Body dysmorphia and me

Warning: This post is about body dysmorphia. The clue is in the title.

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), or body dysmorphia, is a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance. These flaws are often unnoticeable to others.

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD),

According to the NHS article that I just quoted, “People of any age can have BDD, but it’s most common in teenagers and young adults.” The article goes on to say: “Having BDD does not mean you’re vain or self-obsessed. It can be very upsetting and have a big impact on your life.”

That is not exact match for me. I spend a lot of time feeling shit about my inability to looking like anything other than a hideous troll – and that’s hideous by troll standards.

There seems to be some evidence that traumatic early life experiences (including bullying) can play a part in the development of body dysmorphia. Body dysmorphia is also closely linked with depression.

Who body dysmorphia affects and why

According to one source I found, more than one in twenty girls aged 17 to 19 may have a body dysmorphic disorder. I’m pretty sure boys are affected too. One (American) website suggested that men and adolescent boys who have body dysmorphic disorder may have very different symptoms than their female counterparts might have. Either way, body dysmorphia especially seems to affect teenagers.

That tracks for me. As a pre-teen, I didn’t give a flying sausage about how I looked. Which probably explains the bullying I received about my appearance. As a teen and forever after, I was under no illusions that I was anything other than supremely unattractive. Again, bullying might have played more than a small roll in my self-image.

Those first few YouTube videos I made had a long lead time in terms of faffing arround with lights, and making sure everything was “perfect”. Not to mention cutting away from me to b-roll whenever possible. I mean, I must have waited two or three years before I even got started. Maybe longer. There was always some other kit that I “needed” before I could start.

Eventually I had purchased all the kit and had no more excuses.

I can tell you that those editing sessions were emotionally draining.

Do I have body dysmorphia or just a shitty self-image?

I cannot say for certain if I suffer from actual body dysmorphia. All I know is that I endure crippling self-doubt and feeling that if anyone who sees me will judge me negatively. After all, I already do.

According to an online test (an always reliable metric) I am somewhere between maybe and probably.

And here’s the thing – it is not all the time. Whatever my sense of self-hideousness comes from it ebbs and flows with my general mood. A mood, which I have already revealed has not been all that smashing lately. My productivity has suffered a great deal because of it.

It might have escaped your notice but all my YouTube videos this year were shot last year. In 2021 I have recorded a grand total of zero hours, no minutes, and a lack of seconds of footage. When you are already feeling emotionally run down, a general sense of shame can reinforce the perceived barriers to being seen by others. In my case, this is a situation of lacking the cognitive energy to go and film some footage. And it’s not for lack of material. I have stacks of video ideas.

Stacks and stacks.

I just need to film them. Therein is the problem. Emotionally there is just too much friction and too little get up and go to get started.

Not to mention the vicious cycle of making it worse.

Making it worse

I feel low about my self-image so my self-care slips. The more my self-care slips the lower I feel about myself. It’s a pretty easy vicious cycle to get into and hard to get out of. After all, what is the point? Before I know it my beard is long enough to plat (even the parts I try to keep short) and my hair needs ten hours of intensive treatment to detangle.

At some point I usually bounce back. Usually because I have an unavoidable need to go out there were people might see me. Something that does not happen too often during this prolonged lockdown.

right now I am in a phase of trying to bounce back. It is never easy. A successful bouncing back is a long hard effort which usually results in me vowing to never let myself go again. And then I do. Or, the bounce back fails and I slip back into being unproductive.

Unhelpful comments

I’m going to take this opportunity to head some unhelpful comments off at the pass. Anyone who says any of the following deserves a good hard karmic kick somewhere delicate. As this is a written media I shall settle for military grade sarcasm.

Oh shut up, you look fine. Stop being so silly.

To which I say, “I’m sorry my distress is so irritating for you. Perhaps you would like me to make sure the door doesn’t hit you on the way out.”

You might think I look okay; I’m pretty sure I even disgust trolls.

Just take better care of yourself, you’ll feel much better.

This misses the point entirely. Why should I care for me when I am pretty sure no one else would? You only invest time into things you value and my looks – I do not value (as I don’t have even remotely average looks).

While you are at it, why not tell depressed people to “just cheer up”? I am sure if you say that to enough people you will receive a well deserved smack to the face.

Don’t worry about it

I’m just going to refer you to my previous answer and draw you attention to the words “well deserved smack to the face”.

Other people have it worse

Yes, I am aware of this. My own broken self-image does not invalidate the problems of others and their problems do not diminish mine. This is not a zero-sum game.

This is the exact reason that I do not talk about body dysmorphia and my complete lack of anything like a positive thought about how I look. Everyone has their own shit to deal with and this is mine.

Closing thoughts

I have a fairly low opinion of my own looks and struggle to overcome the feeling that I am too hideous to look at. This is despite the fact that reactions to my YouTube videos has been overwhelmingly possitive. At least on Reddit.

Body dysmorphia is bloody awful and I only have it mildly. Body dysmorphia can eff right off. Sadly what has to happen back in the real world is to daily expend my limit supply of ability to can on not letting it stop me doing stuff. At the moment I am failing at that.

I don’t have a high note to end on. I can only hope that someone reading this who also suffers from body dysmorphia can be reassured that you are not alone.

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