Body dysmorphic or just plain ugly?

For most of my life I have hated my body, and everything about it. There have been occassions when I have looked at pictures of myself and thought I look pretty, but in those photographs I am usually wearing a lot of make up and my hair is done. On a normal day to day basis, when I see myself in the mirror, I mostly feel disgust (that word is a little too strong, I just couldn’t think of another one) and self pity.

I feel as though I can’t talk about how I don’t like about myself to friends as I feel they think I am fishing for compliments, or looking for attention, so I am now just going to get it out exactly how I feel (Feel free to skip the next bit in bold if you don’t want to read self-pitying drivel!!)

Starting from the top, my hair. As I have grown older, I have begun to tolerate my hair more, and appreciate it. I have naturally curly hair, which is sometimes a blessing, but most of all can be a curse. When I have put effort into it, done it nicely and used products, I get quite a few compliments on it, which is a really lovely feeling. This is my hair:

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I can admit that my hair in pictures like these look nice (then my brain is saying ‘Really? DON’T DO THAT! People will think you are stuck up and showing off! You need to be modest and pretend you don’t think it is nice! – Where does that come from? The way I was brought up?)

Then all the time I DON’T spend time on my hair, it is a nightmare. It is frizzy and wayward. I wake up in the morning and long for silky smooth hair that you run a brush through and it looks great, rather than hair I HAVE to do something with. Most of the time I end up tying it back but it still doesn’t look good.

So then I move on to my eyebrows. I think I have an addiction to plucking my eyebrows. Honestly, sometimes I find myself sitting at my desk plucking my eyebrows with my fingers! I run my fingertips over them and if I feel any hairs which are growing I HAVE to pull them out, it’s like a compulsion. I used to spend hours each day doing it, while I was watching TV. Since I have been with James, I have managed to curb it a little, but when he is out, I do it all the time. It really relaxes me.

I quite like the colour of my eyes, but the think I don’t like is the fact that I was born with a squint. I had 3 operations on my eye when I was a child and it corrected it, however when I am tired I can very occasionally get a lazy eye. The most frustrating thing is that in most pictures it isn’t noticeable. That is, until probably the most important picture of my life… my graduation picture from University. The one picture it had to happen in!

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My other issue about my face is that I have some scarring on my upper lip. It is like two darker patches and it from an occasion in my teens when I got so upset about my facial hair (I will cover this is a later point) I tried to wax it off, not doing it properly and leaving myself with scars. You can see it in this picture, they are like two orangey patches on my upper lip: (Yes I know make up can cover it, but I know it is there).

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As I have got older, something really weird has happened with my mouth. When I smile, either one side smiles higher or my gum is growing down. Either way, it means I really don’t like my smile when I show my teeth and as a result most pictures I am smiling in, I have my mouth closed. This is what I mean: (Gummy, gummy, gummy! – Can you see on the left how it is lower?)

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I don’t really mind when I get spots on my face, as everyone gets them, but my biggest issue by far is my facial hair. This started growing when I was about 13, and it led me to the discovery that I have Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome. One of the symptoms of this, is excess body hair. I have had 3 courses (6 treatments each) plus 3 free treatments of laser therapy, I have tried waxing (admittedly at home, and not since my incident that caused the scars), electrolysis (didn’t do enough of it, but it was excruciating, even more painful that the laser and that was BAD), bleaching (lasts about 2 days) and have ended up shaving as often as I can. I often end up with dark shadows as the hair grows in patches from just underneath my eyes, then across the line of my jaw, across my chin and down the front and sides of my neck. This is a picture from when I had left it to grow for aboutย  5 days to show a doctor (I was trying for a particular medication called Finasteride at the time:)

I has taken me a lot to post this picture as it is something I try my utmost to hide away, by shaving on a regular basis and if people get too close I back away. I had tried medical treatments (Metformin, Finasteride, Vaniqua Cream) but nothing worked. Now, I am taking Dianette as a contraceptive pill and it also acts as an anti-androgen (?) effect on hair. It seems to have made a small difference but I still have to shave on a regular basis. I do get hair in other areas which I don’t like, mainly nipples, underneath my belly button and on my feet/toes but that is all bearable because it isn’t on show! My worst problem with my hair though, probably on a par with my facial hair, is my bikini line. I have hopefully now got myself into a routine of waxing but it so damn painful and I am plagued with ingrowing hairs which are painful and also look really awful, big red spots, some of which cause scars.

I swear if I left it, within a few weeks it would be like a jungle that I could plait (lol!) so I try to keep on top of it. I have been building back up to a Brazillian (what I had when I was escorting – if you want to read about that, scroll back through my posts, it was a phase of my life I am not going in to here) and hopefully in the next few weeks I am going to go for it. It makes me feel so much better and cleaner when it is done. Similar situation with my legs – if I shave them I find it impossible to get EVERYTHING and it has already started growing back within a couple of hours. I find waxing so painful but I know that is the only real solution.

I don’t like the hard skin on my feet, my hard hands or my finger or toe nails, but these things are all bearable, and sortable with work.

Something that isn’t sortable, unfortunately, are my self harm scars. Now this is a really difficult topic as I do have a huge conflict of emotions about them. On one hand, they are ugly and unsightly, and stretch from just below my elbow, down my left forearm and the front of my left hand. There are a couple of scars on my right arm but not big ones, and there are a few big scars on my left thigh. (Notice how hairy my arms are, I hate it. Quite often I will shave them but that does look odd when it is growing back).

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They look SO MUCH better than they did several years ago but to me they will always be noticeable. I have noticed though, as time goes on, less people let their eyes travel to my arm when they first meet me, which is nice. So, I still find them ugly, but I think my biggest problem with them is the way they say to people “HELLO – THIS PERSON ONCE WAS IN SUCH A BAD PLACE THAT THEY DID THIS TO THEMSELVES”. I am busy portraying myself as sorted, calm and collected and my scars are a direct conflict to this.

Then, on the other hand, I feel protective over my scars. They show me (and others who take a moment to understand me and not judge me) that I was strong and I made it through the hard times. They remind me of times gone past and how far I have come. Most of all, they give me membership to the ‘special club’… the club of us Borderlines, who look after each other even though we have never met. This probably doesn’t make sense but my scars make me feel REAL. They make me feel LIKE SOMEONE, even if that person has now changed and grown, they gave me an identity that I could base myself on.

My biggest issue with my body, and which links in to the title of this post, is my weight. On January 1st this year, I was 12 stone 7 lbs, and I am now roughly 11 stone 7 lbs. I went down to 11 stone 4 lbs but came up again when I came off my anti-depressants and suffered bad withdrawal symptoms for over a month. When I look in the mirror, I see a fat girl looking back at me. When I say this to people, they say to me, ‘don’t be stupid, you are not fat’. This confuses me. I am not saying I am fat for attention or fishing for compliments. This is genuinely the way I feel. I need to get on top of my diet and start running again to get down to my first goal weight of 11 stone 0 lbs. Here is a recent picture of me:

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Please don’t tell me I am not fat, this is not what I need or want to hear. In any case, I may have come to the realisation that when I look in the mirror, no matter what size I am, I will still see a fat girl looking back at me, and recently I have noticed an increase in binge/purge episodes. In this case, it may be my head that needs work, and not my body shape. I know that the numbers on the scale directly influence my mood, mind set and emotions for that day so I try not to weigh myself too often. I wish I could accept myself and be happy whatever size I am, but I am not at that point yet. If anyone has any interesting resources to help with that, I would be grateful if you could comment and link me to them.

Anyway, thanks for listening to all of that, it was really helpful to get it out and written down in a place I know I won’t be judged. I understand that a lot of my problems are not actually with my body, but in my head. I know I need to accept myself for who I am, but I haven’t been able to do that yet. I still find myself saying to myself “You are fucking disgusting, look at your hair/arms/legs/etc etc” which does nothing at all for my self esteem and image. Hopefully I will be able to find a way to bring my head around to start loving myself no matter what I look like.

 

 

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18 comments

  1. If you want the truth, I think you’re beautiful. For one, I would love to have those kind of curls, so your hair is gorgeous. Two, you don;t need to change anything on your face. Three, I envy your clear skin, even though you have facial hair cause of POS, I have serious acne, and it never goes away ๐Ÿ˜ฆ four, I don’t think you’re fat, AT all. But if you feel that you want to tone, or become more fit, there are so many different ways to get active. Five, our battle scars are what define us. And if people don’t want to take the time to understand the emotions behind cutting or self harm, then that’s their problem, but I don’t think it looks ugly. Scars eventually fade. Just like any wound.

    Your writing is terrific, and your story has definitely helped to motivate me through my own BPD journey, so please keep up the great work hun ๐Ÿ™‚

    -Amanda.

    1. Thank you so much. It means so much when people tell me I am helping them. As hard as it is to open about things that I am ashamed of and spend so much time trying to hide, it makes it worth it. x

  2. I know you won’t believe me but you are beautiful, the truth is that very few people can ever look in a mirror and be happy, I promise you that just about ever person reading this will have experienced it to some extent or another and lots of us have serious hair envy going on right now – mine is shoulder length growing out from a pixie cut which looked great for a week then because of the stupid rate my hair grows at realised it was a huge mistake, my hair doesn’t curl it just kinks in different directions, therefore choices are limited, ponytail, leave it looking like a mop or get the straighteners out. One of my sister has hair like yours and longs for it straight another has straight hair and has spent a fortune on perms and curling tongs, see never happy. The squint in the picture you notice because its there I noticed eventually because you told me it was there and both my kids have had them and I know what I am looking for seriously no one that you haven’t told is going to notice that, right now what is more noticeable for my 5 year old than his squint is the patch he has to wear to try to correct it and I mention that to remind you that the scars people see are the ones we draw attention to be it mental ones or physical, I would guess that in the past you glanced down nervously at your arms as you offered your hand out towards someone drawing their attention to them now you are in a better place you look them in the face and they look at those sparking eyes and that lovely smile (I have a false front tooth and hate smiling with my mouth open as well) and don’t even notice you have arms ๐Ÿ˜€ you have come so far already it has been wonderful reading the changes in your life

    1. I think you are right about how I put myself across. I work really hard to be confident and charismatic (although probably don’t come across that way!). I just wish I could wipe the slate clean with my arms, so no-one had open access to my vulnerabilities. xx

  3. Honey, you’re YOU and you is a lovely person – inside and out.

  4. Hi!

    I’ve been reading along with your blog for awhile now, and I just have to say that I think this post is incredibly brave. Everyone has things they don’t like about themselves, and while I definitely don’t agree with the imperfections you pointed out, I can also understand finding flaws through analyzing. Like I said, it’s really brave to post this. I could never do it. And I don’t think at all that you’re fishing for compliments or anything like that.

    I also want to mention something interesting that I noticed. I also “have” BPD, PCOS, and trichotillomania (I am pretty sure that this is what it is that you have with your eyebrows and such. I do the exact same thing, and I was diagnosed with trich). I’ve often wondered if the biological (PCOS) is in some way connected to the psychological craziness, what with hormones fluctuating and the like.

    I’m not really sure where to go with that because I’m not a doctor or a psychologist or anything, but it is something to think about, I guess. I don’t know if you’ve tried this or not, but the supplement D-Chiro Inositol has worked really well for me with the symptoms of the PCOS. I wanted to stay away from synthetic hormones and this seemed to be the thing I found most helpful. It didn’t make it go away completely, but I did notice a difference after about a month or so. It’s pretty expensive (you can get it at chiralbalance.com) but it might be something to look into.

    Anyway, again, I think it is awesome that you can write about yourself so publicly. Props to you ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I have never really looked into trichotillomania, I thought it was pulling out the hair on your head, but I guess you could apply it to your eyebrows (and in my case, chin too!). I do remember reading one day on another blog that someone with BPD was writing, about their obsession with eyebrow plucking too… and I wondered then if there was a link. Thanks for the heads up about D-Chiro Inositol – I will look into it! Thanks for taking the time to comment to. It is so nice that people ‘get’ me even when I have completely laid myself bare. It’s a feeling of acceptance and it makes everything seem worthwhile. x

  5. I understand every word you wrote. I thank you so much for sharing a very personal piece of who you are. This is me, your thoughts, your perceptions of yourself , how the scale can make or break your day, all of it.

    You aren’t alone.

    1. This is a very moving comment and means so much to me. When I have a dark time, I will try to think of times like this when people, although they don’t have to, reach out to me and make me feel part of something. x

  6. first of all, i think you are a very strong and brave girl for opening yourself that way and it can only be inspiring and helpful to others.everything you wrote about is something i can totally understand, and i also understand the way you feel about yourself (even if to some it makes no sense or they believe We are fishing for compliments, they don’t get it, they don’t know there’s a real disgust towards ourselves and we can’t define where this comes from).People say i look pretty and just like you, i feel like a fraud at times when they say that because with no make up,bright hair color, accessories and particular style to hide behind, i feel ugly and i feel fat even if i am dealing with anorexia for a while now, weight 47 kg (my height is 1.64 m)…the problem is for sure in our head, and low self-esteem, and i try to understand (my therapist helps me) why i do hate myself that much, why i never give myself a break even if everyone around says i’m a kind person…i am full of empathy for everyone, except myself…just like you, when i look at my scars, i feel bad but also “proud” at the same time, because i feel like a survivor and they mean a lot to me…the problem is that once they started to fade, i felt the need to SH again, as if i didn’t want to lose my “identity”, but we also know that it becomes addictive :-(…I could so much relate to your post ! i’m not going to tell you you’re not fat, because i know it drives me nuts when someone tells me so, but i’m going to tell you that i find you beautiful and that i can also feel a real inner beauty in you, so try to think about that if you can, when the dark shadows come and that little mean voice inside starts to make you feel like you’re nothing…i have gone through this, i’m still dealing with this , so know that you are not alone and thank you for sharing your emotions with us, we will never judge you, we understand you, we go through so many similar things and we love you ๐Ÿ™‚
    xxx

  7. Thank you. I know I keep saying it but it really helps so much that other people are out there going through the same thing. It is so frustrating when I am talking about how I feel about myself to a friend, especially if that person is bigger than me. Someone said to me once, ‘How can you say you are fat when I am a lot bigger than you? Are you saying it just to make me feel bad?’. I genuinely didn’t have an answer for her. In the cold light of day, of course, I could see she was indeed a lot bigger than me. But it didn’t detract the fact that I still saw MYSELF as fat. I wasn’t saying it for her to disagree with me (although it still feels good when people do). I was saying it because it is genuinely how I feel. I suppose I am my own worst enemy in one way because I hide myself in clothes so you can’t see my figure most of the time, and when I do show people my fat bits (mainly my stomach) I breathe in so it doesn’t look so bad because I am ashamed of it! How can I expect them to see the full extent of the problem if I won’t show it… I know, stupid, right! I KNOW that I am not obese. I look in the mirror and can see, from the front, that I go out at the shoulders, in at the waist, and out at the hips like you should. But I turn to the side, and my stomach looks as though I am pregnant. I think perhaps I do have some type of intolerance (perhaps wheat) because my stomach is definately smaller in the morning when I wake up, or when I haven’t eaten. But either way, I still have a ‘fat’ stomach, a ‘fat’ bottom and cellulite on my thighs, unless I really do have body dysmorphia and am completely imagining it (which I don’t believe). Unfortunately though, when I was suffering from Bulimia and went down to a very low weight, I still looked in the mirror and saw the same ‘fat’ places – proving this problem is not with my body, it is with my head…. and I will not be happy at ANY weight until I get myself sorted out. x

  8. I think you are very pretty. And you don’t look fat to me. I think you are very brave for putting up photos of your insecurities. I was wondering, if someone tells you that you are pretty, or have a nice figure, what do you think? If someone says that to me I tend to think that I personally do not agree with them, but I am happy that they see what I’d like them to, and that is (almost) enough. I feel better about myself than I did previously when I thought they were wrong, or lying, or needed their eyes tested or something. I’m not sure if that makes sense or is any use at all… It is nice to see you ๐Ÿ™‚ I shave my arms too.

    1. I have had to think really hard about your question about how I feel when people comment saying I am beautiful. I think what I actually do, is not listen to them. It is almost as though they are saying things to me, but I don’t believe them. I think to myself, they are just saying that to be nice, and to save my feelings. I don’t think I have ever actually LISTENED and BELIEVED a positive comment that someone has said to me. I guess I believe they are seeing something different to what I see – and never considered the idea that it might be ME who is seeing the distorted version. x

      1. I was thinking about self image today. I used to be a lot more careful in my appearance, back when I cared what people thought of me. Now, I don’t care so much about what I believe others must say about me behind my back. At the same time, I don’t care about me physically in the same way. I do put some effort into looking after my body, but in my mind I don’t seem to feel it’s mine anymore. That’s not a good thing. Deciding to accept that other people see me differently to the way I see myself couldn’t have caused that do you think? x

  9. I have two sisters and all throughout my child and teen years I was the only one of us 3 that didn’t care much how I looked or about my body. My sisters are probably average to thin and it boggled my mind when they’d cry because they thought they were fat. I never said anything insensitive but in my head the thoughts were there. About 2-3 years ago all the sudden I started caring and found problems with nearly all of my body. I like my hair and my eyes. Maybe you can think of just one thing you like about your body, another think I like is that I have durable finger nails that don’t break easily. I can say as the others have that you’re pretty and it may not mean much now, but perhaps in the future you can look back at those pictures and the comments here and believe them. I have issues with my scars, though very few are visible. Parts prob my social anxiety and shame and what if someone asks.

    1. That’s a good thing for me to try. I have durable fingernails too! (I don’t like my hands though, typical isn’t it!). I suppose it is trying to look at the positives and not the negatives, but sometimes that is so hard when you perceive yourself to have so many negatives. x

      1. I know it. Just trying to give a bit of perspective or maybe a new one. My sister envy’s my toes as well, silly things but when I look at them they do look a lot better than some other toes I’ve seen.

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