National Eating Disorders Association

4 posts / 0 new
Last post
fintimd
I was just diagnosed with Body Dysmorphic Disorder at 22.

This is going to be a bit of an unorganized train of thought, so please bare with me. I'm still processing all of this.

I've struggled with my body image for my entire life. It's been almost an obsession. Ever since I was a teenager, I have spent large parts of my day looking over myself in the mirror. I've had to stare at my face in the rear view mirror while driving. I've had to turn and look at my reflection in every single store window that I've passed. At work or with friends I've often found myself pulling out my phone to look at myself in the selfie camera. I'd never take any pictures -- I hated all of them -- but it was like a portable mirror. It's been agonizing. I've gone through diet and exercise binges more times than I can count. I'd run so much that my legs and joints would begin to ache. I've lost and gained absurd amounts of weight multiple times in just the last three years.

I remember a night two years ago in particular that was particularly hard. I was a summer Resident assistant in a dorm at my university, and while the entire building was staffed, only two of the floors had residents -- the rest were set aside to rent out to conferences. I had my own room for the first time in years, and the bathroom was built into the bedroom. The room was sized for three, and the floor had 50 rooms, but for the most part only I and one other person were up there. None of my friends were in town, so I spent most of my time by myself in an over-sized room in an empty dorm. It was oppressive, and my body image concerns exploded. This one particular night, I was up until well past three in the morning staring at myself shirtless in the mirror. I'd go sit at my computer and play some games, only to feel the compulsion to get up and do it again. I spent hours just sitting there, staring at myself -- revolted by what I saw. I had a couple of panic attacks. It's not as bad today, but I still do it. I'll get up multiple times a day, pretend to use the bathroom, and then spend that time just gawking at myself in the mirror. Sometimes I'll weigh myself a few times a day, too.

I finally sought help this last December. My girlfriend of one year had left me, and I felt utterly worthless. I was spending those long hours in front of a mirror over and over again. It didn't help that by that point, the relationship and the pandemic caused me to gain back all of the weight that I had previously lost. By sheer chance, the therapist I saw for anxiety was a specialist in eating disorders, and she first diagnosed me with Binge Eating disorder and we've been working on that since the start of February. Yesterday, she amended that diagnosis to include Body Dysmorphic Disorder because of my compulsive tendencies.

I'm relieved to finally be getting treatment, but I also feel weird and anxious about all of this. I'm the only male patient that my therapist has, and I'm going to be the only man in the eating disorder support group that I'll be starting soon. Most of the resources that I've found and my therapist had available were oriented towards women, and that stigma makes it really difficult to discuss it with anyone. I also find myself constantly doubting my diagnoses, and falling back into unconscious dietary restriction or extreme exercise. I've been obsessing about numbers. It's like I'm fighting back against the notion that there's something wrong with me so that I can go right back to restriction.

I feel kind of stuck in this by myself. I don't really have a support system outside of therapy. All of this is honestly stressful and confusing.

BobJ48
Fintim.

Good for you for getting treatment. When stuff gets in the way of our life like this, it's best to try and get on top of it before it imprints itself on our brain in ways that become harder and harder to get rid of.

About being the only guy in your ED support group, you'll have to see how that goes. I work on an online ED support group, and while the majority of members are female, it's been my experience that men are accepted as well. It's also possible that your presence as a guy could be helpful to the rest of the members. They may feel a certain amount of shame that EDs "are a girl thing" and seeing that they can effect guys as well, may help them broaden their perspective in ways that are helpful both for them, and for you as well.

As you said though, when it comes to EDs, it can be hard for other people to relate to them. This part can be difficult for women too. Like how people think it's about vanity and such, when it's really about so much more. Not sure what's to be done about that - EDs can be pretty complicated and I'm not sure that we can expect the general public to understand them. Plus expecting the person who has the issue to also be the one who has to educate their friends about it…that's asking a lot I think. So you are right, that is a tough matter it's true.

But again, good for you for trying to get some help with this. Asking for help for anything can be a hard thing for guys, so simply the idea that you are somewhat open to that sounds like a positive thing to me.

I'm not sure if you'll post again, but if you do, I'd be interested in hearing how you find yourself feeling about the support group.

In the mean time, hang in there if you can. And try and remember that you are you, and not just some diagnosis.

fintimd
Bob,

Bob,

I really appreciate your comment. It certainly helps put the eating disorder group into perspective. I really like the idea that my presence might help them with their stigmatized struggles as well. It's really hard to move myself out of this feeling of terror regarding the group, though.

My first session will be within the next few days(I don't want to give specifics) and I'll update here with how I feel afterwards. A lot of my fear regarding my body and my appearance is tied up in how I feel women perceive me, so there's a lot of anxiety going into this on that basis alone. I know logically that women aren't constantly judging me, and that this will be an inherently accepting environment, but the fear of being repulsive tends to override everything else. To be clear, in this line of disordered thinking, I don't think that women are at fault. I just feel like I'm extraordinarily off-putting to everyone around me through my own defects, and my desire for validation from women makes that fear that much worse.

I really doubted my diagnosis of Body Dysmorphia the day that my therapist told me about it, but the more that I think about it and read about it, the more that I realize that it can't be anything else. This feeling of be inherently and justifiably repulsive to everyone around me, and the constant self-checking and hiding that this involves has been an absolutely overwhelming force in my life. I felt like I looked the same at my lowest weight as I do at my highest weight and nothing that I've done to forcibly change my body has changed that perspective on myself.

I really hope that this treatment helps. I'm sick of feeling like some wretched abomination of a person.

fintimd
Bob,

Bob,

I have now had two sessions of my online eating disorder group and I have really mixed feelings about it. I've found that being the only man in the group is incredibly anxiety-inducing, and a lot of the exercises are really triggering. It's run by eating disorder specialists at my university, but I'm really struggling with it. The Zoom component in particular is REALLY hard. I find myself spending most of the sessions staring at my own screen. I'm going to keep with it and see if things improve, but this is hard.