I am 45, male, and have lived with body issues all my adult life, and most of my childhood as well.
Many years ago, well 12 to be exact, the mental health system did not know what to do with me, so it threw me in an acute ward and gave me 12 ect(electric shock) treatments. It took until a year ago for someone to diagnose me correctly, and now I am starting to live!
I have managed my life around this condition; I have not shirked work but it has cost me most of what other people take for granted; Love, friends, a social life and much much more.
If you tell anyone what your problem is they will either run or tell you to pull yourself together ,after all, I am a man!! Like that has got anything to do with it!!!! But being a man does make the judges judge more.
A woman will say, but hey, you don't look so bad...I swear, this is a regular.
If I go out, I have to plan in advance and make lots of adjustments. Mirrors and reflections are all over the place, so it is hard to escape. If I stand in a packed Tube train, as far as I am concerned I look nothing like anyone else in that space. I don't mean in terms of shape, colour, age etc; I mean I feel like there is no one else on this planet who has my shape, my faults, my look.
I have had to manage self harm most of my adult life; burning my arms and od's; though this is well under control now and years since I did anything bad. There was one occasion when I did try to end the pain, 12 years ago. I could not live with the feelings anymore.
Now I try to manage it best I can; I write my rather ugly poetry; I do very extreme CBT therapy, weekly. It is a struggle but I do it all alone. It is quite tough never to have anyone to talk to; when I say no one, I mean no one. I live in isolation as far as friends are concerned. It is a bit late, when 45, to go back and make long lasting mates who you can lean on.
I love cinema, so I go and to the theatre; I can handle this kind of thing but in small doses. I have missed out on what life has to offer but I have seen things from a different angle as well. Most simple things, that people do, go shopping etc, is a major trauma for me, when at my worst; walking over a crowded room..hell!
I want to write about this condition because it is not understood; My depression is much much better now and I no longer take any pills. Most think that BDD is vanity....well its the other end of the scale. I will write more when I have some more thoughts about it..Tim
London September 2010