The Fine Line Between Perfection and Paranoia

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I woke up this morning at 11:00.

While I slept, I didn’t hear my vitals alarm at 6:00, got woken up to chug down my morning meds with a glass of milk at 7:00, and missed both breakfast and my 8:45 appointment with my general practitioner on a diabetes follow-up. My day did not start on a good note when I realized how much of it I’d already missed, and I was in a mind of “screw this” for the better part of the next two hours. I dove back into the computer game that’s ruled my life for the past several days and almost forgot to eat lunch.

My mind was telling me that if I can’t be perfect with my day, if perfection isn’t even an option at the point I get out of bed, why even bother with trying? That’s been a mantra of mine for the better part of my life. Once, while I was in grade school, I was taking a math test (in pencil, of course) and I made a mistake in writing down numbers. This happens all the time with people, they skip to the next number in a series or just write it down wrong. Rather than erase the mistake, my mind (emotion mind, I can tell in retrospect) told me that I’d screwed up the entire thing, and I made a grand show of ripping up the paper and flinging the pieces into the air, not caring that I was scoring a zero in a rain of tree pulp. I didn’t care that the mistake could be corrected; it was bad enough to ruin my day that I’d made it in the first place.

For years, I’ve realized that I could care less about the results, so long as the process to get there was flawless. I’ve never understood why I hold myself to that unrealistic standard, and in recent years it’s come and gone with my mental state. Is this something else that I’ll discover is part of my borderline diagnosis? There seem to be so many little aspects of major things that I’ve talked about in therapy recently and so very many others that were niggling little irritants that now seem to have a cause, and with that cause they can be dealt with.

Have my mental health professionals been so blind to this that they’ve missed it for 30 years? Or have I just not been so openly honest in therapy that it’s my fault?

As I read more into Kiera Van Gelder’s “The Buddha and the Borderline,” I see some new relevance BPD has to me. Those voices that I’ve been hearing all this time – are they really those parts of me that she speaks of coming to the Conference Table? My fast attachment to people and my chameleon-like ability to change to suit the people I want to be around – which in the past has included adopting new religious and political beliefs – has already been explained by BPD. I wonder how much else is because I’m a borderline.

I wonder how much of this can be fixed with therapy.

I’m finding myself more and more enamored with this memoir, because it feels like in so many ways it’s my own story. And as I start to come to the end of it, I’m realizing there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

Which brings me back to today.

At some point I realized that just because my day started out rough doesn’t mean that it has to end that way, and I started doing the things that I needed to do to turn things around. I ate lunch. I started the timer for my glucose meter. I read a chapter in “The Buddha and the Borderline.” I wrote this! I might go walking later (it’s threatening rain here, the remnants of the storm surge that drenched the West Coast a few days ago, and I really would prefer not to be walking in a downpour). I’ve even completed my to-do list and a few things that weren’t even on it. Today looks like it’s going to be a decent day after all.

Reframing was the magic tool that turned things around. I can recall my mind (wise mind this time) telling me that the day is not a loss, and that it is up to me what happens with the rest of the day. I can either sulk and feel sorry for myself that I overslept (in actuality, this is a symptom of another problem, that being that my entire circadian rhythm is out of whack, and that needs to be a priority in the coming week) or I can take the day by the horns (this is Austin, horns are a big thing here) and make the rest of it good.

And from here, I think I’m going to go make the bed, cause I’m not getting back into it until tonight.

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