Tuesday, 24 November 2015


Atelophobia [noun] - The fear of imperfection. The fear of never being good enough.

I am a perfectionist. Always have been, but I am hoping that I won't always be.

I remember in primary school I had to get every single word right in my spelling tests. I had to be able to complete a times table in the shortest amount of time. I had to read as many books as possible.

And since then that has just amplified: I may do well academically but I can't celebrate my results unless I get 100%, as I could always have done better. I can't always show off my humour as someone may take it the wrong way and not like me (God forbid). I always have to be as kind as possible, as generous as possible - the best person I could possibly be.

And you know what? That's exhausting.

I never feel like I can celebrate my achievements as I could always have done better. I'm constantly criticising my personality and how I look, or things that I say. I could always be better. My blog could always be better. I could always be a better medical student, no matter how hard I try, or a better writer or photographer.

Sometimes I think that one of the reasons I came into medicine was because it was the hardest thing I thought I could do. I always push myself and am constantly striving to be better, and think I will disappoint people if I'm not the best I can be. And hand-in-hand with that comes my depression - my perfectionism means that my self-esteem is naturally quite low, which then affects my mood and the way I think about myself.

I guess perfectionism is a form of all-or-nothing thinking. There is no room for negotiation or being anything less than the best I can be, which can be really damaging for my mental health. Striving to be a better person can be a good thing, but when that is drastically exaggerated it can become dangerous.

I spoke about all of this with my counsellor today, and we both agree that perfectionism could be an underlying cause for my depression. And for that reason we are going to start tackling it over the next few months - I will keep you updated as to how that goes!
Remember that nothing would get done at all if a person waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault with it.
                         - Sheila Walters

1 comment:

  1. Great post Hannah, I can totally relate. I always grade myself harshly, more than I would for anyone else, and expect to never make a mistake. It's totally unrealistic and damaging though. So I'm trying to get out of the perfectionist mindset! x

    Zoe | www.ibelieveinromeo.com