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.