How my eating disorder fed off my Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) (Part 3)

I have a confession to make. I haven’t been shooting my YouTube videos because I am currently in a BDD episode. For those of you who may not know, the Mayo Clinic defines BDD as a mental health condition with symptoms that are either minor and non-harming or flaws that are made up. These flaws can be so distressing for people suffering from this condition that they often spend most of their time looking at their bodies in disgust, or they focus on finding treatments for their problems.

For example, my current BDD episode was triggered when I went to the orthodontist to get new retainers and the technician told me my teeth had shifted slightly. The technician said that teeth naturally shift and that I still had a pretty smile. But later that afternoon when I looked in the mirror, I saw the crooked teeth I had as a teenager before I had braces.

It also reminded me of the days when I was in middle school when my classmates and I would dance in a large circle at recess. One day they made fun of me by calling me “monster and dirty” because my teeth were stained and crooked. They continued to tease me by saying, “Amanda has dirty teeth and never goes to the dentist.” Their taunts made me feel very self-conscious about my teeth. The truth of the matter was my mother was too poor at that time to afford to take me to the dentist.

It’s not just my smile, however, that brings on a BDD flare; it’s also my weight. Even though I only weigh 115 pounds on average, I still see myself as fat. I see chubby cheeks, chubby arms and a rounded belly that sticks out  from behind my top.

One way people with BDD fix this flaw, according to the Mayo Clinic, is to buy bigger clothes.

When I am in a BDD episode like this, I don’t like to leave the house because I am afraid people will think I’m ugly.

But when I do go out, my friends sometimes take me clothes shopping. I tend to buy clothes that are a size larger than  what I normally wear.  After picking something out, my friends say, “Amanda, you’re not that big. Your pants look way too baggy on you. Stop buying baggy clothes.”

My friends often beg me to buy leggings that are tight so that they will show off my figure.  When I come out of the dressing room, I often say, “This doesn’t fit. It’s too tight.” Then, my friends will say, “Well, shoot, you’re so small. I thought you could fit into that.” Then, I go back and pick out baggy clothes. This is one of the classic symptoms to help fix the flaw, according to the Mayo Clinic.

So for now, as I attempt to get back to shooting YouTube videos, all I see in the viewfinder is the flaws of  a person with crooked teeth, chubby cheeks, chubby arms, and a fat stomach protruding from baggy clothes staring back at me. Until I stop believing those lies, and start shooting YouTube videos again, I won’t be able to see the healthy and beautiful person that people say I am.

 

 

Interview with Ami (Guest Post #23)

Hi Everyone, today’s guest post is from Ami. Be sure to check out and follow her on social media. 🙂

What is your name (or blog/channel name)?

My name is Ami and my blog is UndercoverSuperhero!

Age?

I’m 25 in January.

What is the name/cause of your visual impairment (or other disabilities that you may have)?

I have Bilateral Hearing Loss, Optic Neuropathy, Severe Nerve Damage, Sensory Ataxia, Transverse Myelitis, Raynaud’s Disease, Depression, Anxiety, and I have recently been diagnosed with Mitochondrial Disease.

How does your visual impairment (or other disabilities that you may have) effect you on a daily basis?

I have hearing loss to a degree; I can hear some things but I struggle when others are speaking. Optic Neuropathy (Central Vision Loss) means that the tissue behind my eyes, are very pale which leads to the loss of my central vision. These two impairments combined leave me unable to watch TV, read small pieces of text. Plus, I cannot see some facial features unless they are very close in front of me.

Severe Nerve Damage was caused by an untreated Vitamin B12 Deficiency. Transverse Myelitis caused me to lose all of my mobility, due to my spinal cord becoming inflamed. This also causes me to experience altered sensations in my hands; they feel like I’m constantly wearing rubber gloves.

Sensory Ataxia affects my balance, co-ordination and fine motor skills. The sensory part causes me to not be able to sense where my limbs are, unless I’m actually looking at them (with my good side vision). I can walk a few metres with my walking frame, but due to Sensory Ataxia causing muscle weakness, I become tired very quickly.

Raynaud’s Disease is where my hands, feet, and ears are oversensitive to cold temperatures, thus causing an attack where the blood vessels in my extremities (fingers and toes) become narrow and decrease the amount of blood flow. The attack causes sharp pains, very cold hands and feet. I sometimes have to wear gloves and ear cuffs in the summer!

My recent diagnosis of Mitochondrial Disease came after a muscle biopsy discovered a mutation on one of my genes’. I’m still learning about this disease, but so far, this is possibly the cause of my Sensory Ataxia, Optic Neuropathy and Bilateral Hearing Loss – it’s difficult to say how Mitochondrial affects me symptom-wise as, for me, it’s most likely the cause of 3, possibly 4, of my disabilities and impairments.

I’ve had Depression and Anxiety for just over a decade, it’s definitely improved over the years and despite all my disabilities, I am generally a happy person and try to remain positive. However, due to flashbacks and certain life events, I can experience bad bouts with my Mental Health.

Ami

What do other people feel about your visual impairment (or other disability that you may have)?

I’ve never been asked this before! I think at the beginning, of my symptoms, my family didn’t really understand what was happening, which to be fair, nor did I. However, as I slowly learned to adapt, they started to adapt to my disabilities and impairments too. As soon as they realised that, deep down, I’m still the same Ami, they didn’t treat me any different and we could move forward.

If you had to give one piece of advice to others about having a visual impairment (or other disability that you may have) What would that be?

My advice would be – I know it seems scary right now, that’s normal, but as you learn to adapt to your disability or impairment, you will learn that the world around you can be adapted too. Just take one day at a time.

Who has inspired you the most in life?

Growing up, I never felt I had anyone to look up to. However, that changed when I fell in love with superhero movies. Superheroes have their own issues to contend with, but they push them aside when they save the world. They don’t let anything hold them back.

Who has inspired you for your blog or YouTube channel?

Sam Cleasby, a radio presenter and activist who blogs about life with Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, inspired me to share my recovery story through writing and I’ve not looked back since.

Besides writing or making YouTube videos what do you like to do in your spare time?

Besides writing, I love volunteering! I volunteer as one of Scope’s Online Community Champions, the role includes welcoming new members, signposting members to relevant resources which may be of use to them. Try to answer any unanswered posts, flagging up posts which suggests the member is putting themselves or others at risk. Reporting any spam and generally keeping the community a safe and supportive place for everyone.

I’m also the Leader of Ataxia UK – Norfolk Branch Online Support Group on Facebook, it is quite a quiet group but I’m always on hand if anybody has any questions or needs any support.

Name a bad habit that you have?

Not writing something down while I remember it! Otherwise, its forgotten.

Name your best quality?

Strong – not physically! But strong within, I have had a tough few years but it’s made me a better person and I wouldn’t change a thing.

If you could interview anyone living or dead who would it be and why?

Tom Hiddleston because he is incredibly passionate about each role he portrays; I’d love to find out what inspired him to become an actor. Also, I love his dedication to charity work. He is handsome too!

What is your college major/minor?

I didn’t attend college.

Why did you choose the title of your blog or YouTube Channel?

I love superheroes and as cliché as it sounds, UndercoverSuperhero just popped in my head when I woke up one morning.

When and why did you start your blog or YouTube channel?

After writing my first guest post, for Scope, it inspired me to write about my recovery journey. UndercoverSuperhero began in October 2018.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I would love to become a Wedding Planner within the next 5 years! Regarding my blog, I’m enjoying watching it evolve; I like to be spontaneous with it. In general, I hope to still be taking each day as it comes and making the most of my life.

Where can other people find you on social media? (Please list and provide the links.)

My blog – UndercoverSuperhero – https://undercoversuperhero.com

Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/UndercoverSuperheroAmi/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/AmiHIreland

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/undercover_superhero_ami/

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0zcvNOK_xw56IZ-Ab790kA

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.co.uk/USuperheroAmi/

 

2020: More Courage, Self-Control and Joy-April Edition

April has come and gone in waves. Some days go by faster than others. I must admit that I forgot to write a “2020: More courage, Self-Control and Joy-March Edition” because I lost track of time.

Like the rest of the world, I am staying at home due to the Pandemic. I have found out a lot about myself during this difficult time.

First, I have decided to have more courage. One of the things that this pandemic has taught me is that I deserve health care. I have not seen a doctor since 2016. Even though I have a fear of getting medical care, I have decided that once this Pandemic ends, and the doctor offices open up I have to make an appointment to have a general health assessment which includes blood work. When it comes to courage I really have to learn that God wants me to have peace in my life, to understand that he wants me to let go of my past, and my fears and to know that he has a wonderful life planned for me.

Self-control has been challenging because I have been struggling with setting my financial goals. There are some things I need to buy, but there are also a few things I want to buy. For example, I broke my Phone’s screen last November after my hard drive broke, and I need to replace my phone’s screen. I have been going back and forth with the thought of buying myself a prepaid cell phone plan or staying on my grandfather’s family plan and just fixing my phone. Getting my phone fixed will not be cheap. There are somethings I would like to buy. I would like to buy an Apple watch. However, achieving these “want” goals take time. The things I really need, including my business goals, are most important. I just have to show self-control and save for the most important things first.

One of the things that this pandemic has taught me is to have more joy for what I have. Recently, God has been telling me “to clean out my closet and my room.” Not only is he talking about my physical space, but spiritually as well. I have been using An App called Bible. Within this app you can study different plans. Boy, God sure has been using this App to get my attention! Lately, I have been struggling with my Body Dysmorphia Disorder and God used  two different plans  one called “How God See’s you” And “Get Out Of Your Head” to get my attention that the way I look is the way I am meant to be. God wants me to focus on him and on reaching my goals that he has set for me instead of having anxiety take over me. God has also used another plan called “How To Forgive Someone Who Hurt you Deeply.” For years I thought that my feelings had to a line so that way I could forgive my father for not wanting to be a part of my life. The plan went on to explain that forgiveness and feelings do not have to line up to forgive someone. It is okay to feel hurt, but it is better to let go of the hurt and to forgive the person who has hurt you. Dad, if you ever get a chance to read this know that I deeply want a relationship with you. You are always welcome to reach out to me at any time.  I am working on processing and forgiving you. I am no longer angry at you. You are forgiven. One of my friends put it to me this way, “As long as we have breath there is hope for a relationship.” That is a great thing. Letting go of my hurt has helped me find joy in my life. As I dive into these plans, I am working on letting go of the negative things in my life. That has brought me peace.

How was April for you? What goals did you achieve this month? Tell me in the comments below.

 

 

 

How my eating disorder fed off of my Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) (Part 2)

As I sat in the busy cafeteria of my college, I chomped down my usual menu of a burgers, fries, and Dr. Pepper. Meanwhile, the cafeteria manager, who also was a friend of mine, sat down next to me at my table.  “Amanda,” she said, “I have been watching you eat the past couple of weeks, and I noticed that your diet consists of hamburgers, plates of fries and many cups of soda.” I nodded, as I shoved several French Fries in my mouth.  “I am worried about you,” She said, “You know that a healthy diet can be achieved even when you are eating on a meal plan.” As I swallowed my mouth full French fries and looked at the pile of plates stacked in front of me, I blushed with embarrassment and said, “I know what you mean, and I appreciate your concern. However, I just simply lost the taste for healthy food.” The manager then said, “Are you feeling okay? I noticed your voice sounds scratchy, and you look a little pale.” Then her cook called her away before I got a chance to answer.

The truth was I could feel myself getting sick with what I thought was a cold. For weeks I had been feeling tired. I thought that I just was being a busy college student and the semester was just weighing down on me.

A few weeks later I found myself sitting on the examination table as one of the school’s nurses wrote down a prescription for antibiotics for a sinus infection. A week later I felt like my old self. At the follow up appointment, the nurse said, “You need a blood draw to check for any sign of infection. While we are doing this blood draw we might as well do a full blood panel. And don’t eat anything after nine p.m. on the night prior to your appointment.”

The evening of my appointment the fear of fasting threw me into a binge. First, my friend and I stopped at Sonic and I ate a grilled cheese sandwich and drank a slushy. After that, we also attended church. For church dinner that night they offered a baked potato bar. I ate three large baked potatoes topped with sour cream, chili, and corn chips and washed them down with lemonade.

I survived the night with some tears and had my blood test done the following morning.

Then, two days later, as I waited for my results at the nurse’s office, I grabbed a copy of my school’s paper, The Corsair, off the newsstand. I opened to the article I had written, titled “Get your Barbeque on.” As I read about the downtown barbeque content, my stomach began to growl for breakfast.

The nurse called me back into an exam room. She pulled up my file on her computer and said, “I am concerned with these results because your triglycerides are on borderline high, and your weight is on the brink of being considered overweight.” As she reviewed my family’s history, she said, “I notice your mother’s health history; she had high blood pressure, high cholesterol….”

I did not hear the nurse talking after that, because I remembered the last time I told my mother I loved her. It was moments before she died from a heart attack, when I was just 16 years old.

“Amanda!” Are you listening?” the nurse said, as she interrupted me from my memory. I wiped away a tear and nodded. The nurse continued by saying, “Then lose the weight!”

How my eating disorder fed off my Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) (part 1).

As I reluctantly looked in the mirror in my college bathroom,  I would glance at the toilet and back to the mirror, then back to the toilet, and then back to the mirror, as I pulled my long  blonde hair back into a ponytail.  Hurry up! Stick your fingers in your mouth! You’re fat! You binged again… If you would just throw up and lose a pound or two you would be prettier, and you would feel better! These were the thoughts that often went through my mind when I faced the mirror. I was depressed, lonely, and was downright unhappy. The truth was I was binge eating my feelings.

When I ate in the cafeteria, I mainly only ate cheeseburgers and French fries, then would go back for plate after plate of French fries – – and would wash it all down with Dr. Pepper!  Beyond that, I also stored snacks in my dorm room, such as chocolate pudding, pop tarts, ice cream, popcorn and cans of Ravioli. Consequently, the items from this menu only added more pounds and not only worsened my BDD, but also increased my desire to sometimes purge.

At that time, I remember trying on my favorite pair of jeans and could barely zip them up.  I thought to myself either the washer or the dryer at my school has made my jeans shrink, or I have gained weight. Either way, I need new clothes. When I visited my grandparents the following weekend, my grandpa commented that I had put on a few pounds. That’s when I realized that the college’s washer or dryer were not to blame.

Later that day, my grandma offered to take me to Walmart to buy me some new jeans. Because I was a poor college student, I was thankful for this gift.

When we arrived at Walmart, and were looking at some jeans, a female sales associate approached us and asked if she could help.

My grandma then said to the sales associate, “When she was at Pensacola State College she didn’t gain weight, and now that she is at The University of West Florida she has put on weight and we don’t know what size to get her.”  As I stood there listening to those words, I felt ashamed of my body. Looking back at this memory I realized that comments from my grandmother, friends and other family members attributed my eating disorder and BDD. As I stood there feeling hot from embarrassment, the female associate turned to a male co-worker who was standing nearby stocking shelves, “Just ignore this.”  Then she eyed me up and turned to my grandma and said, “She does have a nice figure despite her gaining the freshmen 15. I would try the next size up from her current jeans.” I fought back tears as my BDD turned the freshmen 15 into the freshmen 100 in my mind.

After I tried on a few pairs, and as I stood l there not wanting to look at myself in the mirror because of my BDD, I knew in my heart that if I didn’t get a hold of this problem it would continue to spiral out of control.

Disclaimer: If you are having problems with either your physical or mental health please seek professional medical care.

The Pandemic and My Hurt Tooth

This Pandemic has been all over the news and I have been having some anxiety. One of the ways that I deal with anxiety is I clinch and grind my teeth at night.  On the 22 of March, I bit into my night guard hard. It hurt and I had a concern that I had broken my tooth.  I really didn’t want to increase my chances of catching the virus by visiting the dentist. I waited a few days to see if the pain would subside. It didn’t. I made the brave decision to go to the dentist.

On the 25, when I got to the office, there were only a few cars in the parking lot. My grandpa decided to wait in the car until I was ready to check out. When I approached the door there was a large sign that read: Knock to be let in. This was due to the pandemic.

Once I checked in at the front desk, I was given paperwork to fill out. I looked around at the small lobby. It was empty.  Because of my visual impairment I had to ask for assistance to help me fill out the paperwork.

As I was filling out the paperwork I was so scared; I was shaking because not only was I fearful of catching the  Corona virus, but I was also fearful of having to get extensive dental work that would be accompanied by a large bill. The dental hygienist was kind to me, as she explained what would happen during the procedure.

When the dentist came in, he appeared to be already dressed in his Covid-19 attire, which included a thick gown, gloves and a mask.

He seemed rushed to get on with the exam. He didn’t really introduce himself. He just quickly asked me to open my mouth, and then he looked with a mirror and a poky tool. He told me that my tooth wasn’t broken; however, I needed to see my orthodontist because my teeth shifted. To keep your teeth from further damage, I also needed a new night guard and a new retainer.

Since I also suffer from body image disorder, my heart sank because I felt ugly due to the change in my teeth.

That same day I tried to make an appointment to see my orthodontist. However, due to the pandemic, he would not be available for consultation until May. But I was able to see a technician at his office, who gave me a new retainer.  The technician didn’t really have any advice to give me to help with my clenching and grinding other than to get a new night guard from Walmart. This advice added to my anxiety because I wasn’t sure if it would work, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to see my orthodontist until May.

When I went to Walmart to buy another night guard, I noticed how the people moved quickly and seemed standoffish.  Interestingly enough, the shelfs in Walmart were filled of supplies even though the shelf’s in other stories in my area were empty due panic buying because of the pandemic.  I grabbed my guard, checkout and went home.

A few days later, I have learned that by not watching as much news on the pandemic the anxiety I have felt has gotten better.  I hope that the pain will go away even further were I will not have to see my orthodontist in May.  How are you coping with anxiety during this time?

The Time I Overcame

This is a new story series! The Time I overcame…. The first story comes from Ailsa.  I hope everyone likes this new series. Take it away, Ailsa.

Hi everyone, I am Ailsa, and I am the proud owner of Brains on Wheels. Brains on Wheels is my personal blog, where I write about my experiences surrounding my disabilities. I would like to thank Amanda for letting me write for her blog…

Today I would like to talk about how proud I am to have achieved my English GCSE at a grade 3.

In England, we have an education system where people who are 14 – 16 take exams called GCSEs, which stands for General Certificate of Secondary Education. Genually, pupils around 16 years of age take their GCSEs. As far as I am aware, and in my experience, most GCSEs consist of coursework and exams. Some have more than one piece of coursework, some have more than one exam. It all depends on the subject

In June 2013, I took my GCSEs. I took all of the core (required) subjects; English, Mathematics, ICT (I got the highest grade in ICT), and combined Science (Biology, Chemistry and Physics). I chose to take one other subject: Health and Social Care. I sat each exam, I have double the amount of time to complete each paper. Everything went well in my exams, I am proud of my grades.

For the English exam, there were three components to make up the final grade; Controlled Assessments, also known as coursework, Speaking and Listening, and one written paper. I did all three parts.

In all my exams, I am aloud up to 100% extra time because it takes me longer to read and get my thoughts written down. I am also entitled to a reader, a scribe (writer) and rest breaks. It took me about five hours to complete my English exams! I made it! From analysing and comparing texts, to writing a short narrative, I did the lot. Five hours later, I was absolutely exhausted!

Then came Results Day. I went all the way back to my senior school, which was Portchester Community School to collect my GCSE results. When I arrived, first of all I had a quick natter with my friends, and met up with the LSA I had helping over the five years I was at the school. I took my results envelop and opened it… All of my results were as expected, apart from one subject: English.

Back then GCSE grades went from A* (which was the highest) to the lowest grade of G. U was ungraded.

I was predicted to get a D in English at school. When I looked at my English grade, the paper said that I got a G. On the paper, it had the grade broken down into three sections: Coursework, the Speaking and Listening, and the exam. I had marks for the coursework and the Speaking and Listening exam, but they had my result for the paper marked as 0!

I was so upset with this! English has always been one of my strongest subjects and to go through this was horrible. After a lot of conversations between my mum, school, the exam board and I, we found out that the exam board had lost the paper with my answers written on. We were all incredibly angry about this. The rules say that if the exam boards lose someone’s paper, they have to give the candidate their predicted grade. The exam board announced that they had “found” my paper and gave me an F. To this day, all of us think that they never found my paper, and they didn’t want to give me my predicted grade, so they just picked any old grade to give me.

Anyway, when I was about to start, the staff at my college (UK) said that if I didn’t get a grade C or above, they would help me to get a higher grade. I can’t remember when, but when I asked about re-sitting my English GCSE, they refused to give me the opportunity on the grounds that I wasn’t working at the appropriate level. They also said that I “wouldn’t be able to cope” in a mainstream class, even though I went through mainstream schools. This made me extremely angry, and even more determined to prove them wrong.

We made a deal that if I passed Level 1 and 2 Functional Skills English, I could then re-sit my GCSE. Functional Skills English has never been practical for me because the writing part has to either be hand-written or typed on a computer. Even though I am able to use a computer with my feet, when I get stressed or emotional, my mussels refuse to function effectively. As a result, I couldn’t type very well or quickly and before I knew it, my time was up. Straight away I knew that I didn’t write enough to pass. I took this exam twice, and the second time around, I passed!

They finally allowed me to join a GCSE English class after passing Level 1. I did well in the classes, but the college still would not let me take the GCSE. I took the class for two or three years before I was allowed to take the exam. I watched lots of other students; my peers gearing up for their exams, knowing that I wasn’t going to be taking the exam with them.

By the time I was put in to do the GCSE English exam, in 2018, the system had changed completely. The grades changed from A* to G, to 1 to 9. I had to learn a new set of skills for this exam, which wasn’t that bad, but it was still annoying. I was just lucky that I had a fantastic teacher!

The good thing about the exam changing is that it was a shorter exam. I still got double the time take the written exam, but because it was shorter, it was easier. I still did the Speaking and Listening exam with the same amount of time as the rest of the people doing this exam though.

When I came out of my last exam, I was so excited and proud of myself for doing it that I screamed at the top of my lungs. One of the things that I said was “in your face!”, I know that was a bit childish, but I don’t really care because I waited so long to do it. I just want to thank the people who believed in me and gave me the chance to do this. It really was an amazing feeling!

It just goes to show that you should believe in yourself and you should never take ‘no’ for an answer. If you want something that much, you should fight for it!

Thank you for reading this blog post, I hope that you have enjoyed reading about my achievement! Feel free to visit my blog, subscribe and follow me on Social Media…

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