I’ve been very open about my struggles with OCD, anxiety, and my long battle with bulimia. I also want to talk about Body Dysmorphic Disorder. I feel like it doesn’t get taken seriously or it’s spoken about like it’s all “in someone’s head,” and those assumptions are absolutely wrong. It’s a mental illness, and the pain it can cause is completely real.
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a psychological illness that affects so many. Unfortunately, I still don’t think it’s talked about enough, and even I have even struggled to open up about it. BDD is a chronic mental illness related to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Typically, a physical “flaw,” whether seen as minor or even imagined, can cause shame and discomfort to the point of creating an extremely negative impact on a persons everyday life.
I honestly had never heard of it until I started my outpatient treatment for my bulimia in 2013. I just assumed I didn’t like myself, and I had no idea what I saw wasn’t what everyone else saw. I also didn’t think it affected me, because I’m legally blind and already see things very differently. It was very difficult for me to grasp at first.
I would constantly pick myself apart and say terrible things in front of mirrors. I was obsessing over things that weren’t there, and I was in a constant state stress and anger when it came to my appearance.
I thought I’d never escape those feelings, and I felt broken mentally and physically. It took time, patience, and consistency for me to overcome those feelings. At the same time, I’m not a doctor and I can’t tell you how to make those feelings totally go away. I still have my bad moments and days. I still struggle from time to time, but it’s not even a fraction of fraction of how it used to be.
I want to share my tips for letting go of those negative and consuming feelings. I’m finally on an incredible self-love journey, but I also feel like it’s time to talk about this. I’ve had a few bad days recently, and since I’m all about promoting body positivity and acceptance, I want to share that I struggle too. I also want to share my advice on getting out of these shame filled holes that our minds dig from time to time.
Time to Heal
First and foremost, if you struggle with any of the things I mentioned above, don’t feel ashamed. Consider seeking professional help, and get help taking back control. It’s okay to see doctors and therapists, and I never want you to feel bad about it. They are here for a reason.
The tips that help me through days like I had last week, are pretty simple and nothing new, but they have been a game changer when my day-to-day life is affected by the perceived image I see.
1. Make Lists
I know I use lists for everything, but that’s because they work. This list should have some of the things you’re grateful for about yourself as well as what you appreciate about your body. It doesn’t all have to be about physical traits, but try to find some positive aspects of your appearance to add to that list.
2. Figure Out Your Triggers
For me, getting dressed and ready can make me very anxious and angry. Sometimes, I sit and breathe through those panicky moments. I also try to avoid mirrors until I can ease my mind and stress a little bit.
Find what makes you feel bad and change that part of your routine. If it’s an everyday part of life you can’t completely cut out, work around it the best you can. Take a moment for yourself, and don’t feel guilty for it.
3. Power Through with Positive Affirmations
If you’ve been to my blog, you’ll know there’s no shortage of positive affirmations. It’s because they work, and they are truly powerful.
If I’m struggling with getting ready and getting overwhelmed, I take that moment to repeat some body positive affirmations. Talking it out and reasoning with yourself may seem crazy, but that’s negative thinking. It’s more than okay to be your own voice of reason.
4. Step Up Your Self-Care
It’s not selfish, and you should amp up your self-care if you find yourself having these struggles. Self-care isn’t just a bubble bath or spa day. Get your routine regulated. Get enough sleep. Drink water. Be active. Do activities that make you feel good and happy.
5. Stop with the Comparisons
I swear this step is included with a lot of tips on helping with mental illnesses surrounding appearance and body image, because it’s something we have all done but need to stop. Comparing ourselves to others has never had good results. It tears down self-love and self-esteem. It hinders so much, and chasing an image that isn’t you is extremely toxic and unrealistic.
Don’t learn to love the way someone else looks; love how you look. I know it seems easier said than done, but try deleting the images you compare yourself too from wherever you see or obsess over them.
6. Let Go of the Idea of Being Perfect
Perfection doesn’t exist the way we want it to. We need to redirect our ideal of perfect, and accept we are perfect as we are. We need to be realistic and love ourselves and our bodies as they are.
We are not meant to chase numbers and diets. We are meant to live, love, and be happy, and that includes being in love and happy with ourselves. The ideals on perfection revolve around airbrushing and false appearances. We need to appreciate our bodies as they are, because they are the vessel of life and that’s magical.
Repeat After Me
This won’t be easy. You’ll probably have to repeat these steps over and over, but it’s a process. The sooner you take care of your mental health and try to take back control, you’re already beating the negative affects of BDD.
If you want to do this, you can. We are all miracles, and we are capable of more than we realize. Put that into action, and change how you see yourself.
It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Fall in love with yourself and the journey to self-love and body acceptance.
Don’t let diet culture or the unrealistic ideals of beauty bring you into a negative space. Beauty is a mindset, and that means you have all the power to change your own mind. You can do this, and I’ll be doing it right here with you.
Head over to my Instagram for more body positive and acceptance posts and tips. Also, Eat the Damn Muffin: Confidence for Every Body is my ebook with more tips and my personal experience that’s still available on Amazon. Also, feel free to check out my post where I discuss my OCD. We need to bring awareness to mental health and break barriers.
Have a good week, and remember you’re beautiful, even if you don’t see it yet.