Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Body Dysmorphic Disorder or BDD is an anxiety disorder which focuses on Body Image. It's where you become obsessed with an aspect or your whole body and act on trying to change or hide it. It affects both Women and Men and symptoms differ between people.
I was diagnosed with Body Dysmorphic disorder when I was 19. I was having CBT for my OCD and we got onto the conversation of body image. I knew I had a low opinion of myself but I thought it was just that until we started talking about things I was doing.
I was spending hours a day looking at myself in the mirror trying to figure out how to hide or lose something I didn't like. My main issue with my body was hips and weight but it was more than that. I was using makeup as a mask, to try and hide things or make things stand out. Not in the way like most people do, obsessively. I used to go to bed with make up on because I felt like I needed to, I had to hide the "real me". I had also became obsessed with the flawless skin and was scrubbing my face everyday to remove any imperfections which lead to very dry, red skin. All the time I was doing this I never knew the extent of my problem, I didn't even know I had a problem.
I had become someone obsessed with looking through Instagram. For hours at a time with saved accounts of the people I could compare myself to. I would look at an aspect of them and then myself. I would buy clothes like them or dye my hair because they were the perfection I craved. As you would have guessed, it didn't work. I was still the same with just a different hair colour and a pair of jeans that I didn't like! This caused me more issues because what I was doing wasn't working and that lead me to a deep depression where I didn't want to go out and when I did I felt like a strange person. Someone who didn't look normal.
BDD falls under the same spectrum as OCD. Obsessions and Compulsions. So I would obsess about myself and then I would act on it by trying to change something. The problem is no matter how much you do to change the problem you never feel better for it. It doesn't work because you will always see the negative. I had become obsessed that by body wasn't symmetrical and that is something that can't be changed but I tried!
That one Appointment completely opened my eyes to what I had been doing and putting myself through. That was the appointment that created change. We made a plan of action up where I had to do things and not do things. I had to go out with no makeup on and not wash my hair so much. I had to wear what I wanted and not things that others were. I also had to take a break from social media. All these things helped me so much!e I no longer go to bed with makeup on and I can also go out bare faced! I wash my hair when it needs it and I don't let myself compare as much. I'm far from cured and I do relapse from time to time but I'm no longer obsessed like I was.
It took a lot of time to get myself here but once you realise to just be happy with as much as you can of yourself then you know your going to be okay. I still hate my hips and my skin is far from this flawless doll but hey-ho it's all editing! Education is key here as we live in a world that is all on our phones and no one is going to show the "ugly" bits.
Symptoms and Help
The symptoms for BDD can differ between people as everyone is different psychically and mentally.
Checking yourself in mirrors obsessively
Avoiding mirrors, photos, shop windows
Wearing clothes to hide or cover up
Using an excessive amount of makeup
Asking for reassurance
Obsessive amounts of research into area of concern
Comparing yourself to people online/magazines
Trying to be like someone you "like"
Thinking about surgery
Picking, Pulling, Scrubbing skin
Avoiding going out
Dieting and restricting food
Speaking about what you are suffering with is the first step, maybe a friend or partner. You can then go from there and seek professional help from your GP. They will most likely send you for CBT, a talking therapy. This approach helps you deal with the thoughts that lead you to feel the way you do. They will also use Exposure so if your scared of going out without makeup you will be exposed to it. It's not as scary as it sounds, it's a way of relearning. There are also many self-help books and programs to help you at home. Keeping a diary of all the things you do is a great way to notice triggers, things that make you do it. You can then set yourself goals to limit the amount of time you are obsessing. Learning to love yourself for who you are takes time but it can be done.
Many people are afraid to speak about their BDD because they feel they will be labelled as "vain". The amount of time some people spend on themselves with BDD is obsessive and some people see it as they are vain, which is wrong. People also feel embarrassed about a aspect of their body and feel if they talk about it they will draw attention to it. The truth is there is nothing to be embarrassed about and what people think is a problem is more than likely not.
If you or anyone you know has these symptoms please speak to someone and get the help you need.