…Cause literally Eating Disorders and Body Dysmorphia are a daze – ammirite? You walk around trying to exist; put on your work face; your social face; your public face – and inside you just feel all this guilt and shame for being so self-absorbed.
Now, don’t jump down my throat. You’re not necessarily self-absorbed. But, BDD and EDs do make you seem that way. When you can’t be present in a conversation, when you’re flaky as hell on all social engagements, or when you realize you can’t pass a glass window on a New York street without turning to observe whether or not your ass grew from the block before – it just gets exhausting. And honestly, embarrassing.
I have no joke run right into someone while distracted by my thighs in a window reflection.
“You’re lookin fine, gorgeous,” he said sarcastically as he bristled past me.
I wanted to be like ”I DON’T THINK I’M HOT A-HOLE. I THINK MY THIGHS ARE BIGGER IN THIS REFLECTION THAN THEY WERE IN THE DUANE REEDE REFLECTION- DON’T YOU GET IT?!”
2 years into recovery, you can still catch me doing that it’s true- but in treatment, my team and I developed coping mechanisms for dealing with the bad days. Some are helpful; some might be cornier than others. It just kinda depends on what type of person you are in terms of what will work for you.
Feel free to share your own. As always, I’m just a girl with an ED – no more special or wise than the rest of you.
1.) Write Your Body A Letter // Have Your Body Write You A Letter
I’ve done a whole post on this subject, and I know this wont be everyones cup of tea. That’s fine. Doesn’t have to be. Again, to each their own when it comes to managing BDD.
But I highly suggest trying it. I was forced to write both in treatment, and I rolled my eyes all the way till my pen was on the paper. It wasn’t so much the letter TO my body, but the letter FROM my body that really affected me on the emotional waves. If you choose to do this activity, really do it. Personify your body. Take out your ED brain. Write as though your body is your friend. Here’s an excerpt of mine:
You’re sitting on a couch right now hating me. I’m making a lot of sounds this morning and without you saying it, I know you’re embarrassed.
You fed me French Toast and raisons earlier- which I actually quite enjoyed though I coulda done with a banana instead of the raisons. What are raisons anyway? Shriveled little bastards.
I’m quite used to the bananas, ya know? Dependent on them. You give them to me a lot. Sometimes half of one, sometimes two-three a day. Why can’t you ever just decide? I get this like potassium overload and then the moment I’ve worked my way back to normalcy you overload me with Special K carbs. (P.S. I don’t actually like Special K cereal. You really could’ve stuck with the Fruity Pebbles and I would’ve figured it out…)
You’re like the most confusing person for me to belong to Linds. I’m trying to help you out and you keep either learning on me too hard or leaving me with nothing no matter how many times I’ve waited.
Truth is, you’re like the vacant dad that showers his kids with money and gifts, says he’ll call, and then disappears for months a time.
I’m writing to you today because I’m asking you to please be weary with me. For Christ’s sake, there’s only so long I’m gonna be this abled for you anyway. Eventually, I’ll give out- little by little- and I promise you that you will look back and wish you hadn’t wasted so much time faulting what I can do.
The places you get to see because of me.
The love you have in your life that I can hold inside of you.
Lindsey, I’m sorry I’m not everything you want.
Read the rest here.
2.) String Test
Also written a post on this in the past as well. (I swear it won’t all be like this.) This is mostly geared towards BDD preoccupation with feeling large in a certain area. This obviously will not work for someone who suffers with BDD of ears or teeth, or acne, etc. – but I strongly suggest trying this for someone with an eating disorder and BDD.
In treatment one day I was given a yarn of string and asked to cut a calculated guess on how “round” I thought my waist was (buttocks included). The following image encases reality vs dysmorphia- the outer string- my guess, the inner string- reality.
Calculating at nearly twice the actual size of my waist, we were asked to again do this with our thighs and our chest and our arms. All of which every girl in that room measured with incredible inaccuracy.
I still carry those strings in my purse- not because I need to feel “thin” but because I need to be reminded of sane. They’re dirty and tangled and unraveling at the edges- but they remind me how difficult reality can be for me in terms of my body.
3.) Cry… or Laugh… And Tell Someone
Yo it’s hard to live with this shiz. BDD/ED is hard – and it’s hard because its mental so it’s not like you get to walk around with a big sign on your head saying ”TAKE PITY MY BRAIN IS ALL CONFUZZLED.”
So Lord – if you gotta cry, just cry. Like it sucks. You feel horrible; you miss out on your life; you flake out on people and feel guilty. Your family and friends make comments like “Lindsey never met a mirror she didn’t love!”… And you wanna punch them in the face.
Cry. It’s okay. Get it on out. Crying gives you this weird amount of clarity.
Also, laugh if you can – if you can’t, fine. But eventually, in recovery you do get to a place that you can begin to take yourself less seriously.
Last night I was huffing about ’cause I hated how I looked in these pair of grey jeans I own.
“I LOOK LIKE A FLABBY PLATYPUS,” I yelled to my friend.
His eyebrows raised. “Explain to me,” he smirked. “Explain to me what that looks like.”
In true Runaway Bride style, I started trying to push my lips out to mirror what I felt.
He laughed. “That is… That is attractive.”
I couldn’t help but snort.
“We’re going to AA Linds,” he said. “I feel like you’re taking this a little too seriously.”
“Oh piss off,” I said.
But he smiled. And eventually, I smiled.
Sometimes the best approach is to take a very serious subject, and without downplaying the disorder itself, make light of all the craziness that can ensue because of it (tastefully- of course.) If you can, do this with someone who can help you get out of your head. You know the type of person I’m talking about.
4.) Isolate… With An Activity
I feel like most experts go around being like “DON’T ISOLATE.” But with BDD – sometimes you just have to. You literally just cannot be around people. I get it. I live it. I close my office door and sit at my desk for hours sometimes so I can just get my work done without being anxious and all out of whack.
If you really feel like you can’t push yourself to be around people, that’s fine – but my God DON’T sit around in your room under the sheets binge watching Orange is the New Black.
If you want to be alone, that’s fine. Be alone- but do something. Of course when we’re all up in our heads we think to ourselves “I’M NOT GOOD AT ANYTHING I’M HORRIBLE.” – but that’s just not true, and we know it.
Play the Keyboard; the Guitar; the Flute if that’s your jam. 30 minutes- make yourself do something for at least 30 minutes.
Recipe shop so you can make dinner. Do the dishes. Clean your room and turn on Justin Bieber in the background. No, not Sam Smith ’cause my God the feels- but turn on Flo Rida or whatever it is that you dig that’s upbeat. Dance around your room alone – all Girls style- and wear yourself breathless.
Pay your bills so you feel like you’ve accomplished something. So you feel like an adult.
Go get your nails done if that’s your shindig – dye your hair lavender if you’ve been planning on it.
Write thank you notes. Fix some other part of your life that you feel guilty about.
Buy a plant.
Just don’t sit in bed with Netflix. I beg thee- don’t do it.
5.) Get Outside
Goes along with the above, but if you’re feeling up to it – and can be around people- GO OUTSIDE.
I DON’T CARE IF IT’S BLOODY 30 DEGREES AND WINDY AS SHIT. Go outside for a few minutes. Walk to the end of the street and back.
I went on a 20-mile bike ride last night, and while my ass hurts today – I felt immensely better mentally by the time I got off. Why? Because I was distracted. Distracted by stigma and the sunset and my soar ass.
Go lay in the grass and feel it whip against your leg. It itches yeah- but be around that stigma.
Read a book on a bench. Draw a tree- even if you suck at drawing.
Do Yoga on a towel in the backyard.
Let that stigma affect you-
6.) Stare at the mirror
Yep- counterintuitive right?
Stare at the mirror. Sit inches away from a mirror- sit in front of that mirror and stare at your eyes, at your hair, at your freckles. At the scar on your cheek from freshman year of high school.
Yo- humanize yourself. You’re a person. You’re one person. There’s something oddly calming about sitting 12 inches from a mirror and just silently staring at yourself for awhile.
If you can do it naked- go ahead. Sometimes I sit Indian style and hate on my thighs – but after awhile I just grow exhausted by it and want to do something else.
I look at my eyes. I like my eyes. They’re cool colors. I move on.
7.) Do Something for Someone Else
Gotta friend who just lost someone? A best friend who broke up with their partner? Go out and buy them some flowers.
GrubHub their lunch and watch their surprise.
Show up to their apartment/house with a bottle of wine (or Starbucks latte – depending on if ya sober or not) and ANYTHING but ”When Harry Met Sally.” Tell them ”I’m here. I’m yours. Cry it out let’s talk.”
Get on Instagram and write a nice comment to someone’s picture. We all filterin’ we all trnya look good. Acknowledge it.
Send a FB message to someone you haven’t spoken to in awhile. Tell them you miss them – and you’d love to catch up.
Plan your partner’s birthday party. Write them a “10 Reasons You’re the Bees Kneez” card.
Offer to babysit that cute kid that you’re glad isn’t yours – but would love to spend a few hours with.
Call your damn mother back. Ask her how she is – listen intently as she tells you about book club for the millionth time.
Invite the “weird” co-worker to lunch. Or to Happy Hour. You know they’re likely lonely- and suffering with shit you don’t understand – just as most people don’t understand you.
Buy lunch for someone who’s homeless. They might throw it back at your car (true story: this happened to me) but the point is you got outside of yourself.
GET OUTSIDE OF YOURSELF.
8.) Forgive Yourself
Forgive yourself for not making it to the birthday dinner. (But, like, apologize to the person…)
Forgive yourself for not making it to the gym because you couldn’t see past yourself.
Forgive yourself and ask how you can do better.
Forgive yourself for being a bloody human with shiz in your head.
Forgive yourself over and over again.
Forgive yourself so you can save your relationships.
Forgive yourself so you can just live.
Forgive yourself cause it ain’t black and white.
Forgive yourself so you can take your life less seriously –
It’s only life after all.