The Perfection Curse

I’m starting this with a trigger warning. *TRIGGER/CONTENT WARNING* This post will discuss mental health, anxiety, self harm and disordered eating.

Ah, perfectionism my old friend. In case you don’t know I have an array of mental health issues, none as limiting or impacting as my perfectionism. I am not talking the fact that I like lists, good grades and a clean kitchen. But debilitating perfectionism combined with obsessive thoughts of worthlessness, dangerous procrastination and relentlessly tormenting myself for not achieving this idea I have of ‘perfect’.

Things that set of my perfectionism include other peoples expectations for me, compliments and personal goals. I have been limited by all of these things in my past. it is one factor in my (multiple) unfinished degrees, it is why full time employment has historically placed me in need of psychiatric care, it has impacted my ability to retain relationships and contributed to my disordered eating, self harm, crippling anxiety and self-sabotage.

I thought I had pretty much found coping mechanisms, healthy self talk, support and understanding. In the past 2 years I have completed a Diploma and many short courses, I have been consistently employed for 14 months and even begun addressing my eating. Well, these are all true and the progress I have made is commendable. (Look at me acknowledging success, that’s an example right there)

Let’s just say I am addressing some things at the moment that made me realise I had become to comfortable. When I did not meet the expectations others had of me recently I reverted into some incredibly unhealthy patterns. Thankfully I am lucky enough to have an amazing crew supporting me and good mental health professionals too.

The recovery for this is no doubt going to be a process. I also have a lot to do as I slipped into some very uncomfortable coping techniques and perfectionism related behaviours instantaneously. I am very grateful that my friends, family and community have not only provided me a space to process both alone and to them, but have also provided a heavy dose of realism.

I will not let my perfectionism win this time. I will not revert to classic avoidance (eg. quitting university). I will allow myself time to address my mental health. I will seek support and accept that I can learn and develop from personal goals I fall short of. I will seek support in meeting my own expectations. Most importantly: I WILL NOT LET OTHERS EXPECTATIONS OF ME RULE MY LIFE.

Letting others set my path is something I did for a long time. It is an unhealthy avoidance technique of acknowledging my own goals. I have barely survived the last time I lost sight of myself for others expectations.

The point of this post? I often state that I am in recovery from my various mental health disorders. These past weeks have been a reminder that recovery is an ongoing process. I am not magically fixed. I am still neurodiverse and  I need to check in regularly with myself. Over the month of November I sorta forgot to do my daily journalling. This list making and creativity (I use a form of the bullet journal) is one of my main methods for regular self checking. Well, it has proven its value. I sat down today, dedicated some time and my head is a lot clearer and I can breathe without pain.

While there are countless people I owe apologies to for my recent behaviours, I am so grateful for every person who has acknowledged my irrational levels of emotion and negative behaviour patterns and made feel feel safe.

What are my next steps? A few more days of self care, countless more lists no doubt and a mental health appointment or two. But from there, I own my mistakes, I apologise for any inappropriate responses, I acknowledge my value within myself and I continue working towards my personal goals. I persist. I survive. I thrive. Who the f*!& knows? i will do me to the best of my ability.

 

Hypomania Hangover

So, I recently (like 36 hours ago) came out of a very mild 5 day hypomanic episode. I am pretty good at catching a manic episode and managing it well. Hypomania, which is like a manic episodes little sister, I do not pick up on so well. It is a good mood and loads of energy, which could be so many things…. until it is over.

Full manic episodes I treat with medications and a bundle of techniques I have developed over the years. These are easier than hypomania for me personally. This mania-lite is more difficult to notice and by the time to do I am coming down. Which, for me, is like an epic hangover with a lot of anxiety, sadness and crying.

So, I am pretty certain reflecting on my sleeping habits, energy levels and the massive come down, i recently had an untreated hypomanic episode. No harm, no foul. But it is kinda sucky when I miss these things. And trust me, they hypomania hangover sucks.

Let’s look at my recent one. I had been averaging an hour of sleep a night, two at most for about five days. I was waking in a fabulous mood, excited and enthusiastic with loads of energy. Then I woke up, day 6 and I felt, despair, unworthy and useless. i doubted everything about myself. I was exhausted, drained and barely human. Plus I cried at everything. (Like when I thought my purple pen was pink, as the wrong lid was on it and my colour scheme was ruined).

This emotional hangover is intense. For me, it is like my body is trying to feel every emotion that the hypomania didn’t process at the same time. It’s overwhelming and without the support, that I am lucky to have, it can lead to unhealthy coping techniques.

Having not been home for the last 3 days of this episode, I didn’t have my partner, who reminds me to self check my moods if she is concerned. Nor did I have her support for the come down, which I kinda need. I was lucky enough to be in another city with some amazing people, who despite not knowing any of this bipolar bullshit, supported me and addressed my self doubt with rational thinking. I could not be more thankful to my sexy worker family for the love and acceptance.

I am definitely going to have to learn to recognise this hypomania earlier. Because despite the positives, hello confidence, energy and enthusiasm, the come down kinda blows.  If I don’t realise that it is a come down, which I didn’t till reflecting tonight, I believe the intensity of the negative emotions. I cave to my self doubt. Plus the body hurts, I’m constantly nauseous and I get a super sore body. It’s literally like the worst hangover, that lasts 1 to 3 days.

Right now, I am about 36 hours post hypomanic episode. I hurt, my head hurts, I am craving carbs, I feel like vomiting and I am so damn tired. I had a lot of the negative self talk going on and it was loud and ridiculous. Despite some very important people reminding me of the inaccuracy of my thoughts I doubted them. Until I started writing about 3 hours ago.

No, it hasn’t taken me 3 hours to write this rubbish blog. I wrote about 7 trying to write for the people. I have been doing this awful form of writing (conversing in text?) for 13 years anonymously and I have intended on going public for about a year. I set this up 6 weeks ago. But fear held me back. I then wrote blog, after blog, after blog, trying to justify the content I will possibly discuss on the fuckery of a project. But, I realised I am writing for me.

So the plan now? Post this, take my PRN and get some damn sleep. Here is hoping that tomorrow this ongoing ‘hangover’ is over.