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Signs and Symptoms of Body Dysmorphia BDD How can you tell the difference between someone who doesn’t like something about their body and someone suffering with BDD?
It is a good question as most of us probably have a few things we would love to change about our appearance. The main difference is the mental and emotional obsession. If you have body dysmorphia then you won’t be able to stop obsessing about the way you look. For some people this can last several hours or even an entire day and they will be obsessed with thinking about their body part or planning and scheming about what they plan to do about it.
Have you ever you ever decided you wanted to lose weight so much that you tell yourself or maybe try to show yourself that you are fat? Does then the body part you hate become a big issue and you either find yourself thinking about that or about how you can overcome it with diets or weight loss products. You get so preoccupied it infiltrates your daily thinking right? Well this is the same for Body Dysmorphic sufferers it may not be connected to fat, but they will spend time worrying about it or scheming ways to change it, most likely getting any kind of counselling or treatment will be last on the list. Instead of getting BDD treatment they will spend hours and thousands of dollars looking for solutions to hide or change their body part.
It becomes challenging because it is hard to switch off from it and it will therefore dampen their mood. Other times they may feel a temporary relief if they have a plan for extreme dieting, avoiding social interactions or surgery. Either way it’s an obsession.
People with Body Dysmorphic Disorder BDD will find it difficult to control their obsessions and this is why it can limit their social life, effect their eating habits and distract them from work, school or other activities they need to focus on. It will of course unavoidably lead to low self-esteem and low mood. Low self-esteem can then affect results in all areas of life.
Many body dysmorphia disorder sufferers will perform some type of compulsive or repetitive behavior in an attempt to hide or improve their flaws. Although these behaviors usually give only temporary relief. This is why body dysmorphic disorder often gets linked to obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety and eating disorders.
If you had asked me if I had body dysmorphia before I studied it, I would have said no I don’t have that. However, once I read the signs and symptoms of body dysmorphia I realized that yes I probably had had it for many years and it was linked to my eating disorders. The reason I would have said no, was because whilst I was very thin I could see I was thin and yet, most of the time I could still see some fat areas where there were none. I have always had an issue with my stomach to be honest, it is larger than the rest of my body and is slightly out of proportion. For many years every single time I went to the toilet I used to show myself my stomach and push it out in front of the mirror. I’d tell myself you are fat, your stomach is so fat, it’s disgusting.
I also would not allow any man to touch my stomach area or go near it, I couldn’t stand it. It would make me want to recoil and run away when they went near it. I couldn’t bare acknowledging my stomach was there and part of me. I used to hit it, push it in, and hurt myself by showing myself every time I was in front of the mirror how bad it was. Was this body dysmorphia disorder? Well it certainly was obsessive so looking back knowing what I do now yes, I definitely show the signs of someone who has BDD. It would take up hours of my time, I’d excessively exercise and diet to get rid of it, I’d look at it, obsess about it, feel hatred towards it.
Then there were other thoughts I had about my body which did used to occupy my mind. Thoughts like I have a double chin, fat under my arms, chubby cheeks, bags under my eyes, horrible hair, cellulite. This used to get to me until I began my inner journey of self-love and acceptance. It didn’t happen over night as the disgust and fear of fat was so strong and I was so used to consistently bullying myself. It took a lot of practice and actions to change but I did get there in the end, you can too.
Thanks to the self-love program I created my thoughts have lessened and no longer limit my life. Yet I am so pleased I learned about body dysmorphia because and started helping people with it, because I am able to catch myself. I did a lot of work to stop the binge, starve and purge cycle and I no longer see my body as fat. But I did like many of those men and women I now help start to focus on the wrinkles on my face or the bags under my eyes or my hair, or my teeth or focused on how my body is aging.
I’d get caught up in those thoughts. I’d dream about changing or fixing my issue whether with a diet, excessive exercise regime or surgery, I’d think about it and my plan when I woke, I’d constantly check the mirror and ask myself what am I going to do about these defects. I’d say have to do something about it, I’d feel less motivated to see people or go to social gatherings, I’d want to wait until I had fixed the issues before I saw everyone.
The day I discovered I had body dysmorphia disorder and probably have had it my whole life, was a special moment for me. Suddenly everything made sense, and I felt like crying tears of both relief and compassion towards myself.
I felt relieved because I knew the cure, I knew how to solve this…
Love for yourself, for these negative and low vibe thoughts about yourself are just your desire to be loved. The obsession is a call for love and a misunderstanding that love is not there and available when it is.
2, Giving love
Loving others to get out of our own minds and focus on how we can love and help others, really works to escape it.
Gratitude for what we have in life, counting our blessings.
3, Receiving love
Receiving love from others and divine love, offering our fears, thoughts, compulsions over to a higher power, god, creator, spirit or higher self whatever you believe to support us to let go and accept the body we have been given
This is what I call love energy and I have developed the love energy tool kit to help people and to form a part of body dysmorphia treatment to support them to really love themselves. It is a six-week course focusing on loving yourself because without loving yourself it’s difficult to make sure that body dysmorphia disorder treatment is going to be effective. The course is normally $497 however because I want everyone to be able to have access to it, it’s only $97 for 2018, the price may go up in 2019.
I am not saying I never get thoughts like “I’m fat” “I’m ugly” “I’m wrinkly” “My hair looks horrible” but I observe them from a distance and let them come and go. Because I know that they are not worth my energy. Before I would over think, plan and scheme about how I was going to fix myself and the issue, now I am able to let it go. I also did several years of emotional body work clearing, where I released the trauma of past. Being a victim of sexual abuse as a teenager and physical and emotional abuse from my mother my hatred of self was deep rooted. In my experience supporting others to become free from body dysmorphia disorder the self-love focus works best when combined with processing and releasing previous trauma. It is not always possible to focus only on self-love for effective body dysmorphia treatment. BDD is aptly described as the disease of “self-perceived ugliness.”
Often this “self-perceived ugliness” comes from traumatic events or situations.
Other Body dysmorphia treatment options vary, they can include CBT which can be useful to change the thought patterns. Some also advocate anti-depressant medications for this. If you are seeking anti-depressant medication for BDD then consult your doctor and they can refer you to a psychologist and psychiatrist.
Coming up I will share more on body dysmorphia disorder and how it relates to eating disorders. If you are interested in this be sure to subscribe to my podcast show emotions and eating with Nicola Beer on Itunes and 10 other podcast platforms.
If you have any questions about the individual or couple therapy that I offer in Online or in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, UAE do get in touch