Perhaps one of the most terrifying things is to take a first step. Especially when times are dark and the pathway forward can seem confusing…at best. Growing up the younger sibling of a severely mentally unstable brother, there was always immense pressure to be “normal” and “perfect.” What my mother felt was a compliment became my ball and chain: “You’re my angel child – I don’t know what I’d do without you.” The pressure to live up to angelic standards???? It’s almost bone-crushing at times.

But if you met me in person, you would say I’m friendly, I’m upbeat, I’m positive, I’m a can-do, go-getter, team-minded person. You would never know that inside? Sometimes inside I’m crying. There’s a little voice inside screaming “see me, see me.” The little broken voice asks, “is it ok if I’m not perfect?” “Is it ok if I have problems too?” You wouldn’t know I might fall asleep crying over absolutely nothing because my heart is trying to pound its way out of my chest and for the life of me I just can’t seem to stop fixating over a conversation from nearly 15 years ago…I have to justify taking melatonin at night to help me fall asleep because I’m tired of years of tossing and turning for hours before finally falling asleep. Because I feel like admitting that something might be wrong is the equivalent of defeat. It means I’m broken….it means I’m not perfect.

Perfectionism and anxiety…they aren’t very good friends. Anxiety says you’re going to start feel nauseous, heart racing, stomach churning, mind whirling out of absolutely nowhere while you’re driving down a familiar street. Anxiety says you’re going to fixate on this worry in your mind and no matter what you do to try to shut your brain up it’s just going to stay running 100 miles an hour. Anxiety says that little health problem you thought you had under control…it’s the worst possible diseases your little imaginative brain can imagine. Perfectionism says keep that quiet. Perfectionism says look your best. Perfectionism says smile, fake it till you make it and no one needs to know those dark little thoughts in the back of your head.

Needless to say, I find it very difficult to speak out. To speak up and say, this is hard for me. I’m not 100% okay. The last time I tried to ask for help, I was paired with a “therapist” who told me the best coping mechanism for anxiety is to simply “tell yourself to stop thinking about what makes you anxious.” What about the times where I can mentally acknowledge that I am fine? I am safe. Life is okay. There is nothing wrong. But my body goes into anxiety mode anyways? My heart races. My stomach churns. My muscles clench. How do I “stop thinking about it” then? I felt burned, spurned, cast aside and dismissed. I felt like a hermit crab retreating back into my shell swearing I would never venture back outside again. But here I am, about a year later, struggling with anxiety and saying to myself, well maybe…maybe tonight I’m not 100%. Maybe there are other ways to start to process my mental state. Maybe sharing my story in a place where others can read…maybe that will help them too. Maybe they’ve experienced similar things. Maybe they struggle too. Maybe they won’t feel alone if they hear my story. Maybe they need to hear what I’ve needed to hear all my life.

So here it goes…

Hi. I’m not perfect. I’m not 100% today. And that’s okay too.

This is my first step.

5 Comments
  1. ronnie16 1 year ago

    Seriously amazing to read this. So glad you’re ok with saying you’re not ok today. I feel that more than you know and hope that this go around, you find what you’re looking for. Happy to chat if ever the need arises!

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      phantomfox98 1 year ago

      Thank you for your sweet words! It’s nice to find a place where there’s support and kindness.

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  2. tom-in-mn 1 year ago

    It’s hard to spend your life pretending to be something/someone you aren’t. I’ve done it for most of my 72 years and I don’t recommend it as a long term tactic.

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  3. surfinganxiety 1 year ago

    I’ve read a book called the DARE response to anxiety and it advocates the opposite- when you feel that way, you accept it, and in the acceptance you realise it’s actually okay (to “not be okay” as such). The therapists advice sounds the wrong approach for anxiety! You can’t shut it up or make it go away, in fact trying to do that is counterproductive. I’m having a horribly challenging experience at the moment and I’ve found that accepting how I feel is allowing me to cope better than all the times I wished this wasn’t happening, or I wasn’t feeling this way.

    It’s definitely okay to not be okay, and strangely, that makes it more okay! 🙂

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  4. waterrising 1 year ago

    I share many of your same thoughts! Anxiety can be paralyzing and merely trying to think of something else doesn’t work. If it was only that easy.

    I, too, am not okay but am working on it.

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