I was stressed and in a funk this weekend for a variety of reasons (which shall remain unnamed for privacy purposes), and I was thinking about how much different the experience was compared to when I was sick with AN. The AN acted as kind of a dimmer switch for such banal stresses as "Will my mortgage go through?" and "Am I going to find a new therapist?" All that mattered was not eating and overexercising. It made my world cohere.
It's one of the things I miss about the eating disorder. I don't miss being sick, don't miss feeling like rancid raw chicken all the time. I don't want to be sick again. But what I still get the occasional, achy twinges for (or sappy longing--whatever) is that coherence factor. The feeling that I could make my life seem "okay" via the anorexia and its routines. Now, I have to sit with my stress and problem-solve and communicate and it's so much easier to just head to the gym. So not only do I get the anxiety relief, both biochemical and otherwise, but I also get to wallow in the fact that I'm being healthy! and fit! and good!
I addressed many of these feelings in my Roadblocks to Recovery series, and they're just a relevant as ever. Although the exact situations that trip me up vary, they tend to be of the same theme. Dealing with change. Stress/Anxiety. Perfectionism.
I guess I shouldn't be down on myself that I miss some of the aspects of anorexia, but more astonished that I don't miss it more.
I know that I can't go back to being that gym bunny and lettuce lover without feeling like crap, even if there are some short-term benefits. It makes me feel a bit like a petulant child, stamping her feet and shrieking "But it's not FAIR!"
No. No, Carrie, it isn't fair. None of this is.
But by working through my problems--asking for advice, communicating, buying every House MD season on DVD for 50% off*--I'm realizing that I don't need a Xanax salt lick or marathon exercise session to get through life without flipping out. I still want to fall back on my defaults from the years of my eating disorder (which is why I call them defaults, no?) but I'm working on it.
*There's no insurance cutoff on retail therapy! ;)