Abandoning hope for something better

It sounds contradictory- hope for a better future can be detrimental to the cause. An interesting essay in the journal The Ecologist by two environmental researchers posed the idea that hope for a better future may be the wrong reason to promote sustainable living. Rather, they propose, people should live sustainably simply because it is the right thing to do.

Much of the research on the environment is dire, they say, which can reduce people's commitment to living green. What's the point? people might think. "Instead of hope, we need to provide young people with reasons to live sustainably that are rational and effective," the authors say. "We need to lift up examples of sustainable living motivated by virtue more than by a dubious belief that such actions will avert environmental disaster."

Of course, I immediately thought of eating disorders treatment. I don't think that we should totally abandon hope, not by a long shot. But I don't think hope is enough.

So much of what I was told during treatment was contradictory. The chances that I would relapse were high, but I had to stay hopeful that I would make it. I focused on "issues" in therapy even as what remained of my health went down the toilet. Literally. It's hard to stay hopeful when you can practically feel yourself dying a little more each day.

What I really needed was a specific plan for recovery, which I finally got thanks to a helpful therapist and dietitian who could see through the ED bullshit. That plan didn't rely on hope. It relied on three meals and two snacks every day. It relied on love. It relied on science.

And it was this plan that finally gave me hope. I'm not always good at feeling it, to be sure. I am afraid of hope, having seen too many predictions not come true. But there is always that possibility, born of a plan.

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Laur said...

so true!
I quit therapy after I specifically asked many many times for my T and N to give me specific goals, plans, feedback, homework, etc. and even after I kept reminding them, their default mode was to just talk. I was like ladies, I have friends who I can talk to for free!

Anonymous said...

You are wonderful and I am so happy to have recently found your site. Where are you based? I'm trying to start a Los Angeles based support group for AN recovery and would love your input.

Laura Collins said...

You are part of a new wave of recovery. I feel optimistic that people like you and my daughter and others who are offered the kind of plan (and food!) you describe.

As the treatment world changes, I believe you will re-write the map of recovery and we will learn so much from you.

Carrie Arnold said...


I'm in the DC area, which means LA is quite a commute! However, I'm not generally in favor of support groups as I've had lots of bad experience. Group therapy is different, if its led by a professional, trained therapist, etc, and works on recovery skills and such. But that's just my opinion. Feel free to email me- the address is in my profile (I get too much spam to type it out).

A:) said...

True true. . .

All the talk therapy in the world did not help me until I decided to eat -- the most helpful thing about working with a dietican for me has been the concrete goals and plan

I don't believe you can tiptoe around the food part if recovery is what is wanted. . .


Love Kpop said...

I like to get up early to go out and breathe fresh air. I feel that it is good for health and a good habit

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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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Have any questions or comments about this blog? Feel free to email me at carrie@edbites.com

nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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