Recovery Goals for 2010

As I've written before, I'm not much into resolutions. I like the idea (self-improvement), but I've spent so long trying to change myself that I kind of want a break. Nor have any of these so-called "changes" actually resulted in anything positive. But, as the premise of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) states, I am doing the best I can right now, but I can always do better.

In terms of recovery, this year has been incredibly rocky. I don't know exactly where I'm at or if there's even a map or a guidebook anyways. But I know that before I can say that I'm "recovered" or "in remission" or that the AN has finally become dormant, I have to work on a bunch of things. So, in no particular order, here they are:

Better utilize my support system. This was a big deal when I relapsed earlier this year- I don't know whether reaching out would have changed anything, or even if I was mentally able to reach out once things got going, but (and this is a big "but") I could have reached out when the depression and anxiety once again started to overwhelm me. I don't know whether I'm just not good at reaching out for help, if I'm just too damn stubborn, or if the issue is more related to not wanting to ask for help. I suppose the "why" doesn't matter as much as my response.

Develop better ways to cope with anxiety. I've come to realize that anxiety is a bigger driver of my eating disorder than even perhaps depression. When they both strike together, it's like a version of the perfect storm. The anorexia props up my self-esteem and reduces my anxiety--what more could a girl ask for? Uh, quite a bit, I think. My medication hasn't "cured" my depression, but I can manage my moods just fine. The SSRI doesn't do the same for the anxiety. At all. I need to find ways to manage my anxiety that doesn't involve excessive exercise and food restriction.

Stop counting calories. 'Nuff said. It's as much of an OCD ritual as it is an ED behavior, and it's almost instinctual. Drives me bonkers not to do it.

Find fun movement. My brain gets this jolt of dopamine when I exercise, so it's hard for me determine the real relationship between "fun" and "exercise." However, I want to find activities that I look forward to, rather than just waiting breathlessly for that endorphin rush. There were any number of things I wanted to try when I was in the DC area, but they all "interfered" with my exercise routine, so I never actually tried them. Then there was the fact that my office and my apartment had fitness centers, and I could never quite bring myself to pay for the privilege of working out when I could do it for free without getting in my car. Mainly, though, it was the "routine" thing.

There will no doubt be other things I will add to this list, and I have some life goals that I'm not especially keen on sharing with the whole wide world out there, but I think this makes a good start with what I need to work on in order to keep moving forward in recovery.


Cathy (UK) said...

These goals make such a lot of sense Carrie. I am no longer one for establishing New Year's Resolutions - because past experience informs me that I often cannot meet many of them. And so I have previously resorted to 'beating myself up'- both mentally and physically.

What I have learnt to do in the past year is to accept me as I am. In terms of my inherent temperament traits and characteristics, I lie at one or other end of the normal distribution. We cannot change our inherent traits, we can only work with them. I accept that I am rather atypical and I cannot expect to be like someone who is typical. My goals need to be different, and attainable. My characteristics may be atypical, but I can use them in a positive rather than a negative way.

I like your goals. They make sense to me. I stopped counting calories and weighing myself regularly about 2 years ago. I left the gym that I did my daily, obsessive workout in. I developed other rituals and routines (both subconscious and conscious) in the place of my ED behaviours but these rituals and routines were not so self-destructive.

I think a good New Year's Resolution for all people with EDs is to stop criticising ourselves for not being 'good enough' and to stop setting ourselves unattainable goals in life.

Happy New Year!

Abby said...

I'm not just saying this, but I could have written this post myself (although not as eloquently). In terms of goals, you hit it dead on, and I have to say that they all apply to me as well.

While I'm kind of back at square one and not as far along as you are, at least I'm back at square one (again) instead of in my own little restricted world. This is just what I needed to hear--from the OCD to the routine to the anxiety--and for today, my motivation to avoid the gym.

Thanks and I look forward to your blog in and happiness to you!

Amy said...

Anxiety is a nasty-ass bitch. In dealing with both, I'd take depression any day, I think.

And if you figure out a good way to reach out to your support system, feel free to pass that information along... (;

Happy 2010!

Telstaar said...

Hey Carrie,

I just wanted to say (because for some reason i think having an opinion is okay :S)... i think those are great, brave and honest goals. I think its the honesty I like the most. I like the fact that you're not setting rigid targets (although I'm quite sure the ed would love that), but that there is room for growth and grace in there.

I'll be watching and hoping and thinking of you as you work towards each of them :)


Kim said...

Can I copy and paste this into my personal journal? Haha. I have many of the same goals, from managing anxiety to seeking support to not counting. Anxiety has been something I've been wrestling with for a while. I tend to get depressed because my anxieties make my life so small. And, yes, when they strike together, it's a perfect storm. Anorexia DOES make me feel better, and that's the kicker. I know it's a personal question, but what SSRI are you on? It's helpful to hear that the SSRI doesn't really do much for the anxiety. I tend to think if I go on meds, maybe things will be "all better." I'm hoping therapy continues to help with anxiety and some of the rituals I've developed. Thanks, as always, for your honesty about recovery. It's extremely helpful. I think 2010 will be a great one for you. I look forward to reading more :)

Carrie Arnold said...


I have now added "Accept my quirks" to my list. ;)


I'm on generic Prozac, and in terms of depression, it was life-altering. The first time I started taking it (about 9 years ago now), I remember thinking "You mean not everyone wants to throw themselves under a bus on a daily basis?" It does help with the anxiety, but I think the anxiety is worse for me on a day-to-day basis than the depression. For me, the depression will come in waves. Without meds or therapy, my mood usually isn't great, but I've learned to deal with it. However, there will be phases where I just fall of the cliff, mood-wise, and it's almost incapacitating. So the meds just prevent the falling off the cliff.

Different SSRIs do different things. I know Zoloft and Paxil are approved for anxiety/OCD. I've never tried Zoloft, and one day of Paxil nearly landed me in the psych unit because of side effects. On the other hand, my best friend from college who is recovered from ED and also has major anxiety issues loves Paxil, didn't have any problems and still continues to take it (last time I checked). So it might be worth talking with someone to discuss your options, both in terms of therapy (like CBT) and a medication to get you over the hump and help you cope better. I'm not a medication advocate (ie, "If you have a psych problem, get a prescription!") but I also don't advise against it, either. BuSpar is another option that's been on the market for a while and is in generic form, and I tend to take it when I'm going through a really stressful period (when I was applying for a job, etc) just to keep my eating from going haywire.

Good luck!

I Hate to Weight said...

i'm reading your NEXT TO NOTHING. i saw it in barnes & noble and decided to buy it without realizing you were the author. i just started the book and look forward to having the time to read more. i know it will be excellent.

i find that my lexapro helps with depression but much less so with anxiety. neurontin helps my anxiety. anxiety can run my ED. wish it would run somewhere else.

happy new year! may 2010 be peaceful for us all

Emily B said...

I have that problem with Lexapro-- in that it's definitely helped me manage my depression but not my anxiety... I was completely wigville last night, packing and repacking and cleaning my dorm room before I left for Italy, enough that it pretty much drove me to tears. ANYWAY in hindsight it was pretty ridiculous. I mean, I'm here at the airport and I'm fine, right? (Reminder to self: remember to take medication at a certain time, please.)

Have you tried anything on the Wii? My girlfriend (in recovery) loves Fit; I think for her it's an easy way to have fun and work out some of that urge to exercise in a fairly safe way.

Ashley said...

Hi Carrie,

I've recently started reading your blog in order to gain additional perspective on EDs, especially so that I can better understand how to support one of my best friends who has struggled with hers over the last 10 years and has recently had a major relapse.

I just wanted to comment on your goal of finding other ways of overcoming your anxiety. I know you are an avid reader of current research, but I just wanted to make sure you were aware of something.

Often times in patients who have seeked help for overcoming depression and are subsequently put on medication, find that once their depression is under control, anxiety becomes more of an issue. Anxiety and depression often go hand-in-hand. For many meds, a low dose is enough to alleviate depressive symptoms, while a higher dose of the same med is needed to help with anxiety.

This may be something to consider...Prozac itself is used for both depression and anxiety (just at different effective dosages).

Like you, I don't believe everything needs to be medicated, but it also just may be that you are being medicated just enough to help with depression, but also just enough to really unmask the anxiety.

Of course, this may have been something you have already considered and I apologize for wasting your time.

Anyway, just a thought...

Thanks for your blog and continual insight.

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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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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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