You may have noticed (particularly if you follow my social media) that I rarely post pics of myself. I rarely take selfies, and I can’t think of a time I posted one…unless other friends were crammed in it with me and even that is pretty rare. While my daughter is the best photo target I have, and my fur babies preceded her, there is a reason for the so infrequent photos of myself…
A very common disorder that comes along for the ride with anorexia and other eating disorders is body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). WebMD defines BDD as, “a mental disorder in which you can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance — a flaw that, to others, is either minor or not observable.”
I can say with full certainty that Ana uses BDD as another powerful weapon in her war. Common symptoms that I suffer from are:
- Being extremely preoccupied with a perceived flaw in appearance that to others can’t be seen or appears minor
- Constantly comparing your appearance with others
- Having perfectionist tendencies
- Being so preoccupied with appearance (for me, weight specifically) that it causes major distress or problems in your social life, work, school or other areas of functioning
Here’s my experience of the mirror:
At least, that’s what my therapist says. I just see the one in the mirror. Or when I look down. I have to believe my therapist to think I’m possibly the one looking into the mirror in this picture.
Body dysmorphia is why “just eat” doesn’t work. BDD is one of the worst enemies to recovery. Every mirror I pass by reminds me. Every reflection in a store window reminds me. When I look down, I remind me. I’m big. I’m too big. I need to lose weight. I need to be thinner.
For me, it’s mainly the “womanly” areas of stomach, thighs, and butt that Ana uses BDD to wage her battles on me. My doctor and dietitian tell me that I weigh the same as I did when I left residential on June 19th. My clothes still fit that I was wearing at the beginning of treatment. But I know I’m fatter. I feel it. I feel my belly protruding. I feel my thighs in a way I do not wish to feel them.
I truly cannot comprehend how my weight is the same.
Not because my doctor and dietitian told me for the millionth time “NO MOVEMENT”.
Not because I knew I wasn’t eating enough to balance out those calories I was burning.
Because I felt like my legs were getting too muscular and too large. And muscle weighs more than fat. No more running for me.
So I got rid of the scale. But I still have mirrors. And I still look down.
A big recovery moment with BDD for me would to share a photo…here goes…
Okay, okay. One where I’m not hiding, crouching, cropped, behind someone else, or otherwise have my body invisible – and of course I don’t know the photo is being taken but somehow I haven’t deleted it (I can’t believe I’m posting this):
One of my recovery goals is to accept my body. To have body positivity. I just added a new resource called The Body Positive. If BDD sounds like something you can related to, even on a much smaller scale, I encourage you to check it out.
I took a step towards body acceptance by posting a picture of myself to the world. What is a step you can take? Share in the comments so you can help others too!