7 Reminders for Anyone Struggling With Body Dysmorphic Disorder
From the time I was 8 years old, I’ve been obsessed with how my body looks. That obsession only grew as I got older, eventually taking over my self-esteem. To me, I wasn’t pretty if I wasn’t thin.
To gain this self-perceived ideal of perfection, I’ve engaged in some self-destructive behaviors.
I’m in a better place now and things are much more clear. Even with my body dysmorphia, the truth is always there, sitting in the back of my mind, reminding me that I’m good enough.
While my obsession still survives under the radar, my crew has kept me in check, reminding me that I am great the way I am.
Over the 30 years of living with poor body image, disordered eating and body dysmorphic disorder, here are the seven things I’ve learned along my way:
1. Moderation is key.
I’m a gorger by nature. I can’t just have one chip or one piece of pizza or one piece of chocolate. I don’t stop when I’m full and if for some reason I do, it’s just to catch my breath before jumping in again. If the food is in front of me, I’ll eat it. However, immediately after that I’ll feel guilty and awful. I’ll call myself names and berate myself like I’ve done something terribly wrong. For me, it’s a form of self-sabotage.
Finding a middle ground has been hard. I would either deprive myself or gorge. There was no in between.
Throughout the years, I’ve learned about this awesome thing called moderation. Moderation allows me to eat the foods I enjoy sporadically. I have yet to master the skill — I still have semi-regular mishaps — but I am more aware now and do my best to keep myself in check.
2. I cannot control how other people see me or think of me.
People are going to say what they’re going to say, and you have no control over that. It’s not even your business. It’s theirs. That’s their problem. It’s taken me a long time to even figure that out as being true and an even longer time accepting it – it’s actually still a work in progress. You need to be happy in your skin. That’s what matters.
3. No one cares as much about my body as I think they do.
More times than not, I’m sure no one is commenting on the roll that can be seen when I sit down. You know the roll I’m talking about? The roll almost everyone has when they sit down? Yeah, that one.
More times than not, I’m sure no one is whispering about my cellulite or the fact that my thighs touch.
More times than not, I’m sure no one is commenting on the skin that droops down from my triceps and wiggles when I wave hello or good bye.
It’s in all in my mind, I know that. Now I have to embrace it.
4. Weight is just a number.
While I know this is true – I really do – I can’t let go of my scale yet. It relieves a lot of anxiety caused by not having it around. For now, I use it as a safety net. I hope to one day not need it anymore, but if it’s going to help me out, then I’m going to keep it around. One step at a time.
While I let my insecurities tag along behind me, I also look forward to the day when I can cut that cord. Weight doesn’t mean anything.
5. Having a child changes how you think about your body.
I struggle big time with this one, but I know it’s true. I carried a human being inside of my body. I made it with my own body and it grew and then was taken out and is now in the process of becoming a member of society. That’s hard to believe!
And to think that my body should be able to remain the same after creating life is silly. I know this. However, the irrational side of my brain – the one that causes me all this grief – tries to convince me that if celebrities can do it, then I should be able to as well, all while getting older.
That’s absurd and it’s not realistic – not even for celebrities. It’s called air brushing, Karen.
6. I’m stronger than the awful voice in my head that tells me I’m not.
This is a truth that has taken me the better part of 30 years to come to terms with. I am stronger than the voice. I’ve proved it time and time again. I’m here, aren’t I? I fight a battle every day, but I will not allow the voice to win. Especially now that I have a beautiful boy who looks up to me for guidance and assurance. He brings me strength and helps me overcome these uncertainties.
7. It’s OK to be comfortable and love your body as it is.
Because why the hell not? Who is to say what perfect is? Who is to say what is beautiful or accepted? Who is to tell you that you are not enough? No one. Not one person. Not even yourself! If you are happy in your skin, then own it. Flaunt it. Be at peace with it. It’s the only one you’re going to get, so I think you should enjoy it while you can.
We live in a society that is constantly telling us what we should look like. We live in a world where unrealistic expectations on women and men are shoved down our throats. This has been a lifelong battle for me, but I’ll never stop standing up to that tiny voice in the back of my head. If I want to eat that second cookie, I’m going to.
There is no perfect. Please stop trying to reach an unreachable goal. Be happy with you. Invest in you. Love you.
Getty image via Victor_Tongdee