Hey there, readers! I hope your Monday was as great as a Monday can be. I, for one, woke up to what could easily be classified as a shit ton of snow. I shoveled myself out of my driveway and drove to work, gripping the steering wheel and mumbling words of encouragement to myself and my car the entire way. I made it there in one piece, but the snow did not let up whatsoever and we decided to close work early.
After high-centering my car in my own damn street, I finally made it into my driveway with the help of some friendly passersby. I promptly locked myself indoors, where I will remain until further notice.
Initially, I thought of approximately one thousand tasks that I could accomplish on my snow day. Perhaps I could clean the kitchen, or mop the floors, or sort through old makeup. Maybe I could look at apartments for rent in Chicago, reorganize the cupboards, or make something. Or, it dawned on me, I could relax.
I curled up on my couch with a cat and a DVD of The Office and tried to lounge as lazily as possible. I even put on sweat pants for the occasion.
As the afternoon wore on, I did get a little bit bored and end up doing some light cleaning around the house, but I was glad that I had left my day open instead of pushing myself to accomplish as much as humanly possible in my unexpected free time.
Not long ago, a day like this would have been a nightmare. I relied on the distractions of life to help me ignore my starving state, and it was impossible for me to relax, which I believe to be directly related to how fucking hungry I was all of the time. I’m no doctor, nor do I aspire to be one, but it stands to reason that the body and mind would not want to relax when they are under the impression that they need to be scavenging for food. To me, this explains the impossibility of relaxation in anorexia that was certainly a part of my experience. I don’t know exactly why hyperactivity and anxiety are so prevalent in the presence of malnutrition, but I have observed that I feel the need to be “productive” most when I am not eating enough. It seems counterintuitive, but it is as if I am trying to do anything to distract from the fact that I am simply hungry, or trying to get as much done as possible before I eat. It was not until I started eating an amount that was closer to the right amount for my body that I was able to relax at all.
In recovery, it is immensely helpful to learn your individual signs of not eating enough. For me, I know that I am not eating enough when I become extremely anxious and rigid, I am obsessed with productivity, I am overly concerned with fitting in exercise, or I am not sleeping well. In my months of not eating nearly enough for my body, I almost entirely lost touch with my physical cues of hunger, and sometimes those are still a little late to the game. I often observe one of the above symptoms first, followed by a check-in with my body that confirms my physical hunger. When I observe these symptoms, I now see it as an opportunity to reflect back on my diet over the last couple of days and think about how much time I spent hungry, if I restricted food more than usual, and my activity level. When I do this, I often realize that I have been underfeeding my body and I try my best to get back on track.
All in all, I had a great snow day yesterday, and I owe that entirely to recovery. The ability to genuinely relax is an undeniable gift in my life. Yesterday, I was able to do some yoga, watch some TV, and pamper myself with a hair and face mask without being driven to the brink with anxiety about my lack of productivity. There were times that I believed that I would never be able to relax without guilt again, and I am delighted to say that recovery brings about that ability. With enough time spent caring for your body, it will gradually trust you once more and allow you to take a snow day to care for yourself.
As a final note, I leave you with this gem:
Keep fightin’ the good fight! Face masks and The Office are worth the hard work 🙂