Monday, 3 June 2013

Meringue Monologues

Today a memory of a long passed event floated back to me and made me smile. I can laugh about it no but when it happened I was pouring with tears. I hope it shows how fucked up an ED can make you, making minor blips seem on a par with world disasters and making you bawl like a baby at something invisible to others.

I'll set the scene. I think it was winter time but I cant be too accurate there- I was very ill at the time and so it could have been July and I would still have been in two dressing gowns with the fire on, but I remember it being mid afternoon and it was gloomy outside, I had the lamps on in an effort to tempt cosiness into a miserable day. I'd been to see my Dad in the morning and I'd come home to an rattlingly empty house, an all too familiar scenario which only ever makes me feel just as empty as the house and twice as lonely.

I was scrunched into the sofa, riddled with inertia and cold, something playing on my laptop with me barely seeing the images. I was suffering an attack of the the hideous hunger that only attacks the acutely malnourished. Unless you've felt it you cant understand it. It isn't a straight forward 'hunger' that rumbles the belly and is staved off for a bit by a drink or walk. The only way I can describe it is a 'bone hunger'. I felt crumbly and weak, tired and ancient. I felt a hundred years old but with a mind as restless as a two year old's. My mind is full of food. It isn't a dangerous place- I have never binged, even at my worst, most desperate times. No, I just watch a film real of temptations that I am sure I will never taste play through in my shrivelled up brain. I am sure nothing will stir me. I'm pretty sure I'll be in the same spot when mum comes home in a few hours time. It wouldn't be the first time. Then something clicks in my head. A little, tiny speck of a thought, somehow I have the energy to reach out and pull it closer. It takes form, here's how it goes...

So I guess this little gem of an idea happens because firstly I'm thinking about food. Secondly I am thinking what I could possibly eat if I could move myself. I mentally traipse through the cupboards and fridge, dismissing everything because it's too high calorie or just too lettuce-y or celery-y. Then- PING! Egg whites. My friends. 10-20 calories in each- I reckon I could stretch to that. But they ARE only egg whites and I'm so, so tired. The idea begins to float off again, I'm sinking back. But then another PING! Now I'm suddenly capable of some anorexic mathamatics (amazing what a previously screwed over brain can suddenly achieve at the prospect of getting one over on the calorie system) Egg white+sugar=meringue. Sugar-calories=sweeteners. Next realisation- I have a massive tub of Splenda Sweetener in the cupboard. My mind is now awake. I think I WILL move.

I decide this: I have been a genius- I am about to make virtually calorie free meringues! Imagine that!! I am going to EAT A PUDDING and it wont do a thing to me! I am ecstatic!

I do not stop to consider that it would be pretty damn unlikely that this has not been tried before- I am sure I am the genius creator of what is surely about to become an anorexic dream-meringues with all the innocence of celery!

I hurry into the kitchen in my swaddling of dressing gowns and set to work. I boil the kettle and sterilise the mixing bowl and whisks. I separate my eggs, making sure not a single trace of yolk contaminates my fatless whites. With a thrill that I've not felt in so long I weigh out the piles of sweetener powder, marvelling at the lightness of the mountain of white in the bowl. Egg whites whisked to a foam, the powder goes in, soon I have a mass of stiff, snowy cloud. All is going swimmingly. Little heaps on a lined baking sheet, each carefully measured so they are equal. I post them into the oven, close the door and stand back.

Kitchen cleaned, it's a waiting game now. It's a well known cardinal sin to open the oven on cooking meringues, but the temptation to peep is so hard. I resist. Over an hour passes and finally time's up. Baited breath. Out they come. They look perfect. My heart lifts, I even smile. Their little peaks and undulations are tanned a tempting beige. I can't wait. I imagine the delightful crumbling as the exterior puckers against my teeth. I imagine the pleasant stickiness of the slightly chewy centre, the overwhelming sweetness. Take it from me- when you are starving you appreciate a whole spectrum of flavours and sensations even in carrots so imagine what I was expecting to experience from this.

Cold hand, blue finger-nailed pokes out of the fluffy sleeve towards the chosen heap of promise. Fingers close on its base. I apply just the tinniest pressure to raise it from the tray. Then something awful happens. My fingers are suddenly flung together. I stare at the mess of crumbled powder that my hand is lying in. It has imploded at my feathery touch. I swallow. Perhaps I was too rough in my eagerness. I'll try again, be very careful. Even lighter, I barely touch its surface and the second meringue disintegrates. I am swallowing hard, something rising in my chest. Again I try, and again, and again. Every single time the same sound- the puff and crumble and then nothing but sticky powder. There are none left. Anger rises in my throat and impulsively I swipe the tray off the cooker onto the floor. Swirls of snow everywhere. The excitement is dead and its suddenly very cold again.

Looking back I laugh. I laugh because it was so ridiculous. At the time it was the end of the world. I was angry that I had finally found some happiness, some reward, some pleasure only for it to be snatched away. Someone watching, laughing at my stupidity. Of course no one was watching and laughing. No one except anorexia. She'd be laughing because she is cruel and full of false promises and crumbling meringues. I was probably also deeply disturbed that I'd reached the point where a few stupid meringues had been the only things to make me feel some happiness in months and months. What sort of life is that?

This meringue episode is the perfect analogy of eating disorders. It will tempt you, drive you even when you are exhausted. It will instil a super-human energy in you. It will make promises to you, provide false horizons and beckon you in. When you arrive you find it was all a mirage, a crumbled meringue. It is the harsh reality that you will most likely never believe this story until you have experienced it yourself. Humans are stubborn creatures at the best of times, only truly believing when it is too late to back out.


  1. This was a great post! I can only imagine your disappointment when they crumbled. I, too, have long been in search of the perfect Splenda meringue. Fortunately, I have the recipe ;) You need some cream of tartar in there dear!

    Take care dear xx

  2. Katie everything you write is so honest... I love that about you..

    You touch me with how open you are;-)

  3. Oh my gosh Bella I may be in recovery but im gonna be on that recipe like a beast hahah! many thanks!

    Thanks for your love launna xxxxxxxxxxx

  4. Katie, your writing is so captivating, I am literally holding on to your every word!

    I like your meringue analogy. My mother is a soap-opera-holic...and I think to myself how sad an existence it must be to have one's life revolved around fictional television programmes. Then I think to myself how hypocritical of me, because I my life revolves around anorexia. Like you say, tempted, driven, super-humanly energised, finding false promises and beckoned in. The only difference is, my mother has her television to turn to, whereas when our eating disordered meringue crumbles, who is left to pick up the pieces?

    Amazing blog lovely! xxx

  5. oh thank you so much it means an awful lot to hear that!

    Yup and it is so much more self destructive than turning on the telly!! I'm constantly looking for stuff to get completely lost in, like books, films, anything to override the anorexia.


    1. Me too - I used to eat books. Not literally, but you know :p But then anorexia robbed my concentration so that's out of the window now. Do you like reading now? Do you like art? I find that's a great distraction, or embroidery, anything where you can completely focus on the task in hand rather than anorexia. Anorexia doesn't deserve your attention!

  6. I love reading, although I am VERY fussy. The last amaxing book I read was 'The Handmaid's Tale' by Margaret Atwood.

    I've recently been reading lots of books on depression, which other people find morbid but I love- I feel better knowing I'm not alone or others have been so much worse than myself. Reading books about happy people makes me feel isolated and very grumpy and don't 'grip' me at all!