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