Perfectionism has been on the rise for years, especially with social media growth. We desire to be successful and liked in society, so we put pressure on ourselves to strive for perfection. We believe it can make relationships and experiences in life easier. The truth is: perfectionism might make external circumstances easier short-term, but it can make internal feelings more difficult long-term.
According to Medical News Today, the pressure placed on oneself when having perfectionist qualities can lead to anxiety, depression, chronic stress, and suicidal ideation. On a physical level, perfectionism can cause high blood pressure.
It can be easy to fall into perfectionist habits in our society, where we are often taught that the harder you work and more time you put in, the more you will be rewarded. However, this mindset can lead us only to striving for more and more, never feeling truly fulfilled or satisfied with ourselves. A strong sense of self-satisfaction can be achieved through inner accomplishments, such as prioritizing our self-care and mental health, setting boundaries, and honoring our inner peace.
If you experience perfectionism, an important first step is opening up about it to someone you trust. If you feel it impacts your mental health, speaking with a trained mental health professional can strongly benefit the quality of your healing. Those who identify with perfectionism are less likely to receive mental health treatment due to the stigma, according to Personality and Individual Differences. However, suppressing the symptoms of perfectionism will only give it more power, and seeking help is always a strength, not a weakness.
Some other tips for managing perfectionism include
This month, our Book Club discussed Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League by Jonathan Odell. The book has two main themes, racism in the Deep South and mental health.
Trigger Warnings: Racism, Graphic Violence, Deaths, Anxiety, Alcohol Use, and Depression
Kay King, Community Educator at NAMI Minnesota, facilitated this Book Club discussion and provided discussion questions to guide the conversation.
One question prompted the group to discuss how many people still believe that people living with mental illnesses should just “snap out of it” and “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” The causes of mental illnesses are not simple ones. Kay and the group discussed that we don’t know what causes a mental illness. We know environment, genetics, biology, brain chemistry, life experiences, and trauma can be factors. The present theory is that some of us are born with a predisposition and something puts it into motion (a second hit). That trigger could be something like trauma, poverty, deaths in the family, war, losses, other illnesses, the birth of a child, a lack of sunlight, major long- and short-term life stresses, etc. The group discussed what some of the triggers may have been for Hazel in the book.
Another question highlighted how Hazel’s husband, Floyd, could have been more supportive of her recovery from depression and alcohol-use disorder. In the book, Floyd is often saying something about thinking positively. After Hazel loses her son Davie, she becomes very depressed and turns to alcohol. Floyd thinks that Hazel can cure herself from her depression and alcohol-use disorder by positive thinking.
The group continued to discuss Floyd's response to Hazel's illness. Hazel is hospitalized in a place called Whitfield for her co-occurring disorder. Toward the end of the book, Floyd says to Hazel, “Do you want me to send you back to Whitfield? You know I could have you committed again.” The group discussed how Floyd could have been more supportive toward Hazel and some of the other things that he could have said to her. One of the things that Floyd could have said was, “I am worried about you. How can I help?” instead of threatening to send her back to Whitfield.
Miss Hazel in the Rosa Parks League is a very complex book, and the group enjoyed discussing it.
Join us on Thursday, August 19th for another rousing discussion. It will be on the book, Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman. We hope to see you there!
Author: Ann Resemius
Ann Resemius is an advisor on the NAMI Ramsey County board and has earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota.
Author: Mindy Greiling, board president
Mindy was a state representative for 20 years, served on state and national NAMI boards, and is the author of Fix What You Can, a book about her legislative work and her family's story about her son's schizo-affective disorder.
Five of us got together to discuss the book The Weight of our Sky by Hanna Alkaf. It describes a teen with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) who is trying to find her way back to her mother during the race riots in Malaysia in 1969. She believes she harbors a djinn inside her which compels her to complete an elaborate ritual of counting and tapping or else be threatened with horrific images of her mother’s death.
**Content warnings: Racism, graphic violence, on-page death, OCD and anxiety triggers.**
We started with a discussion about the geography of southeast Asia and the political and racial climate in Malaysia during the 1960s. The book is set in Kuala Lumpur, a very densely populated city in Malaysia which shares a border with Indonesia. The racial conflict stemmed from differences between the Malay and Chinese people and resulted in the devastating killings of hundreds of people.
We also discussed our own understanding of OCD: a mental illness characterized by obsessive thoughts and/or compulsive behaviors. OCD often occurs in conjunction with, or exacerbations by other mental illnesses like depression or anxiety. In this month’s book, the main character’s compulsive behaviors are tightly linked with her spiritual and cultural beliefs evidenced by their connection with her djinn. A djinn is a supernatural being in Islamic mythology and theology.
Each participant shared their thoughts about how cultural and spiritual beliefs can affect an individual’s understanding of mental illness and their ability to seek mental health services. We agreed that spiritual beliefs, while important, may stigmatize mental illness or wrongly attribute symptoms to spiritual occurrences or wrongdoings. This may also influence how those around people with a lived experience of mental illness view their symptoms, further adding to the stigma.
Join us on July 15 for another rousing discussion. It will be on the book, Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League by Jonathan Odell. Click here for the discussion questions. We hope to see you there!
Author: Kayla murphy
Kayla, a volunteer with NAMI Ramsey, is a fourth year medical student at the University of Minnesota planning to apply to psychiatry residency.
This month we returned to reading children’s books on mental health and our group of fifteen people adored this month’s subject matter for a couple reasons.
First, there is absolutely zero preparation required in order to participate in this type of a meeting, and so people all come to the meeting well prepared! The second reason is a direct result from having a children’s book read out loud to us-–we hear the reader, we see the pictures, and we get to take a pause from our daily responsibilities to react and respond with others who are also reading these books.
From the two books we read together on May 20th, there was a rousing discussion on therapy dogs, service dogs, psychiatric service dogs, emotional support animals, recovery, big feelings, and learning to live a life of stability through reliance on the support of a canine companion.
Charlie the Therapy Dog, written by local author Sandy Clark MS, LPC, LADC, NCACII, SAP (DOT Qualified) was the first book we listened to together, heard Charlie’s perspective on his work, and saw pictures of his life on-the-job! Charlie even introduced us to a psychiatric service dog who was formerly utilized by one of this month’s book club attendees!
Our other book, The Boy with Big, Big Feelings, written by Britney Winn Lee, was read to us with compassion and zeal by this month’s moderator, Emily Zhao! The May participants were delighted by the artistic portrayal of emotions. Many could relate with the boy and were pleased that the story resolved well in community support as friendships were established, which dispelled the sense of being different from others, which has a tendency to generate isolation.
An exciting round of conversation followed the readings with points made about support dogs aiding service members and veterans, congressional bills, lowering the risk of suicide, sustaining people’s health, and housing. The distinction between a therapy dog and a service dog was stated for us as well.
Join us on Thursday, June 17th for our next Book Club meeting when we look at life in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 1969 and how a young teen copes with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Author: Carrie roach
Carrie is a NAMI Ramsey County board member and chair of the Book Club Planning Committee.