Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

I have to be honest, I lack knowledge in this subject and would never have classed myself as suffering from it. Well, not until recently. Within the last two years, due a significant weight gain (related to stress), I have been feeling extremely low about the way I look, anxious even. Walking past a mirror or reflective surface only panics me. It instantly disgusts me.

I am regularly told “it’s all in your head” or scolded for being self-absorbed. Others compliment me, attempting to reassure my fault-finding. I’ve had people drop casual comments that I should start dieting then I might feel better. In actuality that makes me feel a thousand times worse when all I do is diet then binge and diet then binge. Any sign of stress sends me into this destructive path.

I have read other bloggers talk about BDD but would never admit that I too suffer from many of the symptoms. I am scared that friends, family and acquaintances will judge me; that they will think I am attention seeking or fishing for compliments. It’s not that I need to hear I’m beautiful, I just cannot stand the way I look. When I see myself in the mirror I feel sick. I see a stranger staring back at me.

In the explanation for BDD on the NHS website, they say that sufferers regularly find fault in their bodies especially the facial area. I hate my face. I hate it. I think it’s vile. I hate my unsymmetrical face. I hate my twisted nose, my teeth, my double chin. I feel disgusting every day. That’s not to say that I love everything else about myself – I don’t.

I love fashion. I try to make it work but the confident days are ruined when I accidentally see my reflection in a shop window. What seemed like a good choice in the morning becomes a bad decision; one that I berate myself for making for the rest of the day. A decision that leaves me feeling self conscious and extremely aware of how awful I look.

I do not dare say this out loud and am currently too frightened to seek professional help. I feel as though I may be laughed at. After all, people see me as I want them to see me: confident and self-assured.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Faultless: My Body.

When I blogged about the 4 spiteful girls at the beginning of June, I mentioned that I received a message on Facebook from a girl that knew ‘N’. She accused me of thinking I was faultless. Of course she was angry, I criticised her friend but rather than arguing that what I said was not true, she only confirmed it and defended it saying that I should take a look a myself.

What is there to feel shame for? The truth is what it is. Do I think I have no faults? No, quite the opposite. I am critical about almost everything to do with myself. My body, my brain, my heart, my soul, my marriage and work all get a mental beating from time to time. I, more than anyone (other than my father) can find copious faults in myself.

My body:

I’ve struggled for years with my weight. As a baby, I always had a “podge” (rounded tummy). My family thought it was cute and would eventually disappear. It didn’t and as a teenager my stomach was never flat. Even as an adult I still hate it. It’s not obvious but I am so aware of it. I put on weight easily, usually through stress and the time I spent with my father resulted in a dramatic weight gain. It was devastating and left me feeling disgusted with myself. I do not like the way I look. My wedding photos last year made me cry. I had put on so much weight. Where most brides loose weight for their wedding, mine crept up. Things with my father were still horrific last year. He played his usual money game with our wedding cash, I just ate and ate and ate, it was the only thing that made me feel a little better.

Yes, I am your typical comfort eater.

When I look in the mirror I see me. When I look at a photo of myself, I see someone else especially if I am caught off-guard and it is a natural shot, it makes me sick.

How awful is that?

I put weight on the most around my face. I hate that. Why can’t it go to my breasts?! Haha.

It only makes me more self-conscious than I already am. I joined Weight Watchers On line last summer and dropped a bit of weight but as soon as any stress started, I put most of it back on. I am back on-line now and adamant to get it right.

Since a child I have bitten my nails. My mother and sister have lovely nails, I never knew why I started or why it was never stopped. My nails are tiny as my hands are very small. Plus since I developed Urticaria (a skin problem where if scratched can result in raised lines on the surface of the skin – it’s linked to stress) I have to avoid scratching my skin so long nails aren’t really an option.

Does this all sound like I’m aching for sympathy? I’m not. I’m just saying it as it is.

To the girl who told me I should be ashamed of myself:

Look at me. I don’t love myself. I wish I did.

Perhaps one day I will.

3. Sex and respect, Part 3.

My family never questioned why they never met my boyfriends. I kept many of them away, with so many hidden secrets I could not risk them being exposed. My family were needy and I was sure they would reveal themselves at some point and uncover my pretence.

My mother rarely asked about my love life. By the time I reached my early twenties, my sister had been with her boyfriend for eight years. They married when I was twenty two. Her relationship was far more important. I couldn’t turn to her with boyfriend problems. She had only experienced it with one man. She was lucky as he was devoted to her, she never had to deal with the games people played. I wanted to have those chats with my mum but she was more concerned with my sister. I felt she’d just laugh at me as I had always been a source of amusement to the pair of them. I could hardly turn to my father, he would only use it as a weapon against me in the future, saving all the casual remarks I made to him or the times I was truly upset and using them to insult me. I wouldn’t tell friends in fear they would laugh too. I just kept it concealed from everyone.

I continued to meet pointless men and have disastrous, fleeting relationships. Everything was meaningless and had no depth. I longed to meet someone I connected with. In 2007, after dating an imbecile, I decided enough was enough. I was at my lowest. Things were awful at home with my father, I was unhappy in my career and I had put on over two stone in weight in the space of two years. It was time for a drastic change.

In the space of four months, I managed to shed the two stone I had put on. My confidence had returned and it didn’t take long for the men to follow. This time it felt different and the confidence felt real. I actually had a bit of fun that year and I didn’t berate myself for it either.

By 2008 and the point I met my husband David, I looked back on my dating and sexual history. I was surprised by how many worthless men I had met and how I had lowered my respect for myself so much. I wished that I could have discovered true inner confidence sooner and not fallen for the compliments in the dating game. I wish I wasn’t so desperate to feel loved or be needed by a man. I just looked for everything my father was not giving me and I don’t mean that in an incestuous way. I mean security, love, kindness, honesty and most of all,

DECENCY.

I wish I had learnt these lessons earlier and been a bit more prepared. All my friends had long term relationships and weren’t seeming to be making the stupid mistakes that I was. I needed the guidance from the two people you expect to get it from.

I was lucky to meet my husband at the right time and feel like I was truly worth something, I was attractive and appealing and that I deserved love and respect from a man.