At first glance it might seem that I am just a happy, normal girl who loves to bake and walk her dog. However, I have suffered with an eating disorder since I was 13. It was only in May 2014 when I realised that this Voice in my head was slowly but surely trying to kill me. And so began the long, hard, and painful journey which is recovery...
I want My Cocoa Stained Apron to be a special place...a place for reflection, memories, shared stories...and of course a little bit of cocoa-staining ;) Recovery might be the hardest thing you ever choose to do in this life. But it is also the bravest and best decision you will ever make.:)
Friday, 21 April 2017
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.💙
Monday, 10 April 2017
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
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 Me...is 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.