Saturday, 25 September 2010

So what's BDD then?..

If, and it is very rare, I admit to my BDD face to face, the first question I get asked is, 'what's that then?'

After a brief explanation, the  person who asked will say something like, 'Oh everyone worries about their appearance, I do everyday'. Which then means one goes on the defensive, and has to go off 'into one', trying to validate it. Which is why I tend not to ever mention it.

The easiest way to explain BDD is to say it runs your life for you; it pretty much makes every decision for you during your every waking hour. Where you go, how long you go for, if you go at all....this will be preceded by 100s of times checking mirrors; and then when you do get out, one simple reflection of yourself that does not look quite right can send you into panic overdrive, and back home you will go.

My Psychologist thinks it is very similar to OCD, because the OCD is in mirror checking, but that it is more deep seated than a habit  you need to kick. The belief is that some sort of trauma set this off way back in your childhood. I can remember as far back as 9 or 10, being afraid of my naked self. When I got to 15 this became a terror.

Look, with or without BDD, I am not a pretty boy...that I can live with..I am 5ft 8 and very slim. Now at 46, my GP will say, wow, you are in good shape; my weight is fine, at the moment, and as a GP he will compare me to other 46 year olds...most who meet me think I am 38 tops, so it is not all bad. But that is all the simplistic stuff....the odd thing is I have not had a problem being bald, or a slaphead as I like to say. When it started to go I shaved it all off....nothing worse then a man who clings on. Its like a needy lover!!!

So you have to get past the obvious; not being a pretty boy etc, because the roots to BDD are way deeper than all that; the defect is imaginary but I believe in it more then I have ever believed in anything. So the CBT takes time to work. I am setting myself tasks and trying my best to see them through. I am trying to do stuff that I like to do...self compassion is an essential part of recovering from a mental illness; it is a weird concept, doing stuff for me, being nice to me, that I was recently taught in group therapy....its all a slow up hill road but I am doing my best and getting on with it...

London September 2010

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Mental Health Discrimination

The DWP really do believe that an employer will give you a chance if you admit to having a mental health difficulty; what deluded planet do they live on? When you consider that society itself, everyday people, give you a very wide birth, why do the government think that someone will employ you?

Me, I am a multi skilled handyman...I was sacked recently and this is directly linked to my mental health problems. I do not fit in the box that the government want me to...I have worked all through my problems but not one of my employers has given me the chance to go and seek treatment; and what is my treatment? It is one session of CBT per week, which last one hour!! so I am hardly asking for much.

I have spoken to my mental health professionals recently and all agree that this country gives you no sympathy as soon as you come out of the mental health closet. Celebrities going to rehab are cool though!

I can not sue over my sacking, because I do not have the money to do so, and it is not something you can do on legal aid. I am not someone who is going to be a risk to anyone...I have body dysmorphia and depression, so the most radical thing I will ever do is take a nap and hide!!!!!

There is a really good example of double standards going on in the media at the moment; Ricky Hatton gets caught taking cocaine...checks into a rehab unit and is being treated for depression. Well if we all could afford the treatment in The Priory we would all go...if I go into a rehab unit I will be in a space with crack heads and people who wish to do you harm...I know, I have been there.

There is no point in my getting angry with the employers when 99.9% of people who know you have a problem will give you a very wide birth...this is is why, in my life, I have been left to fend for myself. I have no moral support at all...and when I say none, I mean none. As I stated before, it is even harder being a man in this situation..women tend to judge you even quicker. In fact the thing that shocks me most is the attitude of women when they find out you have an 'issue'.

There is little point in being bitter about it but it really does make me smile when you hear the 'wolly' brigade saying that there is a way back into work....I am lucky, in that I have only just lost my job, but it is about the 4th one I have lost due to the same problem. Those who have been out for years and years stand little or no chance at all.

For years and years I have had to hide and lie about my disorder; I lie about the marks on my arms...what kind of world makes me do that?..a world of people who judge and discriminate. And when I sit in a group of like minds, the stark reality is that I am not alone....this country gave up the ability to care years ago. I suppose this is why I do a blog...I am not going to fucking hide anymore or lie about what it is that has blighted me since I was 15....well that is 30 years and there is a story to tell there somewhere.

September 2010

Monday, 20 September 2010

Pictures (poem)

Asking and waiting; difficult questions and skewed mirrors             
presented images of me that were never quite right; always fragile, always close to shattering.

Marks on arms forever there and pictures of you forever             
imprinted on a mind so close to insanity but closer to utopia; same thing when you think about it.          
Beautiful stars show me from what we are made and I am        
in a poetic slum where words are stolen and shit smells of flowers.          
Glazed eyes reflect suburban sunsets and beautiful stories yet to be told;        
Butterfly kisses and wet underwear confirmation; playground bully and bedroom princess; salvage what you can and wake upon brilliant days and try again; strive to be the worst because there is soul in failure.   

Urinate in a font and shed tears for hair you will never stroke; see her neck and cry a bucket load...             
You are a hidden gem amongst the multitude of afflicted ordinary;       
crunch on a tasteless salad because the Government told you too   
and if your shit comes out green then blame it on the boogie.       
Kitchen sinks were never designed for doing the dishes; what a ridiculous notion; they act as a metaphor for dissatisfied couples;  

Fairy Liquid sex and occasional spilt wine; letters never sent to friends who lay dormant.       
English rose has been replaced by the she man.          
I have never been a pretty boy but my path has been more exciting than the blessed.     

My fucks achieved with hard work and musing; a well earned cum load feels better than the instant gratification of a Friday night take away.
Button pushing is my speciality; I know the route to all that is wrong but oh so right.
Class war in the bedroom never dragged me down but her knickers are up and
down like the dow jones. Instability is my kind of economy.           
Asking and waiting; difficult questions and skewed mirrors  
presented images of me that were never quite right, always fragile  
always close to shattering.

Marks on arms  forever there and pictures of you forever imprinted on  
a mind so close to insanity but closer to utopia..
..same thing when you think about it.             
 Danski (c) 2010       (Danski is the pen name of Tim Roberts)  

BDD and a new road I walked down

I found a BDD support group via Rethink, the mental health charity, which takes place at The Priory every month. I received an email, inviting me to attend, if I wanted, on Friday. I did not have time to think about it so I went on Sunday.

I will never discuss what other people said, or name them; this is the trust you enter into; but I will say that it was one of the most rewarding things I have done. Yes we all need CBT, or pills, and need the help of professionals, but when you meet a group of people who all come out with stuff you can relate to, its really quite liberating.

So many of the things that were said had me thinking, 'yes I have felt that', and it gives a validation to the condition, that this is not some passing fad.

We still have a media who mock mental health, yet we live in a country that is quite ill. Most people you meet will tell you to pull yourself together, and that is only if you get to the point of sharing your problem, which I would guess 99% of us don't. Apart from really close family I have lived my issues out on my own. Like Shirley Valentine, I talk to walls about my problems. With that in mind, it was refreshing to sit in a room with like minds; I was going to say nice, but there is nothing nice about this.

This has dictated how I have lived my entire adult life; I am angry that my diagnosis came so late but relieved that it now all makes sense. The depression side of it still hits home from time to time, but I do hope that self harm will be a thing of the past, forever! I never want to be an in patient ever again.

I am 7 months in to my CBT, which is hard core, and very difficult, so this group will be a valuable edition. I may always be BDD, but I need, and want, the tools to be able to cope with it. I will never get my years back, but I may be able to live the rest of them ok(ish). Yes I would like to go back and enjoy being a teen and not have this monster eating my head, but that is not going to happen. Finding a support group is the best thing that has happened for a while, so I am thankful to it and it will do for now.

London September 2010

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Body Dysmorphic Disorder...The Impossible List

I have this list that my psychologist made me do; it is a 1 to 15 of the things I find hardest to do, as someone who suffers with Body Dysmorphic Disorder. I did not have to think about the list and it took me seconds to compile.

When I look at it, it tells me why I am so fucking isolated; One of them is meeting new people and one of them is meeting up with people I know etc. The idea of going into a group of people is really tough, so the things I have done with the 'protest the pope' group were a major challenge. I am happy I went though with it and it helps me grow more confident.

I have been invited into a group at The Priory; a few people get together for a couple of hours every 3rd Sunday of each month to discuss how BDD affects their lives. I am a bit anti group, in that sense, because of the stigma attached to it, but I will give it a go.

I do wish that I could reach out more, and be more confident, but the fear is so great; it has nothing to do with rejection, everyone will have to suffer rejection at some point. It is a fear far, far greater. I am going to try and do away with at least two of the mirrors I have in my flat...again if you say to someone that you have a 'thing' for mirrors, they will say you are vain....really this is so ridiculous. A world without mirrors would be a fabulous place.

One day I will, I hope, be able to go about my world and not have to worry about things so much. The CBT I am doing is interesting; it studies schema's; emotions that were wedged into you as a young child. I faced awful bullying at school. I suffer with dyslexia, which was not picked up on in a 70's state school. No I was just placed in what they all called the stupid class. The teachers were nothing short of thugs. That is the issue; when you mention bullying you imagine a group of boys pointing at you and calling you names....yes this did happen but the teachers were no better.

Like I said, it is very difficult being a man and talking about these things; because I have been single and sexless for so many years I used to worry that this will turn any woman against me; the fact that I admit my problem and write about it. Maybe I am right but this is me and let's face it, if you are going to accept me, and if I am going to accept me, I have to confront it. And it is part of me so if someone will not give me a chance in this world, they will not be worth knowing anyway. Under all this, I am a rather fabulous person; its just getting to that point that takes some digging.

London September 2010

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Body Dysmorphic Disorder..a short diary

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