We all worry about how we look. At some time or another, even the most confident and self-assured give in to insecurities and doubt. I’m to ‘this’ or not enough ‘that’. And in a world filled with air-brushed supermodels and image-obsessed Kardashians, how can we not? The modern world is a minefield of unrealistic glossy magazine expectation and out-and-out social media trolling. For those of us with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) these are tough times.
Fortunately, if you’re one of the estimated 3% of us that live with this condition, you’re not alone. AIME is here to put you in the picture and give you the support you need.
One of the great things about human beings is that we’re all different. Each of us is unique. You are unique. Special. An endless combination of variables. Physical and mental. Experience and emotions. The products of gene pools that have evolved over time. It’s easy to forget this. Particularly if you’re focusing your attention on an aspect of your appearance or a part of your body and judging yourself harshly for it.
Too much time spent on thinking about how you look; comparing yourself unfavourably with others; and developing unhealthy eating habits or obsessive grooming habits; these are the warning signs. If you’re avoiding social contact, have low mood and seek constant reassurance, it’s definitely time to seek help.
The reasons for these feelings are many and varied. Body Dysmorophia is an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. As such, it can arise from a range of factors, most likely working in combination. These range from the genetic and biological, such as chemical imbalances in your brain, to a host of external factors, be they developmental, social or cultural.
If we were aliens and relied solely on advertising and media images to understand what human beings looked like, we’d expect a master race of Adonises and Glamazons. This, as you know, is not the case. The lie of perfection is sold to us with alarming frequency. So much so, it can become difficult to resist. Our peers and social media are sometimes not helpful either. The bullying and trolling which come with this territory can be hurtful and damaging. Add to this the traumas of abuse and neglect and all the seeds are there. Ready to be sown.
Uprooting the problem, however, is within your grasp and AIME is here to hold your hand as you do so.
As our online community grows, you’ll be able to count on support. This can be amongst the most valuable resources available. Sharing your own experience and learning from others can be hugely inspiring and motivating. In safe spaces, you can be yourself and, most importantly, understand that you are not alone.
There are also many other ways to change your mindset. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) are both powerful tools. You can read about these in our blog about Social Anxiety which you may also find useful. But, basically, these will empower you to identify your behaviours and equip you with the means to address and change them.
Both of these therapeutic approaches would benefit from your own practice. Mindfulness and Values Based Living are key philosophies to think about here. Realising the power of living in the present moment, without judgement, and listening to your own values system will give you the solid foundations on which you need to build your recovery.
As with all things mental health-related, the important thing to do is reach out. Understand you are never alone. Nothing is impossible to overcome and everything you are is valuable.