Living with Body Dysmorphia;
Do you know what its like to be consumed by your self, by spending every living minute thinking about your appearance, and ways you can change it for the ‘better’. To be constantly trying to think up new ways to lose weight, look slimmer, take up less space in the world. Do you know how hard it is to actually take a compliment, when all you see is the opposite. My heart hurts reading these words, because if someone told me this about them selves, I would find it so sad, so upsetting that they think that way about themselves, yet that is my daily struggle. I spend over 95% of my time consumed by these thoughts, constantly being torn down by the harsh inner critic that only sees the bad.
I was diagnosed with Body Dysmorphia Disorder over a year ago at the end of my CBT treatment, but it is only recently that I have started having treatment for it. At first, my symptoms were just thought to be severe anxiety and depression so my CBT only really tried to help that back in 2015.
When my treatment ended, my gym regime picked up and I was going to the gym everyday. I was trying to better myself and with working out, my anxiety did lessen and I thought I was finally ‘fixed’. My gym routine made me happy, I was consumed by everything fitness and health and I was losing weight, sounds great right? It’s only when my shoulder and knee injuries got worse and I had to stop training that the truth really came out.
I felt like a mess, I was using fitness as a way of gaining control of my life. I was taking hundreds of progress pictures and instead of seeing progress, I would stare at all the bad parts. I fell into a deep depression and my anxiety peaked again. Without training at the gym and controlling and counting my food I was a mess, I felt like I had no control over anything and I would just binge and wreck any progress. I realised my brain wasn’t thinking about fitness, it was thinking about all the new ways I could change my appearance, look slimmer, lose weight, be better. Losing weight made me a better person, right?! I was obsessive and I realised I had lost control.
I was dissociating my self in my progress pictures, when I look at progress pictures, I don’t see the ‘after’ as me. I believe its someone else. I believe I still am the girl in the before photo. I obsessed over the bits I hate the most, mainly my bum. I can’t walk through doors first, or let people stand behind me cause I am so paranoid about it. My day is made up of me thinking of ways to change my appearance, and having the inner demon constantly put me down, insulting me, trying to protect me from other people’s thoughts. When people asked me about the gym, and I wasn’t going I would burst into tears. I felt like I had lost myself, that people were only interested in me when I was losing weight and ‘being an inspiration.’
Now being back at a new gym my depression has eased a little, I feel happier when I am training and feel like I have a little bit of ‘me’ back. I am still tackling my Body Dysmorphia and also dealing with chronic pain with my shoulder. The pain itself doesn’t help as its a vicious cycle of being in constant chronic pain which affects my mental health too, but I am trying.
Having recently started a new round of CBT therapy where my Body Dysmorphia is being tackled. I now understand the reasoning to why my inner demon is so cruel, and why my brain is so full of ways to try to change my self, but now I am trying to work on it. I am trying to get better. I am taking steps to recover and although there is no good days as yet, bad days aren’t so often either. I am on the journey to self-love and body positivity and that’s all you can do; is try!
Although the things above still happen 99% on a daily basis, things are getting a little better for me, as of very recently, and aside from attempting to document my own experience, the main objective of this post is to encourage you, if you have felt or are feeling like I do, to seek help. Go to your GP, talk to your friends, parents or family, see your personal tutor. It is crucial to remember that support is out there!
Do whatever you have to do, but please try to remember you are so beautiful and smart and fantastic, you deserve more than to listen to that inner critic that try to knock you down.
If you are seeking more resources please see the NHS website for more information or check out MIND: BDD for more support. You are not alone.