Meet Rachel

I first met Rachel Morrow while I was working at my part-time job a few weeks ago. She and her friend approached me and mentioned that they knew of me and my blog. Needless to say, I was super flattered that people actually knew who I was and read what I wrote! We exchanged information and decided to collaborate in the near future. Rachel is an incredible writer and an inspiring woman who doesn't let depression drag her down. To learn more about her story and to read the article that I wrote for her blog, check out her blog, Finding the Sunshine, at 

 I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist. From the time that I was little, I can remember feeling a little bubble of anxiety in my chest when things weren’t perfect. I’ve wanted to be perfect—to be the perfect daughter, perfect sister, perfect friend, perfect student…perfect everything. This wasn’t too much of a problem until I was diagnosed with depression when I was sixteen.

My perfectionism fed my depression. It made me hate myself for not living up to an impossible standard. The more I thought about my insecurities, the stronger my depression grew. I felt like I was never going to be able to be good enough and that I might as well give up. No matter what I did that was good, I felt like there were a billion other bad things to outweigh it.

 I mostly got things under control by the time I was eighteen. I started school at BYU and decided to serve a mission at age nineteen. A month or two into my mission, my perfectionism (along with my depression) started to really get to me. I got overwhelmed and frustrated. As my depression started to drown me, my perfectionism was there too as my constant companion. I felt like I was failing as a missionary--I was failing myself, God, and the people around me. What I didn't realize is that the chemical imbalance in my brain was causing these thoughts. I was holding myself up to a standard that wasn't realistic because it was perfection.

When I came home early from my mission in 2013, my depression was debilitating. I had to come home after six months because I couldn't do the missionary work and for my health it wasn't right for me to stay in the field. So when I got home, I still struggled to get out of bed. I had a hard time with social interactions and often had panic attacks when I was in a crowd of people. I felt absolutely awful about myself. Because I had come home early, I felt like a failure. I was trying to work to be better—I started my blog, I went back to school, I got a job, etc.—but my depression and my perfectionism kept telling me I wasn’t good enough. I hated myself for being depressed and for not being able to do what other people can do.

Finally, I started to realize that perfection isn’t possible. I began to look for the little accomplishments I did each day. I decided to live each individual day to the fullest, and to go from there. If one day all I could do is shower—that was enough for me because I was living that day to the fullest. The less I focused on the things I couldn’t do and the more I focused on what I could do the happier I became. Progress has become my mantra.

Progress, to me, is living my life to the fullest. As I take each day one at a time, my days are brighter and I am happier. I have to assess each day individually and work on some sort of progress for that specific day. Progress doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be one step, then another. I still struggle with perfectionism, but I’m learning more and more each day. As Frederick Douglass said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” To struggle is okay. Struggling and striving are a part of the human experience. Through my battle with mental illness I have learned that perfection isn’t possible. But I’ve also learned that it’s not perfection that matters—it’s progress.

The Optimist in Progress

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