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