P is for “Progress, Not Perfection”

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I am a perfectionist.

In fact, I sat for a moment thinking through the title of this blog. Because it said P is for Progress, not Perfection.

But P is for both Progress AND Perfection. Which is not what I was trying to say.

I’m irritated that I’m a few days behind. I almost wanted to chuck the whole idea of blogging through the alphabet.

I’m irritated that my apartment is such a mess.

I’m irritated that my nails have polish that’s left over from a manicure three weeks ago.

This has been a life-long problem. And when I say problem, I mean paralyzing one. (Problem and paralyzing both start with P, which I didn’t do on Purpose. But it makes me happy.)

When I was in high school and we got an assignment for any sort of long term-project, once of two things would happen. I would be struck with genius immediately as the teacher was talking, work on it deligentlty, and turn in something the teacher would use for years as an example (much to the annoyance of my little sister.) OR- I wouldn’t have any ideas immediately, I’d put it off until the last second, half-ass something, and squeak by with a C. A+ or C. Those were my grades.

I almost missed a few football games as a cheerleader in high school because I couldn’t get my pony tail perfectly straight.

If I can’t clean the entire apartment and have it be spotless, I’m likely to do nothing.

I don’t do mediocre. Because I can’t. Like, can’t. At least, I couldn’t…

This is not a humble brag. This is a description of my illness.

Ten years ago this week I was sitting at home crying. Yes, the whole week.

We’re not really sure when it happened, but it started slowly on the evening of my birthday. I started to feel incredibly anxious. Then I started to look for the source of my anxiety. Finding none, I tried to make things up. Then, I started to cry.

When I had been crying for two days with no external source of distress, my awesome husband Ryan finally said what we’d both been thinking for years. “Sweetheart, I really think you have depression.”

He took me to the Cleveland Clinic that Monday morning. I was dressed adorably. Because that’s what I do. I was diagnosed with severe depression. As we chatted, I acknowledged that I showed symptoms as early as seven years old. But because I was smart and strong and came from a loving family, I was able to push through. But it was time for me to stop pushing and get some help.

For the next two months I only worked two or three days a week. I went to therapy twice a week and we found the right medication for me.

Ten years later, it is still the right medication for me. I’ve been to three different therapists long-term. And I feel better. It turns out, my perfectionism was a very common part of depression. Looking at things as all or nothing.

I am posting this blog today, even though it’s several days late. That is progress.

I am taking my daughter to the zoo today, even though we didn’t fix her ponytails last night and they are a mess. That is progress.

I am cleaning the apartment in baby steps. The living room still looks terrible. But other areas are getting visibly better, and I can see where it will all be clean eventually. (Thank you, Flylady!) That is progress.

Last Monday I had a really rough day. I was exhausted and Lily wasn’t helping the situation. I finally called Ryan in tears, asking him to come home early. He did. And I took an hour or so to rest in the quiet. And then I came back and joined the family. That is progress.

It’s been ten years. And I’ll never be cured. I’ll never be perfect. (It pains me to type that.) But I am much better. And that is progress.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: R is for Routine | Thoroughly Modern Mommy
  2. Trackback: Throwback Thursday: The A to Z Challenge Edition | Thoroughly Modern Mommy

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