Body Dysmorphia – A silent battle, a real war

Mental Health

Good Evening lovely people, I hope your weekends are going well so far.

As an Anorexia sufferer, I also suffer with BDD (which is body dysmorphic disorder.) A description being: “An anxiety disorder that causes a person to have a distorted view of how they look and to spend a lot of time worrying about their appearance.” However, I must add that you do NOT have to be suffering from an eating disorder in order to have this condition. Also, you can suffer at any age, you can be any gender or any race prior to beliefs of this being a ‘girl’s condition.’

Body dysmorphia is a silent, real battle that not many people are aware of meaning it often gets mistaken for ‘attention seeking.’ However, a person with BDD (male or female) will see their body differently to how others see it. For example, a person with Anorexia may view themselves as ‘fat and obese’ when they are actually the opposite. When a person with this condition sees something, it becomes very difficult and almost impossible to change that thought process. Telling somebody with BDD that they are not fat, or that their nose isn’t too big will NOT change their thoughts and feelings surrounding this.

“A psychological disorder in which a person becomes obsessed with imaginary detects in their appearance.”

Symptoms of BDD: poor body image, low self-esteem, worrying excessively about appearance, developing compulsive behaviours to deal with worries, excessive body checking, frequent weighing, self harming and comparing ones self to others. (These are just a select few symptoms.)

Causes of BDD: Eating disorders, depression, anxiety, bullying, trauma, genes and the environment.

Describing body dysmorphia would be like telling somebody to look at the red curtains, when the curtains are quite clearly green. Both people see different things and neither can see what the other person does, no matter how much convincing is done. Similarly, no matter how much you tell a person with BDD that their thoughts aren’t true, it’ll just go over their head and they will continue to believe what they’ve already believed for such a long time. It’s like a mouse staring into a mirror and seeing an Elephant staring back. Although the facts highlight the fact that your visions aren’t correct, it becomes very difficult to see past it and to see and believe what the people around you do.

Most people will pick faults with their bodies and their appearances and I can safely say that I’m yet to meet one person who’s comfortable in their own skin. Self acceptance isn’t easy; it is possible and can be done with a combination of therapy and mindfulness, or so I believe. Having said this, change doesn’t happen overnight and body positivity isn’t an easy thing to achieve. I cannot speak on a person level about finding body acceptance, but hopefully I will one day. Unfortunately we live in a World where people believe their values and self worth will increase if they become a certain weight or size, if you own certain attributes or if you’ve travelled The World or not. It’s vital to remember that these things are not as important as love, health and happiness. Never put anybody down when they are on a journey to self love and acceptance.

Body dysmorphia is a real issue that people suffer from – please show love, support and understanding to those struggling. Do not become stressed if people are having a bad day or if they are seeing things that you cant. Try to change the topic from talking about bodies and appearances in order to lift the stress and focus off the individual. In addition to this, if you are struggling please speak up.

Lots of love,

Laur xxx

Mental Health and education – Accepting the stage you’re at

Mental Health

In life lots of us feel that we must be at a certain stage in order to be accepted, valid and important and I am one of these people. Perfectionism at its finest eh? We live in a society where if you haven’t passed your driving test by the age of 18, you’re a loser. Where if you haven’t started University at the age of 18, you’re destined to be a failure and so on. But these beliefs couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, I know lots of people who haven’t gone to University and they’ve chosen other life pathways such as jobs and volunteering. Some people even choose gap years, in which they spend their time travelling, making memories or gaining important life skills.

In life, we must do what is best for us, not what’s best for everybody else.

I would like everybody to know that stopping education to work on yourself and your welbeing is perfectly respected and acceptable. A few years down the line, your dream career will still be awaiting you and your dream University will still be standing waiting for you to begin your studies there.

Okay so, due to my Anorexia, Depression and Anxiety, I have had to take two years out of education which may or may not be frowned upon. After finishing my two years in College, I had to stop. I loved education too much and devoted all my time to it. All of my time, energies and focuses were going into my studies which can be both a positive and negative. I became isolated and glued to my laptop and assignments which isn’t healthy or balanced. My college work became like an addiction for me, I would work and work for hours on end in order to make my work perfect, in order to be the best and most hard-working student because those things held large values for me. And whilst doing this, I would use it to block out the negativity in my life including worries about food, weight and calories. It got to a point where I was repeatedly being asked by my teachers to STOP working and to take a break. I was always ahead on my work, I always recieved top marks and completed assignments to the best of my ability but it was never enough for me.

During this time, I have been working on myself and volunteering at the same time, meeting new people and animals and finding the strength to get through each day. But during these stages it was more important for me to focus on myself and my personal health needs. If I’ve learned anything during these two years, it’s that education can wait but your health can’t and that needs to be prioritised. It wouldn’t have been beneficial for me at all to begin University two years ago and I’m glad I made the decision not to.

At the end of the day, what’s the point in working for a degree when your health is slowly in decline? No, I’m not recovered and I am nowhere near that stage; my mental state (depression wise) is much more stable than it used to be. Sitting in a lecture hall feeling suicidal and destructive wouldn’t have done anybody any favours.

I begin University in September, still poorly, still Anorexic, still suffering with depression and anxiety. But I will be recieving help whilst I’m there, to go alongside my studies. Because I am now at a stage where I want to get back into education, a step closer to achieving my dream job of saving animals. I no longer want to put my education on hold because that is the right decision for me. It doesn’t matter if you choose to take five years out of education – your health and happiness is the most important thing.

Life doesn’t come with instructions, we live it the way we choose to but sometimes things may get in the way to put things on hold for a little while. But that’s okay and understandable. Whatever life pathway you choose, you’re still as valid and important as the next person. A degree doesn’t define your self worth or compassion, nor does it hold you back in any way, shape or form.

Please remember that in life, you are your main focus and it is okay to put yourself first.

Lots of love, Laur xxx