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I give advice to a young man trying to save his relationship. His girlfriend has body dysmorphic disorder. The disorder is a very serious psychological condition. The boyfriend is desperate to help his girlfriend get better, and keep their relationship as strong as possible.
My girlfriend and I have been together for five years. Two years ago her personality began to change. She went to many doctors to try to cure what she thought was social anxiety and depression. She was finally diagnosed about a year ago. My girlfriend has a serious case of BDD (body dysmorphic disorder).
BDD is a disorder where the person affected focuses their whole life on ridiculing their physical appearance. People who have this disorder have high paranoia and anxiety. They don’t complain verbally too much about the issues they have with their physical appearance; they mostly shut down and act very weird. My girl friend won’t leave the house unless extremely necessary. She is a beautiful girl, and I don’t know why she thinks she is repulsive. She said before she started having symptoms she had normal insecurities like every other woman; but now those thoughts have become completely out of control.
I don’t know if I can hang on much longer. I love her so much. What do I do? I just want to help her. I can’t believe the thought of leaving has even crossed my mind, when I know she has a disorder that she can’t help.
First of all, I am so sorry this has happened to you and your girlfriend. Unfortunately, the mind is a very powerful thing. Sometimes the brain gets triggered and veers toward the wrong path. Disorders and conditions like the one your girlfriend has could happen to any one of us. I am going to give you the best advice I can.
Become an Expert:
I know you have probably researched her disorder thoroughly, but research more. Don’t use the information to try to talk to her about it. Use it to be current and updated on your knowledge of the disorder. Remember, your girlfriend is sick. Sick people don’t perform or internalize research as proficiently as healthy individuals. Also, if she is taking any type of medication I would research that too. Then I would investigate the other kinds of medication used to treat BDD. I would also research herbal remedies and supplements that help balance chemicals within the brain. Research the best diets for people with psychological issues and see how you could implement some of those things into her diet. Lastly, if she is taking birth control, I would suggest she switch the kind or type she is taking. Even if this doesn’t help at least you can eliminate it from the list of possibilities to explore. If she is taking the birth control shot, for example; that form of birth control has been known to effect some people negatively due to side effects. Some people who have had the birth control shot reported a complete change in their mood and psychological behavior. One would assume that some people have negative side effects from the birth control shot because they receive a large amount of hormone’s from the medication at one time. A substantial amount of hormones injected into the body in one sitting has the potential to create problems.
Remember She is Sick:
I know without seeing someone listless and pale in a hospital bed, some people tend to forget that someone with a mental issue can be just as sick as someone with a physical issue. Your already doing a good job by trying to be there for her as much as you can. Do you talk to her parents? Having a good open line of communication with them is very important. Like you addressed in your question, you just need to remind yourself that this is something she can’t help. Sometimes with psychological disorders, people who are affected will have good days and bad days. Just because she is up one day and down the next,doesn’t mean she is faking her disorder or using her problems as a crutch.
You Still Have To Act Like Her Boyfriend:
If you begin to act like her caregiver she will resent you. Just because she is sick doesn't mean she doesn't want you to change your behavior towards her. Don’t stop laughing with her, and romancing her because then she will feel more detached from her old self. If you act like your constantly anticipating for her act out emotionally, then she will interpret that as you have given up on her getting well. Don’t walk around on egg shells when your together. After a while she will feel extremely guilty about what strain she is putting on you, which will only elevate her anxiety. I know this is a lot to take on, but the best thing you can do for her is to be yourself. Don’t overly compliment her or abstain from commenting positively about her appearance. Keep up your normal routine in the relationship that was present before she was sick.
Every time you feel like you can’t take it any more try to hold on just a little bit longer. People can recover from BDD, and there is no reason to give up hope on her. I hope she is in some type of counseling program to further assist her recovery, because overcoming psychological disorders takes a lot of work. Make sure you also take the necessary steps to be as happy as you personally can. Your no good to her if you become depressed or lethargic due to the stress this situation has caused you. Don’t stop participating in your normal activities, because you will find your self more stressed when your around her. I wish you and your girlfriend the best. By the way, if you are a spiritual person or attached to some type of religion, this would be a good time to seek guidance from a member of your church or religious dwelling. Good luck, and I hope your girlfriend is on her way to a full recovery.