“Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental disorder in which you can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance — a flaw that, to others, is either minor or not observable. But you may feel so ashamed and anxious that you may avoid many social situations”. according to the MayoClinic definition. Why am I writing about this specific topic after so many years of blogging, please continue and you will find out.
I was 15 y/o when I took notice of my body. How I felt about it was not something that affected me much. I remember clearly how astonish the head nurse at school was when measuring my height & weight during the first week of high school. She stated that for the last three years I was at a constant 50 kg body weight. I did not know what to make of such an information, except that I felt a certain pride.
And then everything went downhill…
You know when they say that it only takes one sentence or a word to throw someone off course, shatter one’s self confidence and mark him for life? That is what specifically happened to me which led way to the beginning of my body dysmorphic disorder.
When a teen, you are gullible to your surrounding’s opinion, remarks and behavior, right? Negative remarks about one’s body is cruel, especially when it comes from a relative. It leads to depression, eating disorder and low self esteem. You might not be aware of such situations, because most of the times teenagers are ashamed from opening up especially when the bullying comes from a family member.
I remember when I was young and I was constantly told that I was fat, that i had to be careful at what I was eating and that my ass looked big in that washed out jeans. Looking back at pictures of that period of time, I realize that I was your average teenager (50 Kg for three consecutive years remember!).
However at that time and through the later years, I developed some sort of optical (dis-)illusion. I started to look at myself constantly in the mirror and took notice at how a jean would affect my body form and many other minor details that I had never noticed before. The person on the other side of the mirror slowly plumped. I became obsessed with my weight.
I remember it is only when I was 21 and my body weight dropped to 47 (height of 1.72) that my father took me to the family doctor. At that stage I was counting the food I was eating (specifically that week, I had not eaten a single thing for three consecutive days). A comment from a neighbor about my skinny legs alarmed my father who took matters in his own hands.
Eventually, I was encouraged by the doctor to eat instead of starving myself and then go and train at the gym. He diagnosed my state of mind and for the first time I was introduced to the term “Anorexia nervosa“. Often referred to simply as anorexia, “it is an eating disorder characterized by low weight, fear of gaining weight, and a strong desire to be thin, resulting in food restriction. Many people with anorexia see themselves as overweight even though they are in fact underweight“. I proceeded in going to the gym however short lived it was.
Let me tell you an important thing. It is very hard to change the state of mind of a person with body dysmorphia. The person reflected in the mirror is not the same person anyone else sees. Even becoming a model, though short lived, and having done some photo shoots did not propel in clarifying the image I had of myself.
Body dysmorphia is a very serious illness. One that is only felt by the person going through it and can never be understood by any other person who has not witnessed the same symptoms. You will try to understand but you will not fully grasp our struggle. Does it go away? No it doesn’t. It does certainly decrease with time and with the support of close friends and family who have full heartedly embraced and understood what you are going through. But it does not vanish from one’s state of mind.
Why am I opening up on my previous struggle? Because it is an ongoing battle with its on & off moments.
Moreover, I am opening up about it because nowadays with the boom of social media and the increase of “influencers” as well as “fashionistas”, young girls worldwide are being bombarded with perfect body images and lifestyles. The competition in aiming towards such lifestyle has become the ultimate goal of this young generation. Reaching perfection and aiming for the best is not a joke for these young women. The struggle is real and the whirlwind fall in oblivion is not leading to failure but ultimately to something more serious; life threatening dead serious.
I am stronger and I am happier. I am no longer surrounded by any source of unhappiness and bullying. However, I am not sure how strong young women nowadays are. Kindly be patient and reason with anyone who has body dysmorphia. Sometimes the reason behind their struggle is an on-going relative hence the path for recovery a long one. But with a caring and supportive friend as yourself, the right path for recovery is set.
Good day my friends,