Sunday, October 11, 2015

There's a name for the condition: Body Dysmorphic Disorder

So I wonder exactly when all this will get easier.  I thought that once I started eating healthily, and gaining weight, I'd be done with the anorexia experience.  Not quite right, in my case.  Since my late teens, for the past 40 years, I have eaten right and had my weight at a mostly-acceptable and "normal" level.  I just didn't understand (and I don't think many people did before Karen Carpenter's death) that anorexia nervosa was more than an outward, physical illness.  It's also a mental illness.  There, I said it.

Now, imagine looking in the mirror and seeing what you PERCEIVE, not what others see.  Imagine looking in the mirror and being so disgusted by your hips and thighs, thinking they are horribly huge...though they are not horribly anything!  They are merely your hips and thighs!  These perceptions and more are at the crux of body dysmorphic disorder, which for me, was the lasting remnant of my eating disorder.  

In the absense of therapy, I learned, in my late teens, how to dress to escape the judgments of others, as well as my own misperceptions.  It became my look for 40 years:  loose-fitting overalls and peasant blouses, free-flowing hippie dresses and skirts.  They were SAFE.  They didn't reveal the NOT PERFECT legs I detested. 
The "p" word.  I hate that word.  

Forty years later, I'm in therapy and trying to learn to celebrate the wonderfully imperfect person I am.  I'm trying not to hide behind my clothes anymore (though I still feel more comfortable in overalls and flowing hippie skirts than in jeans).  Here's what brought me to my decision this morning, on how to dress for church.

About 6 months ago, I went to Savannah to visit two very dear friends, who took me shopping.  Actually, I didn't WANT to get "skinny" jeans, because I am not anywhere near skinny, but they insisted I try them on.  I felt entirely exposed as I tiptoed out of the dressing room, to their waiting eyes.  I was greated with:  "Damn, Mzzz D, you are lookin' GOOD!" and even "Wait, I think you need a smaller size!"  What???

My two friends accompanied me as I bought 3 pairs of jeans that day.  They continued to encourage me to be proud to wear those darn jeans and put away the hippie skirts.  It felt freeing that first day, because I found safety in their company.  

I gotta say, it was easier wearing my size 16 skinny jeans in Savannah with my support system right there by me.  I'm on my own in Baton Rouge, and this morning was a huge one.  Cool weather greeted me, and I had to decide what to wear for 8:00 church this morning.  I did it, y'all!  I wore my skinny jeans and a cool jean jacket and my new boots and I felt horribly self-conscious...but I did it!  I'm gonna kick that body dysmorphic disorder right out of my life, period.

Maybe next time it will be easier.  Maybe not.  But I'm here to say that I am working hard to love the imperfect ME that I see in the mirror.  I'm not the only woman (or man) out there struggling with this.  Don't forget how much it means to hear:  "Dang, you look GOOD!"  Those words can be worth their weight in gold 
to people like me.  

until next blog post,
peace and love to you...

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