I’ve struggled with body dysmorphic disorder since I was thirteen.
Along with it, came depression, anxiety, an irreparable feeling of loss of myself, and the fear of telling those around me.
Body dysmorphia pretty much characterizes itself as being obsessive compulsive about anything in your appearance, to the point where it disrupts normal, daily activities. For me, it came in phases. For a while, I was obsessed with the way my hair looked. Then came my skin (and consequently skin picking). Then the fact that my eyes weren’t perfectly symmetric. These issues would interrupt me from leaving my house, going to school, hanging out with my friends.
I isolated myself because I thought that what I saw in the mirror was what everyone else would see. It wasn’t vanity, it wasn’t exaggeration. The symptoms made me constantly frustrated and upset not only at my flaws, but at myself. Its annoying to want to get better and not have the strength to do so. It’s even more annoying to try and steer from your reflection and failing to do so. And its sad to constantly ask yourself if people see you the way you see yourself. No matter how many times my friends and family would tell me I looked fine, I’d still be unhappy with myself and my reflection. My mind was caught up in thoughts I had no control over. And so, I was diagnosed with BDD. Partly a relief because I knew it wasn’t something I brought upon myself, but partly terrified about what it meant.
My BDD comes and goes, and is constantly a battleground for my recovery. I’m fortunate enough to have incredibly supporting parents, who always believed in my concerns and sought out every measure to help me, and friends who tried their best to understand (even though sometimes, I couldn’t even understand myself). With them, I learned how to distract myself from mirrors, laugh it off when I would go on rants about the way I looked, and most importantly, had people to count on when it was too much to handle.
BDD isn’t a fad or a cry for attention. Its simply a psychological issue that affects 2% of the population. It’s frustrating to live with and some days are worse than others, but I’m still myself.
I am not my body dysmorphia. It’s simply something I live with.