I have met many professional patients in my time, and one thing I often find is that they are very often wonderful people who set extremely high standards for themselves.
And if they set high standards in their working and private lives, you can be sure that they set high standards for their healing too. This can mean that the burden of trying to "be a good patient", with all the guilt and shame and immense pressure to heal, or just cope with, a disease in a constructive way becomes such an immense load that they in the end buckle from the stress and strain.
I have had a serious burn-out as a professional patient. It was hard to understand at the time, I didn't have a job, other than taking care of my health, no family placing great demands on me, but my own demands at managing to "WIN over my health problems" was pressure plenty. The constant inner stress of knowing that there was something I could do to get well, not knowing what, trying everything, and all the while feeling my health gradually deteriorating was just too much to handle. The burn out started gradually and got to the point where it was physical, I could hardly move a limb, lift a full glass of water to my mouth or chew solid food. I could only stand up short periods at a time and had very little motoric control. My short term memory was gone and I couldn't even read.
This was 6 years ago.
In getting back to health the first thing I had to do was let go of my perfectionism.. or.. at least tone it down 10-12 sizes. And the funny thing was, once I gave up being perfect as a patient, I started to find all these small solutions that really helped my health. Little by little, practicing this way of thinking and using the tools I have picked up on the way has allowed me to live the life I have today, where health is no longer a major issue. I have a job, I'm writing my second book, and I have a wonderful boyfriend, and good relationships with all my loving family and friends.
That's everything I wanted when I was striving to be perfect, but it seemed like my struggling was just pushing it further away.
Perfectionism is the anti-thesis of wellness, and come on, you owe it to yourself to feel good :) Whatever your life looks like today, and whatever problems your are struggling with, I promise, it can get better. Remember, whatever you dream, you can have, right?
Do you set high standards for yourself and others? Are you very goal oriented and want to succeed? Has you wish for perfection sometimes led you to give up before you even begun? If you think you may be a perfectionist you can take this quiz to find out more... it's actually rather funny...
And then read this advice, from Lance Armstrong's Live Strong Foundation... and be sure to check out the tips in this blog post on Overcoming Perfectionism – 5 Ways to Stop Trying to be Perfect by The Adventurous Writer.