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.:)

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! πŸ’—

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!! πŸ˜–

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. πŸ’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. πŸ˜‰
  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.πŸ’ͺ

Monday, 5 June 2017

With hope in your'll never walk alone... xxx

So having reflected on this alot over the course of the past few days, I've identified a number of factors which are essentially hindering me from attaining full recovery - both in physical and mental terms - from my eating disorder.

These are, as outlined further in previous posts...

1. Obsession with/compulsion to exercise.
2. Loneliness and isolation leading to depression.
3. My relationship with food as it is now. Because, if I was being really, really honest. Do I eat as a normal person does? No restriction, no holding back, no food rules whatsoever?                      
No, of course I do not. I still hold back when I should not. I still have fears about eating too much. I still have set amounts that I do not permit myself to exceed; certain rules which I go out of my way to follow. For example...this morning. I had my usual handful of nuts. I wanted, having finished them, to dip back into the bag of cashews and take out a few more. But I couldn't make myself do it. Same kind of situation last night: I made myself a gorgeous omelette with my favourite roasted baby potatoes and lots of veggies on side. Having munched on a few of these potatoes, relishing their golden crispiness, I realised that I really did want to have a few more. But no. I could not do it. One might lead to another, the voice whispered hurriedly, intent on warding the desire to have more safely away.

4. Uncertainty as to how and what to eat. Being unable to distinguish what is being sensible as regard food choices and what is essentially giving in to my eating disorder. Same goes for the exercise really: I'm unable to figure out what's healthy and ok for me right now.

5. And a sneaking reluctance - yes, I am going to admit it right now, as this is a very important one. To allow my body to reach its healthy set point, whatever that is. I'm at the minimum healthy bmi now, and I am, needless to say, terrified at the thought of gaining any more weight.

6. Feeling very much at the mercy of the constant deluges of the media and the internet about on obesity and healthy eating. It's everywhere and impossible to escape, and very, very hard to ignore.
And Im not saying one should ignore it. The trick is I guess to be aware of it, but not to be so heavily influenced by it to the extent you're sent down the path of self-destruction again. But how to balance healthy eating with non-restriction? It's something I've never managed to do successfully before; everytime I tried to do so resulted in me just losing weight and restricting all over again.

So first things first..the loneliness, something I reflected on in a post from last week.

And before I begin, I just wanted to offer my sincere thanks, to everyone who posted on here and gave me advice regarding my loneliness and my struggles with extreme hunger. Your comments really meant alot to me and I am forever grateful to youπŸ’—πŸ’™πŸ’•

So this is my plan - the first, of many!! 😊- to overcome this old demon which has been haunting me for so long. And too long. I want 2017 to be the year of the change. A change in my world and a change in my life. A change in both my soul and body. The change that will allow me to reach that beautiful pinnacle of full recovery.

Because it's true to say that permanent feelings of isolation and depression served to form a most effective pithole in my struggle along the path of recovery. In a way, it all acted as a vicious cycle. Giving into ED in the first place made me isolate myself, which then in turn made me depressed, and more inclined to give into my eating disorder. This was because I convinced myself that life was not worth living, and that I might as well starve myself. Disturbingly, I know, looking back now, I also clung to ED in the hope that thinness would help me make more friends. Completely distorted thinking, yes, I know. I can see it all now, as clear and as sharp as a glassy glacier, as certainly as the firmness of the ground beneath my feet.

Why are you eating? There's no point in eating. You're a loner, Em. Noone else in the world cares about you.

But now I have the strength to shake my head, whereas before I would just have nodded in submission. I would have pushed all thoughts of eating away from me, ignoring my stomach's desperate, wretched groans.

But I ignored every signal that my body tried to give me. Back then, I was too depressed and broken to eat. I would creep away with my books and papers, staring at endless sentences and words that were as meaningless to me as the intricate patterns of a Chinese puzzle, seeing, but not reading, or understanding. All I could feel was the hunger and that cold, bitter sense of being alone.

But now it is a different picture.

I no longer see not eating as a way to comfort myself in my loneliness. Neither do I see loneliness as a reason not to recover. In fact, quite the opposite.

I know that if I recover - mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually - I will be able to bring about the change that I desire. And the change has already begun, unfolding in shimmering, golden waves around me, trickling its warmth into my heart and very soul.

So HERE is my plan - informed by my own ideas on how to tackle this loneliness, and of course those of you, my wonderful readers! πŸ˜πŸ’š

1. One of the first things that I know I really NEED to start doing is...dispense with the whole I am going to bother her by messaging her line of thinking.                                                            

I do this ALL of the time. With everyone. It doesn't matter if that person is someone who I KNOW could never be irritated simply because I decided to shoot her a message. It doesn't matter if that person is one of my closest friends; or even, my own mam. It's a familiar scenario: I write someone a little message on Facebook, asking them how they are and would they like to meet up for catch up sometime. Then, a few hours later - particularly if the person doesn't respond, or has seen the message but doesn't answer straightaway - I get anxious, fidgety, even afraid.I open up my laptop again, check the Facebook in a state of fretful agitation, clinging to the desperate hope that there will be a little red number above the messenger symbol at the top of the screen. Oh, God, why did I do it? I would groan, furious with myself. Now look at what you've done, you idiot! You just had to send her another stupid pathetic message, didn't you? No wonder she hasn't answered. Why would anyone want to spend time with the likes of you?                                                                                                       So it's true to say situations like this in the past have not done much to help me tackle my loneliness. In recent months, I've often put off messaging other people consequently. The loneliness was enough to kill me, but the fear of "upsetting" others was more than I could possibly bear. I convinced myself, at the time, that stewing in my own isolation was more preferable. 
But now I am saying in a voice as firm as the steel-hard determination building itself up deep inside me. Now it is time to stop thinking like this. To realise that I'm not being pathetic and weak by messaging, in fact, quite the opposite. It's a similar kind of thing, really, in choosing whether to believe ED or not when he's telling you that you're weak and lazy in choosing to eat more and exercise less during weight restoration. But no. You are being the exact opposite. By choosing to defy the Voice and to nourish yourself and rest your are being not weak, but STRONG. And I know that the same could be said for me, in overcoming my demons and developing a sense of my own-self worth.
2.And so with this in mind, I am going to try my utmost best to not hold back from messaging people, trying to organise meet ups and catch ups, or to suggest doing something fun together. I admit, I know I will find this pretty hard. I know there's a very good chance people won't just decide to start answering my messages, just because I've decided to be a bit more resolute and confident in myself. It's true, I can't change that side of things. But there is one thing in my power, to change. That being the way I choose to respond to those no responses.                        
Instead of just jumping to the automatic conclusion that she doesn't care or she's annoyed with me, I know I need to stop taking people's silences so much to heart, and accept that the person in question is just busy. Because I mean, honestly, who would get annoyed simply for getting a message from someone? I know that the people I know would not. As with all my anxieties revolving round food and weight gain, the fear is, really and truly, all just in our heads.

3.I know that it's also important that I work on distracting myself from the loneliness when I feel as if it has become overwhelming. Instead of sitting around letting myself be consumed by the thoughts when they creep in, I know that I'd be much better off actively doing something. Whether that be going out for a blast with my furry friends, ringing my Gran, writing notes for Morokia, or digging out my cocoa stained apron. 

4.Get more involved in stuff in my community. And I'm pleased to say I've made inroads with this: a couple of weeks ago, I commenced my volunteering with my local Brownie (Girl Guides) Unit in Portlaoise. Unfortunately, they're finished for the summer now, but they start up again in September.

5.After the summer, I am hoping to be able to start doing some proper therapy, both for the anorexia and the depression. I know deep down that if I really want to achieve full and complete recovery, I am going to need to seek some professional help. Much as I hate to admit it, my consultant was right all along (as she was about everything!!😑)

6.And last, but by no means least; there is something that I really wanted to tell you about, and which might well need an entire blog post to itself so that I can give you the full details. It's something which, I know, has the potential to be something of a life-changing experience for me, and which I hope with all my heart will help me to further conquer my loneliness and change me, and my outlook on life, for the better.                                                                          
That being....the Ganache Elf finally has a job. A job?? Yes, of sorts. Just a temporary thing - five weeks this July - in the sun-soaked city known as Barcelona....😲

The title of this post is taken from the lyrics of the most beautiful little song that my dear friend Ange quoted in her post comment...thank you mo chroΓ­ πŸ’šπŸ’œπŸ’›

Friday, 2 June 2017

Food on the Brain...

                                No matter what I do, no matter where I go...
                                Those thoughts  are there with me...

In my latest post I talked alot about my loneliness and how this constitutes one of the most difficult challenges in my recovery.

I want next to address this obstacle head on and outline how I hope to fight and overcome this loneliness. But before we move on there's another issue which I wanted to post on here, and which I thought might be relevant for others.

That being the extreme hunger, again - or maybe, to put it in more precise terms, the never ending thoughts of food and constant preoccupation, even when you feel physically full. I've heard it termed before as "mental hunger". You just can't stop thinking about food.

I'm still struggling with this. Not all of the time - it's by far worse in the mornings - but every day I experience it and it's beginning to make me wonder as to whether there's something not quite right here.

Ok, here's a quick recap on where I am at in terms of the "physical" side of things. If we were to go by terms of bmis and all that, I'm weight restored. The last time I checked it - about two weeks ago, at a guess; I am trying my utmost best to avoid those hateful blue scales as much as possible - I had reached the "healthy" 19 mark.

So in the eyes of some medical professionals, I guess, I am now officially healthy. But am I?

But yet there I was this morning, sitting writing to you, and as I wrote my head had felt awash with rippling tides of anxiety. That being because it was only 10 am, and I had already eaten both breakfast and all of my morning snacks. My stomach was bloated and full; as it constantly seems to be, these days. I am forever wearing yoga pants and loose shorts so I do not have to look at it.

And yet I still -

wanted -


Beside me were all the plates and bowls and spoons which had held the foods I had just consumed. Two bowls of cereal, some cheese, a boiled egg and half a bagel with seeds on it. Over two tablespoons of peanut butter, and another piece of toast, then some nuts and a banana. All in the space of three hours.

I'm not going to pretend that this doesn't bother me, because it does. Not just the quantity of food in itself; eaten so quickly, as if I have just come through a four season famine. It's the fact that I wanted - and still want - more. After finally finishing my last cashew, I had sat for ages, poking at the jar of peanut butter with a spoon, longing more than anything to just dive in and take another heavenly mouthful and relish that sweet, chewy deliciousness for yet another time. But the very thought of doing so repulsed me. How could you even consider..? The cruel voice screamed, outraged. You greedy...little...!!

Finally, frustrated and upset, I shoved the whole lot away from me and buried myself away with my laptop, desperate to ward away the thoughts which hover in the background like stubborn flies looking for a space upon which to land.

Why do I feel like this? Wasn't extreme hunger supposed to end on being weight restored?

It doesn't matter how many times I attempt to swat those thoughts away, try to escape them by taking cover. They always find me, and settle upon my shoulders, buzzing cruel laughter in my ears. I'm scared. Very scared. And confused; oh so, confused. What's going on?

Is it because I am not yet at a weight which is healthy for my body - that that "golden number" of 19 (according to them) is in fact too low for a girl who has been underweight for half her life? Could it be possible then that I have more weight to gain and that I should give into these cravings and hunger as much as possible?

Or is it more because...because, I am obsessed with food? On the brink of a binge disorder? Or is there no logical explanation? I'd do anything to have an answer.

Since reaching this "healthy " weight, I have still managed relatively well to not drastically reduce my intake. There's been a few tiny changes, of course. I knew that there would be. The two pieces of toast and half a bagel became just one piece along with the bagel half; the handfuls of nuts became that little bit smaller, the cereal bowls a kinch less generous.

But overall I have been doing ok. But still these thoughts remain. And how I long to be rid of them.

So I decided that my best option was, as it is in most instances, to reach out. πŸ’™

I wondered if there is anyone out there who has experienced this, or is currently experiencing it. I really hope you don't mind me directly appealing for your help, but in the past your support has been indispensable to me, and I hope so much you would be able to help me out another time. Thank you so very, very much and I hope that soon I can move on to actually grappling and tackling these porblmes instead of just talking about them!!πŸ’ͺ

And tomorrow, yes, I shall step on them scales. Only once. Just to check it and see what it is, how I am doing. Then they will be put away again for another two weeks; put under the bed with all the other trash that I don't really want; stuff that I don't have any use for, anymore. Because the day will come when those scales will be like that stuff too. Something that I no longer have any use for.

The day that I am recovered.πŸ’ͺ

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

We are not alone. xxx

God grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change what I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

This is the quote that a dear friend sent me in the past, upon one of the many days upon which I was struggling, and felt like I couldn't go on.

And last Wednesday was a day which felt vaguely reminiscent of those days. A day upon which the depression came back in force, creeping into my heart and extinguishing the candles of hope which had once burned there.

What I had hoped was an eternal sunrise, was in fact another sunset..

Not because of food, or anorexia in itself. Rather, I suppose, one of the major aftereffects which has been brought about through my illness. That being the loneliness, the constant feeling of isolation. I guess it was naive of me to assume that, once college was over, life would suddenly be as bright and as beautiful as a summer garden alive with roses.The reality, of course, was very, very different. On returning from my Gran's, the loneliness hit me again like a cold, strong wave smashing against the delicate sands of the shore.

It all felt very familiar, that Wednesday. I guess that's because I know that I've been to this place before. I've followed the exact same pattern as I did last year, in more ways than one. Gone from underweight to weight restored again; gone from being vaguely aware of just how lonely I feel, to an intense, razor-sharp consciousness of my solitude, my isolation, and the desolation that comes along with it.

While I was gaining weight, that sense of purpose in my mind seemed to take the edges off the pain of being alone. Once again I was lured into the trap of making naive assumptions about how ideal my new life would be like. I would have tonnes of friends again, somehow. I would be confident. I would appreciate every single moment of every single day, and embrace life with all my heart, as I never have managed to before.

But now once again I feel like the girl who got left behind. The outsider. The one destined to tread her own lonely little path. Do people think that I am happy like this? My heart beats its own desolate little rhythm. 

Please, no, don't leave me. I no longer want to be alone.

Every year of my illness was a lonely one, marked by tears of isolation. But it mattered less to me then than it does now. Because back then I had ED as my...soulmate. There's no denying the fact that I derived a sort of comfort from him. We danced together in what constituted a warped, twisted courtship; a relationship founded on abuse and subordination of the weaker other.

We knew each other so, so well. He knew all my strengths, all my weaknesses. In time, I learned to know his.

And it was then I began to fight back, to struggle to break free. My eyes had been opened. For the first time since the commencement of our relationship, I recognized him for what he really was. An abusive, sick partner who had broken my heart and very nearly broke my soul.

But all those years; all those years, of being alone, of declining invitations to social events, to turning down the friendly offers of former classmates to join in on nights out, to come along to the party, to pop over for pre drinks and nibbles.

Did I fear the thought of being the one left out; did I weep at the thought of being isolated? Yes, I did. But sadly, I feared the thoughts of eating, of anyone finding out my secret, even more. ED convinced me every time not to go, and that's what I always did. I would cry every time, wanting to go, but knowing I would not. And he would comfort me, telling me that whatever happened, I will still be here.

All those years sit heavily upon my shoulders now, as heavy and as crippling as shackles.

Because now I am no longer the girl who wants to be with ED. Now I want to dance upon dance floors, wear pretty dresses and eye-catching makeup, to flutter my eyelashes at boys. Now I want to love, and be loved. Now, I want to live, to grasp the quivering heartstrings of life with my bare, outstretched hands.

But now it seems to be all to late.

My college days are over and gone. I can't go back in time and relive them again; can't grab hold of those opportunities which I, back then, allowed to pass me by.

If only life could be like a dancer progressing from move to move, each one standing as a marker on her journey to success.
If you mess one particular move up, it's ok, you can go back to it. You can go back to it and do it all again. Then, when you have done it the way you really, really want, you can move on to what lies ahead. Learning, and getting better, and stronger. Working at each one until you get it just right.

But life isn't really like that, I know. I can't go back and redo it all again. I can only work with what I have.

But I have learnt. I have got stronger. And, I know, if I try really hard, I don't have to limp my way through the next few stages of my life journey. I hope that I can learn to dance. πŸ’™

If we would only let it,
hope can spring forth, like a beautiful summer flower.πŸ’•

In my next post I will talk a little more about what I intend to do to combat this loneliness, and to further weaken the remaining bonds of ED. I hope that this will help all those who feel alone in this battleπŸ’™xxx

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The Last and Final Stretch... 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. 

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

From Darkness into Light..

My hands trembled as I held out the blue answer booklet. The invigilator, having not noticed my shaking fingers, took it from me with a smile, and moved on.

I sat there dazed, not quite able to comprehend the feelings that surged in my breast, crashing against one another like the white tipped waves of the ocean.

I had done it.

I was here.

My time at Trinity was finally, finally over.

And so I stepped out of the stuffy, artificially lit exam hall, stepped out from that crowded space in which the dozens upon dozens of  excited human voices intermingled and wove into one another to make one confused, violent cacophony of sound. Stepped right out of there, towards the square of yellow light which led into the outside world. 

Another world, to me. I felt as if I was making both a literal and figurative transition, from one place to another.

Into a world of sweet and beautiful freedom; a world in which my sorrows would melt away like chips of sharp ice being thawed by the delicate kiss of the spring sun. 

I was free. I had done it. I had finished my college degree.

And it did not matter that my exam hadn't gone brilliantly, and that I had ran out of time on the question involving a discussion of two of the course texts' lack of human empathy. It did not matter that, when I had entered that very same exam hall two days before to sit my first exam, it had suddenly hit me, like a stinging blow to the face, that I knew not a soul in that place. I had felt like Robert Neville at the end of the I am Legend novel, looking out at the face of the brave new world and feeling totally, utterly isolated. That was what I had felt like. I don't belong here.

But now it did not matter.

Now, I no longer cared.

For I was free. Free to be me, to forge a new and beautiful future for myself, far separated from the pain and struggles of the past. I was stepping out from the darkness of my loneliness, stepping from that crowded world - a world in which I had been surrounded by people, but had always, no matter how many faces I could see, felt so, so alone, like a lonely, plain-feathered songbird struggling to fly amongst a flock of beautiful swans.

I was leaving behind the loneliness, the sadness, the pain of unbelonging. The constant feelings of not being good enough, that my existence was worthless to everyone and everything.

I was leaving behind that world, that day.

And so I stepped into the light.

And so I ran through the streets of Dublin towards my train, my hair streaming behind like wild uncurling banner, the late afternoon sunshine casting dapples of light upon my face as I passed beneath trees laden with the sweet green foliage of May. People turned to stare at me in surprise as I ran past, their curious gazes following me as I dodged between them like a minnow between reeds.  I suppose what they saw was sort-of  young looking girl, with a full, glowing face, purple runners on her feet, a black skirt with tiny roses, a white top which left her arms and shoulders bare and exposed to the sun. 

But over the past few months, that girl became wiser.

She learned quite a few new things. Things that weren't just related to the degree she was trying so desperately to achieve.

She learned things about herself, her world. Things about life. And ultimately things about her recovery.

She learned that she did have the strength to do this.

She learned to care less about what others think, and to just be herself.

She learned that she was strong and capable. That she has what it takes to achieve her dreams and goals.

She learned to take care of herself.

She learned that she didn't have to be the thin, skinny girl, whose potential to be loved by other is wholly dependent on the severity of her illness.

She learned to be the Real, True Emmy.

She learned that she could leave the thin, scared little girl behind.

And I think it was these vital lessons which got that girl through her exams, to the light beyond. It was these lessons which filled her heart with joy as soon as she stepped into that light and felt the warmth upon her face, felt the heavy, dragging weights being  lifted from her shoulders. It was these lessons that lightened her steps, that day she ran through the streets of Dublin, towards Heuston, and home. It was these lessons which taught her that she could be free. Free to break free from the crippling fetters of loneliness, pain, self-doubt. And to render ED ever weaker.

And though she still has some way to go, she learned that she will see this battle out to the very, very end.

There can only be two possible outcomes to this fight.

I can choose to let ED destroy me...or I can choose to destroy ED, and win the pure sweet freedom that true recovery inevitably brings.

And I've learnt now that I can make the right choice.

For it is time for me to be free, in heart, body and soul.πŸ’•

Friday, 21 April 2017

If Only...

If only things had been different.

If only things had not had to change.

If only childhood would stretch out forever,

extending out towards the horizon

like a desert's endless, sweeping sands.

But things had to change and I was powerless to stop them. Childhood ended; was torn away from me, snatched away from my flailing hands, a delicate leaf borne away by a callous winter's storm.

Ahead of me loomed the darkness of adolescence.

A darkness in which a black-cloaked demon waited, cloaked in its own shadow.

If only I hadn't been so stupid, so stubborn.

If only I had chosen to listen to my loved ones, rather than that monster in my head
which was dragging me down into its embrace, consuming both my body and mind.

Crushing me to pieces, spitting out only the bits which weren't even really me at all -

A hurting, angry, bitter girl, who snapped at everyone and refused to let anyone in.

If only I had listened.

If only I had been stronger.

If only I had chosen to fight back, before it was too late.

But the days turned to months; the months, to years.

My bones became weak and brittle,
crumbling like flaking winter leaves.
My body became weaker. Friends stopped caring, began to slip quietly away.

I was alone. Alone, with nothing, but a broken body and a broken heart.

I forgot how to really laugh, how to really smile.

I forgot how it felt to feel alive.

My happiness, shrivelled up,

like a tender flowerbud exposed to a harsh, cruel sun.

And I look back now and see a countless number of if onlys.

At times like this, it's hard to want to keep on going forwards, searching for that longed for light.

Not knowing whether there is a light, or if there is any point in searching for it.

But try I must and keep trying, we will.

I don't want there to be any more if onlys.

I can only hold on to what is left to me, now. Hold what I love close to my breast, and take those tentative steps forward.πŸ’™

Monday, 10 April 2017

Blind Faith

Thursday afternoon, 2pm, saw the enactment of a isolated personal drama in the sitting room of just  one of Derryguile's well-dispersed houses.

The crisis involved only one hapless subject. That being me, needless to say. Like some sort of bizarre scene in a soap drama, music played gaily in the background as I crept into Mam's room and took the scales out from under the bed. Shoot me down, but I won't fall. I am Titanium. Mam, listening to Sia in the front lounge. After lunch, she had left me sitting rigidly in my little chair in the conservatory, surrounded by towering white mountains of page upon page of study notes scrawled in my messy, untidy hand.

I had felt a sharp jolt of cold, hard guilt as the ice-cold steel had met my probing, nervousfingers. You shouldnt be doing this, a little voice had chided at the very back of my mind.

But stronger than that there was another voice, urging me on. Oh yes, you do. You need to see how f -

No, not fat. I answered, trying to sound firm, resolute. Not fat, no. Im gaining weight, and I need to -

No,  no, no. 

It was there again, stronger than ever.

you're just becoming fat. There's no point trying to deny it...

No! No, I am not! I am not. Leave me alone. Leave - me - ALONE!!

Yes, yes, yes!! you are, just look! Look at your stomach and you'll see the proof...!

A sound escaped from my throat: half snarl, half sob. Stumbling like a blind man, I fled from the room, the scales tucked under my arm.

I placed it upon the wooden boards of the sitting room and sat back on my heels, staring at it for a few moments. Such an ugly, unsightly thing, these scales. I hated them. I hated them with a bitter, throat-clenching, tangible type of loathing: one which seemed so palpable that it was as if I were able to clutch that hatred with my very bare hands.  They represented, to me, an abhorrent instrument of torture. A bloody rack upon which a victim would be placed, to be torn and broken and wracked with indescribable agony.

Yes. That's how I feel every time I step on that horrible, horrible square of blue steel.

This was my torture; and ED, of course, was the torturer who would turn the bloody cogs into motion.

But I knew that I was going to do it. I knew what I was going to feel when I stepped on it; knew, all too well, the sensations that would ripple through me as I watched those numbers flash upon the screen. I knew I was going to be  plagued by screaming, relentless tormenting.

I place one foot forwards as if I was stepping right into a pit of vipers. Reluctantly, the rest of my body follows. I don't want to look at the digits appearing between my toes. More than anything, I want to walk away right now. To step off that hateful implement and bury myself in those papery hills of notes. Even driving myself to irritable distraction trying to memories points about Beowulf's androgynous heroism was more preferable, to this.

But I knew, sadly, that to flee to those hills would afford no escape for me. No escape from the Voice, ever whispering in my head.

What do you weigh? Oh, I bet you weigh four times the amount that you did the last time. Just look at yourself in the mirror, and you can;t deny the proof...

I looked. And as soon as I did I wanted to cry. Instantly my head was the scene of the violent, ear-shattering explosions as the Voice let rip to its anger.

What!! Oh my God!! That makes you a bmi of .....!!

No, no!! That can't be right!!It couldn't have gone up that much since the last time..!

It's 3 kg more than the last time I got weighed at Trinity...!!

Oh god, oh god!! That means I've gained...gained...gained at the rate that I did when I was an inpatient...

On and off, on and off I hop like a flustered bird, stepping on, stepping back down again; all the while peering down to that cruel numerical screen between my agitated, jerking toes; my emotions escalating between red hot anger and desperation, to fear, ice-cold fear, to utter, crushing misery. Ive gained weight, ive gained weight, and its much, much more than I had thought it would be...oh, no, god, please..calm this storm inside my head, please. I cant do this, I cant do this....

When Mam came in about half an hour later, I was still there, in the exact same place, my body trembling like a leaf in a gale, my face streaked with hot, bitter tears.

Since that day, I have not been near the scales. Mam talked to me, calmed me down, and quietly suggested that we "leave the weighing to your nurses at Trinity".

Different scales, different weights - that's what she and others have reassured me; and this is what I am now making myself believe. But that moment has remained with me, lying on the very edge of my memory like scummy residue upon the surface of a pond.

Testifying the extent to which I am still terrified of gaining weight. I am doing it; that much I do know: but the fear remains as immense and palpable as it did, all those years ago, when I first embarked upon my journey to recovery.

So many different, separate fears which branch off this one; all of which are intrinsically linked to it; all of which I am as helpless to escape from as an entrapped fly from the spider's web.

What will happen when I am weight restored? What if I just keep on gaining?

Will I be able to pass my exams? Having prioritised, for the past few months...not college, but recovery?

How do I eat when I'm weight restored? Do I have to cut out stuff? Can I eat the same? What do I have to change?

Will the weight ever distribute? Or will I just have this...this..stomach...forever?

How long, how lonely, this journey of recovery. Sometimes I feel immobilized with the fear; the uncertainty, of just what lies ahead.

 It's like stumbling in the darkness of a seemingly endless, winding tunnel. Not knowing how, or when it will end. Not knowing at where, once you have reached that much longed for, sought for opening, just where will be that place which you have been searching so hard for.

How? How to get through this? How could we possibly take such a terrifying leap; when our eyes cannot see, just where this path may lead?

It's blind faith.

Learning to trust, and believe, in the process of recovery. To have faith in everything that recovery stands for, and to take on those fears with that fortitude beating in your heart.

In recovery, you have to have that blind faith. You have to do the thing which frightens you the most; choose to commit yourself to a process which will fundamentally undercut the ED-implanted beliefs about your identity and your body. A process which will change you, both physically and mentally. A process which necessitates you to draw every day upon every single ounce of your courage, determination, and strength.

And the most terrifying thing about  recovery is that none of us can possibly tell just where this journey will take us; or how and when it will end. So many unanswered questions; so many whats and what ifs.

My thoughts and prayers are with each and every one of you now. I reach out to you and hope that you will derive some strength from these words.

Have faith. Have faith in recovery; have faith, despite all those fears and endless spinning questions. Have faith, no matter what lies the eating disorder may throw at you. Have faith that this road - this hard, long, painful road - is going to take you to a place where storms will no longer rage.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Trying to Find the Real Me...

The bog resembled a reedy, gorse strewn paddy field. Water had collected in large puddles upon the ground; some of which had joined together to resemble miniature lakes and riverlets. Water dripped from the saturated leaves of the trees, drops of dewy moisture glistening like carelessly scattered diamonds upon the ground. Every step I took left a deep, malformed imprint upon the marshy soil; soil which now resembled liquid tar as sodden black peat was turned to runny mud.

Daisy, however, was as enthusiastic and exuberant as ever. If anything, the recent wet spell had served to raise rather than dampen her enthusiasm for our little morning walk. As soon as we left the road onto the mud track, she began to prance and buck like a horse that has been kept in over winter, her long pink tongue flapping out of her mouth like a banner. I reached down and clipped off her lead, and she was off, ears and tail streaming behind her, shooting across the field like an arrow from a bow.

I watched her for a while as I always do, the corners of my mouth involuntarily curling into a smile. But then my smile faded as I glanced down at my stomach, bloated, as usual, from the enormous breakfast I had just had. Benny, seeing my hands fluttering from my sides to rest upon my belly, looked up at me expectantly, thinking he was going to get a treat. But I was too preoccupied to notice. Despondent and discouraged, I walked on, Benny tagging behind me, his tail now hanging limp.

I walked along in a sort of daze, the Voice increasing in volume in my head: an insistent, relentless, scornful voice of malice. Oh look at you, oh look at you! Recovery really is great, isnt it?

I turned sharply as I heard a splashing noise behind me, before letting rip a yelp of exasperation. It was Daisy, and she was as muddy as if she had decided to taken a mudbath. Flecks of mud flew off her as she shook, showering me and Benny with dirty brown droplets of peaty, dark soil.

"Daisy!" I yelled, so loudly that a thrush took flight from the adjacent hawthorn hedge. Daisy's tail dropped instantly, and she cowered on the ground in a gesture of penitent submission.

My anger melted away like warmed ice, replaced instantly by a burning sense of shame and selfhatred. I mean what do you expect, you bitch? She's just a young dog!!!

Tears sprang into my eyes and coursed down my  cheeks. I kneeled in the mud and hugged both of my dogs tightly. Im sorry, I whispered into their soft, sodden fur. I'm sorry, I'm sorry. This isn't me, you know it isn't. Please don't think that was the real me.

Its times like that when I realise just how much that Voice has changed me.

It's not only the irritableness; the speed at which I can snap, suddenly and sharply, at the silliest or most insignificant of provocations. It's also the jealousy, the bitterness. The sense of terrible, deeply rooted wretchedness.

This hit me today when I saw mam preparing afternoon snacksfor Daddy and my brother. I had frozen where I was standing to stare, heat rising into my cheeks, turning them to flaming spots of crimson. My own snack was sitting on the counter, awaiting to be toasted and buttered. Prepared in that painful, agonising manner with which I always prepare my own food. Butter and peanut butter would be applied with tediously meticulous carefulness. The numbers of the teaspoons I was taking from the jar or the tub would be resounding through my head, repeating themselves over and over and over.

That's not fair. A lump wedged itself within my throat. That's not fair. Why doesn't she offer to do me anything? Does she not know how easier it would be for me if someone else prepared this for once?

I turned away, not wanting her to see the pain in my eyes. fleeing to the conservatory, I turned my face to the garden, trying to find solace in the dainty, paper thin leaves of the blossom tree.

Jealousy. I...I hate myself, for it, so, so much. And I never, at one time, would have thought that I was capable of feeling like that. But I know, that I am. That incident today was only one drop in the ocean. I know that there's been many, many more.

Surely that jealous, irritable, bitter girl who I have become is not the real me.

The Real someone else. That's what I want to believe.

The Real Me was a happy girl. The Real Me was a girl who always had a smile upon her face and always greeted the morning with joy and gratefulness in her heart. The Real Me didnt care about how many potatoes she had on her plate, or how many minutes she would walk with her family for their afternoon stroll in the woodlands. The Real Me was not surly and irritable over stupid, trivial things that really aren't worth even getting upset about.

The Real Me would have respected her body.

The Real Me would have done alot of things differently, to that obsessive, short-tempered, depressed girl I have become.


There is still time to find her.

The Real Emmy, the Real Me. A girl who is happy and healthy, inside and out.
The last time I couldn't accept it
But this time I have to fight harder.
This is where the hardest part of battle 
is going to begin ...

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Meal Plan Musings!!! ;) xxx

And so finally here is my meal plan post... I am so sorry for the lateness in this; unfortunately, with college as it is, I only have time to blog once a week at the moment😑

I wanted to share with you a few things in this post. Firstly, my new meal plan with the increases I added in this week. My weight's been going ok, but I decided to increase the plan again for a number of reasons..

  1. I know that the more I eat the better AND I actually feel ready now to add these increases. I wouldn't say my body has fully adapted, yet - I still struggle alot with bloating and fullness - but it's not unbearable and I feel mentally strong enough to increase my intake once more.
  2. I want to give my body, health, and metabolism 101 % chance of repairing itself. And in order to do this I think an increased amount of calories is going to contribute significantly to this process.
  3. Being at college, I am still moving around a good bit; so accordingly it would be good to get in some extra calories in order to compensate for this.
One of my readers asked for some advice re meal plans. Having been recovering alone for a couple of years now since leaving Pat's, I could really relate to my reader's situation - it's can be really overwhelming when you are on your own and trying to devise your own meal plan; even more overwhelming, of course, to have to accept that, when recovering from anorexia, it is both normal and necessary to have to eat much more than you might be comfortable with. 

So I really hope that this post helps anyone who might be about to embark upon that journey; who has decided to commit to this difficult task. But please believe me when I say it will be worth it. But it has to be you who wants to do this. You have to want to follow this through for yourself. Otherwise you are setting yourself up for a fall.

I learnt this the hard way. It's true. The past few years, since I started to recover...there was no wanting on my part. I didn't want it for myself and spent most of my time thinking how pointless it all was.

Small wonder then why it was never long why formerly blade-sharp determination very quickly became blunted, losing its edge and keeness. Small wonder then that the motivation which would at first sing in my blood very swiftly broke apart in my veins.

It's only now that my mindset has changed. It's only now that I have felt the first tiny, tiny, shadow-thin fragments; fragments of what I recognise now is that wanting to do it for myself.

And so every day I fight my unseen battle. Everytime I glance downwards and feel my throat tighten as I look upon my swollen, bloated stomach. Everytime I pour my milk into the measuring jug; every time I spread my bread and toast, everytime I eat that snack, even though eating might at the time be the last thing in the whole world that I feel like doing. Everytime I do these things, and more. I am constantly, constantly reiterating that fundamental truth in my head. Letting my own voice grow stronger, overriding and superseding that malicious sneering monotone which has oppressed me for so so long.

I have to stick to my meal plan because...

If I do not my oseteoporosis will only get worse..
My metabolism will be damaged and messed up..
I will never get my periods back..
I will be giving into my anorexia, an action which will make it all too easy for the ED voice to gain full control of me again, and get me back to where I started.

But anyway let's go onto the more practical stuff about meal plans.

just a small sampling of some of my top favourite ever foods..mammy's out of this world banana and custard with MILKA OREO 😍), Lizzy's specialty hot choc and my own roasted almonds still warm from the oven....πŸ’š

Making your own meal plan: the golden rules!!😊

  • Adhere to the basic structure for ED recovery meal plans: three meals, three snacks, every day, no exceptions.
  • The aim is for you eventually to be eating about 2500-3000 calories a day as a minimum (but see the third point below). It's very important to do this because it allows the metabolism to recover and also, bearing in mind all the damage restriction wreaks upon the body, it gives your body the vital energy it needs to repair and heal itself, too.
  • I did say this in a comment but it's ever so important so I thought I had best mention it again here!! That being..if you have been restricting severely and have been eating a very low calorie amount for a long time, then you must NOT start eating the recommended calorie amount in anorexia recovery straightaway. This can cause refeeding syndrome, which can be potentially very dangerous. Instead start off with a slightly lower amount (say, 1500) and then gradually start adding more and more in until you are eating the full amount every day.
  • Don't be afraid to eat MORE than the meal plan. If you feel hungry - whether that be physical or emotional hunger - just don't overthink it, just sit down and EAT. It doesn't matter if it's more than what's written on the piece of paper!! Remember, the more the better, ALWAYS. Bear in mind that in an inpatient setting, the patient essentially has to sit around all day and still eat 2500-3000 calories..and even then the weight gain process isn't exactly what you would call rapid. So imagine how much energy your body needs if you, like me, are recovering at home and still going pottering around the house, doing chores, going to college etc. So yes. Basically - eat. Eat as much as you can, as frequently as you can manage. Some people eat 5000 cals a day in ED recovery and that is OKAY. So no matter what the voice throws at you, KNOW you are doing the right thing. That little bit extra will just make you stronger. Stronger bones, stronger heart, stronger skin and limbs. A healthy, strong body: the most precious and valuable possession you will ever have.

And also just in case anyone wanted some Snack ideas...

- Sandwiches!! Yes. They ARE such good snacks..more than good!!. My favourite has to be toasted cheese and tomato...mmmmm <3 Mix it up by using different fillings, different bread types. Spelt, wholemeal, soda bread, and seeded multigrain are all personal favourites of mine. Fillings basically can be anything you want.There's no limit to what you can stick between those slices of bread!!
- Bagels..don't get me started about bagels..I love them. But I'm afraid Im kind of unorthodox in that I have them with peanut butter. And lots of spread and a good handful of seeds to sprinkle all over them.
- Crumpets. Oh. My. GOD I cannot get enough of those yummy, spongy, yeast-risen treats. Spread with loads of butterly and a great big spolodge of peanut butter....ohhh im in heaven!! 😍
- Teacakes, hot cross buns, scones and English muffins, spread with butter and jam.
- Your favourite chocolate bar. Homemade cookies or granola bars. Make your own!! It's fun and can be really motivating - the more you eat the more you get to bake ;)
- Nuts. But make sure to have the correct amount...a GOOD handful, about 30 g (and that's a minimum!!
- Yoghurt - natural or flavoured; add stuff to it - berries, nuts, seeds, cereal; whatever you fancy!!
- A boiled egg with a sprinkling of salt and pepper ;)
- Slices of cheese on crackers (Tuc have to be the best ;) !! )
-Ice cream....go and get yourself your favourite flavour and have a good bowl with some berries or chocolate shavings..mmm..πŸ’š
- Fruit..BUT I don't really think fruit counts as a snack by itself - try to have something with it 😊
- Cereal (with or without milk...though personally i dont think you can beat cereal and hot milk...sorry i know to some that might sounds disgusting BUT I absolutely adore hot milk poured over cornflakes or weetabix 😍

But in all honesty..? ANYTHING can count as a snack, really. Like my morning snacks are meals in themselves in a way. Like this morning, I got up, had breakfast by myself at 7 while mam and dad were still in the land of Nod!! And then at 10 they had their breakfast and I had my, haha, snack if you want to call it that...we all had boiled eggs and soldiers, which for them was breakfast, but for me was basically brekkie number 2. And I actually love eating like that now!!!πŸ’ͺ

I'm not really one for asserting that there is a certain kind of snack that you should go for, that some are better than others, blah blah blah. But if you are struggling to decide (and I can really relate to you as ED indecisiveness is something I STILL really struggle with... :( ) then I would say. a.) Go with your gut feeling (excuse the pun). Deep down, I think you will know what it is you REALLY want. and b.) Mix it up. For me for example, I wouldn't tend to have chocolate as my snack, as I always have  a bar's worth of choc on my custard and banaan after dinner, hence I don't really feel like having it at snack time. Instead, as you can see from my meal plan, my snacks consist more of carbs and proteins with a milk-based thing alongside. and c.) perhaps take into account the nutrients your body might be deficient in: if, say, you restricted a certain food group for a long time. For me, this was protein foods - something which I regret greatly now, might I add, as I'm sure that was a factor in my developing serious osteoporosis - so hence, as you can see from my own meal plan, I try to add in some form of protein into each of my snack times.

And so here is my own meal plan!! Now I haven't added in the calorie amounts, as I don't want to trigger anyone with all those numbers - and to be honest, I'm genuinely not too fussed about the whole calorie counting thing. It's one thing that I never really have had any issues with. I couldn't honestly tell you how many calories are in 30 g of cheese without looking at the packet...and that's the way I intend it to remain. Afew weeks ago, though, I actually forced myself to carry out the altogether tedious task of sitting down and working out for myself how much my meal plan actually amounted to. Solely for the purpose of just making sure I was eating to the minimums.

Now I know that my meal plan will definitely not be for everyone and I don't want anyone to think that this is the "ideal plan" (whatever that is). But this is what I love to eat and what I think if working for me. It's loosely based on my old inpatient meal plan with my own little adjustments..the most obvious probably being that I don't take energy drinks anymore..don't get me wrong, Fortisip are great and if you like them they can be a great addition to the plan. It's just for me I was never that keen on them - they bring me right back to my inpatient days - and I can't really afford them either. But anyway...I don't think milky hot choc is a bad substitute at all 😍

A. Breakfast: 7.00 – 8.00.

1. Approx 125 ml milk + cereal (2 weetabix/2 shredded wheat/bitesize shredded wheat/shereddies/malt wheats/wheat flakes/muesli/granola/corn flakes/ready-brek/porridge etc etc etc.

2. Banana/melon/strawberries/blueberries.

3. 2 tbsp or more of peanut/cashew/almond butter.

4. X 2 wholemeal, seeded ormultigrain toast/soda bread/oat bread/spelt bread/multigrain bagel + spread ;

5. 30 g cheese/ 50g smoked salmon/boiled egg. Sometimes I stick the cheese in the toast and have that yummy toasted sandwich I was blahhing on about above.

B. Morning Snack(s ;) ): 9.00 – 12.30.

1. Soft or hard-boiled egg/30 g cheese/40 g tuna mayo/50 g smoked salmon/30 g hummus/poached egg/small cheese and onion or spinach omelette/scrambled eggs

2. ½ multigrain bagel/1 slice wholemeal, seeded or multigrain toast/soda bread/oat bread/spelt bread + spread;

3. Handful sunflower/pumpkin seeds

4. Milky hot choc/Miller Rice/Rice pudding/ hot milk with cereal

5. 30-40 g mixed nuts ;)

C. Lunch: 13.00-14.00.

Stuffed tomato, mushroom or pepper with 60 g tuna mayo/egg mayo mix/cheese + salad + dressing + cold potatoes, couscous, or rice

Or Soup (butternut/chicken and veg/tomato + cannellini bean/red lentil etc etc etc.) + salad and protein/roll/bread ;

Or Omelette + salad/vegetables ;

Or Frittata + salad/vegetables ;

Or Tuna mayo/egg mayo/ chicken salad with couscous/cold potatoes

Or Baked potato + baked beans/tuna mayo/cheese + salad

Or Pitta bread/Wrap + fillings

Or Boiled/poached eggs + salad/toast or both

Or Baked beans+ salad/toast or both

Or couscous/rice with chicken/cheese + salad

D. Afternoon Snack: 16.15-17.45.

1. Milky hot choc/miller rice/rice pudding/hot milk with cereals

2. Crumpet, spread + 1 tbsp peanut butter/scone + spread

     E.   Dinner 
  1. Main course - varies depending on waht I/mam cook but its usually the basic protein + crabs + veggies.  
  2. And then, of course...the most heavenly desset on EARTH (in my opinion!! ;) ) : a big banana, lashings of custard, and tonnes of divine chocolate, all melting and molten on top....😍

    F. Bedtime

    Milky hot choc πŸ’›

I really hope that this has been of some help to anyone who is struggling...please do comment below if you have any other questions or require further advice πŸ’š