaming banshee, every time that - because of the weather, because life got busy, or whatever reason crops up during the day -  I don't do what it grudgingly accepts as being enough. 


What can I do?

Should I just go for the easier option of giving into it? Remain at this place; this place of half recovery, that little outcrop upon this huge mountain, an outcrop from which I have never been able to ascend any higher?

But this isn't the way I want things to be.

I want change and I want it now. And change is coming now. In less than two weeks I depart for Barcelona.

More than anything, I need to fight this compulsion right NOW. Otherwise my Barcelona experience might well too be marred.

Certain images often pass through my head; imagined scenarios, so jewel-vivid in my mind's eye. as if they actually happened, or are real. Of finishing work, at 5 pm on one particular day, and being asked by a co-worker to join her for a drink, perhaps.

The girl who is me, in the image, smiles and shakes her head. Her mouth forms the syllables of words which in turn formulate into some sort of excuse. She would love to, but she's ever so tired. She's going to go and have a lie down for a bit. The other worker nods and walks away, leaving the girl standing there. She watches the other go anxiously, beads of perspiration upon her forehead, her heart throbbing like a drum as the lie resonates through her blood.

And then she goes off for a...powerwalk. Because that's what the ED is telling her to do. To forget about being social and to go and do some exercise.

That's not what I want to happen. That's not what I am going to permit to happen, either.

Rather, I have to do something which at one time I never once thought I was fully capable of being.

I have to be strong.
I have to believe in myself and realise that I can do it.
I can beat the compulsion. I have all the tools that I need.

I have the bravery and I have the perseverance. I have the strength. What's stopping me? Didn't I do the unthinkable? Didn't I conquer some of my greatest fears about food and weight gain; fears which at one time, for me, seemed so powerful, so undefeatable, so infinite?

As one of my readers reminded me, I have come too far now to just stop, right here.

The road ahead is as frightening - as terrifying unknown - as the darkest corner of space. But I know I have to do it. So I lift my head up, take and deep breath and carry on.

I don't know exactly how I am going to do this. But I know I have to follow my heart; to shout louder than the demon inside my head.

They say old habits die hard.
I guess that means one has to fight harder than ever to make them die.

So today I created some new rules for myself. Rules which will defy ED's. Rules which I hope will allow me to weaken the final few clutches of his fingers across my throat.

  1. Until I am certain that I am at my healthiest bmi (I am going to take my old consultant's advice, and aim for 20.) , I will not allow myself to run - a form of exercise I have always longed to do, but have never been able to because of my weight - or engage in any other kinds high intensity exercises.
  2. I am still going to adhere to the old rule of the more I do, the more I must eat to compensate. This one actually shouldn't be too hard, as I find that the more mobile I am, the more hungrier I am anyway. ๐Ÿ˜‰
  3. On rainy days, or when I am simply just busy. I know I need to be extra strong and ignore the voice telling me to go out and do my usual walk and get soaked, to still go and exercise despite being exhausted etc. And I know that this is going to be the hardest one. The thought of not doing my usual amount now terrifies me, but I know I am just going to have to try.
  4. As mentioned before I fully intend to try out therapy when I return from Barcelona. I really hope this will help me overcome exercise compulsion for good and set me well on the way to full recovery. 
  5. To start focusing on what I really want to get from exercise and walking. To cease seeing it just as how ED sees it - a way to burn calories - and to value it for what it really, really means to me. That being a chance to be outside in the fresh air, surrounded by all the treasures of nature's rich bounty. To spend time with those I love, doing something which I love. To feel the rush of air against my bare skin and relish that feeling. That feeling of being strong and healthy again. That feeling of freedom.

I used to be the prey, the victim. And ED was the remorseless, parasitic predator.

But now the tables have been turned.

Now it's me who is the predator..

And I know that I must seek out and hunt down every last trace of ED..

I will never let him prey on me or those I love ever again.๐Ÿ’ช