Perfectionism and Roid-Rage
I feel out of control this weekend, and it's manifesting through obsessive, perfectionistic thoughts.
The calm of my morning routine I described in last week’s blog post “How I Stay Here, Now” has vanished. None of my strategies work today, and I’m spiraling.
If you dare, join me on a short journey. I’d like you to climb aboard the train of Kristen’s mind, in route to Stress-ville. It’s a pretty bumpy ride, and the views are not pretty. Hold on tight, because we may derail at any given moment.
The first stop on our journey is hair obsession: I am obsessing about my new haircut I don’t love. My bangs were cut differently than normally, and I haven’t been able to let it go. Like a child with a sensory processing disorder who can’t get beyond the constant poke-poke-pokey feeling of the tag in the back of their shirt, all I can feel is this hair in my face. My poor hair stylist - she’s a dear friend of the family - and I have been texting her all week to try to figure out a time for her to try to fix my bangs.
The second stop: tile smudges. I am obsessing about our new bathroom remodel. We just finished phase one of the project this week. Cory’s fantastic cousin did the work for us. We decided to do the remodel in two phases because, as anyone knows who has done a remodeling job before, remodels cost about 10,000 times more than you think they should. We prioritized what needed to be updated first: the shower, a mold-laden, original yellow-tiled eye sore from 1962; the toilet, a non-functioning annoyance that had to be manually flushed by reaching inside the tank every time; and the tile, the lesser-of-all-evils soft cream squares that were “recently” updated in 1993. We decided to wait on the vanity, sinks, and light fixtures until phase two - after we had won the lottery, discovered buried treasure, or slowly added pennies back to our savings account. Even though the finished phase one of the project looks like a solid “Tinder profile picture” (read: handsome, sexy, rawrrr), as described by my good friend when I showed her a picture of it on Friday evening, I can’t stop obsessing. Can’t. Stop. Obsessing. My mind is dialed in so intensely on the blotchy, foot-printy surface of the dark floor tile. Even after cleaning it with several different products, the tiles never look clean. All I can see are the smudges. All I can research is the right cleaning product for dark tile. All I think about is getting to the store today to buy Castile soap and white vinegar to create my own cleaning solution. Why can’t I let it go?
(Your train conductor reminds you, fellow passenger, that you’re welcome to disembark at any point if the ride becomes too agitating for your liking.)
Next stop: the blog. I am obsessing about what others might think of me as they read my blog posts. I’ve exposed myself in a big way the past two weeks, and I feel vulnerable. This anxiety hit me really hard a few days ago when my ex-English teacher mother pointed out a typo in the FIRST SENTENCE of the second entry I wrote for this blog. Hundreds of eyeballs must have read my error. I think about whether or not my writing is good enough to be taking on this project, or if my insights about my experience are really all that interesting to people. I compare myself to other great thinkers on the topic of fertility. I just started listening to a new podcast about a couple’s IVF experience, and they’re absolutely hilarious (more on this podcast in my next post). I wonder why I even bother writing when there are already hundreds of other people out there shedding light on the topic of infertility.
Next up: table scratches. I am obsessing about the scratches I made on our adorable kitchen table this morning. Without thinking, I used the rough part of a sponge on the table to battle some dried on gunk, and it took off the table’s finish in small section. Now I can’t stop thinking about it.
Onward to weight obsession: My pants were tighter yesterday, and it took three outfit changes to find something that felt okay to wear. And I hate that I care and I hate that it makes me sad because I’ve spent the last two years healing from disordered eating and disordered exercise behaviors. I’ve listened to daily podcasts on reclaiming my body. I’ve sorted through it with my counselor. I’ve read books on intuitive eating. I’ve made huge attempts to pull myself out of the insidious, shaming, all-things-evil diet culture. And today I’m obsessing about the feel of my waistband around my stomach.
And our last stop: carpet stains. There's a new black stain on our white carpet. We just cleaned it a couple weeks ago. Why can’t the carpet ever stay clean right outside the kitchen?
Wait. Pause. I just realized something.
Maybe I’m not as insane as I initially thought. I just connected the very-simple dots: I started Prednisone 4 days ago to help with my worsening rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This steroid is the only safe medication, other than Ibuprofen, I can take right now as I prepare for IVF. This past week was rough on the RA front, impacting the joints of my hands, feet, neck, shoulders, back, and pelvis. This disease is so invisible - no one would know by just looking at me how much I was hurting (kind of similar to infertility too, huh?). I needed something badly, so my rheumatologist, with my IVF doc’s blessing, started me on Prednisone this past Thursday.
My racing thoughts. My jittery energy (that I just so happen to be funneling towards destructive perfectionism). My obsessions. Hmm…
(I paused mid-blog-post-writing to search “side effects of Prednisone” and found: confusion, excitement, restlessness, mania, depression, irritability, insomnia, anxiety, labile mood.)
Okay. That explains a lot. At least I can attribute some of this crazy to the steroids. I’m not roid-raging like the Incredible Hulk, picking up cars with one pinky and tossing them across the highway. I’m roid-raging on the inside. A crazy steroid-pumped Kristen-Hulk is raveging my thoughts and emotions. My poor amygdala, the fight-or-flight survival center of my brain, is heightened and trying to protect me. No wonder I woke up so abruptly this morning, startled and ready to protect myself from the enemy: bad bangs and stains and tile smudges.
Big exhale. I feel grateful for the soul-anchoring effect of this Prednisone realization. Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I’m going to end this post and start anew. I’m really looking forward to moving past this steroid-spiral and talking about this week’s fertility updates! There's a lot to talk about, and I'm glad my brain can now focus on something other than cleaning products.
Before I start the next post, I’m curious: Does this ever happen to you? Do you ever have anxious, perfectionist, spiraling thoughts? What helps you get out of your funk?