What Body Dysmorphic Disorder Feels Like

A young woman careens through her adolescence, prying at the grip of BDD. Panic and anxiety kaleidoscopically blur the world around her as she fights for her own self-acceptance.

I remember in primary school, the teacher asked us
00:04
what we would all do if we won the lottery.
00:06
And my peers were saying, you know, “Go on holiday,
00:08
“give my mum some presents,”
00:10
and all I could think about was, I’d get my ears pinned back,
00:13
a nose job, my forehead reduced. I’d have a skin peel.
00:17
I was so convinced that the way I looked was horrific and abnormal.
00:23
The only explanation I could think of was that
00:26
I was a scientific experiment gone horribly wrong.
00:30
When I was a teenager, I discovered make-up
00:33
but, for me, it’s more of a camouflage so that I could
00:35
put on a mask and hide what I thought was this hideous face.
00:40
It got to the point where I couldn’t leave the house
00:42
without three layers of make-up on,
00:45
and that’s if I could leave the house at all.
00:47
I was housebound for most of my adolescence, really.
00:51
In my head, I would feel as though, by me not going outside,
00:55
by me not inflicting my appearance on others,
00:58
it was saving them from the horror of having to see me.
01:02
Because for me to go outside and show the world my face,
01:05
that’s really selfish.
01:07
They don’t deserve that. They didn’t ask for that.
01:09
If I was to leave the house, I’d inevitably get a panic attack.
01:14
At this point, you’re really fed up of staying indoors all the time,
01:18
so you take a step outside.
01:20
And, you know, the cold air hits on your sweaty face.
01:24
By this point, you’re sweating profusely. Everywhere…
01:27
Everywhere you can sweat, even in your elbows.
01:29
And every step, your heartbeat gets quicker and quicker,
01:32
and then everything goes blurry.
01:33
You can’t even feel the floor beneath you.
01:35
It’s like you’re floating but, at the same time, you’re so heavy.
01:38
And then you just feel like you’re going to throw up
01:40
or go to the toilet, or both at the same time.
01:43
Sensations of clothes on my skin just felt like burning.
01:47
Intolerant to anything.
01:49
Making me more sensitive
01:52
to being alive in this body.
01:56
I was just so debilitated and I just could not function.
02:00
I thought, “I must book an appointment with my GP,”
02:03
even though I had to cancel the appointment so many times before
02:06
cos I couldn’t leave the house.
02:08
When I finally got there,
02:09
I remember seeing this really beautiful blonde woman as my doctor.
02:13
I thought, “Great!”
02:14
SHE LAUGHS
02:16
I could only communicate with her what was going on
02:18
through writing it down, so I wrote down some bullet points.
02:21
“Can’t really leave the house.
02:23
“Every time I do, I have a panic attack.
02:24
“Can barely leave my bed.
02:26
“Panic attack if I get ready.”
02:27
It just got too exhausting.
02:29
I considered ending my life, because I’m so ugly.
02:34
And she comes back and says,
02:35
“Yep, it sounds like you’ve got anxiety and depression.”
02:37
So, I thought, great that I’m getting help,
02:39
but it just felt like there was something a bit more to it.
02:43
I got a referral to a psychologist.
02:45
It was like he was inside my mind.
02:47
I was like, “What?”
02:49
And he was like, “Yep, there’s a name for it.
02:52
“It’s called body dysmorphic disorder,
02:55
“and we can beat it.”
02:57
Now, when I think about myself, I have to immediately look internally.
03:02
You know, I don’t want to blow my own trumpet,
03:04
but I can be quite funny.
03:06
I can make people around me, like my friends and family, smile,
03:09
and that really makes me warm inside.
03:12
You know, I am motivated to help others,
03:14
and I’m motivated by kindness,
03:17
and I think that’s actually a really nice quality for anyone to have.
03:21
So, I’m 25 now,
03:24
and I’ve been in treatment for BDD
03:26
for about six, seven years, I guess.
03:29
It’s a work in progress.
03:31
Every time I relapse,
03:33
it’s always less worse than the time before.
03:37
I still battle every day with these feelings
03:40
of not being good enough, and low self-worth,
03:43
and just feeling like living
03:46
is so much more difficult than just calling it.
03:48
I just carry on,
03:50
because I’m going to win the war, eventually.

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