Perfectionism and the Stigma

I remember hitting my head on my bedroom wall, hoping that what I was feeling and thinking would go away. "Get out of my head." I would say out loud. I had to be careful, though, because I did not want my mom or dad to hear me downstairs, where they were watching tv. I remember the headaches that would follow and the constant crying after that. I was fourteen years old.


Mental illness is real, and it affects a lot of people.


I have an obsessive personality and suffer from OCD. Something I have learned is that trying to be perfect all the time is exhausting. It has negatively affected my life and mind for years.


I became so obsessed with the idea of perfection. Since I was not meeting my expectations, I became depressed. I started trying to change who I was. I was a little awkward, struggled with learning new things, and was facing a mental health battle I knew nothing about, but I still attributed my failures to a lack of worthiness. I did not see my value because I was so busy striving to be perfect in others' eyes. I let others dictate what I thought about myself.


I only allowed myself to feel and think about certain things. I forced myself to act a certain way and give off a certain vibe. I wanted to be in complete control. I would evaluate myself after every event or social encounter instead of focusing on the present: "What can I do better?" "How can I improve on this?" I was so obsessive that whenever a random thought crept into my mind, I would try to block it out.
Sometimes these thoughts were scary. Thoughts I never should be having. However, I was too scared to tell anyone. By this point, I knew that I was not okay, but I refused to admit it.


I made it impossible to meet my expectations. I reached a point where I wanted to escape my own body and mind. I began having panic attacks two to three times a day because I would feel so overwhelmed. I refused to go to school. I quit playing sports. I sat in my room all day and became engulfed in my negative thoughts.


On the surface, my family could tell that something was wrong and tried to help me. I refused their support. At school, my peers could tell something was off about me too. I stayed to myself and kept quiet, fearing that I would say the wrong thing. I did not want to feel rejected. I did not want to feel embarrassed. I did not want to feel even more lonely.


I thought of myself as a competitive athlete and only as that. I believed I needed to have this alpha mentality, where I could never show vulnerability or weakness.


It was not until recently that I started questioning my perspective on this. "Am I only an athlete? Do I always need to have this guard up, so I portray a certain image?" Thinking this way has been counterintuitive for me. I noticed that doing so has limited my ability to perform because of the pressure I put on myself. As my perspective has shifted, life has become more enjoyable as well.

 

Thank you for reading!

 

Check out this Ted Talk for more on perfectionism

 

Leo Sullivan

You were genuine with your words, thank you for being open and authentic.

Leo Sullivan 21/08/2020

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