Recovery and the power of habit
I’m in the middle of a two-week work sprint that has pushed even my normal spirit of workaholism to its extreme. I had one feature story due last Friday, two smaller pieces to submit, and a feature due this coming Friday. On top of that, I traveled to St. Louis to present on the science of EDs and what college students need to know at Washington University in St. Louis. I’m doing the same thing tonight at George Mason University outside of DC. From there, I head to Baltimore for a conference (not presenting at this one, though I am the official note-taker so I can’t daydream during the inevitable boring bits) for the rest of the week.
I’m pretty much only one (very small) step away from losing my mind.
When I used to get overwhelmed by work in college, grad school, and beyond, I totally reverted to ED behaviors (assuming I wasn’t already neck-deep in it, which is kinda unlikely). The high from starvation gave me almost a manic energy and the ability to bull through exhaustion and boredom. I felt I concentrated better, although it’s unlikely that this was the case, since I almost certainly wasted hours looking up recipes and food porn (Pinterest, I’m looking at YOU).
Despite the craziness of these last few weeks, I’ve pretty much stayed on track with my eating. It wasn’t effortless–I don’t think it ever will be after a long-term eating disorder–but it wasn’t a huge struggle, either.
Some of the hardest ED-related behaviors to break were those that had become habit. Often, I wasn’t even aware of them. I maintained a whacked-out exercise routine in part because it was just what I did. Breaking ED habits, things like eating regular meals, was a tremendous effort because it was so hard and felt so contrary to what I usually did. I had the anxiety about eating itself, and then I also had anxiety just from doing something different.
But over time, with a lot of practice, I’ve come to find that recovery is starting to become its own habit. Not that I do the whole eating thing perfectly, because I don’t, and I’m not even sure if you can. Eating is still a pain a lot of times, something I’d rather not take a break in my schedule to do and clean up after. I also generally do it without a whole lot of agonizing beforehand. I’m a creature of habit–I guess developing new habits has finally started to pay off.