Back To Baking

Today was my first full day at home and I’ve spent the whole day in the kitchen!

In recent months I moaned that I didn’t have a hobby or something to be passionate about. However, the truth is, I love to bake. I have always had a sweet tooth and although my eating disorder tricked me into believing that I didn’t like cake and no one needs chocolate, I am happy that I can now see the truth. I absolutely love cake and I believe everyone needs chocolate! 

As part of my recovery I am trying to get back into baking. Today I even treated myself to a new cake stand to encourage myself to keep cooking! I guess baking used to freak me out because naturally I eat and try the mixture as I go along and then enjoy the finished product. However, I am trying to remind myself that that’s all part of the fun and it’s nothing to be scared of. I am good at baking, it is a way to be creative and it is also something I can share with others and a way to make people happy. 

Tonight I was cooking for my best friend and wanted to make us a special meal. I decided to make a huge plate of homemade sushi, followed by homemade double chocolate chip cookies served with homemade white chocolate ice-cream and strawberries. We had a lovely dinner together. It was refreshing to be able to browse recipes knowing I would be choosing one, as opposed to torturing myself with all the beautiful cakes and cookies which I knew I would never end up eating. 

Helpful Reminders

For the past couple of days I’ve been visiting my friend in London and buying new summer clothes ready for my holiday in a weeks time.

As much as I love shopping and love clothes, there were points of our shopping trip that I found really painful. For a start, I am buying bigger sizes in everything. Secondly, I tried to find a bikini and hated the sight of my body when I tried any of them on.

Although I have been finding more freedom recently, deep down, I am still struggling with my body image. A part of me wishes I could go on holiday in all of last years clothes. However, I need to keep reminding myself of the following:

– Last year I had just left a clinic. I was still pretty ill. The clothes I wore last year don’t represent a happy time, they fit the body of a poorly person. Of someone who was struggling.

– Last year I wasn’t free. I was still largely controlled by Ed. Today, I have more freedom. So whilst I may be a size bigger, I need to remember that I am a hell of a lot happier.

– A size is just a number. I am worth more than a dress size. The size of my clothes is not a reflection of my worth.

– Size isn’t the only thing that people find attractive. The most attractive thing in a person is their personality. Last year, my personality was largely controlled by Ed. An eating disorder steals your personality until you are a prisoner in your own body. Today, I have my personality back. The attention I’ve got from guys has been a hec of a lot higher recently than it ever was when I was in the depths of my eating disorder!! Clearly, what makes someone attractive is when they can be themselves.

– Even when my body image sucks I need to just let it be. I can’t fight back and try and shoot the numbers back down. I need to acclimatise and get used to my body the way it is.

Writing all these things down is helping me gain some clarity and find my own voice instead of listening to Ed. I just want to be able to go on holiday, look in a mirror, and think ‘you look hot!’ I don’t want to look in the mirror and be sad.

I am fully equipped with some new clothes, all of which are a healthy size, and all of which are going to look great (at least that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself!)

I hope you’ve all had a good week! X

“There are no regrets in life, just lessons”

Given that this week is my last week in Bath, my friends and I have been making the most out of the city. Today, despite the pouring rain, we all set off on a tourist day out. We visited the Roman Baths and then went for a delicious lunch and cake in a new café we had heard about. We then visited two art museums, looked around the town market and then went for a famous afternoon tea. On our travels we also picked up fudge and speciality chocolates for an evening of TV and delicious snacks!

I am pleased to say that I enjoyed the day. Every time I have days like today I remind myself that it wouldn’t have been possible last year. Despite living in Paris last year, there are countless museums I never visited and numerous cafés I didn’t eat in. When I re-visited Paris earlier this year I couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of regret for all the things I missed out on. However, I can learn from the past and I am determined to not let that happen again. I never want to look back and think, ‘I could have eaten that’ or ‘I could have done that’.

I was unsurprised that my eating disorder was loud at some points during the day. However, as opposed to letting that stop me from participating, I persevered and succeeded in enjoying myself. My therapist has recommended that instead of expecting to shut ED’s voice out completely and not experience any negative thoughts, I should instead just try and turn the volume down. So if I am ever faced with food challenges, I imagine a volume dial in my head. Then, I try my best to turn the volume down and carry on. I guess it is a bit like when you’re on a train and there is an irritating person speaking loudly on the phone or someones music is playing way too loudly. At first it is loud and annoying, but if you persevere, you can eventually ignore it and carry on with your own thoughts. Eventually, you don’t even notice it.

So for today, I am grateful that I had a day of no regrets with some of my best friends!

Welcome Back!

It feels like ages since my last blog post. In between 5 Final Year exams followed by 10 days of celebrations I haven’t found the time to keep writing. I have so much to say…

Firstly, I have officially FINISHED 4 years of University, I am a Graduate! It feels so strange to be done with education. I have always been a hard worker and knew I wanted to study Management and French from quite a young age. I worked hard during school and have worked my socks off for the past four years at university. For anyone getting through uni is an achievement. Getting through Uni whilst fighting an eating disorder is an achievement that makes me very proud.

Half way through my exams I went to see my therapist for our weekly chat. I shared my anxieties about the end of uni. Whilst I was looking forward to finishing exams, I couldn’t deny that the idea of 10 days of drinking, partying and eating was making me a little nervous. I also admitted that my plan was to enjoy the partying but keep super healthy during my exams. I was then planning on spending a couple of weeks hitting the gym, eating healthy/restricting in advance of my two week summer holiday. Her response was: ‘So you are planning on ruining your holiday?’. She reminded me that if I spend two weeks listening to Ed and welcome him into my life, it is unlikely that I will be able to shut him out when I get on the plane to go on holiday. It just doesn’t work like that. The best preparation for my holiday and to enjoy summer is to keep fighting the eating disorder and do everything I can to stick two fingers up at it!

I took her advice on board and identified all the little things that are still tying me to Ed. For example, when I don’t have dessert, Ed wins. If I gym more than a set number of times a week, Ed wins. If I avoid fear foods, Ed wins. I pictured all these little things as strings that tied me to Ed. By facing my fears, eating dessert, and sticking to my exercise plan I can cut the strings and move myself further away from Ed. This is what I did during my two week exam period. I enjoyed dessert every night, stuck to my food plan, faced fear foods regularly and avoided the gym. Not only did I have the energy to work long hours, it also kept me more focused. I didn’t waste time thinking of what to eat and when to eat it. However, more importantly, by fighting my eating disorder and making my voice louder, I was also well prepared to enjoy the post-exam celebrations. And my God we had a good time!

We had a flat meal and champagne on the final exam day and then I went to a festival all weekend with the girls and consumed a copious amount of Cider! We then had a course night out, another girls night out and the Summer Ball which was a night to remember! In the day time we went shopping, fed the hangovers, made sushi, watched films and enjoyed time off. It was an amazing week and I am so so happy that I will always be able to look back at the end of my final year and have brilliant memories.

In some ways it makes me sad to think that if it wasn’t for my eating disorder, more of my time at university could have been like last week. But I know that there is no point in having regrets. I am just going to use this as motivation to keep on fighting. Experiencing how fun life can be without Ed is just making me more and more determined to live the rest of my life without him.

With the celebrations over I now have a few weeks off before we go on our family summer holiday. We are going back to the same place we went last year. The only difference is that when we went last year, I was fresh out the clinic. I had a good time but I plan on doing things differently this year. I most definitely will be having wine with my dinner, I will not be packing my own cereal in my suitcase, and I will not be taking scales. I also intend on getting ready with a G&T in my hand instead of my afternoon milkshake. I won’t insist we eat at regimented times and I won’t plan every lunch 5 days in advance. I won’t be packing last years ‘anorexic’ wardrobe, I will be packing a new summer wardrobe in clothes which make me look great! Unlike last year, I am not nervous about the holiday. I don’t feel the need to sit down with my parents before we go and talk about coping strategies and I won’t be discussing it for hours on end with a therapist. Instead, I am just excited. I am excited to be in the sun, eat amazing food and most importantly, spend some quality time with my friends and family.

After my holiday I will be starting a new job for 6 months before I go travelling. In between last weeks partying I managed to get into work for a couple of handover days. The job sounds great and I am really excited to get started. Plus, one of my best friends works at the same office which is going to be great! One thing that surprised me was that nearly every woman in the office spent their lunch breaks talking about their latest slimming world class, weight watchers group, diet pills or latest exercise fad. Most of the women are in their early 30’s and it seems that not one of them was happy with their body… And they didn’t mind talking about it! It got me thinking… Firstly, there is no way I would have been able to cope in a workplace like that last year. It would have been seriously triggering. Secondly, although it has been seriously shit having an eating disorder and it has stolen years of my youth, I like to think that going forward, I won’t be hung up on diet fads. I tried the fads and it went seriously wrong. I got very ill and learnt the hard way. But in future, I believe I will be able to live a balanced, healthy lifestyle and love me just the way I am!

So all in all, looking back on the last month or so makes me very proud. I have finished uni, had an incredible time celebrating and am the closest to ‘recovered’ that I have ever been before. Everyone always says the journey of recovery is a long one, and they wern’t wrong. But like every journey, there is a finish line, a final destination, an end. I feel as if I now know what I need to do to reach the end. At times I try and tell myself I don’t know what to do, but I am lying. I know when Ed is winning and I know how to turn his voice down. I just need to be brave enough to do it.

I feel as though I have just got to the top of a huge hill on my journey. It was one hell of a climb but the finish line is now in sight. It was hard work getting here, but now the road isn’t looking as rough. It is a smoother ride, I’ve just got to be brave enough to keep on marching forward. My eating disorder stole my 20th year, it got hold of my 21st but I am turning 22 in July and I am ready to say goodbye. I feel as though I am getting my life back, learning how to life and discovering so many amazing new things that weren’t possible when I was living life with Ed. So I am proud to welcome myself back, wave goodbye to Ed, and keep marching forward!

It’s good to be back.

A Week Away

This week I have been staying at D’s house as we are revising together for our finals (2 weeks to go!). 

It is the first time in over two years that I have stayed at someones house for more than a night and had someone else cook for me. I guess it must seem totally normal to most people, like an exciting week away. However, for someone suffering with an eating disorder it is quite a challenge. The loss of control can be frightening.

All in all, I think I’ve done pretty well. D has been really great and stocked up on some food that he knew wouldn’t freak me out. I also coped well with dinner apart from on one occasion. One night dinner was later than I was expecting and I didn’t really know how to cope with it. Although the right thing to do was to have an extra snack, eating more than my food plan before dinner is really difficult. As a result, I just made myself endure the painful hunger pangs and try and carry on revising. Unsurprisingly, my standard of work was poor. I achieved nothing. Ed was happy, I was in pain. 

The second most challenging task was eating cereal from a different bowl. This must sound absolutely bizarre, but since I stopped weighing my food I have become comfortable with having my cereal from a certain bowl. I made sure we had the bowls at home and I also took some with me to uni. I have eaten out of them for about 10 months! In these bowls I can tell when I have about the right amount of cereal and so they’re a safety net. However, I have learn’t that they are just another way of seeking control. Sometimes it is hard to break out of these safety nets but it is really important not to let things as silly as a bowl control the way you do things.

I guess every challenge presents an opportunity to learn and over the past few days I have learn’t some valuable lessons. I learn’t that you can always rely on your good friends to have your back (I knew this one already!). I have learn’t that I can hand over control and I will survive. I have also learn’t that I need to let go of my safety nets, even if we are just talking about a bowl! I have also been reminded that the brain and body can’t work properly without fuel- so fuel it. 

Thank you D for putting up with me this week. As always, you’ve been a great friend.

 

“Admitting your weaknesses doesn’t diminish your strength’s: It shows your courage”

I’ve been a bit quiet since I came home last weekend. I haven’t known whether to blog or not. On the one hand, I am really struggling and I know it will help to write things down. On the other hand, I am under the same roof as my parents, my sister and D… All of who will receive a copy of this post after I hit ‘publish’… It is times like this that I wish they were not subscribers.

I am worried that if they know how I am really feeling, they will all be staring at me, checking on me, watching me, making sure I’m ok. If I am struggling whilst I am at university, all my parents can do is send me a text or give me a call to see if I am ok. I don’t want my parents to start worrying about me, trying to fix it and treating me like a child.

Over the Easter weekend I did well. I enjoyed family meals and ate chocolate and didn’t feel bad about it. Since then, things have been going downhill.

Ed is loud. Deafening. Screaming in my ear. However, the worst thing about it is that I am letting him. I feel as though, despite how much I hate, detest and loathe my eating disorder, this week we are holding hands and living life together.

Despite the countless hours of therapy and treatment I have had over the last year and a half to try and understand my eating disorder, it is during weeks like these that I have no answers. I hate the person I become when I am listening to Ed, and yet I find it so hard to let it go. Part of me wants to be Ed’s friend this week. I want to use it a bit to loose the odd pound. I seem to think that I can just dip in and out when I please.

According to my BMI Index, I am ‘normal’ now. As a result, I find it hard to believe that I still need a certain number of snacks, carbs in every meal and a pudding every day. Normal people don’t have a dessert every day so why do I need to?

Lunchtime today was a particularly bad meal. Trying to choose what to have was painful. I didn’t succeed in choosing what I ‘wanted’. I had what was safest… what Ed would like. Although it wasn’t particularly restrictive, I’m not sure choosing something you don’t want to eat is what a normal person would do? Plus, because Ed’s voice was so loud during my meal, I was unable to lift my eyes from my plate. I couldn’t speak to D or my sister. It was me vs the plate. At least I won.

I hate the person I become when I listen to Ed. I am not a relaxing person to be around. I am not a chatty, fun person to be around. I am anxious, tetchy, distracted. People act differently around me when they know Ed is around. I find that really hard to deal with because sometimes I feel as though it isn’t my fault. I can’t help it if Ed turns me into a difficult person.

Also I might be going to D’s house next week for 4 days to revise. It will be the first time in about two years that I have had that long eating in someone else’s house. D obviously knows a lot about Ed and his parents know about my eating disorder (not that I have ever discussed it with them). Since I have been struggling this week, D was obviously concerned about how I would cope with the food at his house. He rang his parents and they said they were more than happy for me to stay and they asked what kind of meals I would like.

It is very kind of them to be looking out for me and I really appreciate it. However, I can’t help but get upset that I am still, to some extent, defined as the ‘anorexic’. Normal people wouldn’t need to ensure that certain foods were in the house and know in advance what kind of meals would be served. Especially not for four days. It upset me that I couldn’t just go round and be comfortable with whatever was given to me.

So all in all, the past few days haven’t been great. I always said I would never blog unless I was posting something positive about how my journey to recovery is giving me a new life. This post doesn’t seem to be particularly positive. It’s more of a muddled, rambling mess of a shitty week listening to Ed.

However, the positive thing about this post is the fact I have written it. I am admitting the last week has been hard. Although some twisted part of me wants to carry on listening to Ed, I know that isn’t a good decision. By keeping all these thoughts and feelings to myself, I am pleasing Ed.

So this post is a reminder that although I am the only one who can recover, perhaps I can’t do it alone. Maybe people need to know about my struggles and difficult days. 

As I once said myself in my Divorce Letter to Ed, “I’m worth more than anorexia. I’m worth more than Ed. I deserve to start living”. It’s about time I listened to myself. I know better than Ed. 

 

 

Oscar Wilde’s Top 10 Tips for Living a Kick-Ass Life

I saw this on Facebook today and thought it was worth sharing! 
 
1. On Love
Keep” love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.
 
2. On Education
“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” 
 
3. On Being Yourself

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

4. On Forgiveness

“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.” 

5. On Relationships

“Never love anyone who treats you like you’re ordinary.”

6. On Advice

“The only good thing to do with good advice is pass it on; it is never of any use to oneself.” 

7. On Living

“Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing.”

8.On Happiness

“With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?” 

9. On Temptation

“The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.” 

10. On Emotions

“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.” 

Post 101!

Yesterday WordPress notified me that I have made 100 posts. I felt really proud of that. Since I have started blogging it has been amazing to know that while I help myself in my own journey of recovery, I am helping others too. 

Since I started treatment I have always been encouraged to write things down or ‘hand things over’ to someone else. In sum, not keep things totally to myself. I am a real believer that in writing your troubles or achievements down, or by sharing them with someone else, the problem won’t feel as bad. A problem shared is a problem halved.

So in today’s post I just want to thank everyone who has supported me via my blog, your kind words are a huge encouragement. I also wan’t to thank everyone who reads my posts- I hope they help you as much as they help me. For those of you who are suffering with your own ED’s, by sharing our stories of recovery I hope our strength against ED can become even stronger. For those of you who are fortunate to not be suffering with an ED, I hope my stories have given you a little bit more of an insight into a life with Ed. 

Thanks again! 

Happy Easter

I’m pleased to announce that a few battles have been won this Easter weekend.

This time last year was around the time I was at my worst. Although I don’t like remembering what it was like, it is good looking back to see the progress I have made.

Every year my Mum does an Easter egg hunt for us… One of our many family traditions! When we were younger, we would run around collecting a heap of chocolate rabbits, eggs and many other treats. Last year, my treats included an egg made of soap, some nice bath gels and a hand blender to make smoothies. I was so scared of sugar that I refused to have any chocolate. It wasn’t a normal Easter.

This year, as tradition, my mum did another Egg hunt. However, I was happy to find chocolate eggs instead of soap! Although I still have days when sugar freaks me out a bit, it makes me happy that I can now eat chocolate and enjoy it!

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Dinner Time

Yesterday I returned home for the Easter holidays. Last night I had a celebratory welcome home dinner with my Parents. This afternoon my Sister returned home and so we had a belated birthday meal to celebrate my mum’s birthday. Tomorrow I am going for an Easter Lunch at my Grandparents house.

It got me thinking about how much my family uses food to celebrate and how much we all enjoy it. Whenever there is a special occasion or something to celebrate, it is celebrated around the dinner table. Every time it is someone’s birthday, we have a special meal. For my graduation meal, the restaurant was the first thing to be booked. Every year when we get exam results, we go out for lunch.  

I also realised that for my whole life my family have always had dinner time as a family around the table. It was a way to catch up and share stories about our day. Even if Dad was late on the way home from work, we would wait until he got in before we started eating. I even remeber the times when my sister and I would try to drag out meal times by making my parents play games… Who Want’s To Be The Weakest Link was often a favorite! Tonight my sister even managed to get us all playing a game of Guess Who! In sum, dinner time was a happy, family time.

When Ed came into my life, meal times were no longer fun. I no longer looked forward to mum calling us down for dinner. I dreaded it. I couldn’t just run down the stairs when dinner was ready, I would wait anxiously in the kitchen to make sure my mum weighed out the exact, precise amount. There wouldn’t be laughter or smiles. Instead, everyone would sit anxiously in the hope that I would finish my meal. I can’t even remember what we would talk about as the only thing I would listen to was Ed’s screaming, torturing words in my head. 

Sitting at the table with my family this evening made me realise how much more enjoyable my life can be without Ed. Being able to engage, laugh, talk, chat and eat a meal in peace is refreshing. This evening as I was baking a cake for my mum (it was the best cake I have ever made), my sister came over and gave me a hug. She said how nice it was to have me home. It was lovely to hear her say that because this time last year, it wasn’t nice having me home. I wasn’t a good sister or a fun person to be around. Instead of catching up on stories we would cry about the pain we were going through and desperately try and make things better. I am grateful that so far this time round, there has been no tears, apart from my mum crying because she loved her birthday gift (My family are right softies).

I hope that as I continue to fight my eating disorder every day, I can continue to enjoy meal times with my family.

ps. I was so proud of the homemade caramel sauce I made to go with my Banana bread that I had to upload a picture!

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