I don’t know whether it’s related to the bipolar, but I have always had a rather bad perfectionist streak. I know why I have bad perfectionist tendencies – I was never good enough for my mother in anything I did. That is, of course, until I was an adult and she tried to overcompensate for it; suddenly, everything I did was fantastic and nice. That didn’t fix the perfectionism in the slightest, but I guess thanks for trying, albeit late?
As many people with perfectionism problems know, it is a fairly crippling thing. You might be too scared to try for fear of failing. Or one of my favorite examples from my schooldays – homework. You ‘have’ to do it, and yet, say I couldn’t manage to solve a problem. I wouldn’t turn it in; to me, homework was supposed to be completed, and then turned in. Because it was not complete, I could not turn it in. When forced to, I’d burn holes into the work because I was so stressed at being forced to turn in an incomplete assignment. It was such a relief to get into the workforce (both during and after my school years) because it was open-ended enough to avoid the worst of that stress. Make a sandwich, sell a phone, turn in a little report – not a big deal. Or it could be because they were things that didn’t make me feel unsure; I know that when I was transferred into a new shop during my Air Force years, I entered a year-long mega-depression because I was doing work that I was not confident performing. I ‘won’ and got transferred back to my old shop, but really, that was just a bandage on a horrible life situation.
Anyways, the main thing I wanted to say on this I’ve already said – keep trying. It is much harder than it sounds, especially when you’re fighting your own mind. When you already know that your response to failing or the possibility of failing is irrational, well-meant platitudes don’t help and are actually hurtful. Yes, I know that the only way to break the perfectionism trap is to keep trying in the face of failure, but I had to do that at my own pace. Everyone has to do that at their own pace, to fully grok their demon companion and strike an uneasy peace. And yet, sometimes, it’s good to set ourselves a reminder, especially in the wake of a bad knock. I need that, I know – while I’ve got the worst of my perfectionism sorted after many years of hard work, it still manifests in weird and unhelpful ways. One of them is that brain warring I mentioned the other day – my head foresees an argument that needs fixing, and then tries to fix it. This is, of course, imminently unhelpful because 99.9% of the time the issues are moot, or they’re people who are out of my life and aren’t likely to be coming back, or just sneaking in attempts to ruin relationships with people I love. Even with people out of my life, I want things to be ‘perfect’ between us, so my brain races about creating fights and trying to nullify them to fix issues that aren’t even issues. Pretty silly, non?
But ah well, even with my mind trying to panic and fret about things, I will continue to push on through. ‘Cause y’know, that’s what I do.
Have yourselves a lovely Sunday!