I know I'm not perfect...
I’ve never been a majorly spiritual person, not really. I mean I prayed when I was younger and I was raised as a catholic. I think I’ve also believed in something ‘other’ and mostly because I love the way my Mum always described why she brought me up as a Catholic. She would always say that when everything else had failed, or when everything else was gone you will always have your faith. I never really understood that until one day I was out on a run trying to ‘outwit’ a massive panic attack that I was having. It wasn’t working and I felt like I was dying. I sat down on a wooden walkway halfway through the run with nothing left in the tank, my heart going a million miles an hour and I had nothing left but to pray. And, I did. I prayed to god that he would take this horror away from me. It didn’t really work and I ended up stupidly going and buying weed from a friend in a desperate attempt to self-medicate. That worked for a while but, folks – I don’t recommend this. Not at all. However, in my moment of despair beforehand, I did find some solace in being able to get down on my knees and ask someone/something outside of myself to please, please help me.
I think this year, given everything that happened in 2017 is a good year to start doing some more introspective/spiritual work - to become a better person, to look inside more and also to look outside for more knowledge of the world and how to navigate it. Given that I’m not entirely free of my anxiety and that if I put all of my tools down I slide back into the horrors, I’ve got to go deeper. I think I’m ready for that. I think I’m ready to look at using Kundalini yoga, and reading more about the teachings of Buddhism. I’m not saying the next time you’ll see me I’ll be on a mountain top dressed head to toe in white and smoking incense but, there’s more to be done than just going to the gym and doing yoga. There’s more to me than this and there’s more to my problems than just one traumatic event.
A couple of problems have been highlighted for me in the last 2 weeks. The notion of both ‘workaholism’ and ‘perfectionism’. I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately, mostly women talking about depression, anxiety, alcohol, family life and the pressures of being female. Good thing or a bad thing, I have now realised we don’t f*cking have it easy do we? And BTW this isn’t some feminist rant, I hate feminist rants, it’s just merely an observation I’ve made with women and mental health in general. We’re under pressure to be the perfect colleague/employee but at the same time, the perfect mother, cook, cleaner, friend, sister, daughter and all the while we need to LOOK good while doing, not too fat, not too thin, perfect make up, perfect hair, nails and clothes. So many times when I arrive to work and I don’t have my make-up on I get asked ‘are you ok?’. I ALWAYS answer with ‘yes, I’m actually great, I slept in longer this morning so I didn’t have time to cake myself in make-up’- that usually gets a few grumpy reactions. So all in all, I’m trying to say that women, depression, anxiety, drinking issues, drug abuse, workaholism and perfectionism are all linked, all dangerous and not at all surprising.
Twice while listening to the podcast I have snorted with laughter because of things these women have said in their working careers. I snorted because I’ve said them too:
‘I don’t fail!’
‘I have no choice!’
The first came from one of the women, a confessed workaholic who was tasked to get a project in on time with another colleague in the company. When he fell behind she panicked and screamed at him ‘I don’t fail!’. I relate to this so much. So many times I’ve been let down in the work environment and no matter who’s ‘fault’ it might have been I always, always count it as a failure, I failed. It comes from a place of perfectionism I’ve always had in my life. I placed high, high expectations on myself in high school and if I got 97% in a Physics exam (and yes, I did occasionally get really high marks for physics!) I would desperately try and work out how I managed to miss out on the other 3%. I don’t think until University, I ever failed anything.
So yes, I have the bug of perfectionism. I can’t stand it when projects at work go wrong and I beat myself up about them for a long long time. I have even offered to pay for some projects if printing went wrong because I can’t handle the guilt. It’s no wonder I’m a totally wreck with anxiety most of the time. I also always had the mentality (from a very young age) that unless your head is hanging off, you go to work/school. So, I have gone into work after throwing up in the shower from food poisoning, I have spread colds around the office (I know, I’m sorry) and I have turned up for meetings when I should have been on bereavement leave. Because, you know – ‘I have no choice!!!’
Quite frankly, my workaholism and perfectionism has to stop. Or at the very least, I have to dial it down a notch.
Yoga and exercise have helped but I never really focused on what I was doing to myself. I was working and trying to get everything perfect and never missing a day, then cooking and cleaning at night when I got home and I’ve just exhausted myself.
I heard another women talk about the fact she worked so hard and for so long, she started to blackout in meetings. I don’t want that to happen to me. Too many times I have sat in the boardroom collapsing under the strain of a panic attack, wishing I could crawl out of my skin and tell my boss I was no good and he should really hire someone else…
So I think it comes back to, funnily enough, doing a little more ‘work’ on myself. Really trying to understand where my struggles have come from, why they manifest as panic attacks and what I can do, to alleviate the pain. Have enough self-belief that I can walk away from my job for a day or two if I’m sick. Take a holiday to some far off land without feeling guilty. Not lose sleep over a project gone wrong. Tap into the ‘other’, tap into the river of whatever it is in the world that keeps everything flowing along even if you can’t make it to the office one day. I’m ready for that journey. I can’t live the way I did last year, it’s just not a happy life.
I’m not perfect but I believe I should be, and it makes me sick.
At ease xx