I’ve always had a perfectionist mindset. I had thoughts constantly appear, saying I had to be the best. I had to get good grades. I had to do well in sports, and clubs, and everything. This mindset grew and shifted. Now, it says I can’t be flawed. I can’t fail. I can’t make mistakes.
I have symptoms of anxiety and depression. I have had no formal diagnosis, yet I recognize these both to be deeply woven into my thought processes and emotions. Some days I have panic attacks. Other days I just have a general, overarching sense of worry that follows me around like a dark cloud. Some days I can’t bring myself to do anything at all. Other days I just can’t bring myself to brush my teeth or take a shower. Some days I feel everything around me. Other days I don’t feel anything at all.
This can be exhausting. I have had to work hard to get to the point I am at now, and I have overcome a lot of what has been thrown at me. Through this work, I have explored these symptoms and come to terms with them. However, one of my longest struggles has been against my own self-perception. My own perfectionist mindset, telling me I could have no faults or commit any wrongs, took hold of this fight. It told me that I must be perfect, that I must have no discernible flaws, or at the very least appear that way. More so, in spite of me struggling just to get out of bed in the morning, I felt as though I had to thrive in various aspects of my life in order to prove this level of greatness that I could never live up to, and to experience this level of unattainability that was “just so.”
This mindset took over. It screamed at me that I was broken, that there was something wrong with me, that I was useless, worthless, hopeless and helpless. And I believed it for a long time. But now, while I will recognize that I am struggling with anxiety and depression, I have decided I will no longer give time to those thoughts.
I recognize that this will take work. I will fail and fall short and need help from my support system. But there’s enough stigma in the world surrounding mental illness. There’s enough pain that comes from keeping it taboo or keeping it in. So I am taking a stand against my own mindset and the mindset that some others might hold toward mental illness. Struggling with mental illness doesn’t make you weak — it makes you strong. It does not make you broken or less or defeated, because you are still wholly you. You are a fighter, and you are loved.
So I’ll start with me. I am not broken. Even if I am imperfect, even if there are things in me that I cannot control and things that impede my ability to function. I am not broken. Even if I feel like there is something wrong with me or that I’m too far gone. I am met well with this simple reminder: I am not broken. I am fighting. I am whole. I am loved.
And to anyone reading this, who has had these feelings, has fought these issues, or just needs a reminder: You are not broken. You are fighting. You are whole. You are loved.