In January of 2018, I was diagnosed with a mental health condition called body dysmorphic disorder.
My anxiety sent me into a tail spin. I was borderline non functional at that point. My head would buzz with anxiety. I couldn’t slow my thoughts down. I couldn’t pay attention to anything I was doing. I had such unhealthy compulsive behaviors that were making me late for things. My mental health was interfering with my day to day life.
I was certain everyone was whispering about me behind my back. I was certain that everyone thought I was incompetent at my job. When I walked into a room, I immediately assumed the entire crowd is looking at me and judging my appearance. I would check the mirror 10 times and change my outfits 20 times for each outfit. I would walk from one mirror to the next to the next.
I would become completely non social at big events, certain that no one would want to talk to someone so ugly. My anxiety would build up inside of me and I would lash out at Craig. I felt so guilty for trapping Craig in a marriage to such an ugly person. I sincerely felt bad for my coworkers who had to look at me all day at work. I was so uncomfortable all of the time, just begging to shed my skin off of my body because I felt like I was exploding out of it.
I would spend hours staring in the mirror pinching my skin. I would spend money on expensive shape wear to try and control myself. I would measure myself – I remember measuring my wrists over and over, certain that they were the biggest fattest wrists ever.
I would tell myself, “You look like shrek.” “You look like a man.” “You aren’t at all feminine.” “You are so giant and awkward.” “People wonder why Craig married you.” “Your face is so lopsided.” “You have such a fat face.”
One particularly unique symptom I had, which looking back I have done this for as long as I can remember, is constantly comparing my body with other girls. I would ask my mom, or Craig, or my best friend Regan, “Am I like her size?” “Am I as big as she is?” “Do you think I’m shaped like her?” “What size do you think she wears?”
That particular symptom is what set me apart from just classic anxiety: I honestly had no idea what I actually looked like and I was so desperate for anyone’s opinion.
I remember telling my therapist – I wish I had a mirror. Like a room on what not to wear that was completely surrounded by 360 degrees of mirrors. I would spend hours in there. Then, maybe then, I could get an accurate picture in my head of what I looked like.
These thoughts consumed hours of my day. These thoughts interfered with my ability to concentrate. These thoughts made me want to stay in bed all day and hate myself.
Someone once gave me a compliment on my appearance and it just stopped me right in my tracks and I was sincerely offended. I was disgusted. I didn’t understand why they would tease me like that. I was annoyed that they even said anything at all. I felt like rolling my eyes and walking away.
If there is one thing I want you to understand about body dysmorphic disorder, it is this.
This isn’t fun for me. This is not for attention. I’m not fishing for compliments. My head is screaming at me telling me I’m the ugliest person to ever roam the planet and I just want it to stop. I don’t want to hate myself anymore. This is more than just low self esteem. This is debilitating. Compliments don’t fix body dysmorphic disorder. No amount of attention or reassurance from other people can fix body dysmorphic disorder.
I. DON’T. WANT. TO. HATE. MYSELF. ANYMORE.
- I started taking anti anxiety medication.
- I started going to therapy once a week for three months.
- I got help and I got better.
- I’m learning to love myself more every day.
- I don’t obsess over how I look.
- I love my chubby cheeks.
- I am more than my appearance.
- I am in remission.
When I was in the depths of war with myself, I wrote this poem I wanted to share with you. Body dysmorphic disorder is so hard to describe. I found comfort in words and being able to connect with and explain what I was feeling so I’ll share a few of those posts below as well.
My mind is playing tricks on me tonight.
It is telling me my waist has more inches today than it did yesterday and telling me that I’m filling in the once loose skin on my arms.
It tells me I’m not good enough or smart enough. It tells me I look like a man.
It tells me to move my legs so many times that I can’t sleep.
It yells in a conversation, “THEY KNOW YOU GAINED WEIGHT. THEY ARE LOOKING AT YOUR ZITS WONDERING WHY YOU CAN’T TAKE CARE OF YOUR SKIN!”
It yearns to be silent. It yearns to have peace. It yearns to appreciate the blue in my eyes instead of the blackheads on my nose.
My mind is loud tonight. My love for myself is scarce tonight.
My mind hopes tomorrow will be better.
December 28th, 2017
Here is an excellent article with examples of how we see someone with body dysmorphic disorder and how we see ourselves:
I hope by sharing this I can help you understand more about what it is like to live with body dysmorphic disorder.