For those of you who know me well, your response is probably going to be, “well, duh…” Yes, I’m that kind of crazy, too ~ the loud, silly, random, dance when I feel like it, make myself laugh uncontrollably crazy.
But I’m also crazy in my head crazy.
For the past seven years I have been living with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). Honestly, it’s probably been even longer than that, but seven years ago is when it started to really interfere with my life.
What is BDD?
Unfortunately, BDD is not as well known as many other neurological disorders, and studies are still being done on the most effective forms of treatment. It’s difficult to explain BDD, and very often people who have the disorder live with it in silence, out of shame, fear or confusion. The easiest way for me to describe BDD is to say that the affected individual will look in the mirror and see something completely different from what everyone else sees. I see a certain image of myself in the mirror that is not true to life. I have no idea how I actually appear to others because my brain is telling me that I look a different way.
BDD can affect any area of the body that you can think of, including (but not limited to) the nose, feet, hair, breasts and even knees. The main focus of my disordered thinking is my skin, but it also affects some facial features.
BDD is problematic for multiple reasons:
· Extended, untamed thinking of this nature often leads to depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, social isolation, and an inability to lead a normal life.
· Individuals with BDD often become so focused on their physical appearance that they have extreme difficulty with other responsibilities, such as keeping a job or maintaining a steady relationship.
· Severe mental anguish manifests itself physically, leaving many BDD sufferers with ailments that include migraines, heart palpitations and vomiting.
· Because BDD has only recently been acknowledged in the medical community, many people with this disorder are misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all.
I highly recommend reading this Wikipedia article on BDD. It is extremely thorough and gives an in-depth look at the disorder.
It is important to note that BDD is not vanity. It is a serious disorder that can not simply be willed away, or something that will disappear with time. We would not tell someone with an eating disorder that they are self-centered, but would instead acknowledge their struggle with disordered thinking ~ this is the same for individuals with BDD.
After moving home a few months ago, I decided to get some serious help. I didn’t want to continue being afraid of the mirror, or being hesitant to go outside and engage with the rest of the world. I just wanted to live a normal life.
I started an experimental SSRI soon after arriving home, which has been an incredible help. Though I still very much say that I am struggling with BDD, it is easier to manage each day. I am about to begin cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) as well, which will hopefully target my disordered body image directly and allow me to gain some control over my crazy brain.
Reasons for “coming out” as crazy
Selfishly, I’m sick and tired of living a lie, never fully being myself, feeling shame, and keeping a big part of myself a secret. Because I’m afraid that someone is going to find out, I have to edit what I say so that I don’t slip up. Also, keeping my BDD hidden allows the stigma of shame surrounding “being a crazy” to continue. Shoving it aside like some dirty secret makes it seem like a bigger deal than it is. I have some whacked out synapses in my brain that I’m trying to fix so I can enjoy life again. That’s all.
Not-so-selfishly, I want to help other people who are going through this (and people who are dealing with their own life issues, mental or otherwise). It’s pretty difficult to find good female role models in the media, which is part of the reason why my idea of beauty is so messed up to begin with. I want to be that strong female role model. I want to create a community where people can speak openly. I want to show that people are not perfect ~ even the celebrities that we admire have their own issues beneath the surface.
Ideally, I will be able to lead by example and show that it is possible to overcome BDD (et al) and lead an extraordinary life. Not just a normal one, but one that you’ve dreamed about. I hope to become a successful musician/performer, so that I can spread this message in a big way by doing what I love and being happy, healthy and myself. I am not perfect, and that is okay. However, I want to take this road towards becoming a better version of myself.
I hope you will come along for the journey. I hope I can help you. I hope we can be healthy and happy together.
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