Today I read this article The XYZ’s of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), I read about BDD maybe about a year ago. David was the one that actually brought it to my attention and said that I seemed to have body dysmorphia because of my delusional description of my body on many occasions. Along with my obsessive weighing, not looking in the mirror and my obsessive worrying about hairs, like with my eye brows. I do not seem to show clear traits of OCD so he felt that this was more accurate and that maybe I would find some answers if I researched it. I have a very hard time seeing my body in an accurate way. I believe this started when I was around five years old with my body weight, I talk about that somewhat in my post Aspergers and Anorexia. Body dysmorphia seems to be a trait with my mother and several of the family members on my dad’s side, including the males.
I have an additional “flaw” that people really started to point out as I got older.
I have a birthmark on the side of neck. It is port wine in color and only about an inch of it shows on the side of my left jaw area, the rest of it is about 6 inches along the side of my neck all the way to my head, and it goes into my hair-line. When I was a baby it actually took up most of my neck. It is not a dark purple, some people have asked me if I have had treatments because it does look a bit faded but I have not had treatments. It is really only noticeable when I wear my hair up. As I got older I kept my hair very long so I could cover it up from people. I hid behind my hair for a very long time.
I had people and kids make mean and rude comments to me all of my life about it.
I did try make-up but my sensory issues could not handle it, I can’t stand foundation or pancake make-up on my neck at all. My mom and I discussed doing treatments when I was around 16 yrs old, she told me that she didn’t see any reason for me to do it but that if it was such a source of pain for me that she would be willing to pay for the procedures. She told me to think about it on my own and make my own decision. I talked to some family members and friends and all of them said that it wasn’t noticeable to them and it didn’t make me ugly. I wanted so much to believe them. I based my decision on the fact that I felt like I was the way that I was supposed to be and if I were to go through treatments, it wouldn’t be for me it would be for the acceptance of people. I decided then and there to never consider it again.
Even though I made that decision it was still hard.
People can be cruel. Since I had long hair I would always put it on top of my head in silly styles just to get it up out of my face, I would forget that I even had a birthmark. Though, I purposely would lay out in the sun and get as dark as possible to ensure that it would look lighter. Then while working, minding my business or being out and about at a restaurant or store, someone would say “What is that on the side of your neck?” “What happened to you?” “Did you get burned or something?” “You know you can have that thing removed.” All kinds of comments that for some reason society feels the need to say to someone who has a difference. I have to confess on the day the woman told that I could “have that thing removed” I looked right at her and said “Well then I would be just like you. I like me for me.” She was taken back and stumbled on her words trying to sound like she didn’t mean them offensively. I am sure she meant well but on that day I was amazed at the words that flew out of my mouth.
On that day I actually stood up for myself.
Even though I didn’t feel that I should have my birthmark removed, I still would be affected by the rude comments people would say. But I did not let it stop me, one year I got fed up with having long hair, it was too much to take care of, so I cut it all off up to my jaw line. There was my birthmark out and open for all to see. I lived in a city where people didn’t much care, it was too big and too diverse for most people to notice my birthmark. When I moved back to my hometown, to various other cities that were quite a bit smaller, including this one, people were quick to point out my “flaw”. By this time though I would just be polite and tell them it was a birthmark and smile. But I still felt the impact of the pain, the hurt. It still happens and people close to me don’t think anything of it. David and I will be out and someone will stop and stare, gawk and I just look at them like “WHAT?” on some days I have said it out lout, I admit.
David has no clue what is happening until I tell him.
Same with my mom, my sisters no one ever thinks of it but they have never been ridiculed or pointed out for having such a flaw. They don’t see it, they see me, it is part of me and to them it is not ugly or a flaw. As I am writing this now I am getting a bit teary eyed, I haven’t thought about the pain and the fixation that this had caused me with my appearance. Reliving those experiences are hurtful, I would like to say that it stopped into my adulthood but unfortunately adults still say the same things as the kids did in school to this day. The difference now is that I understand how that and my weight were triggers for me to have such a jaded and inaccurate view of myself. As I read over the article I realized how much I have grown, though I still do not see an accurate view of my body or even my birthmark, I intellectually know that what I see is not true.
I have been able to overcome my eating disorder.
I have also been able to overcome a lot of my dysmorphia thinking, through applying cognitive behavioral type therapy at home. I have changed my way of thinking about all of this and David has built into me to help me have a better self-image. He hasn’t told me what to think he has just been a positive reenforcer during my struggles. It helps that he lets me talk about just whatever. In this particular area though he told me that I needed to get a positive self-image for Ariel and the boys. The things that my mom says about herself are not true, she still does it and it has been damaging to me and my sisters about our own self-image. She is working on it and we have been talking about it because David made a very good point by helping me to realize that if I did this in front of Ariel she could have the same problems. That made me more aware of what my mom says around Ariel as well and I explained it to my mom. She has gotten more receptive in this and doesn’t want to influence Ariel in this either.
Though my mom tried to make me confident in who I was she diminished a lot of it with her own self-destructive talk.
The obsessive weighing myself has stopped, I am letting myself be at a normal weight without doing negative talk, I am not concerned with hiding my birthmark, and I am feeling pretty good with where I am at. I have come a long way in this area in the past year and I hope to continue. Dysmorphia is not about vanity, I am not sure how it affects someone on the autism spectrum. I believe the reasons for dysmorphia may be different from other people though. My whole reasoning for hiding my birthmark was so I would not upset others. I felt bad for making people feel uncomfortable. When it came to my weight, the first reason was to make my boyfriend happy or my mom proud of me for being skinny. My mom never put those terms on me but in my mind her concerns about weight and image meant that. The boyfriends who said that I needed to lose weight were trying to control and manipulate me. My eventual obsession turned into my need to try to control my own world. My weight was the only thing I could control solely.
I don’t know if others have had these issues or not but I felt such a release and sense of achievement from reading that today that I had to write about it.