National Eating Disorders Association

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Body dysmorphia = constant anxiety & Low self-esteem, who's been here?

Hi guys. 25yrld hetero male. Part-time musician, full time ball of self-doubt.

I was overweight as a child and compensated for that by being the class-clown amongst other forms of coping, i.e fashion in attempts to make me feel more confident -( which probably led to my love for the Arts).

In high school I restricted heavily. I called this portion control.

In highscool I achieved significant weightloss.
I gained confidence: Lead in musicals, marching band, choir, class president, homecoming King.
I also started a punk rock band.

Since graduating HS I've decided to pursue music as opposed to going to college, this, against the will/approval of my parents, teachers, and some peers.

Anxiety and depression hit hard.
A lot of parties.
A lot of jobs in customer service
Prescribed medication for anxiety
Multiple antidepressants off and on
Abused other medications to help me escape my anxiety and feel ok with my reality, it gave me confidence, diminished my self doubt. This was my drug.

In and out of rehab for 4 yrs.
I don't take well to advice.
I had to do it myself.
Practically locked myself in a room.
I've been away from, "clean", off opiates ( the drug I can't control) for around 3 years now.

Gained a lot of weight back after sobriety.
This scared me sh**less
Confidence now completely gone
Anxiety in full gear

Sometimes I'd manically 'exercise' (walk miles until my feet hurt). I didn't see results.
I started a new diet.
Eventually this diet mixed with poverty has lead me to a new weight. I'm fine with this number.
But not with the mirror.

I obsess over my hair, have since puberty
I think my legs are fat, unproportional
Stomach rounded and pronounced
I sometimes I think im generally unattractive, the lines under my eyes, the way my mouth slopes downwards.
Times when I've changed my outfit 6 or 7 times before performing a show (still a musican, folk music now)
Times I've changed my outfit 6 or 7 times before going to the grocery store, to work, to the bar, to my parents house, to the park.

I feel I'm never satisfied with the way that I look and this huge lack of confidence has and is TAKING A TOLL on my everyday life.

It's hard for me to express this to anybody because they don't believe me unless they know me well. I fear people will think that I'm just bullsh**ing for attention or something. I'm told I'm attractive, I've been with beautiful women, I'm popular in this small town, I'm a performer, I get on stage in front of people, sometimes a crowd, often times strangers. Why would they believe me?

Thank you for reading my story.

It would be great to talk to anyone else who has gone or is going through anything somewhat similar

Advice would be wonderful

Feeling less alone would be wonderful

(And I'm not talking about AA or NA meetings or else I'd be on a different website or the basement of some church, I'm talking about men that struggle with thier self image)

Thank you


Hi JakeGross, Welcome to the

Hi JakeGross, Welcome to the forums, thanks for posting. A portion of your post was edited and deleted due to the mention of numbers and specific behaviors that may be triggering to other members of the forum. Our community guidelines are always available to review here: the event you need further assistance, please do not hesitate to call the NEDA helpline at 1-800-931-2237 (Monday-Thursday 9:00am-9:00pm, Friday 9:00am-5:00pm EST). Thanks!


Hey Jake.

Wow, all of those accomplishments in High School ! Not too many people can claim those sorts of things for themselves.

But yeah, maybe you set an awfully high bar for yourself ? One that was a little easier to pull of in the confines of school and with your peers, but a little harder to uphold, out in the real world ?

OK, OK, I know that all sounds like a big psychological cliche, but even so, we can get to where we demand a lot from ourselves. That place in our mind where all those demands get played out - Things can get pretty crazy in there sometimes.

And of course the part about "being perfect". A person's gotta hate that part for sure.

Keep writing ?

Well said, I appreciate your

Well said, I appreciate your input Bobj48!

Checking in!


I feel like you and I have a lot in common. Both pretty young, male, achieving personal successes, and letting crap thoughts about our body take up more real estate in our minds than necessary. Honestly, I don't have a cure-all solution for any of this, but I know what helps me when I'm feeling particularly down about myself is reminding myself that I am so much more than just my body. I am a unique body, with a unique skill set, that in0turn helps make other people feel good which ultimately is what makes me feel amazing. I am a photographer, writer, and graphic designer, and what I've been focusing on in the past few years is learning to let my art and my craft fulfill me more than a sideways long glance into a mirror would. You have a creative gift man––one that many would be jealous of. You get to perform live. You know how hard that sh*t is for some people? Your friends and fans surely aren't buying tickets to watch a body step out on stage and listen it hold a pitch. They want YOU, the soulful and creative YOU that lives inside your body that tiptoes out during each performance and touches the heart of everyone in the audience in a different way. You are the deliverer of so much inner peace to so many people and you shouldn't be left out from that!
There isn't a single solution to overcoming the low self-esteem you've been feeling recently, in my opinion. Good Self esteem that takes practice, time, and a drop-dead honest group of friends. (Im not a doctor, just to be clear, and the advice that I'm about to offer is what has helped me in the past and present and might not work with you!) What helps me is creating small habits that help me feel my best. I try and exercise most days of the week, not with the intention of altering my body, but to feel the good rush of endorphins that comes along with it. I too feel that I have bigger than average legs, and this might have been because I rowed in college, but I don't let that thought discourage me from taking care of my health. I also really enjoy making random gifts for people, which helps me flash some of my creativity (self esteem +) and helps someone else feel thought-of and loved in return.
I turn back to this question when I hear the internal chatter get pretty dark: What would my response be to a close friend if they expressed such thoughts about their body/themselves out loud to me? I have been trying to treat myself as someone that I've loved, to grant myself grace for any supposed shortcomings that I have (or that I have believed to have been said about me at a point in time) and to uphold all the beautiful things I've created and to continue pushing forward towards the things yet to come with gratitude and a healthy dose of pride. You are brave for stepping in front of the audience, don't forget it!

Hi Jake,

Hi Jake,
I really feel for you. My son is now 15 and is an amazingly passionate, perfectionist who has always thought his torso was too fat and has struggled with this. He now has orthorexi and exercises for specific body image and is focused so much on this. Of course everyone comments on how great he looks but inside he is miserable. His whole life revolves around this.

People don't think he has a problem because he gets straight As and is the most fit guy in his class. He is empathetic and sensitive but feels alone and anxious and no one would guess.

He changes his clothes constantly, and now that he is thin and muscular (but way way too thin) he still will only wear certain clothes, including coats, so I know what you are talking about.

He is extremely attractive, but doesn't even see this. Actually he doesn't even care as much about others comments, only how he looks in the mirror.

I hope you have someone who is helping you.