I’m going to be honest here, if not a little naive, and say that I never in my life imagined that mental health would affect me on a personal level. I was always aware of it, acknowledged it, helped in raising awareness of it, and tried my hardest to understand it for others, and be the support that they needed.
But I never expected to deal with it myself. In such depth.
I always thought my nervous ways were down to me being a downright wimp.
I always thought my constant worries were purely because I was an overthinker.
I always thought my insecurities were just from school years of bullying.
I always thought my feelings of comparison were just what every other girl dealt with in their life.
I always thought my overspending on clothes each month, was down to being indecisive.
I always thought my morning tears from my reflection, was a sign that I was just a bit of a diva.
I always thought this was, just how everyone felt.
This was life.
Until the day I broke down in a way I’d never broken down before. I sat on the sofa, having picked my scalp to pieces, the entire contents of my wardrobe piled up on the bedroom floor and in floods of tears. Exhausted. Because those feelings had increased more than ever before. The feeling of guilt and ungratefulness when people would say such kind things to me, I couldn’t take it. I couldn’t believe them. And that feeling of hate towards my body, my face, my thinking, and my full self, was real. So very real.
It took me a while to pluck up the courage to actually talk to someone, someone who could help.
We talked about everything: how I felt towards my body, my looks, my personality, the way I perceived life and my worries.
And we carried on talking some more. And then I cried. So we talked some more. And it was draining, it was really draining.
I was horrible to myself, and that was hard, but that was also reality. And I had to be, in order to be helped.
When I left the kind lady that afternooon, I felt deflated and confused. I also couldn’t help feeling embarrassed. I didn’t want to appear like I was purely vain, or that my image was the be all of how I was defined. I worried that I worry too much. I worried what others thought from it, including the kind lady.
People always said to me that as you get older you find yourself caring less, and you worry less about what others think. I wanted to believe them, I really did. But why couldn’t I? Why did I feel like this? Am I a failure that I’m nearly 30 and I care more than I ever did before? That I care too much? Do I appear vain? Or difficult when I don’t want a photograph? Or dramatic when I feel nervous in a situation.
I wish I knew the answers. But I don’t.
But what I do know, is that I’m not alone. Body Dysmorphic Disorder affects 1.7% to 2.4% of the general population* and may be even more common than this, as people are reluctant to reveal how they truly feel. Which is why I am. I’ve always been fairly open with my insecurities since teenage, but it’s taken me to this year to finally open up and talk about it.
I want the help. I’m getting the help. But also, I want to help others.
These feelings, they don’t go overnight, and it’s hard when they become so time-consuming and impact your daily life. And there are times when it’s stopped me, and there will be more times when it’ll hold me, but I’m working on it. Slowly.
I’m trying to talk when I’m having a bad day, rather than hiding and pretending I’m just tired.
I’m trying to make more time for me. And self care, however big or small.
I’m trying to look less at my reflection, and walk away from my negative thoughts.
I’m trying to accept that this is me, and that nobody is perfect.
And I’m trying to be honest. With myself. And everyone.
And, I’m still ordering all of the ASOS parcels, because new materials definitely help ease those feelings for a short while.
After all, we all need a little pick me up (or three right?).
“you must want to spend the rest of your life with yourself first.”
*(taken from www.bdd.iocdf.org)