Mom's Struggle With Body Dysmorphic Disorder Made Her Feel Ugly All the Time

Heartbreaking 13

body marked with imperfectionsI am the mother of two little girls, a survivor of eating disorders, and I will spend my life living with body dysmorphic disorder. Never heard of it?

Let me help you become educated by defining something that has defined me for most of my life.

According to the Mayo Clinic:

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a type of chronic mental illness in which you can't stop thinking about a flaw with your appearance — a flaw that is either minor or imagined. But to you, your appearance seems so shameful that you don't want to be seen by anyone. Body dysmorphic disorder has sometimes been called "imagined ugliness."

In reality, most people who suffer from body dysmorphic disorder are not particularly ugly. I can say that about others. But when you suffer from body dysmorphic disorder, you intensely obsess over your appearance and body image. You spend a lot of time trying to "fix" perceived flaws but will never be satisfied. Eating disorders and extreme plastic surgery are not out of the realm of possibility.

Body dysmorphic disorder is much more than just wanting to lose 10 more pounds. It’s more than not liking what you see in the mirror. It's hating what you see in the mirror, and the thought of your imperfections becoming overwhelming and all-consuming. Living with body dysmorphic disorder is constant misery.

This disorder has plagued me since the age of puberty and will probably be a battle that I fight every day for the rest of my life. My doctors told me that I couldn't trust anything that I see in the mirror because I never see myself as I truly look. My self-image is so skewed that I no longer can believe my own eyes when I look at myself. They don't see who I really am and what I really look like. Do you know how disturbing that feels?

Imagine not being able to trust your own judgment. It may seem inconsequential or vain, but when you don't see the real you in the mirror, that’s a problem. Body dysmorphic disorder is never being satisfied with my appearance. When you never feel physically good enough, it takes a toll on your life. For me, it led to eight years of eating disorders.

It's a little easier for me now because I have been diagnosed with the disorder and I have researched it and I know that it’s not just my vanity, it’s a way of thinking that I can’t change. It’s a distorted way of viewing myself. It’s the opposite of beer goggles.

With therapy and education, I have been able to begin to not allow the disorder to define me. I know that I will never be satisfied with what I see in the mirror and that is not a reflection of who I am but a symptom of the disease. In that, I take some small comfort.

No matter how thin I am, I only see someone large and ugly in the mirror. For me (in my disease), I always needed to be just a little bit better. A little bit taller. A little bit thinner. My hair a little bit longer. A little bit curlier. A little bit straighter. My lips a little bit fuller. My eyes a little bit bigger. My nose, oh the bump on my nose, was monumental, practically a mountain. Boobs perkier. Legs longer. Fingers longer. Do you get the picture? No matter what I may look like, it is NEVER enough. I have to depend on my mind knowing that I am not what I see in the mirror. I’ve been like this for so long that I truly don’t know what I really look like anymore.

The standard for most women is that perfection in appearance equals perfection in all areas of your life. This is simply not true. It never has been. It is an impossible standard. It’s a moving target for those who suffer from body dysmorphic disorder. The message to all women should be that to be happy in life, you must be satisfied with your place in the world -- not the size of your dress.


Image via photopin/CaitlinMonahan 

body image, eating disorders, mental health, plastic surgery, self esteem


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nonmember avatar shannon mundor

I'm starting to wonder if I have a form of this. I am overweight but when I look in the mirror I see mountains of fat. I see a face that has nothin pretty about it. Knobby knees. Odd looking toes. Ugly smile. Short stubby arms. Tiny eyes. No matter what my friends or family say nice about me I don't believe them. I look in the mirror and see ugly. I lie to friends and family because I'm scared I'll be perceived as vain oddly enough if I tell the truth about how obsessed I am with my appearance.

tiny_... tiny_mama

I, too, have bdd.. it sucks.. it's so hard.. I look in the mirror and all I see is fat, and wrinkled, and pores, and ugly, and old.. but everyone tells me that for someone rounding the bend to her 30th birthday I could still pass for a teenager.. I just don't see it. I enjoy doing my makeup.. artistically speaking.. but I'm never happy with the end result.. I'm to the point where.. I just get the makeup on.. I get the hair done.. I get the clothes on.. then I walk the eff away from the mirror.. by only focusing my attention on one thing at a time *eyeshadow, or my hair, etc* and not looking at the bigger picture or the finished product.. I can handle getting ready to go out.. it's the only way.

Someday, hopefully, I'll be able to see myself as my husband sees me.. until then.. one thing at a time.

jessi... jessicasmom1

I feel for people like this it is very hard on one , I hold myself high  and love the skin I am in and truly believe one has to love themself before anyone

nonmember avatar lilijane

Here we go again, Deborah. Get therapy and write one article that isn't self-serving and attention-seeking. You obviously aren't healthy yet mentally. Do this with a shrink and spare us.

Deann... Deanna2872

Lilijane, instead of being an asshole, why don't you just skip the article? Plenty of women find support in these kinds of articles.

It seems that people like you only read them to troll the comments section and then try to be righteous with shitty remarks. Maybe you should ask yourself why you feel a need to do so-

tiny_... tiny_mama

Preach Deanna!

biffster biffster

I have BDD.... it's one lonely disorder.  the logic is so circular... and it can be emotionally paralyzing. 

I used to spend hours a week researching a specific kind of cosmetic surgery that would fix a flaw that only I knew about.  The BDD got so bad that my boyfriends aren't allowed to touch me and I avoided wearing clothing or being in situations where someone might recognize my flaw.

My BDD got so bad that I eventually had a surgical procedure to help correct my flaw.  Typically surgery isn't recommended for patients with BDD, as it can fuel the issue... but honestly, it was the best thing I ever did. It freed me from the prison I was trapped inside of.

my problems with this particular flaw aren't gone... but it's more manageable than it was.

Unfortunately, I still have other parts of my body that still cause me emotional distress... but I am trying to tackle them one piece at a time.

Saphi... SaphiraJFire

I have heard of it but I had no idea what it was called.

OMG it sounds so terrible!

Gages... Gages_Mommy32

@lilijane, that is a total bitch remark. That is all.

cdjak cdjak

I had never heard of BDD before, but I see myself in it's description. As for the negative remark from Lilijane, I see no problem with the author writing about her problems. It's informative. The best way to write, is to write about what you know. Perhaps you should find something more productive to spend your energy on besides bashing other people. 

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