It's tricky having a mental illness that becomes so ingrained in trying to tell you what you do/don't like. There's always a kind of struggle in the beginning to distinguish yourself and your soul from the eating disorder self, and to find out what you like and what it wants you to like. This for me comes in the form of both figuring out exercise and food.
I used to use compulsive exercise as a behavior, and it's been really challenging to figure out what kind of movement I enjoy. I was a spin instructor for several years, and I loved it. I loved teaching, putting together playlists and interacting with people. Plus, I enjoyed the movement and the exercise of the class. But, I also really was able to sneakily use spinning as a form of over-exercise and over-exertion as a way to punish myself for eating.
As a result, exercise has been something I struggle to do in moderation. I always have to carefully check my intentions, to whether they are to change or punish my body, or to honor it with movement that it enjoys. I currently do not exercise. This statement makes me VERY uncomfortable. It makes me want to follow up with all sorts of add-ons to that statement, justifying the ways I "do" exercise by being a New Yorker, etc, etc. But that kind of knee jerk reaction is the exact reason that I'm currently being so careful about the kind of movement that I engage in. And that puts me in this weird place with my recovery and exercise.
Before I graduated from Binghamton, one thing I heard over and over again was, "well, what do you like?" What kind of movement do I enjoy, not what I'm required to do for my job, not what is the most intense or the trendiest. What do I enjoy? And the answer right now is, I don't really know. I've had such a hard time trying to distinguish my healthy self that enjoys movement with my ED self that gets way too caught up in the less healthy aspects of exercise.
And that's really tough for me, because I miss exercise. But I also don't know for sure right now which parts of myself miss it and which parts are totally, authentically me. I know I enjoy yoga and that it has a lot of healing and mindfulness properties. I also am aware that I've let that get too intense, trying to use it for the wrong reasons. So for now, I'm sitting in the weird gray area, where I'm really leaning towards starting to incorporate a little yoga in, just knowing that I have to be careful and mindful of WHY I'm doing it.
The weird in-between, not knowing what I actually like, is what I'm calling the gray area of recovery right now. On one end is the sick part of me, in the depths of my worst days of my eating disorder. On the other end, is the fully recovered healthy self. I know that it's really impossible for me to magically be at that other end of the spectrum without first moving through this gray space.
And so, for right now, I'll accept that I'm living in this gray area. It's part of recovery, especially when it's new that I've fully committed to recovery this time. One of the things I'm most excited to find out in recovery is who I am, but also what I truly enjoy. Who is Charlotte in recovery, outside of this gray area? What does she like, what's her favorite food, how does she move her body in a place of joy and peace, rather than from a place of hate? What sets her soul on fire? Only time will tell, but I'm excited to find out.
Hi, I'm Charlotte! I'm a 24 year old navigating life in NYC and mental health recovery. I am passionate about public health and eliminating stigma.