***This is for my English class, I know there's gonna be grammer issues and typo's, because I'm awful with that stuff!! lol. But, I tried my best. If you have any suggestions, please let me know respectfully =) thank you! and I hope you enjoy reading.
Every morning when I look in the mirror, I see a monster staring back at me. My eyes instantly shift to my crooked face, then to the craters in my cheeks, and then to my creepy soulless eyes. Instantly, I am filled with anxiety and depression, for I feel like I cannot go out into the world today. What will people think of me? The thought of even going to class and sitting down frightens me, none the less having to interact. I just know once I step outside, students at my university are going to be smirking, laughing and pointing at me, for I am a freak.
It sounds narcissistic, even over dramatic, but try saying that to the millions of people suffering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder or BDD. BDD controls my life and messes with the perception of myself. To begin, I will talk about the reasons why I may have BDD, my symptoms and triggers, and lastly my treatment.
Since I was twelve, I wanted to be beautiful. That’s all I ever wanted. Some kids were busy worrying about their game system or how many friends they had; instead I was worrying about my face. This seems odd for a young girl, but when I was a kid I was living in a not so healthy environment. When I was about 5, my dad left our family. Although this would bring sadness to most children, I was happy because he was delusional, manipulative and abusive in many ways. He left my sister, my mother and I with no money, a cold, empty house, and a pile of bills to pay. Since my mother was now a single parent, she had to work three jobs to take care my sister Shelley, who is 7 years older than I am, and me. Growing up, my parents were never around, and when they were, it was filled with brain washing non sense. My mother, who used to be a model, would tell us if we are beautiful then we would get everything we wanted in life. Yet as tensions grew, later, I was verbally, emotionally and often physically abused. I would often be told I should never have been born and that I’m ugly and worthless multiple times. Of course I took these comments to heart; they were from my mother after all. Yet as I grew up, I had to realize she had borderline personality disorder and depression, which runs in our family. Although she can’t control her constant mood swings and out lashes, she would still leave me confused on my worth as a person.
In school, I was never popular. From elementary to high school I had no friends. Maybe one good friend, but mostly they thought I was a joke. My worst experiences were in high school. I was called ugly every day, stupid, whore, and ugly again. I had guys even ask me out on dates for jokes. I know I wasn’t the prettiest girl; I had fried hair, braces, a flat chest, acne, and I was just beginning to learn about hygiene, but heavens there were worst people out there than me. For some reason, I was really picked on about my face. I had comments about how my nose was too Jewish, or how I looked like a man. These comments truly affected how I saw myself. I went from looking in the mirror and seeing an okay looking girl with a great personality, to looking like a disgusting beast who deserved nothing. Yet luckily, my symptoms didn’t fully come out until senior year of high school and my freshman year of college. When one has body dysmophic disorder, it’s like an out of body experience. I know what I am thinking is delusional and doesn’t make sense, but when I look in the mirror and compare myself to others, it reinforces my negative thoughts. I could be in front of the mirror for a whole day if I could. There have been times when I can’t leave the house or missed class because of an anxiety attack about my face.
As my self worth decreased, Every month I began to notice another thing wrong with my face; it almost seemed like my face was slowly shifting on me. I began to be obsessed with facial symmetry. I know the right side of my face is crooked; the eyes droop down, the cheekbones too sunk in. I am pretty sure my asymmetry is so bad that I have a congenital defect. I’ve thought about plastic surgery for my nose, eyes and jaw in the past, but as a working student, I cannot afford such costs.
Once all these symptoms came into play, my self worth and perception was completely skewed. I began isolating myself from people and society. I could not go to school, work, or even the mall, for I knew I would be awaiting social rejection. If I did go, I would start crying and shaking, knowing that people are staring at my grotesque features. Even though people may not say something directly to me, I can still feel their eyes on me, judging every aspect of my face. I know they’re thinking “God, what an unfortunate face…” And they’re right, I wish I looked normal. Sometimes I have gotten so depressed with my looks and feeling like an alien that I’ve planned out my suicide. Yet, the only thing that holds me back is the pain of dying.
For a long time, I didn’t know I was suffering from something. I was seeing a counselor for three years, until she diagnosed me with Body Dysmorphic Disorder. She says that people with BDD are obsessed with perceived or imaginary defects, but the thing is that they don’t seem imaginary to me. The laughing, the pain, the asymmetry all feels so real. Luckily, at my college now I was able to see a psychiatrist for the first time and I was put on medication. I’ve currently tried over 3 anti-depressants, 2 anti-anxiety medications including Xanax, and one anti-psychotic. Although they really do help with decreasing my negative perceptions and thoughts about myself, I still struggle every day to see the real me, inside and out. Medication doesn’t solve all my problems though. I currently want to enroll in Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT, but it is so expensive. I think I would really benefit from CBT because it would reverse my thinking. For instance, Instead of thinking that someone’s laughing at me, I instead think they’re laughing at something else or a joke. I would also love to enroll in CBT or group counseling in order to relate to others and receive feedback and coping mechanisms. One day I hope I will be able to afford it and fight these inner demons.
For so long now, I’ve been seeing myself completely different how people see me. In my world, I see myself as worthless, creepy, awkward, and grotesque. I’ve become so self-absorbed in my own issues, I feel that everywhere I go, I somehow attract negative attention. Although in the past, I’ve been told a lot of negative things, I am now faced with the positive. One would find this wonderful to be receiving compliments, but it only leaves my perception of myself more skewed. BDD not only affects the way I look at myself physically, but me as a person. I believe my BDD has manifested from the years of abuse from my family and peers. The instances that I have gone through have made me feel negatively about my inner self, so naturally it would manifest itself through my physical appearance. Luckily with medication, I am able to focus more and not see myself as a worthless human being anymore. I do not wish to die, for I feel like the purpose of this disorder is to actually connect with others who have the same troubles as I do. It is my passion to inform those about this disorder and to help those who are suffering in silence.
In my sociology class, we learned about Cooley’s looking glass theory. The theory says that we naturally look to others to gain insight and knowledge about ourselves. Although I do believe in this theory, this theory has destroyed me as a being. I believe we should look inside ourselves to gain insight instead of others foolish and selfish perceptions. I continue to try and put less emphasis on my physical appearance, because appearance fades but personality never dies.