I consider myself pretty cool in terms of body dysmorphic disorder. I had therapy, it helped, I kept those strategies with me. I understand my fears are irrational. I hate the way I look. I think I will always hate the way I look. But I can get through days without thinking I am a deformed goblin, and I can go out without make-up now and spend less than 3 hours a day putting on make up. I can leave the house and mostly look at myself without wanting to break down, and I have a mirror in my house that’s bigger than a hand mirror. Two in fact. I may not look into them much, but they’re still there, which was a thought intolerable to me in the past. I couldn’t be in the same room as a mirror without panicking. All good.
But being in a new environment, with new people, in a frankly bizarre situation (for me) on placement is making some things flare up again. My little tics are returning. I find myself touching my nose an awful lot. I have really good insight into my behaviours so I understand the touching thing is an anxiety reaction. I have a thing about my big, hideous, misshapen, gonky nose so I tend to try and cover it with my hand if someone is looking at me or speaking to me. I hate my hair too so wear hats, which I’ve started to keep on in the office (not entirely appropriate). The coats are staying on longer, too. The plus side is, it’s cold. But I know it doesn’t look professional to keep a big coat on. But I don’t want to take it off and have people see me. I’ve started taking my make up in (one of my, “homework” tasks when I did therapy was to come to it without make up on, so I try not to take my make up bag out with me as I know I’ll end up getting obsessed by it). So far I haven’t used it and I need to leave it at home.
I’m avoiding mirrors again too because when I look into them my face seems to swell and I can’t cope with the fact I look like this. It frightens and disgusts me that I walk around looking like I do. I’m getting to placement but socially, I’m beginning to withdraw again. I just do not want to be seen. It’s something I’ve discussed here at length before. I do have problems with sociability, ones which nobody who met me would foresee as I come across as being extremely confident and outgoing. As soon as I’m out of a situation where I need to be (work, university), I pretty much sprint back to my nice, safe, anonymous flat. I don’t really have a social life and part of it (though certainly not all of it) is due to worrying about what I look like and being laughed at.
I’ve joined a gym because I want to get healthy this year and lose weight before my wedding but the thought of going there, with other people who are good looking or slim while I am there lumpen and ugly is causing me so much panic that I can’t face it right now. I know I annoy Robert with my excuses; I declare I’m going to go to the gym, join a slimming club, lose weight, get healthy! and then don’t do any of it. It looks like weak-willedness, but I’m not entirely a weak willed person. It’s the people that freak me out.
The thought of having my photo taken on my wedding day is making me feel sick. I’m okay with photos as long as I take them, I can choose them, edit them etc. I hate other people taking my photo and thankfully most people who know me know that and avoid it. I’ve also put on loads of weight and my clothes don’t fit. I can’t afford to replace them (especially not now as I’m paying for a wedding) and it’s making me feel even worse.
I know this is an anxiety thing. I know it’s facile bollocks. I can rationalise it easily and understand it, but I don’t know how to control it. I keep telling myself, “You’re anxious, it’s fine, this is new. All that you’re doing is trying to displace this anxiety from something real and present and out of your hands into something that you can control”. But it’s easier said than done.
But the image anxiety, I am hopeful it will pass, but I don’t like feeling like this.
Bollocks to it anyway.