Living With Body Dysmorphia : My Story.

1/18/2016

I've wanted to write this post since I made this blog over a year ago. I wanted to use whatever platform I have for good. I wanted to help at least one person who might be going through something vaguely similar to me. I wanted.. I wanted a lot. Turns out, it isn't always that easy. I found myself constantly putting this post off by finding something else to write about, procrastinating until I "didn't have the time", but no more. This was a resolution, and I stick to those things. This will be a long one, and I apologize if you aren't the least bit interested in reading about me and my life. I'm not sure whether there is even a point to this post just yet, but I know I need to write it and that ought to be enough. Perhaps we'll figure it out together. Grab a tea (Or coffee. Go with coffee.), and I hope you make sense of my rambles.

According to the NHS website, Body Dysmorphic Disorder (also known as BDD) affects 1 in every 100 people in the UK alone. It's an anxiety based condition, and my own likely stemmed from social anxiety and a low period in my teenage years. Now, I'm not a doctor nor am I trained in the medical field. I can just about put a plaster on a cut. So how much insight I can offer into the condition itself is based solely on my own experience. I have yet to seek medical help, although I did have a batch of therapy late last Autumn that was initially meant for discussing my health but happened to stumble onto this topic a whole bunch. Turns out, I kind of suck at discussing things that affect me to strangers. Or friends. Or the boyfriend. My issue is, I feel like I will annoy them by burdening them with such information, which is beyond idiotic as I'd likely be offended if they felt they couldn't come to me with their own worries or problems. Anne's brain, ladies and folks.

For this to make an ounce of sense, we'll have to start at the beginning. I had just turned 12 when I started to dislike my appearance. I would look in the mirror and hate the girl staring back at me, I often still do that. You can't say I'm not a young lady of habit, heh. Yes, I mask my awkwardness with humour. I was chubbier than most girls my age back then, due to various reasons that really don't matter in this blog post. One could argue that it was just that stage of chubbiness that most girls go through,, hormones and physical changes playing a big part in it. I was a young developer. I had lumps of fat on my chest before anyone I knew, and my hips swelled outward. It was just a part of growing up, but I couldn't see past my own reflection to realise that. Or listen to what my mother was yammering on in my ear.

The following year was what I'd call my turning point. For the better? Probably not. But it was the year that moulded me into the person I am today. Home life changed a whole lot and because of that I gained a hefty amount of free time, which I chose to use by becoming obsessed with that reflection I keep referring to. I became aware of what a calorie was, and discovered the likes of Wii Fit and stomach crunches. I lost just under 2 stone in a matter of months. It was unhealthy and I don't want to properly delve into what I put my body through as I don't want to give impressionable readers any ridiculous ideas (you never know with the Internet.), but it was an obsession. I've already used that term to describe the situation and I usually hate repeating myself, but there isn't another word that does it justice. My work outs went from 30 minutes to over 7 hours. I would find myself pulling an all nighter to continue working out when the other people in the household were asleep. I pushed myself above and beyond, all while restricting myself to a mere third of one's usual calorie intake when on a diet. It was.. messy. I was a mess. I don't want to label myself as having an eating disorder, as I find it too big of a word to put on what I went through. So many other girls in the world have it far, far, far worse and my story isn't as important as theirs. So I don't feel like I have a right to include myself on that list, if that makes any sense. Therefore, I will just say that I was a troubled teen. I thought that being thin would result in being happy. Alas, it did not.

Because of all this, I grew up to find it ridiculously hard to eat in front of people. I found it difficult to talk about food with people I didn't know extremely well. I still do, and I still find it difficult to stop working out after 15 minutes, despite the fact that I know it will cause me a great deal of pain. Oh, yes. Fibromyalgia. I ought to probably explain that little dent in my story. It is what doctors describe as a 'chronic pain condition' that affects people in a various ways. I, myself, get widespread pain and skin sensitivity after prolonged activity or stress, followed by fatigue, migraines, and patches of insomnia. I was officially diagnosed shortly after I turned seventeen, but the signs had been there from when I was 13 years old. Yeah, the strain that I put on my body could of brought forth the condition sooner than it would have if I had not, but that is something we can never know for certain. It's just a thing. It's there and I'm still in the process of easing it. But anywho, this is besides the point.. Exercise was my escape, and I lost that the second pain became it's following act. This is undoubtedly the main reason why I have such an unhealthy relationship with food. It's my only source of control. I can't choose when to work up a sweat any more, nor can I choose where my life is leading.. But food? I can choose what goes in my mouth and I get the choice of how much gets eaten. It's terrible to write such a thing, but I can't hide from the abundant truth. I lack a sense of leadership in my own life, so my mind naturally takes advantage of it when I find some.

This is the part of the story where facts get blurred and the timeline gets muddled. All I know is, I never felt like I lost a pound in spite of those years. I'm 19 years old as I write this, and I still don't. I wake up everyday and feel embarrassed when I look into that shiny thing we call a mirror. That may be too honest, but that's the point of writing this. Honesty. I often feel sickened when I'm getting dressed and I can feel the skin of my body being tugged and squishing together, when I walk and can feel the way my thighs and stomach wobble and I'm adamant others can see it through the layers that I'm wearing. It hit me the hardest around a week ago, when I was shopping for clothes and tried on three items that were all a size 8 (that's an American size 4 and a European size 36, just FYI), and they were all loose on me, to the point of being unwearable. Loose. A size 8. I didn't and still don't understand. When I looked into that changing room mirror, my body looked at least three sizes larger than that. Not that there is anything wrong with that size, or any size for that matter, so please don't take my words the wrong way. It's just a difficult one to explain. It's hard to voice your thoughts when you never have done before. When I was that 12 year old girl, I envisioned myself being a certain size and being happy because of it, that I would feel confident in my skin if I were what society classes as "small". But I'm not. I can't see it and keep making excuses as to why a shop would make those size 8's in my size. Bad manufacturing, perhaps. And the second store's clothing was meant to be real baggy, that's why it was a little big on me. My brain constantly does this and perhaps because of these pathetic excuses, I can't see what ought to be right in front of me.

I'm now truly scared that I will never feel comfortable in my own skin.

Christ almighty, that was a tough sentence to write. I would normally distract from it with a photo of a cat, but that wouldn't be very professional given the nature of this post.

It may seem silly to some of you that a lack of confidence could be such a burden on someone's daily life. It may even seem conceded. I might agree if this was just about me, but it isn't. There are so many people outside of my story who suffer a great deal with BDD, and I would hate for them to feel big-headed for simply being unhappy. BDD is real and I'm slightly proud of myself for finally seeing that - there was a time that I never thought it to be possible.

Like many conditions, there are good and bad days. Some days I feel brave enough to take a selfie, and only feel like crap for a few hours afterwards. I may even be strong enough to snap a shot of whatever I'm eating and send it to a friend. On the bad days, I don't want to get out of bed. The thought of leaving the house for work or shopping is horrendous, and all I want to do is curl in a ball and cry. Some days I can barely look in the mirror, while the next I want to stare into it every 5 minutes and point out everything that is wrong with me. I can wear a dress and feel okay in it, only to try it on a few days later and weep at the disgusting sight. Same goes for photos. That selfie I took on a good day could be hideous to me hours later, because the many flaws of my face have somehow become louder to my mind. It's waves. Waves of emotions and thoughts. You can't know how you're going to be tomorrow, let alone in a week's time. And as easy as it seems to trust a loved one's opinion on the matter, your brain argues that you can't. Your opinion is the only one that matters to you, because you're the object of argument.

My goal this year was to post more outfit related posts on this blog as fashion is a passion of mine. I adore a good tea dress and have more heels than I could possibly (or hope to) wear. I find nothing more satisfying than a good blazer, and have a major weak spot when it comes to collars. Yet I've been too chicken to post anything resembling a OOTD on here because my body wasn't "ready" yet. 5 weeks ago I posted the first photo below on my Instagram (RootingBranches, btw), and guess what? The world didn't end. Despite the fact various people could see my arms, and I was dressed as an elf (which was arguably the best part of the photo). I'm not going to lie, I've debated deleting the post every single day that it's been up - even this morning. But I didn't and haven't. Powering through, people. So to test the waters further, I uploaded another outfit photo on the 14th of this month. 4 days ago. Which is also pictured below. And guess what? The world, once again, didn't end.
The point of doing this is not to gain attention, good or bad. Or to make people pity me and do the obligatory "you look good!" comments. It's to show how average I am. I look at both of those pictures and I hate them. I see a blob that's trying to look humanly. I see chubby spots and cheeks that are three sizes too big. I see the arms that prevent me from wearing anything sleeveless in public (I hid in a cardigan for the entirety of my career as an elf), and the thighs that make me pair tights with shorts in Summer. I see a wonky boob (yeah, that's a thing. Being a girl is fun.), and wide hips. I digress, there is a point to all of this. Right now, I pledge to try and learn that this is only my interpretation of the images. You may look at them and see something completely different, for better or worse. And that is okay. It's wonderfully human.

My story is what it is. It's messy, but tidier than most people's. Some days I manage, and others I find myself struggling through. But it's me. It's my tale to tell, and you have your own. If you relate to me in the slightest, then I'm ever so sorry that you have to go through the difficulty that is BDD. It's painful and affects your daily life in a way most won't or rather, can't, understand. It's easier to say than do, but you have to learn to accept that a rare few will belittle you for feeling the way you do as they deem it ridiculous or stupid, and there will be some people who look at you strangely in the street for whatever reason. Loved ones who don't know of the battle going on it your mind might make passing thoughtless comments that hurt your feelings. They won't remember what they said in an hours time, but you will cry at night repeating it over and over in your head. It's raw and aches in that way sadness does, but you can get through it. As - this the part you need to jot down - there will also be people in this world who find you beautiful. Who desire your body, or long to have your legs (or waist, or neck, or whatever.). You may scoff just reading this, and I can't ridicule you for that as it would be ridiculous to do so when I, myself, don't believe any compliment that's thrown my way. But you have to try. Just as I am trying by writing this post. How else are we going to get through it all?

I could write more. I could of probably written less. There are still gaps in my story, but they are for another time. For now, I think I'm going to leave it here. At the end of this post I'm going to list some options for you if you want to reach out for help. But I'm not going to preach about it, as it would be awfully hypocritical of me. Just talk to someone. Professional or not. My email is rootingbranches@outlook.com and you are more than welcome to shoot a message my way. My other links are on the sidebar. Just think about it.

 If you know of someone going through this, just do one thing for me.. don't brush their feeling aside as you think it's untrue and can see their beauty. To them, tit's frighteningly real. There is no worse feeling than when you pour your heart out to someone as you feel horrendous, and they reply with a simple "But you're beautiful." or "To me you're beautiful.". They won't believe you, and will be reluctant to come back to you at the risk of you thinking they're being dumb. Listen to them. Ask questions. Don't walk on egg shells. You were given a voice, use it.

Where am I going to go from here? I haven't the faintest idea. I'm going through a rough patch and that is largely due to some complications in my private life that aren't necessarily blog appropriate. It'll get better, it's bound to. I just need to wait it out. I'll silently wait to feel sane again, and meanwhile try my darn hardest to stop comparing myself to others. Or rather, stop thinking that those around me are making comparisons between myself and others. Especially the boyfriend. I'm well aware it makes me look stupid, and I'm constantly scared that I'm pushing him away by feeling the way I do about myself. If you have BDD and a partner, then you will know what I mean. If not, then I won't properly delve into my thought train on this. As I would likely come out of it looking pathetic.The second thing I aim to do is work on my relationship with food, as that isn't at it's best right now. I need to find a balance.

Perhaps I will do a follow up blog post in a couple of months, or not. Either way, thank you letting me have a blog vomit to you and I hope things get better for any fellow BDD sufferers out there.

Remember, all you have to do is try. It's enough.

- Anne x


Anxiety UK - Helpline: 08444 775 774 
Email: support@anixietyuk.org.uk

Mind - Information line: 0300 123 3393
Email: info@mind.org.uk



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