The other day someone that I care about said to me
“You know for someone who has body issues and always feels FAT you seem to have no problem showing your body off”
Initially I was FURIOUS! Good thing I was heading to yoga to get my ZEN on! Yoga always gives me time to reflect! Because what else are you suppose to do for 90 mins besides think and pray that you don’t combust! (Bikrams hot yoga).
It’s hard not to feel insulted by statements like that, because its so far from the truth, but I have come to realise that it’s just plain ignorance. I can’t expect people who have never experienced anorexia, eating disorders, body dysmorphia to understand. People have a hard time identifying with mental illness as is, especially if they have never had it or lived with someone afflicted by it!
I am recovered and no longer live in the chains of anorexia! But I still struggle with internal demons. One of them happens to be body dysmorphia and body checking is a by product of it.
So What is body dysmorphia?
Individuals afflicted by BDD are concerned with body image, manifested as excessive concern about & preoccupation with a perceived defect of their physical appearance. An individual with BDD has perpetual negative thoughts about their appearance.
Symptoms can include
- camouflaging (with body position, clothing, makeup, hair, hats, etc.)
- comparing body part to others’ appearance
- seeking surgery
- checking in a mirror or avoiding mirrors
- skin picking
- excessive grooming
- excessive exercise
- changing clothes excessively
- Avoidance of social situations
- Feeling the need to stay housebound
- The need to seek reassurance about your appearance from others
What is Body checking?
Body checking refers to an obsessive thought and behavior about appearance. These checks and/or questions occur repetitively, in some cases hundreds of times per day. The person will often experience a momentary reassurance, only to be followed by increased levels of anxiety about their appearance.
Behaviors that may be considered body checking include:
- looking in the mirror,
- weighing oneself,
- pinching oneself around the waist, or wrapping a hand around a wrist or other body part.
- Sometimes sufferers will also ask friends or family members questions about their weight and/or appearance such as “Do I look fat?” or “Do I look like I’ve gained weight?”
For me body checking includes a lot of mirror checks, posing in different angles to see if I look fatter. Taking pictures – becaue camera’s don’t lie and comparing them with previous pictures! The more I look at myself, the more I look at the pictures, the more I analyze, the fatter I become, the more grotesque, the more flaws I can see, the worse it gets!
I say “I am fat” without even really acknowledging that I am saying it! And honestly when people tell me I am not, the reassurance is so fleeting, because what are they really suppose to say – Yes you are!
Often the “feeling of fat” or “I am fat” statements have nothing to do with fat at all. As my coach will say the only fat that needs draining is from my head. I am “feeling fat” because somewhere else in my life I feel out of control, it could be work, relationships, friends, life etc!
Somewhere along my journey in my life I learned that when everything is out of control if I can control my BODY then all is right in the world! I learned to disassociate and numb myself by obsessing about my body, exercise, controlling the food that I put in it and that somehow when that its all aligned perfectly then everything is will be perfect and everything will be alright!
Sadly though I have been down that path. And even when I weighed 80lbs, exercised 6 hours a day and ate practically nothing, even on the days that I did everything right nothing was flawless or perfect. In fact everything was chaotic and out of control!
And through recovery and growth I have learned that what really matters at the end of the day is what I see in the mirror looking back at me, am I proud of that person? What matters is do I love myself? What matters is am I happy? What matters is the people in my life that I love!
When looks fade and skin sags and things drop (because they will) I need to be able to look at my life with love and without regret! Because as cliche as it sounds what is on the outside is so superficial, and does not bring you happiness! It is your experiences in life and the people in it that bring you happiness! It’s peace and joy that you find within yourself!
If you look around at the people in your life you love – you don’t love them because they look a certain way its because of the people they are inside! Shouldn’t we look at ourselves with those eyes?
What the question forced me to do is to is dig deep inside myself again! I still need to find peace within, I need to do more work , more growth within myself.
I can’t just use the excuse I have body dysmorphia for staying stagnant! I am the only one that can change myself and evolve! Only I can be my own hero!
“Fear is a trick being played on you … don’t fall for it!”