What a difference a day makes

I'll admit I moped a bit this morning (well, early afternoon. I didn't wake up until 11am). Then I mailed out a contract, talked to a researcher in Portugal, cringed at the thought of my phone bill with all of these international calls (three others last week), and sat down with a cup of coffee to watch a little TV mid-afternoon. I didn't have anything real pressing, and I was curious to see what was on.

I had just put my feet up when I get a text message from my boss at the bakery- she wants me to come in ASAP and help close. Since I didn't have anything better planned, I said okay. I could use the money and it seemed like a better idea than just trying to find something better to do. I put on my old baseball hat and name badge, and I go into work.

I don't miss the bakery, not really, and I still don't. But I think there is something therapeutic in mild physical labor, in having heaps to do and just bulling your way (mostly) through it. There was the connections with my coworkers as well, or even just being in someone else's company. Perhaps just as importantly, it got me out of my head. All of that.

I'm done with my shift and feeling much better. I do better when I have a lot to get done. I really enjoy feeling productive and checking things off my to do list. And it felt good to be really busy (though not the sweating buckets bit...that wasn't pleasant in the slightest) and now to be tired in the way that signifies you've really worked hard.

I know I work hard at my writing, but this is a different kind of hard work. It's given me a bit of insight into why I found exercise so addicting: it was this pseudo-productivity, the good tired of having exerted myself, along with the endorphins and semi-dissociation from what was bothering me, and the OCD ritual of it all. My brain sort of shut off when I was exercising, just as my brain powered down a bit during work. The moment became about the doing rather than the thinking.

Don't get me wrong. My back hurts and my feet hurt and I really stink at the moment. But about 6 hours at the bakery just flinging bread and packaging croissants and getting disgustingly sweaty really improved my mood and my outlook.


Lisa said...

:) i'm so glad you're feeling better.

keep holding onto that :)


zette said...

i hear you. i miss my old job moving furniture. kudos to you on the positivity. stay strong, darling.


James Clayton said...

"Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in..." - Michael Coreleone in The Godfather, part III

Nah, I'm, sure this isn't a return to a prison of baked goods! On to a serious point, what you write about the endorphin rush and ritual fulfilment in relation to eating disorders is really true. This is why I agree with all the non-sufferers I've spoke to who've asked why ED treatment doesn't involve something physical and proactive. The "thou shalt not exercise or exert yourself in any way" kind of attitude isn't really helpful or realistic (at least that's how I find it).

Anyway, good to hear you're feeling better. It just shows how throwing yourself into something proactive is the key to boosting your wellbeing and lifting bad moods.

Briony said...

Wow. This really struck a chord with me. Once again, you've managed to express exactly what I've been feeling so much better than I ever could! I've got a summer job in a lab- which is great, for the last week I've been doing more office-based stats analysis rather than rushing around doing physically active stuff in the lab/greenhouse and I've found myself feeling really down and tempted to restrict. It's not that I'm bored- I find what I'm doing really interesting. I talked about it with my therapist and decided that part of it is that it leaves me enough time to think/feel- when I'm busy I can simply lose myself in a never-ending to-do list. Plus, I found that the 'good-tired' feeling you mention makes it that much easier to justify eating to myself- justification that I know I shouldn't need, but that doesn't make doing without it easy.

Anyway, I'm glad you haven't taken this as a sign to give up on your writing, because from what I've seen you're very good at it.

Nobody Girl said...

i think there's something about using our bodies productively. im glad you feel good about the work you're doing! hope it keeps up!

Cammy said...

One of my big problems has always been, according to a former therapist, "living inside my head." I think that's a common problem with EDs, and sometimes taking time out to go do something that involves working with a purpose is a great chance to take a break from your mind for a while, if that makes sense, and can be really refreshing. So glad that you got a mood booster, hang in there!

Anonymous said...

I am concerned about you. I am glad that you are feeling better, but are you eating as per your plan? It sounds like you slept through b-fast and didn't really eat on your shift... in any case, i also want you to know that i LOVE you blog!

Abby said...

I can relate and often write about the OCD/ED link myself, as I sometimes think it wasn't really the exercise that I was/am addicted to. Sometimes I think it was just the feeling of accomplishing something to check off my list and to physically feel like I've been productive.

This actually translates to mentally feeling productive as well, as when I'm bored at work and feeling useless, I tend to want to restrict to counter the "inactivity." Sometimes new habits and routines are all I need to get me out of my head.

I just wish it were at a bakery!

e.motions and ana.lysis said...

The mind-numbing, now-focused activity is one of the reasons that, although I have a research position this summer, I also work part-time at a donut shop. Although it can spur negative thoughts when I am not busy/interacting with people and just cleaning, I ALWAYS have a task to do and focusing on that and doing it faster/better is fairly therapeutic. Cleaning an entire sandwich station until it sparkles is less useful in the grand scheme of things, and yet it feels so much more satisfying than a few hours of whatever work I need to do on the computer.

Danielle said...

Hey Carrie,
My name's Samantha. Like you, I'm on a recovery path from an eating disorder, even started my own blog. I'm on the path to recovering from a seven year battle with Bulimia.
I hope things are going well for you. If there is anything I can do to help, please don't hesitate to drop me a line and let me know.
Hugs to you my friend. I know full well the courage it must have taken to post this blog and the ongoing battle you struggle through.
Take care,

Unknown said...

i think there is something therapeutic about working-- it gives you a sense of accomplishment and mastery.

glad youre doing well, don't forget you are a ROCK STAR

thinking of you

hope you have a splendid sunday, dear
love, becca

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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