I wanted to do a little (lets face it, this won’t be little) post on my experience living with Body Dysmorphia for Mental Health awareness week. It’s very different for everyone. But this is how it is for me.
For the majority of my adolescent life I’ve suffered with Mental Health Issues. Social Anxiety took away the years I should’ve been out drinking and hanging with friends, being young. I still hold a lot of anger and resentment towards that. I call them my ‘missing years’. It then transitioned into depression for a short while. It wasn’t until I spoke to a professional that I learned it was actually Body Dysmorphia. I refused to even believe it was a thing, when in fact it was actually the root of it all.
I don’t really get anxious anymore. If I do, it’s something I can easily overcome. I’m happy to go and sit in places on my own. I travelled to London by myself to interview for a dream job of mine, I then spent the rest of the day shopping around London on my own. These are things I’d have never done 3 years ago.
The thing with anxiety is I can leave it at home now. If it’s not there it tends to not appear at all, thankfully. However, the body dysmorphia is always there. It’s my shadow. There’s days I won’t leave the house or even get out of bed because of it. The mirror is my worst enemy and my best friend. In the blink of an eye I can go from feeling ok to having a meltdown. The reason I didn’t get my dream job? That was down to my body. The reason I’ve lost touch with friends? Down to my body. Everything and anything in my life, I will resort back to my body. It’s exhausting.
Every reflection, every mirror, every person that walks by me is judging me on my body. Any way a human interacts with me, i’ll somehow connect it to the way my body looks. The rational part of my brain knows that it’s all a lie, but the irrational part, which is the larger part, tells me it’s the truth. For the past 6 year or so years I’ve listened to every negative thought my brain has had about myself and believed it. Still do. It’s consuming.
The relationships I have with some of my best friends I feel are a lie. I withhold a huge part of my personality from them because for some reason my brain tells me if I act myself, they won’t like who I am because of my body. That makes no sense to you? Yeah me neither. Me acting like a dick and being silly is irrelevant to what I look like, but not to me. 7 year friendships I have with people and I still only show a new bit of myself every now and again. The only friends I do have that know 100% of me, I’ve known since school, but they still don’t see that side of me much anymore. There’s no point touching on romantic relationships, because that is something I won’t even entertain. I have ridiculously high standards for someone who feels they’re below standard.
I find myself hating hanging around with my friends because the way they look is triggering for me. When i’m around my friends, my mind is constantly wondering what the people around us are thinking. Are they thinking i’m dating the boys i’m hanging out with and that i’m completely punching if so. Are they comparing me to my unbelievably gorgeous girl friends and how i’m the ‘duff’ out of us. Are they talking about how I missed out on the genes my siblings have. Instead of just being present and enjoying time with my friends and family, my mind is going 100mph thinking of all the possible opinions people could be having about me, because they’re the thoughts i’m having about me, so surely other people are having them too, right?
Body Dysmorphia is essentially being a stranger in your own body. It’s like a real freaky Friday movie but with two versions of myself. Someone with Body dysmorphia doesn’t look or act much different to most people. You’ll still find me wearing revealing outfits sometimes, but you won’t know the torment I put myself to get out the house wearing it. I can also bet you won’t see me posting a full body shot on instagram wearing it. The switch can flip so fast between how I’m feeling you wouldn’t believe. I’m fortunate to be aware of all of this now. I’m aware that everything i’m telling myself isn’t true. I just don’t quite believe it yet either. I don’t let it stop me doing things anymore, but it’s still something that consumes my thoughts most days.
I’ve come to accept that Body Dysmorphia is not who I am, it’s just an unwelcome roommate that I am trying my best to get rid of but apparently we’re tied into a contract that I can’t end overnight. It’s a work in progress.
I decided to write a post about this because i’m seeing more and more viral tweets regarding ‘body dysmorphia’ and I fear it’s becoming a cutesy new mental health illness and people are just throwing the word around without realising the implications it can have on somebodys life. Body Dysmorphia isn’t just a weight related mental illness, which seems to be a common misconception. This comes in all forms, and can concern any part of your body.
I’m someone who can joke and talk about this without it having a detrimental effect, so I can over look the memes and viral tweets but some people can’t and that’s totally okay. We all process things differently. I just process things like Chandler Bing and use humour as a defence mechanism.
If you think this is something you’re struggling with, please reach out and talk to someone. Even if that persons me.
Mental health always matters xx