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Failing Perfection

I have mentioned before how I am a perfectionist. I have an extreme fear of failure. My brain views many things as black or white, nothing in between. Success is one of those things. I am either successful or a complete failure. I only hold myself to this standard. For me success means perfection, making no mistakes, and being the best at whatever I am doing. If you have ever watched the movie Talladega Nights with Will Ferrell you know his saying "if you're not first, you're last", that is the ridiculous standard I have set for myself.

This goes with all aspects of my life. Take my house for instance, it is either clean or so dirty is needs condemned. This is just in my mind. Of course I never let my house become dirty enough to be considered as needing condemned, it is just an example of how extreme my brain goes. I could have just finished cleaning and an hour later I see a missed dust bunny and suddenly my brain feels like the house is filthy and needs a deep clean. Extreme, I know.

At work, if I get too busy trying to multitask and make a mistake, then suddenly I feel like a complete idiot that is completely undeserving of being on the payroll. Would I think that if anyone else at work did the same thing? Of course not! Not in a million years.

Grad school is just another area in my life that I pressure myself to be perfect. I have just finished my second of six semesters. Until now, I had only missed two points on an assignment. Today I woke up to a text from a classmate asking if I checked my grade on our final paper yet. I logged on to look and I got a 21/26 on it. I spent hours on this paper and was extremely proud of my work. I made some silly mistakes that were overlooked when editing and a few things I didn't elaborate on, but it was because I didn't think I had to. The feedback was all completely fair and will help me improve on my next paper, but an 80% was a hard pill to swallow. I know, I know, it is still a great grade, especially for graduate school. But with the way my brain works, it might as well have been a 0 with a letter kicking me out of the program because I am not master's degree material.

My brain spiraled on an off all day because of that stupid grade. My eating disorder (remember I often refer to it as "ED" the chauvinist male that resides in my brain) loves to take any bit of imperfection and turn it into reason to travel down a path of self destruction. Here was 20% worth of failure to fuel that fire. Let me give you an inside look of ED taking my hand and walking by my side as I spiral into mental anguish.

"You're a complete idiot."

"Your professor definitely thinks you're lazy and stupid. She probably doesn't even like you anymore."

"Your boyfriend will probably break up with you now because you're dumb. If he doesn't then he definitely should."

"You should just quit grad school now that you've failed. Add it to the list of things you tried and quit because you suck."

"Speaking of things you've quit, what do you actually do anyway that is meaningful? Your entire existence on this planet is pretty insignificant, really."

"Will you ever do anything that really means something? You don't teach anymore, and that was really the only impact you made on anyone's life. Now, no one would even notice if you didn't exist anymore."

"Remember how all your friends are getting married and having babies and you're failed at that too, remember?"

And that was just in the first hour of finding out my grade....

To take control back from ED I did what I knew he would hate.... I took care of myself. I started by putting on a nice face mask to make my skin soft. Then, I picked out some comfortable clothes to wear and took a nice hot shower. When I got out of the shower I put some potions on my face (serums and lotion) and dried my hair with my new blow dryer brush. I played Christmas music and wrapped presents for people I love and then watched some football with my boyfriend.

I wish I could say ED shut up that easily, but he never goes down without a good fight. Throughout the day he would remind me again that I am dumb and that my professor definitely thinks so too. More self doubt and questioning what I am even doing on Earth wasting the oxygen. And then dinner time came and it was like ED's director had yelled "lights, camera, action."

"Slow down, you're eating like someone's trying to take it from you."

"You really ate everything on your plate?! You're disgusting."

"So now you're dumb AND fat....what a winner."

Having ED criticize me and put me down during and after a meal is not uncommon. In fact, I almost expect for it to happen any time I eat. But today, it was just too much. Having listened to the shit talk, for the lack of a better term, all day I was and am exhausted. I'm writing to get it all out of my head because I don't know what else to do. I feel like I am drowning as I just sit and try to ignore it. I don't have the energy or strength to combat it with positive affirmations or by fact checking. Watching tv as a distraction isn't cutting it. I try to sit down and lose myself in an episode of The Crown, but I get overwhelmed with sadness, the feeling of inadequacy, and just want to cry.

You know I don't like to get on here and sob without leaving you with my game plan. Being honest about my experience is to help others in similar situations know they aren't alone. But the purpose of the game plan is to remind others that your life is yours and you are in control, not your mental illness or anything else. I will be honest in saying that my game plan is just to get through the night so I can wake up tomorrow to a new and more positive day. I am going to do my best to enjoy some time watching a show I enjoy, laughing at some Tik Toks, and snuggling with my boyfriend and sweet fur babies. I will take my medicine before bed and I will get a good night's sleep. Tomorrow I will wake up, nourish my body and start fresh.

Experiencing emotions isn't a bad thing. You need to feel them, even the bad ones. Just be careful not to let the bad ones overwhelm you, and if they do then it's time to make your game plan. Reach out to a loved one or someone that will walk with you through the storm. Take the time to do some self care, even the most basic as taking a shower. Engage in a distracting activity like tv, reading, or crafting. Use your senses: take a walk, practice deep breathing, listen to a guided meditation, hold ice cubes in your hands until they melt, squeeze silly putty, or bounce a ball on the ground as hard as you can! Write a letter to someone that may have hurt you, but the crumple it up and burn it (safely, of course).

If you ever need ideas or help creating your game plan, send me a message and I would be more than happy to help.

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<3 Stay Strong and Beautiful

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