I’ve spent years — more than a decade actually — trying to create the perfect morning routine to set me up for a great day every day. I often explain that living with CPTSD keeps my mood and emotional state far below a “normal person’s” (whatever that means) baseline state. So, there are certain things that really help to get me up to that baseline so I don’t begin the day already in emotional/ mental deficit.
Some of the things I like to do on mornings where there’s time:
Unfortunately, with the way we live & work… like it’s go-time every waking moment, of course there’s never time for these activities. So, most days, I start in deficit anyway.
Over the past several months, I realize that I tend to prioritize the workout over all else. I tell myself that if I can only do one of these things, it HAS to be the workout. There’s nothing wrong (on the surface) with this thinking, of course. Moving our bodies is great for us and it is a major mood booster so it would/ does help me climb out of deficit.
However, getting hooked by my disorder and relapsing back into the ever-present arms of diet culture again as I have recently over-complicates the simple urge to move my body. I notice when I’m relapsing/ hooked again, thoughts of my body changing from the workout flood the backend of my mind (not exactly subconscious because I’m aware of them but also not at the forefront) and I can’t loosen their grip.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to change our bodies. Of course, if we are living in a fat body, as I am, it only makes sense in a thin supremacist world that making ourselves smaller would make for a happier, easier life so the desire to be thin is logical in this context.
What’s wrong with me wanting my body to change is that it won’t. And if it does, if I do become thin (again), I’ll only gain more weight on the other side of that loss. I know this from both lived experience and research. It’s called weight cycling and it’s actually very bad for my health.
Maybe more importantly, as someone living with CPTSD, wanting my body to change comes from a past of deep self hatred that I have worked my ass off to leave behind but that script remains inside of me ready to run at certain triggers. So, my ED quickly makes those thoughts of wanting to change my body so obsessive and so pervasive that they disrupt everything else I do — all day long! My ED steals my life from me by making everything about calorie counting, tracking, obsessively planning, compulsively body checking, hating myself, and feeling like I don’t deserve to live. It is — LITERALLY — madness, as in, mental illness.
In the end — the only way I’ve found to avoid the mental illness is to avoid the reasonable desire to move my body. This is because diet culture, via my ED, has stolen joyful movement from me. And my god, this infuriates me because joyful movement is a birthright!
And when it comes to my morning routine and prioritizing the workout above all else, I end up just doing nothing. So, I start a lot of days in worse-than-deficit because I’m also already exhausted from the ED battle in my head and very angry that I can’t just allow myself to move freely, as my body so desires and deserves.
So, this week, I’ve tried a different tactic completely. I’m prioritizing writing above all else. Every morning, first thing. Before all else. Writing is BAE.
And it’s working! Writing brings me up to baseline with the added boost of having accomplished something that I’m passionate about. And writing is all mine. Diet culture & my ED has never touched my writing. In fact, as I write these words, I can feel my disgruntled ED in the back of my mind pouting and angry because it has been defeated by my attention to my writing. It’s possible, attention to my writing — which is probably attention to a much deeper part of my Self — is the antidote to my ED.
I hope one day, I will be consistently moving my body with joy and intention again. But I will not be able to do that so long as it means abandoning my body to my ED. So for now, I’m taking “Workout and/or Yoga” off the list and making Writing BAE. And we’ll see where that leads.
*I’m fully aware that the way I am using/mis-using this term would make my teenaged daughters cringe. And… I don’t care.
About JodiAnn Stevenson
JodiAnn Stevenson lives in the U.S., in the Northwest Corner of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, on The Big Lake. Her writing has appeared in numerous venues since 1996. She is the author of three published chapbooks of poetry: The Procedure (March Street Press, 2006); Houses Don’t Float (Habernicht Press, 2010); and Diving Headlong Into A Cliff of Our Own Delusion (Saucebox, 2011). Her mixed-genre work Marina Abramovic Is My Mother is available in the form of a short-run podcast. She has also produced eight chapbooks of poetry for The Broken Nose Collective which she co-founded in 2013. JodiAnn was founder and co-managing editor of the feminist micro-press, Binge Press and its sister journal, 27 rue de fleures, from 2004 until 2017.
A (more or less) complete list of publications and appearances: