My Constant Fight with BDD – Body Dysmorphic Disorder

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I’ve learned how to take a good selfie.  If I read through my Instagram comments, the compliments come rolling out.  “Nice”, “Amazing!”, “Handsome”, “Damn Daddy!”.  Sometimes I laugh reading these comments.  If only they knew.  Sometimes my husband laughs at my Instagram account because almost every picture is taken with me looking the same way and has the same proportion of my head in view.  Like I said, I’ve learned to take a good selfie.  It is deceiving but makes me feel good.  I look at those pictures and I feel happy.  I look at those pictures and I feel nice, amazing, handsome and damn daddy! But sometimes I laugh too.  If only they knew.  If only they could see me trying to get ready in the morning while not looking in the mirror, or trying to avoid mirrors as I walk around the house.  If only they knew the amount of hours I spend focused on how to lose weight only to say, I’ll start tomorrow.  If only they knew how many times a day I tell myself I’m ugly, and now I’m convinced of the fact.  And the funny thing is that as a life coach I’m really, really good at people believing in themselves and feeling confident in their own skin.  And I believe it too.  So why can’t I believe it about myself.  Why do I look at pictures of myself and think, “I’m not really that fat, am I?” or “I know I didn’t really wasn’t that fat when I took that picture.”  Why am I convinced that I am actually much thinner than I am?  Because I have BDD…Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

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I’ve known this for awhile, it’s nothing new.  I’ve known that what I see in the mirror and in pictures does not match how I feel in real life.  In real life, in my head, I feel pretty good.  This is emphasized by my hiding in oversized clothes and taking selfies that never show below the neckline and always focus on my eyes or a small smirk like I’m keeping a secret.  I am.  If I’m honest with myself, I’ve never been happy with my body at any size.  The above picture of me and my husband is a perfect example.  I’m on the right and at the time I probably weighed 185.  I’m almost 5’10 tall. My senior year in high school I was about 160.  In my late 20’s I was probably 170, ran every day and lifted several times a week.  Today, I weight well into the 200’s, close to 250, and yet I don’t feel any different than I felt at 160, 170, 180 or now.  The week of my wedding I was 187.  That was just over four years ago.  I remember being embarrassed to go to the pool in Vegas.  The picture from above I remember being embarrassed to wear a bathing suit.  Now, at almost 250, a weight I’m incredibly embarrassed to share but am trying to be honest to work on this issue, I almost feel the most comfortable.  It’s like in my head I’m saying, “See, you were a fatass all along.  I told you!”  The truth is that I’m really embarrassed to even type the numbers 250; to admit them out loud to anyone.  But I know that I won’t change that fact of my life until I start getting honest with myself and everyone else.  What a joke to think I can really hide it from anyone else.  See, that’s the nature of the beast.  I truly believe you don’t think I look that heavy because I don’t think I’m that heavy in my head.  Yet if I saw you in line at the store or at the movie theater and I hadn’t seen you in a long time, I would run and hide, afraid you’d see me for what I really am…a fatass.

But the weird thing is that I’m always surprised when I look at the pictures.  Just a few minutes ago my husband took a Snapchat while hanging out in bed.  I’m in the corner of the screen and when he showed it to me my first response was, “I didn’t realize I look that bad.”  I don’t know why I’m constantly surprised.

Tonight I’ve found myself becoming obsessed reading blogs from other people who have Body Dysmorphic Disorder, BDD, and I’ve found comfort in their stories.  I’m not alone.  I looked up the symptoms from the Mayo Clinic and this is what I found:

Signs and symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder include:

  • Preoccupation with your physical appearance with extreme self-consciousness
  • Frequent examination of yourself in the mirror, or the opposite, avoidance of mirrors altogether
  • Strong belief that you have an abnormality or defect in your appearance that makes you ugly
  • Belief that others take special notice of your appearance in a negative way
  • Avoidance of social situations
  • Feeling the need to stay housebound
  • The need to seek reassurance about your appearance from others
  • Frequent cosmetic procedures with little satisfaction
  • Excessive grooming, such as hair plucking or skin picking, or excessive exercise in an unsuccessful effort to improve the flaw
  • The need to grow a beard or wear excessive makeup or clothing to camouflage perceived flaws
  • Comparison of your appearance with that of others
  • Reluctance to appear in pictures

The shame I feel over my weight and perceived body image is unreal.  On a daily basis it affects my social life because I almost never go out anymore.  It affects intimacy with my husband because I am so ashamed and embarrassed of my body.  It affects my mental state because I’m constantly down on myself.  I rarely attend things that would require me to dress nice, even though I have an enormous closet full of clothes, because nothing fits and nothing feels comfortable.  And yet, I continue to eat.  I continue to give in to the disease.

Well, that is about to stop.  It is a transition time in my life and part of me being a better person, a person of character living the best life possible means being honest with myself and others.  It means being honest and owning all of those 250 pounds and loving them away one pound at a time. It means being grateful for all of those 250 pounds that are making me aware of how I feel and urging me to change.  In her book Making Miracles in 40 Days, famed self-help guru Melody Beattie shares her belief in being grateful for even the negative things in your life because they help in making way for what is about to come next.

My dear friend Kyla recently changed her diet and began working out.  I won’t tell you her story because she recently finished her book detailing the journey of her transformation, but one thing is important for me to share.  For many years Kyla and I sat around and fat shamed ourselves.  We laughed and called ourselves part of the Big Girl’s Club.  We obsessed over food and loved to eat out.  Today, she works out on a daily basis, the pictures highlighting a smiling, sweaty face.  She eats well but still allows herself to cheat every once in awhile.  She and her wife both live healthy lives and have lost tons of weight.  Kyla looks like a completely different person.  She looks happy.  I want that.  She is my inspiration.

I don’t want to feel like this anymore.  I don’t want to feel ashamed in my own skin.  I don’t want to miss out on life because of my body.  I want to feel alive and a part of my own life.  It’s time. 

xo

Peter

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3 comments

  1. Hello my good old friend. ..you write, “I’ve never been happy with my body at any size.” Please think whether this feeling came from within yourself or from outside influences. When people close to you say things out loud that disparage people who actually are overweight, it can make you very scared to ever become “one of them”. It doesn’t help your self image when you are living in a culture that celebrates certain physiques if you don’t match up to the ideal exactly. I know that you know what to do….eat right, exercise (you’ve done it all before), but also, don’t compare yourself to others. You will lose the weight when you want to. Don’t think about why you weigh a certain number. And seriously and importantly, don’t get on a scale. Do what you know you need to do. Eat healthy and exercise. … I haven’t seen you in years so I don’t pretend to know what you feel right now and what you look like, but you also may be confusing body fat percentage with being actually fat. Cut out sugar, white flour and dairy…combine with at least moderate exercise, and unless you have a hormonal problem, you’ll like what you see in the mirror unless you do have a mental disorder. Also, if you’re smoking, stop. It promotes the collection of fat around the abdomen. … I think you know that one thing I know about is stuff like this (working out to change your body). If you are only just now not feeling like leaving the house, that’s another thing to consider before you think you have a mental disorder about your looks. People who don’t want to put in the work to get in shape grasp at straws sometimes. Not saying that’s what you’re doing (because you wrote you never liked your body). And remember too that if you were in a relationship with someone who wasn’t in shape, you might not feel this extreme about your own self… soooooo…. GET ON THE TREADMILL, BIATCH!!!! 😉 xoxox (if I’m wrong about any of this I’m sorry and please remember that we haven’t seen each other in like decades).

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