Invisible Not Imagined: Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)
I don't have this disorder, but someone I love very much does, so I want to touch on this subject, as well as many other invisible illnesses over the next few weeks. I thought this would be a very good starting place, since it's become a big part of my life. I'll admit, I didn't know a whole lot about the disorder until recently.
Most of us have something we don't like about our appearance — a crooked nose, an uneven smile, or eyes that are too large or too small. And though we may fret about our imperfections, they don’t interfere with our daily lives.
But people who have body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) think about their real or perceived flaws for hours each day.
They can't control their negative thoughts and don't believe people who tell them that they look fine. Their thoughts may cause severe emotional distress and interfere with their daily functioning. They may miss work or school, avoid social situations and isolate themselves, even from family and friends, because they fear others will notice their flaws.
They may even undergo unnecessary plastic surgeries to correct perceived imperfections, never finding satisfaction with the results.
Characteristics of BDD:
BDD is a body-image disorder characterized by persistent and intrusive preoccupations with an imagined or slight defect in one's appearance.
People with BDD can dislike any part of their body, although they often find fault with their hair, skin, nose, chest, or stomach. In reality, a perceived defect may be only a slight imperfection or nonexistent. But for someone with BDD, the flaw is significant and prominent, often causing severe emotional distress and difficulties in daily functioning.
BDD most often develops in adolescents and teens, and research shows that it affects men and women almost equally. About one percent of the U.S. population has BDD.
The causes of BDD are unclear, but certain biological and environmental factors may contribute to its development, including genetic predisposition, neurobiological factors such as malfunctioning of serotonin in the brain, personality traits, and life experiences.
What can you do to help?
1. They aren’t going to believe your compliments…you’ll say they look fine but in their voice they hear not fine enough. You could always be better. They are just saying that.
2. But don’t stop saying them….but just keep complimenting them, one day they will believe it.
3. Their validation and worth are defined in the eyes of others…they live for others saying nice things about them and bringing them up.
4. Because they are their worst enemies...because they quickly will bring themselves down.
5. They will fixate upon what they are insecure about…they will constantly be shuffling or doing a double take. It’s like if they look enough, one day they just hope that thing will go away.
6. Don’t be afraid to call them out of it...just tell them when they are fixating upon something too much. Make them aware.
When my ex would see me picking my cuticles, he grab my hands and not let me. Then we’d talk through whatever was going through my head at the moment.
7. When they look in the mirror they aren’t worshiping their reflection…you may think they look at the mirror too much, or are conceited. They envy people who are conceited.
8. But rather tearing themselves down on the inside...but if you heard the voice inside their head of constant belittlement you’d feel sorry.
9. They probably have a secret they’ll share with you when they are ready…everyone has a reason they are the way they are. Sometimes the story behind it, isn’t always the best. But in time you’ll hear it all.
10. Just listen.
11. You can’t make them happy with themselves completely…You can’t go into this thinking you can change them. Accept them as they are and that’s the best thing you can do.
12. But you can make them happier...you can make them happier than they’ve ever been.
13. Because like anyone they want to be loved…
14. And sometimes it takes someone loving them to show them how to love themselves.