Friday, February 18, 2011

a child with issues

In an earlier post I mentioned struggling with bouts of depression and the worst perfectionism you will probably ever encounter in a six-year-old. To give you a better idea of what amazing parents I have (I have no idea how they survived 18 years of me) and to demonstrate the faithfulness of Christ/just how far I've come since birth, I decided to share my story.

For as long as I can remember I had issues. Attachment issues to my mom--I was convinced if I wasn't with her everywhere she went something bad would happen to her. Something really, really bad. Sleeping issues--I've been told that my first couple of years I didn't sleep at all (a sleep clinic told my parents I just required little sleep) and I was too scared to sleep in my own room until about age 10. I'm not exactly sure where this fear stemmed from or how I overcame it, but one day I think I just did. Anxiety issues (which can be tied to attachment and perfectionism issues)--I once woke up in the middle of the night and realized I forgot to check the weather the day before for my 3rd grade science project. I sobbed, wailed, and was up pretty much the rest of the night worrying about it. Another time, I woke up in the middle of the night and realized my mom wasn't in her bed. I sat up crying for a decent amount of time until she came back upstairs--she was doing dishes because she couldn't sleep. One of the worst things, though, was my perfectionism. I would force my parents to check my homework, especially math, about two or three times. If I messed a problem up I would punish myself. Punishments included banging my head against a wall or hitting myself with a hairbrush until I bled. Keep in mind I was in elementary school and entirely unaware of things like self mutilation. To this day I don't know where I picked it up. I believe my experience with self harming gives merit to the fact that self harmers truly find comfort in their injury and that it isn't just a sympathy ploy (as I've heard many times before). My mom was no Tiger Mom by any means. In fact, her motto was "do your best and I will be happy, even if your best is an F." So I'm not entirely sure where my perfectionism issues stemmed from.

As a result of my struggles, I met with a counselor at least once a month. I did art therapy and actually enjoyed it, but as I got older I realized I never actually discussed any of my issues with the therapist. Once I hit middle school and my hormones were going insane I developed some severe depression issues. This time on my own accord I sought out the therapist. I actively searched for the help and shared some of my problems. And that definitely helped me.

When I was in 9th grade I would have been devastated to get a B (and I was when I got my first B ever- gasp). How far I've come since then. Grades are still a struggle with me because often times I feel like my grades don't reflect my knowledge on a subject. I am still a notoriously poor test taker and I think this stems from some of my ever persistent anxiety issues. But I'm coping with things better. I have an encouraging husband who has learned that when I'm upset about a test grade there are no words to make it better. He knows to just hold me and let me cry and be frustrated with my inability to convey my knowledge to professors. And at the end of the day, once the crying is out of my system, I move on. I don't dwell like I used to. I don't beat the tar out of myself. I am able to step back and realize that a C on one test is not going to destroy my future. It is not a reflection of who I am as a person.

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