How my eating disorder fed off my Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) (Part 5)

As I looked into the mirror, in my university bathroom, one day, I noticed that I had several spots of acne. I closed my eyes and remembered, how my mother used to pop my pimples, and say, “Okay, Pizza face. Do not let me pop those pimples and let them get worse.”  Since I hit puberty, I had a bad complexion. My mother and I tried countless products from Clean and Clear to Oxy. None of them worked for me. Once I got my period my hormones made this worse. When my mother called me names it only hurt my self-confidence.  Then my mind drifted to my grandma’s words, “Your mother was so beautiful and had gorgeous skin. You did not get those skin problems from her. It must have come from your father’s side of the family.”

As I wiped sweat from my oily face, I decided to walk back over to the university health center to see if anything could be done about my complexion. That same day I explained to the nurse, “I need something to help clear up my face. I would like some recommendations that are over the counter since I don’t have insurance.” The nurse took a quick look at my face then asked, “Do they ever hurt or bleed?” I knotted yes. She quickly pulled out her prescription pad and said, “I know of this great kit that will help with that. Take this prescription and try it for two weeks then come back for a follow up.”

My mind drifted back to when I was a young 16-year-old. As I was sitting on the exam table, waiting for the doctor to come in to see about my eczema. My grandma reminded me, once again, about my mother’s beauty and how ugly I looked. She begged me to ask the doctor to help me clear up my complexion. At first, I did not want to ask the doctor, but then I caved. We tried three different medicines. The first one caused me to have black teeth. The cause of this was because I had an allergic reaction. The second medicine my grandma did not like because it took time to work and there was a smell to it. The third and final medicine looked like thick cake batter. So, after trying all three I told the doctor that I wanted to give up. Come to find out it was a wise choice because a few weeks later I lost my health insurance.

I hoped that this time the medicine, from the nurse at my university, would work. Two weeks later I returned to the nurse for my follow up appointment. “I couldn’t open the bottle. Because my hands were too weak because of my Cerebral Palsy.” I explained. “Amanda, next time ask the pharmacist to open it for you or put it into another container. Come back and see me in a month.”

I shook my head and left. I continued to try to apply the medicine like it was prescribed, but still I felt I was losing the battle.  The truth of the matter was I was tired of trying to fix the problem. Once I graduated from The University of West Florida my acne and the words of my family still was haunting me. It was not until years later that I found an over the counter product that worked. The more I use the product the more confident I felt. Now as I look into the bathroom mirror today and I think about the words of my family— Yeah, sometimes I still visit those memories, but I am learning to let them go and feel confident in my own skin.

How my eating disorder fed off my Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) (Part 4)

“Amanda, time to get up and walk Noodles,” my Grandpa said as he awakened me one Saturday morning. I grumbled as I got out of bed and grabbed Noodles’s leash; I slipped into a pair of shorts and  threw  on a T-shirt.  Then, Noodles and I went for a walk.  The truth of the matter was  that both Noodles  and I were overweight. I hated taking Noodles for a walk in the hot Florida sun because my eyes suffered from photophobia due to my Nystagmus.

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Photo of Noodles and I lying in the grass.                Photo credit goes to Mrs. Karen

 

 

Despite this problem, I knew that Noodles and I needed to walk so our health wouldn’t worsen. Besides exercising, I also knew that our poor eating habits had to change. For example, not only did we needed to cut back on giving Noodles so many treats, but I also needed to stop eating so many cheeseburgers and French fries at the college cafeteria.  One of the reasons why I was overeating was due to the stress of college. As a result of my poor dietary habits, I could barely fit into my clothes, and my energy level decreased.

One weekend, while visiting my grandparents, I said to Grandpa, “I am struggling with picking out healthy food at the cafeteria. All I want to eat are cheeseburgers, fries and soda.”  My Grandpa, who had eaten lunch with me at the cafeteria before, said, “I remember they offer a salad bar there. Try to eat a salad with your lunch and dinner. Limit the number of times you get a cheeseburger meal and try to get out to go for a walk between classes.”

When I returned to college the following Monday, my friend suggested that we walk to church  to get some exercise. On our way there, to attend Bible study, she handed me an orange and said, “Here, I know you have been trying to change your diet. I brought you an orange to try.”  I tasted it, and even though I used to like oranges, this one did not appeal to me, just like most other healthy food.  After I threw the orange in the trash, my friend said, “Don’t worry we’ll find some kind of fruit you like.”

Eventually, I forced myself to try more fruit. But other than bananas, no other fruit appealed to me.

Over the next year, Noodles and I made a lot of progress with our diets and exercise routines and lost the weight we needed.

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.

 

 

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!”