Friday, February 11, 2011

Yesterday I did some online research on a disorder I had heard about called Body Dysmorphic Disorder.  The Mayo Clinic website defines it as follows:

Body dysmorphic disorder is a type of chronic mental illness in which you can't stop thinking about a flaw with your appearance — a flaw that is either minor or imagined. But to you, your appearance seems so shameful that you don't want to be seen by anyone. Body dysmorphic disorder has sometimes been called "imagined ugliness."
When you have body dysmorphic disorder, you intensely obsess over your appearance and body image, often for many hours a day. You may seek out numerous cosmetic procedures to try to "fix" your perceived flaws, but never will be satisfied. Body dysmorphic disorder is also known as dysmorphophobia, the fear of having a deformity.
Treatment of body dysmorphic disorder may include medication and cognitive behavioral therapy.
Wikipedia states that...
the disorder is linked to significantly diminished quality of life and can be co-morbid with major depressive disorder and social phobia, also known as chronic social anxiety. With a completed-suicide rate more than double that of major depression (three to four times that of manic depression) and a suicidal ideation rate of around 80%, extreme cases of BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder) linked with dissociation can be considered a risk factor for suicide; however, many cases of BDD are treated with medication and counseling.[7]

They state further that a person's issue can be mis-diagnosed as depression when it's actually BDD which is causing the problem.  The sufferer tends to spend excessive time thinking about a perceived flaw, looking in a mirror to examine it thoroughly, and otherwise obsessing about a flaw which usually doesn't even exist.

I feel badly for such a person because their quality of life is so impaired. 

In a similar vein, I've just started reading a book called Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body (Hardcover)by Courtney E. Martin.  She is a young woman writing about her generation's horrific tendency to focus on their bodies and their imperfections.  She states that so many of these young women appear to have it all - excellent grades, amazing achievements, great jobs, perfect boyfriends - they are perfect on paper - yet they spend hours daily thinking about what they have eaten/want to eat/shouldn't eat, etc., etc.  Martin figures conservatively that such people spend over 100 minutes each day with thoughts such as "I wonder if I should get a frozen yogurt.  Oh, no, I haven't earned it.  No, that would be so bad.  No, I won't do it.  Yes, I'm going to.  I didn't have breakfast so I deserve it, and besides it doesn't have all that many calories.  What the hell!"  Then of course there's the price they pay in guilt and self-disgust and vomiting it up.  She paints a picture of imbalance and horrible self-denial.

It seems to me that our society is significantly out of balance with food and eating and body image and very little idea of how to think about it normally.  I haven't read a book about that yet - what normal eating would look like.  Of course I've read nutrition books about the ideal meal plan (where one is supposed to weigh and/or measure ones portions precisely as well as record them so one can't fool oneself about what one has really eaten) but I'm not sure that counts as "healthy".  Does anybody out there have an answer to that one?

1 comment:

  1. It is painful reading this blog.
    The words describe what I went through until the baby was born. I had a high risk pregnancy resulting from preeclampsia. It is the number one killer of women and children in third-world countries. After we came through alive (me on 24hr of magnesium), I could no longer hate my body. Yes, it betrayed me, yet again, but, how can I hate a body that still made it through so I can hang with my baby?

    What is healthy? Well, I also went Diabetic due to the pregnancy. What is healthy is a diet (not a bad word, a diet is what you eat)with the highly processed carbohydrates greatly reduced. What I mean is, I think the current food pyramid is for growing people not grown people. When we reach adulthood, we need to knock back the carbs or we continue to grow out rather than up. I've seen this with my diet and the blood sugar reads support it. The first two weeks are the worst of the carb reduction if you do the crash method. Lots of little carb craving bacteria in the gut die off at once sending off strong despondance and hunger. (I just went through that again because I have a virus, my blood sugar is up and I haven't eaten anything but veggies and protein and fruit for the last four days.) My other hint is: whatever you eat, eat one fist size serving and serve it on a 8 1/2" diameter plate. You may wish to start there first. It takes awhile to adjust to controlling servings....then it becomes normal to your stomach and to your brain.

    As for exercise, it isn't that difficult to work in to a normal sedentary life. While I will resume walking my routes, fairly soon (my heart is getting ancy for exercise), I've spent the entire winter randomly wandering around the house (cleaning, bleh, but I think of it as wandering cause I'm kind of ADD and do a lot of projects at once which causes me to wander), surprising myself with unplanned trips up and down the stairs and following the babies lead in the ab exercise department. When she starts lolling on her back and lifting her legs all around, that is when I know it is ab work time, again. But it is easy, I just do what the baby does not the societally mandated crunches that simply do not work for me.

    Anyway, I wanted to share this with you because it is easier than you think. I am 5'5" and 138 lbs, I started the winter at 145 lbs (I've lost 2 lbs due to the illness so probably like 140, but I'm dense). If that photo is you, I suggest leg lifts and scissors and leg lifts with twirly feet....just randomly, whenever just like the growing toddlers do.......I'm still working on finding the perfect exercise for the bottom bulge...I have a line of fat over the bellybutton part of the abdomen where I can't get the muscles to work hard enough to burn the fat....but the only time I didn't have a bottom tummy bulge was when I did a lot of heavy lifting as a Garbage Collector. So, it is obviously natural to those of us who don't do that type of heavy work.

    This is my real life. I'm not going back on insulin. I am not going to pass on BDD to my daughter. And, I refuse to be fat like the rest of the women in my family, save one. It will kill me.