Community Magazine

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

By Rubytuesday
I had a request yesterday to write a post about body dysmorphia
I think it's a subject that is really relevant to a lot us suffering from eating disorders
I got the following information from Mind.Org

What is body dysmorphic disorder (BDD)?

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is an anxiety disorder related to body image. If you have BDD, you experience concerns about your appearance that cause you significant anxiety and have a disruptive effect on your life. You may also develop routines and habits, such as excessive use of mirrors or picking your skin, to deal with the worries you have about the way you look. These habits usually have a significant impact on your ability to carry on with your day-to-day life.I see myself as completely disfigured and I am constantly trying to convince people of this.It may also cause other problems such as:
  • feelings of shame, guilt and loneliness
  • isolating yourself to avoid situations that cause you anxiety or discomfort
  • depression or anxiety
  • misuse of alcohol or other drugs
  • self-harm
  • suicidal thoughts.
Many people with BDD do not seek help as they are worried that people will judge them, or think they are vain. This means that many people are likely to experience BDD for a long time before seeking help.People assume you are 'vain' but this is a serious life threatening illness.

What are the common signs of BDD?

If you have BDD, you have obsessions that cause you significant anxiety and may also develop compulsive behaviours, or routines, to deal with this. In this way, BDD is closely related to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). (See Understanding OCD.)Although everyone has their own experience of BDD, there are some common signs.

Obsessive worries about the body

If you have BDD, you will often spend several hours a day thinking negatively about your appearance. You may be concerned about one specific area of the body or you may be worried about several different areas.Common areas of anxiety include:
  • facial features, such as the nose, eyes, hair, chin, skin or lips
  • particular areas of the body, such as the breasts or genitals
  • feeling that your body is unbalanced or lacking symmetry
  • feeling that one of your features is out of proportion to the rest of the body
  • feeling too fat or too skinny.
Some people with BDD also experience an eating problem, but not all people with eating problems will have BDD. (See Understanding eating problems.)

Common compulsive behaviours

You may also develop compulsive behaviours and routines to deal with the anxiety you feel about your appearance.
Common compulsive behaviours include:
  • using heavy make-up when out in public
  • brushing or styling hair obsessively
  • obsessively checking your appearance in mirrors or avoiding them completely
  • changing your posture or wearing heavy clothes to disguise your shape
  • seeking constant reassurance about your appearance
  • checking yourself regularly by feeling your skin with your fingers, particularly around areas you dislike the appearance of
  • picking your skin to make it smooth
  • constantly comparing yourself with models in magazines or people in the street
  • seeking cosmetic surgery or having other types of medical treatment to change the area of concern.
I would say that I do suffer from body dymorphiaAnd have done since I was a childI remember going to ballet classWe wore leotards and tights and our bodies were very much on showThrow in a room covered in mirrors and you have a recipe for disasterI remember looking at the girl in front of me at the barreShe was blonde and long limbed and so slimI felt like a heffa-lump compared to herGrowing up I was convinced that I had huge thighsI thought they are out of proportion to the rest of my bodyI still feel like this todayBut looking back at photos of myself as a teenagerI can see that I was a normal weightMy thighs were not hugeIt seemed to be all in my headIt's extremely frustrating and confusing to have an eating disorder and not being able to get an accurate picture of your sizeIt's very strange to think that we can not trust our own judgementOr even our own eyesThe mirror is not our friendAnd we can spend a lot of time body checkingOr avoiding mirrors at all costI remember when I was in treatmentIn the group room there was a huge mirror hidden behind a screenDuring body image group the screen would be pulled back and the massive mirror was revealedI hated this groupBut sometimes it was very helpfulWe did exercises that showed that a mirror is not always accurateAnd it can be deceptiveWe also did body mappingThis is where you draw the outline of your body as you think it isThen you stand against the image and someone draws your actual outlineThere was a always a big difference between the two outlinesI have accepted that I don't see myself as I amIf I look in the mirror, I see an overweight personEven though my clothes are a small sizeEven though the scales says that I am underweightEven though I don't eat properlyEven though everyone around me tells me that I'm notI still see a fat personIt's very disconcertingThe cruel thing about this illness is that we never get to enjoy the one thing that we craveThinnessBecause we never believe that we are thin enoughEven when I had a BMI of 13I still didn't believe that I was underweight I still thought I needed to lose more weightSo what can we do about this?Well for me, I stopped body checking in the mirrorWe see what we want to seeIt's a pointless exercise staring at ourselves in the mirror because we zone in on the parts of ourselves that we don't likeAnd they become magnifiedOne way I try to get a realistic picture of what I look like is to look at photosFor some reason I can see myself more accurately in photosI can see myself as I amMaybe because it's more objectiveI'm not sure
But I can see myself in a more realistic light in photos
Do you find that?
Where as girls seem to want to be smaller
Men seem to want to be bigger
Muscles are attractive to men and the bigger the better
I remember Mary showing me a presentation on BDD
She showed me a picture similar to this one
Body dysmorphic disorder
I think it's just as shocking as seeing a picture of a very underweight person
I think as eating disordered sufferers we see the world and ourselves a little bit differently
We seem to be more sensitive
We tend to be perfectionists
We are harder on ourselves
We judge ourselves more harshly
And that includes our bodies
I was chatting to my neighbor this morning
She knows about my ED
She asked me how I was 
We were just passing the time of day
Then she said 'You look really well'
This sounds like an innocent comment
And anyone else would probably love to hear that they look well
But not me
I interpreted 'looking well' as 'You've gained weight'
And I interpret 'You've gained weight' as 'You look fat'
So in my mind she has just insulted me
Only someone with an ED could make this connection
We live in an image obsessed society
We are the generation that posts every little thing on Facebook and Instagram
It's hard not be self concious 
It's hard not to compare ourselves to others
All too often our self image in interlinked with our body image
And that shouldn't be
Our bodies are just a shell
A vessel to hold what we are really all about
Our personalities
All the little quirks and foibles that make us who we are
BDD can take over our lives
I know that my own body image has stopped me from leaving the house many times
I look in the mirror and  hate what I see
A flabby tummy
Tree trunk thighs
An old face
Dry, straw like hair
But if I asked you what you see when you look at me, you would probably see something different
We zone in on what we think are the negative parts of us
And that becomes so big in our heads that we can't see the positive
So many people turn to plastic surgery to solve body image problems
We see people like Heidi Montag from The Hillsw who had 10 plastic surgery operations in one day
She became like a caricature of herself

Body dysmorphic disorder


Body dysmorphic disorder


but rather than change our bodies to resolve this problem, I think the real work is done on the inside
Changing our perceptions of ourselves
Seeing ourselves as a whole rather than just a body or a face
I know that I have a lot of work to do in this area
I am far too hard on myself
I was wondering about you
Do you have BDD?
What have you done to try and change your body or your face?
Did it help?
What do you think can be done to help people with BDD?

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