So I am going to go ahead and put it out there but my nickname in high school, given to me by a lifelong childhood friend was “Stress-ball.” At the time it almost seemed as if it was a badge of honor – “look at me, I am so busy, I’m so stressed.” I have to smile looking back at that now, I was in high school! Are you kidding me, and I allowed myself to be ‘so stressed.’ But I wanted to be everything, do everything, and have the approval of everyone.
Hindsight is always 20/20 but I realize now that this was the beginning of my constant strive for perfection.
I have constantly had to work throughout my teenage years and adulthood at stress management; looking back I think it is often ignited by that drive for perfection. I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in college. I remember being a sophomore in college at Wake Forest University and the only thing I could focus on was working out and studying. I literally would spend my weekend nights in, reviewing chemistry flashcards. I remember taking flash cards to the Wake Forest/Duke basketball game studying in the stands. I was in college, but I wasn’t “in” college. It got to a point where my mom would call my friends and ask them to take me out on the weekends, and I would resist, I needed to study, I needed to get straight A’s. Finally, one weekend, my parents flew me back to Columbus and had me see a psychologist. They put me on antidepressants and I returned to Wake hoping to find more balance.
Only a few years later, I found myself vomiting on the steering wheel of my Honda Civic, barely able to hold onto the steering wheel. I was entering my senior year at Wake Forest. I was working 4 part time jobs: teaching group fitness at 2 gyms, teaching an outdoor Metabolic Effect, working at a small private software firm, volunteering for an exercise study, and taking the Kaplan MCAT prep course. I think I might have been taking a summer class at wake as well. I wanted to do it all and do it perfectly, right now. I remember being up late and waking up early all summer. I was seeing the university psychiatrist to manage my anxiety/OCD and he had prescribed me Adderall. I started out on a small dose and as time went on the dosage increased and I was taking 120 mg/day. For those of you who don’t know the normal is 10 mg/day and I am 5’2” 135 lbs. I would get through the grind day to day and use the medication to help me cope.
Until that day, I had woke up early, taken my morning Adderall, taught a fitness class, drank coffee and decided I needed extra caffeine because I had to go to the private firm to work before class. So I put powdered caffeine in my coffee at the gym. A few hours later I found myself looking at a moving computer screen. I couldn’t even bring myself to type, it seemed as though the keyboard was moving. I looked at the owner and said, “I need to go home.” I struggled to get the key in the car door. The next thing I knew I was at the top of the driveway sitting in my own mess. Shaking, crying, not sure what was happening. I remember getting ahold of Jill and Jade and they rushed to meet me back at our apartment. Jade brought home some naturopathic remedies and they stayed by my side.
Immediately I stopped taking the medication, although highly addictive, and went through withdrawals. I quit the part time job at the software firm and tried to find balance.
After those years, I found myself becoming obsessed with exercise, not always positive but it was a way better outlet than the routes I had tried. Although, when I let it in the past, the competition lifestyle has gotten the best of me. That’s where I am now, I love the sport, but I know myself and if I let myself go down that slope – it’s slippery and easy to lose balance.
I still have to work with managing my expectations and my OCD, but awareness is half the battle, and I think I am getting there and no longer embarrassed or ashamed. I recently read an article in Bleacher Report about Urban Meyer, and how he has OCD too. And he calls it a gift ;) I think I like that version of it better. We have a drive for life, but sometimes, if we don’t rein things in, it gets out of control and it gets the best of us.
Everyday I work to be in the present moment. There is no perfect job, perfect relationship, perfect body, or perfect life.
Perfection is a myth and the present is a gift.
Sorry that was a long one today but I felt compelled to share because lately, while going through so many transitions, I have found myself slipping up a bit, beating myself up for being less than perfect and I have to remind myself of where I have come and where I am going. And I hope along the way, I can inspire, motivate, or help someone out there.
Sending my love to all of those who have helped me along the way.
I love you guys and thanks for listening!