Happy Old Year!

After rendezvousing with the holidays, the next widely celebrated event is the New Year. I’ve always felt a hesitation with this one because there are so many hopes, wants, and desires a lot of people strive to gain but end up feeling like a failure when the “New Year’s Resolution” adrenaline fades out (usually by mid January).

The most common resolutions are either weight-related, something to do with smoking and/ or drinking, or reaching a new level of fitness. These can result in positive lifestyle changes when seen through, but only a small percentage of people who make New Year’s Resolutions will be successful. It always seems to be the perfect time to “start fresh” by dropping bad habits, creating that better you but why should a new calendar year dictate such a life-altering change?

By the end of the year, more people are focused on creating that new promise to themselves instead of reviewing the year and seeing how they did with the past resolution- if they can even remember what it was. So as I sit here being hypocritical about reducing my junk intake once Jan. 1st, 2013 hits, I can understand that need to wipe the slate clean.

I didn’t make a resolution last year and I won’t make an official one this year. The only time I made one as an adult (or maybe ever) was that my book was going to be published by the end of 2009… and I accomplished this in Dec. of 2009! The date wasn’t as important to me as ridding myself of the feeling that if it wasn’t going to be done by then, it would never be completed. Maybe those of us with OCD tendencies have a knack of catastrophizing our goals because we are consumed by the fear of failure if we don’t get something done.

Time restrictions are essential to getting things done or else we would be living in a distrustful world when “I’ll get around to it” really means “I’d always rather be doing something else, so what you want done will never get done”. Looking at 2012, I have thus far quit smoking for 5 and a half months consecutively,  minus 3 or 4 cigarettes earlier on, and lost 30lbs using WeightWatchers. When it comes to skin picking is where I get anxious; I feel like I should join in on the trend and create a resolution to quit picking or make a more active effort in stopping. Every year I feel this pressure but am terrified in doing it (any time of year, really) because I’ve tried so many times and have felt an overwhelming depression whenever I have ‘failed’. I know I’m in a better place mentally than I was back in those days, but I feel like society- and even fellow skin pickers who look to me for advice- have this expectation that I do what I can to better myself with that only meaning to try and rid myself of this disorder. In the end, a lifestyle change can only be decided by the person and can’t be based on what others think you should do.

What I want to get across is that you don’t need a glamorized ‘season’ to make the changes you deem necessary in your life- they are made when you are ready to make them. There is an advantage of having others struggling to make changes during this time of year so it’s easy to become dependent on their successes, but it also can become an escape if they decide it isn’t the right time [or decision] to make a change. I have made great strides in my life and still have a ways to go before declaring that I have everything together and the day I can declare personal perfection is the day old habits will creep up and I’ll be back at square one. Personally, having a disordered mind will always be what keeps me mindful of my triggers and how easy it is to fall back into the same traps that have gotten me through tough times. If quitting was as easy as saying “I will fight the urges next year” and then doing it, I would have saved myself years of heartache by finding the right way to stop and doing everything in my power to fight for that success. New Year’s resolutions should be made to do what you know you are capable of and I still do not have the resources, tools, or power to get my Dermatillomania under control. Why set myself up for failure because of a tradition?

If compulsive skin picking were truly a choice, we wouldn’t need “New Years” celebrations to tell us to stop- the marks we leave behind and the social events we force ourselves to miss out on would be motivation enough. In my case and for the many others who can’t go a single day without picking, this is an unattainable resolution but it doesn’t mean we can’t work toward creating distractions for ourselves through small steps to prevent ourselves from getting caught in the pathological loop of a picking session.