I mentioned my self-image yesterday as a contributing factor to my exhaustion. As some of you might know, but most don’t, I’ve had Body Dysmorphic Disorder since I was very young. Never heard of it? Don’t worry if you haven’t it’s often dismissed and misdiagnosed as a slew of other independent smaller disorders (social anxiety, eating disorders, low self-esteem) and not largely known. It’s also frustratingly dismissed as being an eating disorder. BDD is not an eating disorder, though eating disorders can be a part of what an individual suffering from BDD has.
BDD actually has a pretty in depth, well written Wikipedia article that delves into a lot of what goes on but essentially the best way for me to describe it is a sort of mental/emotional paralysis caused by fear of others looking at me. Common symptoms *for me at least*:
- Obsessive thoughts about perceived appearance defects
- Obsessive and compulsive behavior
- Social withdrawal/social phobia/intense loneliness and self-imposed isolation
- Suicidal ideation – 80% of cases experience
- Chronic low-self esteem
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Feelings of intense shame
All inspired by a feeling that you are essentially a repugnant sack of crap. Ironically people often mistake those with BDD for being excessively vain and proud. This is because often those with BDD find themselves obsessing over their appearance out of fear. It’s also not talked about often because the disorder itself is all about hiding/keeping others from seeing how horrible you think you are so obviously talking about it openly would be very challenging. Openly talking about it is the exact opposite of any instinct to hide/fix it because to the person suffering from BDD it means drawing attention to that perceived deformity. What’s worst, at least for me, is that openly discussing it usually results in a slew of compliments and attempts from those who love me to convince me that I’m pretty/thin/clever/kind and what have you. While the intention is good, each time I hear that compliment it actually makes me feel worse. I’ve had friends who in the past insisted they’d keep telling me until I believe and I would eventually have to pull away from them completely. Those compliments did more harm than good. They feed the obsessive thoughts and to someone suffering from BDD—they are utterly impossible to believe. Instead you just feel anxious because the comments mean they are looking at you. They are lying to you. They are just saying nice things to make you feel better. Seriously. These comments do more harm than good and then in order to avoid them because of the impact, the social withdrawal occurs further driving the person with BDD into isolation. So to my friends who know me now and wonder why I get even more agitated sometimes after compliments this is why.
Funny, for a girl who spends a lot of her time cosplaying with some admitted ambition to keep on modeling and acting, no? These activities have been ways I’ve forced myself to cope and fight against an intense desire to essentially run away and hide. They also are ways for me to hide in plain sight because when I’m acting/cosplaying/modeling I’m not me anymore. I’m taking on a persona, a character, an entirely different person and pretending to be this person enables me to no longer feel the overwhelming sense of anxiety I get when people look at me as I am. It has helped me a lot to feel more in control.
How does this disorder affect my eating habits? Well I’m not anorexic. I still want to eat. I just don’t want to eat things that are bad for me because that fuels the BDD. Hence my interest in healthy, organic local food. When people criticize me, or try to “tempt” me with foods that undermine my ability to feel like I’m in control over my body I get extremely agitated. In my head they are undermining my attempts to keep a hold over this disorder. I typically will avoid social situations that involve dining for this reason. I hate the feeling that people are judging me for what I eat and I hate having attention drawn to it. So I cook a lot.
The best part of cooking at home: I know what’s going into the food so I don’t feel bad about eating it. When I do make naughty things, I know I’m still using healthy, local, organic ingredients. Most restaurants overload your food with butter and sugar—and I feel repulsed by myself when I eat this crap. When I put good food in my body that doesn’t make me feel sluggish or bogged down, I have more energy and feel better about myself. Knowing I’m loading up on food that makes me healthy and strong as opposed to stuff laden with fat and sugar? It helps me feel proud of my body instead of repulsed by it.
Israeli Salad is one of my absolute favorite summer staples. It’s light, crisp, cool and serves as a great breakfast or lunch during high heat days. It’s a great thing to incorporate into your diet if you are trying to manage your weight and stay healthy. The cucumbers and tomatoes which make up the bulk of what you eat supply you with a healthy dose of your vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A and those wonderful lycopenes that help prevent cancer. After a workout? It’s fantastic as the tomatoes contain a fair amount of potassium and cucumbers have some great anti-inflammatory properties. I use grapeseed oil to up the ante on the healthy fats but traditionally it’s made with extra virgin olive oil which isn’t too shabby for your body either.
Classic Israeli Salad Read more