Start a sentence, reread, backspace to delete it. Start a thought, pause, backspace to delete it. Start again, and again …and again. The idea that getting the perfect first words to land the perfect first impression are tortuous for a perfectionist. (Reread and realize a word is missing and self-edit as you write.)
Does that sound familiar? If so, have you been hiding in my head?
To look at my house and my skills as a Donna Reed impersonator you would not think I was a perfectionist at all. Oh, but I am. I so totally, completely am. Too bad it isn’t always about the things that matter, like personal appearance, laundry, decluttering and housekeeping.
I just finished reading a short list called 12 Signs You May Have an Anxiety Disorder. I didn’t go looking for me. I was actually looking up natural anti-anxiety remedies with SugarBug in mind. She’s flying to Seattle in a couple weeks to visit a friend she hasn’t seen in over 6 years. SugarBug deals with some anxiety, and she is on the tail end of recovery from a broken ankle and surgery, and after nearly 12 weeks is finally able to start walking again. She has been on a plane for only one other trip. This time she’s going alone, and flying out of and into airports I’ve never been to so I have no experience to share on them. Anyhoo, I found a list; it was published by the same website. The “12 Signs …” article came up as the next one in the queue. Clickbait. I took it.
For several years I’ve known I am not a good full time employee. After a while I start thinking my bosses are looking reasons (or excuses) to fire me. “What if they realize i have ____ and ____ flaws? What if I can’t keep this level of performance up?” Self doubt – check.
The last job I did have I ended up quitting because I could not physically force myself to open my door to go inside one day. I sat, frozen, on the verge of a nervous breakdown, in the parking lot for over 2 hours before I sheepishly restarted the motor and drove home. Panic – check.
I count the basement stairs every time I walk down them, and usually going back up. Strangely not the ones going upstairs though. I find myself “air typing” the words of my thoughts as they run through my head. I don’t feel the need to wash my hands multiple times in a row, but I do several times a day because I hate the feeling of dirty hands. Compulsive behavior – check.
Then there are the bathroom/toilet needs: food in, not solid out. Suffice to say IBS has not been officially diagnosed, but … Chronic-indigestion – check.
I’ve dealt with TMJ for years because of the way my upper jaw structure is. But lately I’ve noticed my cheeks are sore. What’s up with that? It seems I’ve been clenching my jaw and carrying all this tension in my face for no apparent reason. Muscle tension – check.
Sleep problems – check. Perfectionism – check. Flashbacks ( focussing on past negative things, even minor ones) – check. Self-consciousness – oh man, check! The other things on the list that I don’t really pertain to me: excessive worry, irrational fears, stage fright.
Geez, I do have an anxiety problem.
Our previous health insurance was a self-funded HMO. It employed its own doctors, nurses, PACs, and had its own radiology, MSWs, dieticians. Every six months I had to be reevaluated for a “med check” being on an anti-depressant. I would get a brief two-sided questionnaire. One side was for the depression, suicidal thoughts and such. The other side asked about anxiety. It focused primarily on the level of worry one has, and on quality of sleep. I never associated sleep quality with anxiety, and since I’m not a chronic worrier I ignored it. It seems their parameters and criteria were a bit lacking, and I should have paid more attention.
Now I need to find a mental health professional to help navigate my new self diagnosis (because self-diagnoses are always accurate, right?). Except I don’t have a primary care doctor because I lost that when the hubs changed jobs what with him being exclusive to that HMO. And we don’t have new insurance coverage — yet. And SugarBug needs more insulin; without insurance it is hundreds of dollars — per refill.
But I’m not going to worry. I’m not. Really. God’s got this. And that’s why I don’t worry. But I might suffer from some mild insomnia whilst clenching my teeth tonight. Deep breath, 2, 3, 4. Hold, 2, 3, 4. Exhale, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6, 7, 8. Repeat.