This week on my Instagram account, I posted a picture which inspired me to talk about self love. The caption in the picture is a quote that holds a precious meaning to my heart: “As I began to love myself, my relationship with everyone changed.”
Living with an on going battle with anxiety and BDD (Body Dysmorphia Disorder), I know what is like to find everything wrong with yourself. The hardest part of it all is understanding that you are beautiful just the way you are.
From my experience, I wouldn’t be able to tell you when my self-hatred began, or when it got to the point where I had a mental breakdown. It just happened. It seems as if one day I woke up, and I couldn’t find something I loved about my self; be it physical or mental.
Carrying all that bad energy destroyed me internally. I started to feel like I was in a tremulous battle field where caring about anything in my life was out of the question. It felt like I couldn’t see past it. I could only focus on how much I hated myself. I had no self esteem, no self love, no patience with myself.
I alienated myself from everyone. If I hated myself so much, why wouldn’t everyone else?
It wasn’t an easy battle to go through. Nor was it easy to beat. I guess the worst part of it all was the BDD.
BDD or Body Dysmorphia Disorder is a type of anxiety disorder. In my case, I was battling two demons: generalised anxiety disorder, which I explained in my last “Mind Over Matter” post, and body dysmorphia disorder. They fed off each other, creating a never ending feud of insecurity, panic attacks, social anxiety and depression. But BDD was on a whole other level.
People are very used to hearing about anorexia and bulimia as the only types of eating disorders out there. But what they don’t realise is that BDD can qualify as one as well. As with any eating disorder, you become obsessive about your weight and physical appearance. For me, I thought I was TOO BIG. I needed to hide my legs anyway that I could. I avoided wearing bathing suit and shorts as often as possible, as I thought my thighs where so disgusting, I had to hide them from everyone.
I had an extreme exercise routine. One hour at the gym was never enough, so I usually was at the gym for about two hours and a half, every single day. I was also extremely strict about what I ate, if I ate one broccoli more than I was allowed, I thought I would instantly gain weight. Some people just thought I was too self absorbed.
Not even in my sleep could I wonder off to “La La Land”. I dreamt of fat people chasing me, forcing me to eat, and other things that where just so horrible at the moment. Now it even sounds kind of funny, but once upon a time I would wake with panic attacks from the nightmares. To be completely honest I still have them some times. Even though they are not as terrifying as they once where, it reminds me that this is an ongoing battle.
I can remember that at first I had the need to control everything about my physical appearance. But as the anxiety and my obsessive compulsion with my body grew it didn’t really matter how I looked, I just wanted to be thin. I remember size zero jeans being loose and I still wanted more, it was never enough.
Because I felt so fat all the time, I started avoiding mirrors. I declared them my enemy. Nowadays, I still suffer a little every time when I look at myself in the mirror. You have to understand that with BDD, you create an alternate reality; sometimes what you see isn’t really there or real at all. Sometimes, it’s hard for me still to know what is real when I am looking into a mirror and what is not. I have worked extensive hours on this with my therapist and it does get easier, but as with any mental illness, somedays are better than others.
I wanted to have a body that wasn’t mine. That was the problem. I couldn’t accept my imperfections as much as what I liked about myself and loved them equally. Looking back, I don’t feel silly or dumb because I went though this, because having BDD has made me stronger and cherish every bit of self esteem I have.
I encourage you to love yourself by writing down in the comments at least three things you love about YOU.