Monday, April 8, 2013

The darkness of body dysmorphia

Just a warning, this is a low day for me. I am definitely in a down cycle from my highs of last month and feel rather depressed, despite the amazing spring days ahead of me. But I am aware of it and battling it and determined not to spiral.

But here is a simple truth. I had my menstrual cycle last week, started feeling very depressed, moved less, ate more, and am up to about 129 pounds today.

And Chris had to deal with a girl this weekend who felt utter disgust for her own body.


Yes, I gained some weight. But I am putting the brakes on it. Despite feeling depressed and low energy, I am getting back on the proverbial horse. Four pounds weight gain shouldn't make me hate my body. I am still under 130 pounds. I am not huge. Not too many people would notice the gain except me.

But, damn it, I have struggled with dysmorphia for a long, long time. I didn't even realize it for a long time.... that what I was seeing in the mirror wasn't always the truth. That what I saw in the mirror was completely determined by my MENTAL state rather than my physical one.

I also didn't realize for a long time that I didn't HAVE to feel that way, that not everyone did. That a lot of people were perfectly comfortable with their bodies, flawed or not!

Right now, when I touch my body or look at it in the mirror, there is little difference between the current me and the obese me. I feel just as much shame about my body now as I did then.

Here I am, at a weight lots of people would love to be at.... and I feel shame and disgust for myself. And the truth is, I could weigh ANYTHING and feel the same exact way. These feelings are a sickness and have nothing to do with the reality of my body. 

Here are some of the symptoms of dysmorphia that I deal with and try to mitigate on a regular basis. These symptoms fade and strengthen over time, depending on my mental state:

Obsessive thoughts about (a) perceived appearance defect(s).
Chronic low self-esteem
Feeling self-conscious in social environments; thinking that others notice and mock their perceived defect(s)
Strong feelings of shame.
Compulsive mirror checking, glancing in reflective doors, windows and other reflective surfaces.
Compulsive skin-touching, especially to measure or feel the perceived defect.
Seeking reassurance from loved ones
Comparing appearance/body parts with that/those of others, or obsessive viewing of favorite celebrities or models whom the person suffering from BDD wishes to resemble.
Compulsive information-seeking: reading books, newspaper articles and websites that relate to the person's perceived defect, e.g. being overweight.

These symptoms are not the worst that someone with dysmorphia could have. I am not self-destructive, physically. I have never sought help for it. I want to get help for it now... and I will when I get insurance in a few months. Because I don't want this for myself anymore.

But, till then, I need to stay aware and not let it swallow me.

This post is cathartic. I have deleted it several times this morning, unsure of whether to share this sad, dark part of myself with you. But it is a part of me. I need to stop feeling shame about who *I* am, physically and mentally.

So, my message as always is: love yourself, take care of yourself, this is your one life and don't waste it.

And I will be here, trying to follow my own advice.



  1. GREAT post and a very helpful one...The fact that you are understanding what is going on with yourself is half the battle...Hang in there and keep posting..itis good for you and for those that read your blog


  2. I too struggle with this. Sorry you are at a low point right now. Keep pushing forward.

  3. We all go through this from time to time, Jeanette (or, every day, in my case) -- oddly, as I've talked about before, when I was fat/obese, I really never looked at others (real life people or models) and thought about how I looked in comparison. Now I do it all the time...weird? Anyway, as Stacey said above, the important thing is that you recognize when it's happening and understand that your feelings aren't realistic...and just ride the wave out for the hours/couple of days that it sometimes takes. Always a work in progress, little sistah...

  4. Thank you for sharing that, I know it had/has to be difficult. But at least you recognize some of the signs and want to get help for it. That is wonderful. Until the insurance kicks in, hang in there and write down 3 things you love about yourself every day. A girl I knew going through the same thing was given this exercise by her therapist and said it made a huge difference for her over time.

  5. Uhgg...I grew up like that. I was never fat. When I was 121 at 5'7, I felt like a pig. Now at 200 I really feel like a pig. You are right. It is not about the weight. Its a rejection of the inner self, played out on the body. Very difficult stuff. I know that you will be OK because of your great insight and inner strength. Thanks for sharing this.