In this blog post, I want to talk about my battle and experience with body dysmorphic disorder. What is the perfect body? We hear a lot about looking perfect and getting the perfect selfie, but what is perfection? Well, the answer to that is simple, there’s no such thing as perfection. Growing up I was told a lot of negative things about my body and appearance. I didn’t know just how bad it had affected me until recently when I was diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder. Let me tell you a little bit about what exactly body dysmorphic disorder is. BDD is a mental disorder and anxiety disorder that is related to a persons body image. They can’t control their negative thoughts about how they see themselves and believe completely that they are ugly and/or abnormal looking. This then leads to severe emotional distress and can interfere with their day to day life. Someone that suffers from BDD will intensely obsess over their appearance and body image. Even if someone is told over and over positive things by others, it doesn’t always help. This is something that doesn’t work with me. I am told daily many positive things about myself but it never sinks in, however, I am working on this. You can also be any age and any gender and be diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder.

A person suffering from BDD can have one to multiple obsessive worries about perceived flaws regarding their body. The flaws they see are rarely true flaws, but the suffer just can’t get past what they see. Someone suffering from BDD may also have developed certain habits and routines. I myself have habits that I didn’t realise were actually linked to having this disorder. I’m not going to go through them all as we will be here all day, however, I will point out a few:

  • Regularly checking myself in the mirror throughout the day and I will also check myself in any type of reflection, not by choice. I will do this even if it's not the best type of place to have a reflection. I was set a task to count how many times a day I checked myself in a mirror for one random day. I hit 30 times a day and for about 5-10 minutes each time.
  • Each time I will look at myself, I point out the parts that I think are flaws even if they aren’t. This is also seen as hatred towards my body, which I thought was normal for people to do. However, I do this to excess as I do it every day and for most of the day.
  • I have a bad habit of picking at different parts of my skin, which I tend to do if I’m anxious about something.
  • Another habit I have found to have is buying and wearing clothes that are too big to hide my body under. This habit I am trying and succeeding to overcome. 
  • The last one I’m going to mention is trying numerous outfits on for the day, and I end up getting upset and still not being happy with my appearance.

There are many more habits out there that people suffering from BDD will have, and each person suffering from BDD is different so might not necessarily have the same habits as me.

Life can be hard on a day to day basis as well. I never realised how much I had isolated myself from the world. I find it hard to go out and socialise, even just popping to the shop for some food can be quite hard for me at times. This is because I always feel like people are looking and judging me in a bad way. I can spend a lengthy amount of time trying to find something to wear to just go to the shop. For many years I have even struggled to eat in front of people, even family members, which has led to some bad eating habits. Like everything else though I’m really trying to work hard at overcoming this. One thing that really annoys me when it comes to suffering from this disorder is seeking people’s reassurance. I ask the same question to others a lot and that question is “Do I look alright?” Even if the answer is positive, I still don’t feel it’s the truth. However, if someone lies to me and say’s I don’t look good, I will truly believe them and it will really affect me. I wish I could go one day without asking for someone reassurance.

Depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts have all been linked to BDD. On a personal level, I have been suffering from all these for the past 6 months. As I didn’t realise that I was suffering from this disorder, it gave time for depression to set in. If I knew exactly what was going on, I could have gotten medical help and the depression may have never come back. Depression set in before I was diagnosed with having BDD, so I didn’t realise why I was depressed at first. Once I was diagnosed things started to make more sense to me. I felt that self-harming would make me feel better. I can’t really explain why I think this, it’s just something I feel. Also, my self-harming started many years ago. I’m trying to get myself on the road to recovery, though.  At my lowest point, suicidal thoughts did cross my mind. I felt like I could never truly be happy in my own body, it’s not easy to say this.  However, I’m learning to love my body each day, and day by day I’m starting to like it. I feel I’m a long way off loving it, though.

Camouflaging is another habit some people with this disorder will have. Now I’m an alternative type of person and strangely enough dress in a way that does make me stand out in the crowd. What I mean by this is that I have piercing and tattoos which attracts the looks. I tend to wear a lot of make-up when I go out as well. I know that this doesn’t help the looks I get, but I feel more comfortable dressing and looking the way I do, than trying to dress like your average Joe or plain Jane.  When I first went to see my therapist and I explained I wanted to be covered in tattoo’s, she explained that was my way to camouflage myself.  Some people will wear lots of makeup to cover up or wear baggy clothing, certain hairstyles, even covering oneself with fake tan. It all depends on the individual to what they use to camouflage themselves. Something else that I’ve noticed, I was starting to buy more make-up myself 6 months ago and wanted to try different trends out. Looking back now, I was doing this to cover up what I thought was flawed facial features.

I personally think there is too much pressure today for people to have what is apparently the perfect body. No one knows what the perfect body is, that is completely just people’s opinions. I don’t think social media and celebrities help with ordinary people's bodies confidence, as celebrities today tend to have had some sort of cosmetic surgery, have makeup artists and hairstylist to make them look the way they do for every public event or selfie.

This is just my personal experience with battling BDD. Other people may have different battles and routines than I do as BDD has a variety of different habits, personal feelings, and routines. This makes each person’s disorder unique to them. There is a lot more I could write about when it comes to this disorder but I just wanted to talk about my personal experience as it’s a lot easier to write about and have my own opinion. I hope that one day I will be able to look in the mirror only once a day and love the reflection shown back at me. I hope that I can find the strength to love myself and my life, I know I’m a long way off and I know it’s going to be hard, but I’m ready to fight this battle and win it!


Published by Vicky Watson