I hope that doesn’t happen here! Last month when COVID-19 hit hard, and several US cities went on Shelter in Place status, I was not ready to face the reality that this virus was rapidly spreading and costing lives. And on a more primal and selfish level, I did not want to accept what it might mean for me.
I love my routine. My favorite parts include going to the gym, playing tennis, and grocery shopping. The thought that those options could soon become unavailable caused me to land somewhere between mild discomfort and wild panic. Despite having over a solid year of recovery under my belt, I found myself engaging in some old habits. Knowing a shelter in place was inevitable for our state, I went into hoarding of a sort. Not of stuff, but activity. I went to the gym more than usual and worked out harder than I knew to be healthy for me. I played tennis everyday, sometimes up to three times in a day, dreading our pending separation like I would a best friend who was leaving the country. I went to the grocery store daily, not so much to buy stuff, but rather because I could. Although hindsight tells me buying some toilet paper might have been a good idea because living in a house with three men, I’m running dangerously low.
But here we are. Nineteen days sheltered-in-place and I am staying keenly aware of the edginess in my body and the free time on my hands. A dangerous combination for me. I am leaning on the things I learned in treatment. Sitting through the discomfort, staying connected (virtually that is) , and finding healthy ways to move my body and stimulate my brain, my healthy brain, making sure my old anorexic one stays at a very social distance. I remember what happens when I don’t.
In 2015, with my leg in stitches my workout routine severely diminished, I felt like I was the judge in the trial, Rest Vs. Exercise and two very persuasive attorneys were on the case. Sherri Brain and Anorexic Brain, and both were playing to to win.
SB: This is the push you needed to help you take a break from exercise.
AB: It's stitches, not a broken leg. This is a test of your determination.
SB: Exercising isn’t worth infection, and disfiguration.
AB: NOT exercising isn’t worth feeling lazy. Full. Fat.
SB: This will help your body gain weight.
AB: Your body will gain too much weight.
SB: Don’t do it Sherri, it’s not a wise decision.
AB: Do it! Do It, Do it!
And like any good court case, the more persuasive side won.
So, the day after my surgery, I wrapped my leg tightly in an ace bandage, thinking it would prevent the flesh from jiggling around and ripping the stitches. I headed up and down the long steep hills in my neighborhood with an awkward limp, distracted the entire hour about what might be happening under the bandage. Worried when I got home my muscle would be exposed through the gaping, raw open wound no longer held together with the blood soaked thread.
The movement was too much for my leg but not enough for the rest of my body, or my mind.