Drive to succeed…

I was talking with my mum yesterday about my unrelenting standards and perfectionism and what she sees as an ‘over-drive’ when it comes to work. Talking with her I realised that my current over-drive/over-commitment to produce good (or rather perfect) pieces of work is related not only to my unrelenting standards/perfectionism that were there always  but also to the catastrophic consequences of my mental health crisis back in 2008-2010. As a result of my severe depression I lost for a couple of years  what has always been a crucial source of self-esteem and recognition for me-my capacity to think and excel intellectually/academically. I could not think clearly, I could not concentrate and retain information, I could not process language, I could not read and understand what I was reading, I could not be creative intellectually. My head was heavy and cloudy due to the medication – especially when i was on copious amounts of it. I was off work-away from opportunities to be creative intellectually for nearly 2 years (far too long). In hospital where I was detained I was treated as somebody with diminished insight and capacity. I guess all that was a huge blow to my confidence and a source of a great deal of humiliation and shame and sense of failure and unfairness.

SO, I guess now I am anxious and driven to produce ‘perfect’ pieces of work in order to prove to myself and the world that I have managed to beat depression and its cognitive consequences, I have proved the medics wrong and I reversed the prognosis…in order to shout to depression and the medics  ‘I have won’…producing perfect pieces of work is a matter of life and death for me, a matter of proving that depression and sectioning did not kill me intellectually, it did not break me even though it could have done…there is a lot of hurt and righteous anger behind my drive to produce perfect work…I guess all the above may explain why I am so driven to produce perfect work at the moment…a kind of over-compensation…


Drawing, ‘In My Shoes’, START in Manchester, 2010





  • an ,

    Hi Dina

    My first encounter with psychiatry. After consistently asking for my medication to be reduced while I was in hospital because of its effects on me and basically not accepting an explanation of chemical in-balances, I left only to feel completely lost and low. At one point I decided that I must be mentally ill and would never recover concentration, be able to read let alone study (my pleasures) and would be a burden on my family, so I decided to end my life.

    A chance encounter with an acquaintance who spotted that I was distressed saw me agree to go to a modern therapeutic hospital (on the basis that i would not have to take medication). Initially, this hospital reneged on this agreement and treatment was forced on me, but the point here is that none of the issues causing me distressed were addressed. I did confide in one nurse about a particularly distressing event in my childhood and I could see that she felt for me but was out of her depth in offering any comfort or support. So she told me i should stop resisting medication. This turned out to be an oppressive institution relying on peer pressure to persuade us to improve our behaviour and outlook.

    Like you, I’m something of a perfectionist in certain areas of my life (housework not being one but my daughter has developed a strong allergy to dustmites so it’s dusting for me!). For me, there are two aspects to this. One is a sense of fulfillment at a job well done. The other is a fear of rejection for not coming up to scratch. This is based on real rejection and lack of acceptance by some significant people in my life but it still has a pervasive effect undermining my confidence and trust in people. And relaxation? Seems beyond my reach!

    I eventually found a way to deal with my suicidal feelings so I am not overpowered by them. My relationship with my daughter is also a factor here.
    But feeling suicidal is such a terrible place to be. Services that truly engage with us are long overdue. x Anne.

    • Dina ,

      Hi, Anne
      thanks for your thoughts and for sharing difficult stuff here.
      hope to see you at the next mental health group meeting
      take care

    • lucilla ,

      Hi Dina
      Just got up and got onto your blog…I love it and Anne’s comments also. I gotta go out now but drinking my coffee and listening to the greek music CDs you gave me. My latest goal is to achieve virtuosity on the bouzouki but I think it’s a healthy goal as it is so much fun and relaxing and singing and playing is my way,them my catharsis, my way of taking my pain and losses and throwing them out of my system and sharing it and when I share it there is a lot of laughter and a lotta JOY. The joy of getting people on there feet and dancing and clapping to the rhythm . And you know what it lowers my blood pressure which recently has been a more serious health concern to me than my socalled “madness”
      I look forward to contibuting more to your blog and reading all the other folks stuff.

      • dina ,

        Hi, Lucy
        thanks for this.
        I am so pleased to see you happy and excited about bouzouki…and life in general…
        see you Monday