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 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.

A follower Asked….

A Facebook friend and follower who has Nystagmus, asked me to offer some tips on how to manage Nystagmus while you are sick.

As always, I advise this friend and all my followers that If you are having any kind of medical or mental problems, please seek proper medical care.

Even though I am not a medical professional, and I am not offering any medical advice, I want to offer five tips that has helped me feel better when I have been sick. I hope that these tips answer this follower’s question.

  1. Admit that you are sick and that you need to rest.

We all lead busy lives and sometimes we just carry on with what we are doing. When you have a sever sickness, you need to admit that you are sick stay home. I had to convince myself of this during my high school days. I used to go into school just to take one test then go to the office to go and get checked out. This did not help me or school community.

  1. Drink plenty of fluids.

When I was a young child, I loved chicken broth and Sprite. This helped me with any sore throat that I may of had.

  1. Get some sleep! Sleep is so important with your health. Not only is it important when you’re sick, but also when you are well. When I am sick, I can feel my Nystagmus go even faster. My eyes hurt a lot more than normal. Therefore, when we take an extra nap, it really reduces our eye movements and sooth our achy eyes.
  2. Go to the doctor when needed.

This was an important lesson I had to learn as a teenager. When I was seventeen, I had a kidney infection. For one month before my diagnosis, I kept saying to myself, “You’re not sick, you just threw your back out during P.E.” That was a big lie. The pain made me cry and sent me to the Emergency Room. As a result, I received two bags of fluids to decrease my heartrate and blood pressure. I had to stay overnight. If I had gone to my general practitioner earlier I would not have had to go through all that.

  1. Don’t let stress make your immune system weak after you have made a full recovery.

People with Nystagmus know stress can increase their eye movements.  I missed three days school due to my kidney infection. As a result, I fell behind with my school work. This stressed me out! My stress increased even further when I learned that school policy only allowed me three days to get back on track with my work. I should have paced myself. I felt rushed because of this deadline, and increased my anxiety and stress levels which made me feel weaker after my recovery.

I am sure that there are many more tips that I could have offered. If you can think of something, that you would like to add tell me in the comments below.

Disclaimer: If you are experiencing any problems with your physical or mental health please seek proper medical care.

If you have a question you would like to ask me feel free to email me at: amanda@amandagene.com