…And the need to succeed.
Upon a recent visit to the hospital to have an ECG, it was revealed I have sinus bradycardia (basically I’m dead inside and my body probably thinks I’m sleeping most of the day…)* When informing my dad – who coincidentally had to have an ECG himself only a week before – he inquisitively asked what number was shown on the results for my resting heart rate. Though he is undeniably the fittest 60-year-old I’ve ever known, apparently having 2 beats per minute less than me, he felt it worth jokingly highlighting that he had “outcompeted” me to having a slower HR. So there’s me thinking he was asking out of concern, when really he just felt positively proud of himself that on this occasion he had ‘won’. I think this proves, I was doomed to a competitive nature when I was diagnosed with half of my Dad’s genetics, 22 years ago!
Whether it be running .1km faster than the person next to me on the treadmill, being in the highest number of people’s ‘Top Friends’ on MySpace all those years ago, or charging up the stairs alongside the people on the escalator to beat them to the top of the London Underground, I find myself involuntarily competing against people, places and things on a far too regular basis. Maybe sometimes in ways I’d be embarrassingly reluctant to admit. Apart from maybe the relationships I’ve potentially jeopardized as a result of being a sore loser after a fun game of bowling or Bananagrams, I’ve never seen much issue with being slightly competitive. It’s certainly helped when it comes to achievements, particularly athletics, as I always strive towards being the best that I can be and effectively, to try to win whenever I could (I’d like to stress this didn’t exactly happen often by any means).
With a competitive nature, comes the inevitability of losing and having to find a way to deal with it. For someone like this (me), with their body psychology telling you that you have to try to be the best at everything, there is such a greater and intensified feeling of failure and lack of self-worth, that it’s a wonder I haven’t tried to alter my mentality sooner.
I sometimes conclude that anorexia for me was the competitive desire to be the skinniest, the lowest weight, or the one that eats the least (and weirdest), amongst my group of friends and amongst the people who knew me. It was my competitive mind that induced me to keep losing more and more weight because it was giving me a sense of achievement. So when I wasn’t showing continuous results of weight loss or an increasing excess of denim on my once skinny jeans, I felt as though I was failing. The sense of achievement was so high, and the feelings of failure so intense, I just became lost, until it eventually became this horrible illness that was transforming me, taking over me, and ruining my life.
I know that I’m still very much encompassed with it all and am still in such early days of a recovery from it, because even though I can eat a little bit more, every time I do, I still feel like I’ve failed for that day. Regardless to how much exercise I’ve done or how ever many calories I’ve burnt that same day. Though suspending university no doubt left me feeling like even more of a failure, it’s at least something I’m learning to accept was for the better. At the end of the day, it beats having to have probably seen what would’ve been a hell of a lot of sub 40% grades, forcibly stamped across the assignments and tests I would’ve submitted.
Unfortunately, for the meantime, running remains my only sense of achievement that fuels my competitive nature, as I subconsciously strive towards reaching a faster time for each km I complete during a run (bloody sports watches). Unfortunate because it is hardly the best achievement to rely on to help in overcoming a weight problem… I am sincerely hoping in due course, I can find my feet again, and find something in my life I feel like I’m exceeding in and achieving in (Hint, hint).
Enter blogging. Every time I post an entry; regardless to how many people it reaches, or how many people even care to read it, the last button pressed to publish the post, makes me feel like I’m achieving something; almost like when you’ve produced the last full stop on that never-ending essay. So for that, I say thank you to social media for lumbering all these bloggers on us, influencing some to do the same, because it is at least helping in small doses, to prevent me from resorting back to relying on anorexia for my achievements.
*Kidding, I just have a resting pulse under 60 – #athleteproblems