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How Writing Helped My Recovery From Body Dysmorphic Disorder

For many years, I struggled with a psychological disorder called body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). During this challenging time, I habitually rejected my appearance and body, thinking I was too “ugly” to be alive. I struggled with low self-esteem, depression and suicidal thinking.

Nearly every time I looked at myself in a mirror, it was as though I was looking into a funhouse carnival mirror. However, to me, it was more like a house of horror as I routinely battled against the appalling image. I’m sad to say I spent countless hours trying to “fix” my so-called imperfection, only to end up failing — surrendering to extreme anxiety, social paranoia and unbearable heartache.

I acted upon my suicidal impulses several times. Not only did this disorder affect my daily life, it also affected my relationship with my loved ones, my work and life in general. It prevented me from going out and enjoying life to the fullest with others.

In the height of this battle against myself, I came to a rousing awareness that the only way out of my situation was to write about the torment ruining my life. Thus, writing became my saving grace, a source of healing. Whenever I wrote, I stopped thinking about my supposed ugliness or suicide. That, in turn, allowed healing, transformation and a new life to blossom.

When I started writing about my battle with BDD, I found it therapeutic and liberating as I dealt with wounds from my past and learned to love myself. A therapist once told me, “When you learn to love your self, in a healthy way, it is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and others.” This upturn in spirit brought about a brighter future not only for me, but for my loved ones too.

Upon finishing my proposed book, with high expectations of helping others, I put the manuscript on my shelf for an entire year and a half. During this waiting period, I was inspired to keep writing but for a different audience. I began to write Christian devotionals for women for a wonderful organization, Power to Change. My weekly devotionals were scheduled, published and released to over 20,000 women throughout the world. Not only did I change the course of my life through writing, I also was blessed with the opportunity to become a blog mentor, a position that allowed me to minister to hurting people all around the world.

As time went on, I knew it was time for me to publish the book I had put aside. Accordingly, I set out to publish “Arise My Daughter: A Journey from Darkness to Light.” I knew in my heart that it would be a valuable resource to those reading it — to those struggling with similar battles.

Today, I’m still writing. I believe writing saved me. It gave me a purpose. I am a transformed person from the inside out, filled with desire to reach out to others through writing, blog mentoring and leading women’s small groups.

I thought I would never escape the pain from my past and the disorder that spread havoc all around me, but I’m so grateful I was wrong. Once I tapped into writing, journaling and reaching out to others, I found a new way of living. Through all this, I have learned that without loving who you are, it is nearly impossible to love others.

I pray this smidgeon of my life story will encourage you to not give up on your recovery. I’m living proof there is a good life on the other side of what you are facing. In the midst of your battle, may you find hope for today, the courage to keep going and strength from God to overcome!

I’d like to close with this quote from Louise L. Hay: “Love is the great miracle cure. Loving ourselves works miracles in our lives.”

Barbara Alpert

A version of this article was previously published in the book “Chicken Soup For The Soul: Find Your Inner Strength.

Photo by Ana Tavares on Unsplash