1.unwilling to work or use energy.
This year, “unwilling to work or use energy,” sounds about right when it comes to writing, reading, accounting, or anything related to my computer. It’s been the most unproductive year I’ve had in many. Generally I am not a particularly lazy person when it comes to things like writing. I like to write, so it doesn’t feel like a chore. This year all I want to do when I sit at my desk is look at whatever the latest catastrophe is. Covid numbers. Election numbers. Fire acres. If there is no election or covid or fire I just look at horses.
I am a lazy person when it comes to chores. I haven’t made my bed in years. I actually can’t remember if I ever made my bed other than in Pony Club Camp where every morning you are inspected and your bed and your horse’s bed are awarded points (or not). Luckily for my horses, I always make their beds. I also clean my tack daily, which is more than can be said for my dishes. I guess that when it comes to chores we all find energy to do the things that feel important to us, and are lazy about the things that don’t.
What is missing this year, is my creative mojo. I’m usually chomping at the bit to blog because that is my creative outlet. Not this year. My brain feels fried with all the 2020 madness and I have found it incredibly difficult to concentrate on anything very meaningful.
And … I am 100% okay with this. Long may it continue. Because while I’ve been lapse on the blogging in 2020, I’ve had so many great cuddles on the soda with my cats and husband whilst watching such meaningless TV that I probably can’t even tell you the name of a single Netflix series of the many we have consumed. I’ve sat outside and watched hundreds of sunsets with my dogs. I’ve sat on hay bales and stared into the distance with chickens squabbling at my feet. I’ve laid on the grass and stared at the sky. Sometimes I sit on the doorstep and look at nothing in particular because I can’t even be bothered to get up and move 2ft in order to give myself a view of the mountains. That’s how lazy I feel sometimes. I’m so okay with it. I enjoy it.
When I had anorexia my version of lazy was to allow someone else to empty the dishwasher rather than aggressively guarding it so that I would be the first to do it when it finished it’s cycle. My version of lazy would be to be working away at something on my computer while “watching” a film with someone. (Because believe me, it was rare to even allow myself to watch a film while working rather than just be 100% working.) My version of lazy would be to still go and do my workout at the gym but allow myself to park in the gym parking lot rather than the 1/2 mile away that I usually did. I was basically never actually lazy. I would not allow that because the feelings of guilt and shame and anxiety that accompanied me being anything less than as productive as possible were simply not worth it. I would rather drag my exhausted body through the daily slog of manic productiveness than deal with the mental repercussions associated with any sort of deviation.
I would see people lying in the sun reading a book on the University Campus lawn and be both immensely jealous that they could do that and terrified at the very thought of allowing myself to do that. To be unproductive, willingly and purposefully so, felt … sinful, wrong.
When I look at that now, with my recovered brain, it feels alien. In so many ways, my brain simply doesn’t function the same way recovered as it did when I was in energy deficit. From an evolutionary/famine response perspective, this makes sense. When we consistently eat less food than we need, we present our brain with a perspective of resource scarcity. When the brain believes that resources are scarce (due to energy deficit and the survival part of the brain concluding that not enough food coming in equals an environment of resource scarcity) it needs to motivate you to be as productive as possible. In times when resources were scare, only the most productive of humans would have survived. I believe that the fear of being lazy … fear of being unproductive … that many people with eating disorders develop is an evolutionary remnant associated with what it takes to survive through times of resource scarcity.
My fear of being lazy wasn’t limited to being physically active. While my movement compulsion was the most obvious and observable problem, it didn’t end there. My brain would use the emotions of guilt, shame, and anxiety to motivate me to be as productive as possible at all times. If was wasn’t working out, I was studying. If I wasn’t studying, I was running food in a pub job. I was basically the most boring person at university because I felt anxious at the idea of spending any of my waking hours doing anything other than earning money, working out in the gym, or studying.
Eating disorders and energy deficit bring about so much more than just food restriction and a proclivity to move a lot. The scarcity mindset that I have described so often and in detail in Rehabilitate, Rewire, Recover! is so much more than that. And when you look at the similarities between people who restrict food (hoarding, stealing (for some of us), anxiety around spending money, hyper-focus on being productive, dislike of rest or leisure time, tendency to always delay gratification, workaholic personalities …) it becomes so bloody obvious that are brains are conducting us to behave in a manner that would be beneficial to us if we were living in an environment of resource scarcity.
Being hyper-productive isn’t long-term healthy. Rest and recuperation is important for optimal functioning. If your brain believes you are living in an apocalypse, it will prioritize productivity over rest because desperate times call for desperate measures. But a brain that is not living in an apocalypse doesn’t act like that because rest is actually a very productive state in which our brains and bodies can repair and prepare. A brain living in resource abundance has the privilege of being able to balance productivity and rest times. Hence, hyper-productivity is a symptom of a brain that feels insecure. I wish our culture would stop glamorizing what is basically an insecure state of being.
I didn’t ever think I would change. I thought that was me. I thought it was my personality. Turns out, all I had to do was eat without restriction — and in doing so present my brain with an environment of resource abundance — and my “personality” changed to be that of a chill person who likes nothing better than to share a pizza with friends and wasting time shooting the breeze. I really, really, enjoy that I can choose be lazy. It’s one of my favorite gifts of recovery.