Monday, 7 January 2013

Perfection paralysis, part 2.

I've just realised that I'm suffering from what I call perfection paralysis again. I wrote about it way back, with regards university essay writing, (you can read it here) but this is different. It's the same feeling, not being able to start something because I'm afraid that I can't do it perfectly, just this time not related to academia. Perfectionism, depressingly as cliched as talking about control with regards eating disorders, runs through my steel bones (everyone from Scunthorpe is made of steel), instead of marrow, and through my veins, instead of blood. I'm paralysed by the very thought that I can't do something, or be something, perfect. In the past it's mostly revolved around academia because that's what my drive was in, but now it's become part of my eating disorder and it's affecting my treatment, on this unit. Or maybe it's not that it's suddenly a part of it, but rather now that my focus has shifted entirely to the disorder and recovery, you can't get away from it or have a day off when it's hard, when you're on a unit, so it's become more apparent. All of the perfectionism from the areas of my previous life, like academia, has had to go somewhere, now that my life revolves entirely around getting better.

I'm not sure what I want to be perfect in. I mean, I know right now, totally and unequivocally, that I want to recover and be a perfect example of how it can be done. But when I'm faced with a meal, and my ED-head is going a million miles per hour, I'm suddenly not so sure. I know it's reasonably early days, I've only been in a few weeks, but there are certain foods that set off major alarm bells in my head, foods I just can't eat, and so I know that when faced with them, I'll not be able to complete that particular meal. So then the perfection paralysis. Do I start and do 'alright' at a meal, missing one component and eating the rest, or do I go into paralysis; write the whole thing off as a bad job, and childishly decide that it's perfection or nothing? The answer seems obvious now, but in the moment it's really not. Do I want to be the 'perfect Anorexic' and refuse all sustenance or do I allow myself to become imperfect through my struggle? But then, is there any imperfection in fighting a worthy war? Because there are few instances of war more worthy than fighting for one's life. I'm so conflicted.

I know perfection doesn't even really exist. At school, we were taught in RE that the fact that we have the notion of perfection proves that there is a god, because only a god can be perfect and so if there's no god, we wouldn't have the notion. I don't agree with this, as an atheist, but it is an interesting argument. 100% in any form of test is a perfect score, though. So I suppose I ought to look at this as some sort of test, this war against my own body hatred, a fight to the death. Because either the disorder dies, or I do; they told me the reason I was admitted here when I was, so quickly and right before Christmas, was that I was an immediate heart attack risk. I don't want to be a perfect Anorexic because the only way to be one is to be dead. But perfectionism, positive as it may be if you can get past or don't get the paralysis, and manage the fact that neither you nor everything you do can be perfect all the time, is a destructive force so deeply ingrained in me that I just don't know how to drain it away.

1 comment:

  1. This is so profound Rebecca, my eating disorder has been eating too much... a different way to be in control. My step mother was beyond horrible and so I ate to have control and I have been trying to unlearn that behavior for years, I will never give up though and I know you won't either.