Looking at the quality of my present life, I couldn’t help but overlook the traumatizing experience that once impaired my ability to live, laugh, love, and appreciate the good things in life. I view it as something more nasty than Paul George’s lower right leg injury back in one of Team USA’s scrimmage in 2014. I can relate with how the Pacers star forward mentioned in one of his interviews that “ninety percent of the whole rehab is mental”, but from a whole different standpoint.
Though it may appear unlikely for a white guy, who is deemed to be heavily favored by this society, my mind was corrupted with thoughts of ugliness and imperfections intensified by a mind illness – Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
For people who may have never heard of BDD and its haunting signs, here’s an overview:
- Body Dysmorphic Disorder is closely tied to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – The International OCD Foundation
- The ratio of BDD sufferers to the general population is 1:50. It cripples 1.7% to 2.4% of the general population, accounting for more than 5 million to 7.5 million people in the United States – The International OCD Foundation
- Its rituals (e.g., excessive worrying, desire to have implants and facial operations to mask perceived defects, etc.) are pervasive and often hampers with one’s ability to effectively communicate with others.
- Most BDD cases are misdiagnosed, especially when the patient had a hard time explaining the inexplicable feeling. More often than not, the advising doctor views it as a normal occurrence of insomnia, stress, or fatigue.
- It’s accompanied by deep thoughts of hopelessness and suicide.
The Ignited Flame
It was supposed to be a pleasant gathering of future editorial league leaders; the night when my inner frustrations about my physical form capitalized in upsetting my head. The memory of how my peer poked fun at my blackheads evident on my white skin was still fresh, and I consider it as the turning point. All of their shallow jokes that I never gave importance to suddenly produced more decibels to my ears.
I tried to brush it off. I chomped on my Mexican tortilla and stared blankly in space. There had been countless nights involving not-so-deep sleeps; it eventually resulted to sequences of narcolepsy. Dark circles, weight loss that scourged my usual muscular body, and the littlest of flaws conceivable to men were the initiators of my first BDD encounter.
I underwent medication under the order of my family’s trusted neurologist. The routine involved taking Lexapro antidepressants and other pills designed to reuptake serotonin and other neurotransmitters to my brain. The approach was more scientific than personal which did little wonders for me.
After abandoning college for 6 months, I willed myself to get back in pursuing my writing career. I was triumphant in my first semester donning back my school uniform. Finally, I lasted several months without ruing every mirror facing session or weeping about how skinny I got – or so I thought.
My ephemeral victory against my battle with Body Dysmorphic Disorder sure lived up to the billing – it all came back as I’ve read in most forums and support groups. Before I threw a welcome party (I’m being sarcastic), I even won a couple of medals and awards to cap off my decorated 2009 year. The days after New Year spelled the difference, as I was exposed again with extreme academic-related stress that altered my physical appearance once more. All the progress I made ended up in futility for I was back locking my doors again, filled with negative thoughts about my gruesome face again.
That was the time my family seriously interfered with what was going on in my life. They made an effort to always be there, being hands-on with everything I see, think, and do. As expected, I recovered again- yet filled with fear of what I thought of as an unending loop. Until this day, I never had any trace of the worrywart I was and didn’t care about crap people hurl against me and my craft.
For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.
I was never the religious guy; there were countless times I was guilty of purposely missing Sunday Masses. I was wrong in viewing the Bible like that bitter syrup medicine kids will cry over just to avoid.
The above mentioned Bible verse was the first I’ve read in a few years. Word per word, I tirelessly tried and succeeded in grasping the message it endowed to its readers – that God betters us in ways we may see as plain suffering and despair. Little by little, I came back seeking His aid.
What I didn’t know was His plan to use me as an instrument for His greater glory. After my debacle, I became more tenacious and more adept in relating with other people’s feelings. I took a short course in personality development so I can further grow my interpersonal skills back then. Right now, I am an active contributor and adviser of various BDD support groups in social media.
I once doubted His reasons, but never did he abandon me. He shed the light back on my dark tunnel.
A Behavioral and Holistic Approach
I was dumb enough to not have figured it out the soonest- that happiness and self-esteem starts from within. It involves an honest assessment and acceptance of the things we are capable of and things we should forego pursuing. I fully realized that all superficial things (e.g., beauty, performance, aesthetics and the like) are pursued by fools who choose pretentiousness over real success in life.
Through my rough yet favorable experience, I have devised 7 tips and ways of thinking to help you shy away from unhappiness when the going gets tough or when you feel this prejudicial society counts you out.
- Move that bod. Exercise aids in anxiety and stress reduction; recreational activities will do the trick too.
- Inspiring by perspiring – It is always a welcoming sight to see yourself motivate others by simply not giving up.
- No, you don’t owe any obligation of pleasing strangers and nobodies. Most of your doubters and critics are people who have never seen a glimpse of your promising potential. Stick with positive people.
- Do-it-all will bring you more harm than progress. Take the time off the book or the monitor to appreciate the fine weather or your mom’s zesty veggie stew.
- You have absolute control over what you want to feel in every situation. Find the challenge in frustrations and setbacks. Channel positives from the negatives.
- Obsession kills you inside. Strive to achieve feasible yet sustainable success.
- Utmost patience is important. Some of your hopes and aspirations may not materialize right now, but trust me, it will commence at the best time God designed it to.
The starting letter for each guideline, when read downwards, shows the simplest yet most crucial advice – Mind you (yourself). While you can never change certain people’s negative perception and judgment towards you, you always have the option to silence them by pursuing excellence and virtue in the aspect of life that matters to you most.
Patrick works as a contributor at http://www.essaytwist.com He is a former editor of a small town newspaper publishing. He is an avid fan of social media, and runs his own page for writing enthusiasts for his college. With the rising clamor for healthy living, Patrick immersed himself with water sports.
What challenges have you overcome lately? Which one of Patrick’s seven tips for shying away from unhappiness have you used? Which tip do you need to start putting into practice today? I can’t wait to hear from you in the comments below!
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