As many of you will be aware, the 10th October is World Mental Health Day. In order to mark the day I have decided to create a blog series to publish in the run up to World Mental Health Day with the help of contributors with lived experience. The series will run over a few, covering a variety of mental health problems. The aim of the series is to remove some of the 'clinical' feel behind the descriptions of mental health problems and humanise it by describing how it feels to those experiencing a mental health problem. Check back for the final part of the series; PTSD.
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is an anxiety disorder that causes a person to have a distorted view of how they look and to spend a lot of time worrying about their appearance. (NHS).
"BDD is a mental illness that makes the person have a distorted view on how they look, meaning they'll spend a lot more time worrying and overthinking about their appearance. It's estimated that up to one in every one hundred people in the UK suffer from BDD. It's more common to suffer from if you have social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety or an eating disorder.Living with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) makes you feel like everyone is staring at you and your obsessive and compulsive thoughts about a certain part of your body, this turns into covering up that part of your body as much as you can before you even go downstairs to go to your family, if not then I panic and it just gets worse. It's like having something on your shoulder shouting out the flaws on your body repeatedly until you hide them, making you feel really stupid and pathetic that you have to hide certain parts of your body." - Liam Baines
"With the field of psychiatry taking the categorisation of the DSM-V as gospel more and more each day, I can’t help but feel that the notion of a diagnosis is spiralling a bit out of control. Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe I’m biased as I have fell victim to psychiatrists labelling me with more diagnoses than you could shake a stick at. Depression, psychosis, personality disorder, bulimia, anxiety disorders in all their forms... These labels come and go, but there is one which has stuck with me throughout the best part of my 23 years on this earth: Body Dysmorphic Disorder.Even now, after several years, when I say the term ‘Body Dysmorphic Disorder’ I can’t help but cringe. I feel very comfortable expressing my years battling with depression and agoraphobia, but for some reason I’m more ashamed to admit that I struggle with BDD. I think on the whole, this is because body image and eating disorders are still seen as a vanity issue, when in reality they are so much more and cause copious amounts of psychological distress.To address the topic of this blog series, and describe what it feels like to have BDD, I think of the same metaphor I have used throughout my struggles: a cage. This is because despite my qualities as a person, such as my kindness, my passion and my ambition, I feel as though I am constantly being held back from achieving what I want to do in life because of this cage that I am trapped in. For me, my cage is ugly, deformed and hideous - it frightens young children and repulses adults. It feels so uncomfortable, being racked with guilt every waking minute of everyday. I just want to apologise profusely to everyone who I inflict my disturbing appearance upon.At this stage in my life, it also feels exhausting. It’s exhausting because I am trying with every ounce of energy I have in me to fight against this pejorative voice that has haunted me for years. I want to shut it down and silence it every time it tries to belittle me, because that way I will be able to achieve what I want in life and share with people my kindness, my passion and my ambition.It’s gonna take one hell of a lot of cognitive dissonance, but I am adamant that I shall never hate myself as much as I once did. For more info on living with BDD, please feel free to visit this article." - Hannah Lewis
"Imagine looking at yourself in the mirror and not being able to see yourself. Feeling so much bigger than when you are, and it doesn't matter how many people will try to convince you it's not true, your mind can convince you otherwise." - Kay Ska
Hopefully reading the personal experiences has helped to provide a more human understanding of what Body Dysmorphic Disorder is, what it means to those who experience it and how it feels.
Sending positive vibes,