Okay, we all have to admit it: each of us has some little thing that we get picky about. You know that thing that HAS to be done a certain way, or else it simply does not feel right? Or what about that homework assignment that you have to look through about fifty times before submitting it? I think it's pretty safe to say most of us can get perfectionistic about a few things in our lives. But, it is usually healthy perfection: the type that motivates you to work and to get things done. The problem is when perfectionism becomes unhealthy.
I'll be the first to admit that I can be a bit of a perfectionist. I like to have a neat room, tidy spaces, and organized things. I finish my assignments on time, and I'm never late for appointments. So, this is healthy perfection. It encourages me to keep things clean (but not obsessively), and it helps me excel in my school work. But, I have a side of perfection that is dangerous...
Say hello to ED. He is the KING of perfectionism. When I first fell victim to ED, I thought that I would simply lose a few pounds. But, when I lost five, I realized that I could further. Maybe ten or fifteen? How about twenty? Heck, let's even lose thirty! No number on the scale was 'good' enough. Every number I saw meant that I had done 'alright', but I could still do more. The drive to lose weight engulfed me so that all I could do was think about how I would lose it. That number on the scale dictated my life - it determined if I was worthy of praise and love. If the number was lower than the day before, I had done a good job. If it was the same or more, I had failed. But there was no room for failure with ED. He won't accept that. You can never lose enough weight with ED. My perfectionism with my weight gave me a non-stop trip to the ICU, dialysis, liver and kidney failure, heart strains, breathing dysfunction, and so much more.
Now that I am trying to overcome ED, I find myself struggling a lot with the perfectionism. I feel like I have to be the perfect patient - I have to finish all my food, not complain to anyone, and pretend that everything is easy when it is really not. I have to put on a smile for my parents because I do not want to disappoint or hurt them. But inside, it is really not okay. It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do. And ED gets worked up because I am no longer restricting or losing weight. The number on the scale is climbing upwards and I'm terrified. I am faced with food countless times during the day and I am scared. I am realizing that I'm gaining weight rather quickly and I want to cry.
Part of the work that I have to do to help myself is to simply realize that I am human. I'm allowed to make mistakes. I cannot expect myself to be perfect at everything. I have to come to face the fact that it is alright - well, normal - to NOT be perfect. Lowering the very high standards and expectations I have for myself makes my life easier. It teaches me to love myself for who I am, mistakes included. It teaches me to be proud of my accomplishments. It means that I can go about my day, not worrying about the little blunders that I may make. It allows me to treasure every breathing moment in my life, knowing that I (like everyone in the world) am human and cannot be perfect. It teaches me to want to live a happy life - one that I deserve.