"Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of us all"
As a female, I can most certainly relate to all the other women out there who are never satisfied with how they look.
The tall want to be short, the short want to be tall, the skinny want to be curvier, the curvier want to be skinnier, thicker hair, thinner nose, less freckles...I could be here for ages listing all the possible complaints of various people around the world.
I am absolutely no exception either. I've had my fair share of hating certain parts of myself, and I'm quite ashamed to say that I still do in a way. As a teenager, I tried every diet known to man, abused laxatives and ate as little food as I possibly could all in an attempt to get the perfect body.
I think it's safe to say that most of us have all been there!
Unfortunately, body dysmorphia is a whole different kettle of fish!
The 'hate' for oneself can go much, much further...down a dark, dismal road into a bad and heartbreaking world that can lead to self harming and suicide, if not treated.
Body Dysmorphia is a form of anxiety whereby the sufferer has an intense hatred for a certain part or parts of their body. For the most part, what the sufferer sees in the mirror, is not necessarily what the rest of the world sees. When they look at themselves in the mirror, they see a distorted view of themselves and cannot see past what they deem as hideous. It can be so bad that it can lead to self harming and in severe cases, suicide.
Body dysmorphia is not to be taken lightly. It has nothing to do with vanity or self obsession. It is in fact, a very distressing condition, and because of the stigma of 'vanity' that is attached to body dysmorphia, many sufferer's choose to remain silent.
It is estimated that approximately 1 in every 100 people in the UK suffer with body dysmorphia, and it can affect men just as much as women.
My own battle with mild body dysmorphia has caused me a lot of tears, anger, anxiety and depression. It affects me in ways that no one else seems to be able to understand, not even those close to me, and what truly gets me more than anything, is that I can't do a thing to change the part of me that I loathe so much!
My secret 'self loathe' is my height.
I am 5ft1 which is about 1,55m tall, petite and very small.
I am 32 years old but have been told I look like I'm 18 years old. Among all the comments that I've received throughout the years, the cherry on the top for me had to be when I was offered the children's menu at a restaurant!
Anyone who has suffered with such an intense hate for something to do with their body will know where I'm going with this. It's a dark and lonely world, where everyone tells you to simply 'lighten up' not truly realizing the hurt and pain you are feeling inside.
So where does that leave body dysmorphics? And how do we get to a point of indeed being able to feel 'mirror mirror, more beautiful?'
I truly believe I have found the answer to that question, but before I talk about it, I want to emphasize that this is not some magical cure for body dysmorphia, self loathing or any other kind of body hating related problems.
I am not even going to promise that this trick will work for you.
All I am doing is just sharing what has helped me to cope with my self hate a bit better....
So, one fine day when I was having one of my bad days with hating my height, I was going through some of my emails when I opened up one that shocked me to my core.
It was about a little boy who was a double amputee. As I scrolled through the pictures and his story, it was like a light just went on in my head. Here was this child with no legs but yet in every picture he had a big smile on his face.
That was the day that realism knocked itself into my head. I went and had a good look at myself in the mirror, and suddenly it was like all the pettiness of my height didn't matter any more. To this day, when I have my height hating days, I simply remember that little boy, and others just like him and somehow all the focus on my height just seems to disappear.
Will this ever make me love my height? No! Will it ever make me accept my height? No! I don't think anything ever will, but that is not why I am sharing this with you today. Instead I'm hoping that it will rather help you gain some perspective and bring you back to what's truly important.
For me, it's about remembering those out there who have disabilities, who are amputees, who have deformaties, and it seriously makes me 'wake up' and realize that yes, I may be short, and I may hate it, but at least I have good health, legs to walk with, and no awful disabilities.
I have honestly found that when looking at it from this point of view, that you cannot even focus on the hate for yourself any more, but rather focus attention on those who are not so lucky.
I know that this last bit will probably not make much difference to other body dysmorphics out there, but at least will you try? Try to remember that those who are close to you love you for who you are. Try and see that those little imperfections that cause you so much misery are not important to those that love you.
...and lastly, try to truly believe that you are worth it!
Click below to watch my video on Body dysmorphia:
Mental disorders are becoming an increasingly serious problem for health organizations as more occurrences of mental illness such as anxiety disorders, panic disorders and depression are being reported not to mention their negative impact on those afflicted with these disorders.
Below is a list of the top 10 most common mental disorders in America. Each one has its own ICD-10 (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems) classification.
1. Major Depression: Pervasive and persistent low mood. Low-self esteem and lost of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities. ICD-10 F32, F33
2. Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Excessive, uncontrollable and often irrational worry. Excessive worry which often interferes with daily functioning. ICD-10 F41
3. Obsessive-compulsive Disorder: Feels the need to check things repeatedly or performs certain routines repeatedly, e.g. hand washing. ICD-10 F42
4. Bipolar Disorder: Periods of elevated mood and periods of depression. Elevated mood is significant and is known as mania or hypomania. ICD-10 F31
5. Schizophrenia: Abnormal social behaviour and failure to recognize what is real. Symptoms include false beliefs, confused thinking or auditory hallucinations. ICD-10 F20
6. Autism: Neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction verbal and non-verbal communication, and restricted and repetitive behaviour. ICD-10 F84
7. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Neurodevelopmental psychiatric disorder. Significant problems with executive functions which cause attention deficits and hyperactivity. ICD-10 F90
8. Eating Disorder: Abnormal eating habits that negatively affect a person's physical or mental health. They include binge eating disorder, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa to name but a few. ICD-10 F50
9. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Can develop after a person is exposed to one or more traumatic events, such as sexual assault, warfare, traffic collisions, terrorism or other threats on a person's life. ICD-10 F43
10. Substance Abuse: Substance abuse is a mental disorder brought on by behaviour. In this case consuming substances with addictive properties. ICD-10 F10, F19