How to support your loved one who has Body Dysmorphic Disorder

As you have read about my journey with my eating disorder and Body Dysmorphic Disorder you are probably wondering what you can do to help support a friend or loved one who may be struggling with this. Even though I am not a medical professional or therapist here are 5 tips that have helped me in my own journey.

  1. Encourage seeking proper medical and mental health care. Even though I am struggling with facing my fears of getting medical care I know all to well that medical and mental health care go hand in hand. It is important to be sure all providers be on the same page.
  2. Once a proper medical diagnosis is made, try to educate yourself on the disorder(s) your loved one has. This can help you understand what they are going through and what kind of options your loved one may have in terms of treatment.
  3. Make sure your loved one understands and follows their own care plan. Be aware that sometimes slipups can happen but remind them to get back on track so they can be healthier and happier. An example of this, was when I was trying the no white food diet. It was hard for me to stick to the diet because there were so many restrictions. I would cheat a lot. My family and friends were encouraging. They helped me get back on the diet. After giving it a fair chance though I found out the diet was not for me.
  4. Be careful what you post on social media! This is one of the tips that really touches my heart. Not only can words be hurtful, but images can too. Recently, someone in my family posted a photo of Miss Piggy with the words, “I have an eating disorder…I’m about to eat dis order of fries, dis order of wings & dis order of nuggets.” Someone you know, love and care about could be struggling with an eating disorder and they are working hard to get healthy again. Posts like this one can cause them to have a relapse. Instead of posting negative posts be positive and supportive. You never know who is going through a hard time.
  5. Encourage healthy eating and exercise. This tip has helped me a lot when it comes to my Body Dysmorphic Disorder. I find that exercising helps me have more energy and I feel a lot less depressed and anxious. When it comes to healthy eating, I find this also improves my mood and energy levels. Keeping a healthy weight has helped me not worry about what I look like.

Remember if you are working towards a healthier body image remember these three statements: You can do this. You are worth it. You deserve to be happy and healthy.

Leave a comment if you are supporting someone or if you are going through this.

 

Do you feel your child has anxiety disorder? Here’s what to do by Ralph Macey (Guest Article)

Nothing is more painful for a parent than to see his/her child suffering mentally or physically. It’s easier for parents to be on the alert mode when a child is suffering physically. A wound on the knee is easily visible and parents can give medications immediately. But what about the wound in the mind? How can a parent determine that his/her child is suffering from an anxiety disorder?

 

Well, there are a few tell-tale signs to know if your child is suffering from an anxiety disorder. Here are a few of them.

 

  1. Inability to mix with school friends
  2. Too much perfectionism
  3. Problem in focusing on studies
  4. Lack of interest in interacting with family members
  5. A tendency to avoid various activities and situations
  6. Not willing to get out of bed and do all the daily activities
  7. Shaky hands, headache, insomnia, breathlessness, overeating or not eating foods, stomach upset

 

If you see that most of these signs are present in your child, this means that he/she is suffering from an anxiety disorder. What should you do in this situation as a responsible parent? Should you leave it on time and hope your child will become normal again? Should you take some proactive steps to help your child get better? What should you actually do?

 

Well, if your child’s life is getting affected due to anxiety disorder, then you should obviously take steps to get him or her well as soon as possible.

 

Here are a few steps you can take to help your child recover and lead a healthy life.

 

  1. Consult the primary care provider: Take your child to the primary care provider first. He can check all the symptoms and find out various ways to treat children with an anxiety disorder.

 

If your child has a mild anxiety disorder, then, in that case, the primary care provider may prescribe a few medicines and counsel him/her for a short time. Let’s say the primary care provider may take 6-8 counseling sessions. However, if your child has an acute anxiety disorder and PTSD, then he may refer your child to a good psychiatrist in your area. The psychiatrist can give long-term counseling and medicines to your child and make him/her smile again.

 

  1. Initiate delightful conversations: Most kids with anxiety disorder prefer to lock themselves in a room. That’s very bad for their mental health. All the demons get a chance to create a hurricane in their mind.

 

No matter how busy you’re, try to spend quality time with your child, Sit with him and watch a movie in a theater. Initiate delightful conversations when both of you’re in the car. You have to let him shed his guard and open up about what’s bugging him. Don’t go straight to the topic. Rather, give him time to open up.

 

  1. Don’t avoid the trigger factors: Too much love and adjustments are not good for your child’s mental health. If you adjust too much for your kid and avoid the situations that create anxiety, then that would turn into a big problem in the future. Don’t avoid small situations that make your child anxious. This is because you can’t be there with your child 24*7.

 

For instance, if your child becomes anxious whenever someone invites him to a party and you politely decline the invitation to avoid problems, then that’s a wrong move. He would never learn how to mingle with people in a huge gathering. He can’t avoid all the parties all the time. So you’re doing him more harm than good.

 

Teach him the ways to overcome his fears. That’s the best way to help him overcome his anxiety issues.

 

  1. Don’t give junk foods: Many children suffering from an anxiety disorder love to eat junk foods. But these foods trigger anxiety. Don’t let your child eat chips, burgers, pizzas, etc. Encourage them to eat leafy vegetables, fruits, and healthy meals.

 

Conclusion

 

The biggest fear of people suffering from an anxiety disorder is that they want to control things that are uncontrollable. You have to teach your child to handle adversity. You have to make him understand that there are alternative solutions to various kinds of problems. For instance, if someone misses a train, he can take a cab.

 

Instill confidence in your child and help to build emotional intelligence. Teach him the various ways of figuring out a solution to a problem. Let your child go out and face the world.

 

As a parent, it’s normal to feel nervous when your child goes out alone. You may always worry about him. But will you be there with him throughout his life? Can he stay his entire life at home? This is not practically possible. So you have to let him go out and learn how to sort out problems on his own.

 

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 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?

Remembering my mom and feeling thankful for my grandpa

“I love you mom,” I said as I stood as a panicked sixteen-year-old standing in the living room. “I love you too, Amanda,” my mom said. Those were the last words that my mom said to me before she died from a sudden massive heart attack. The days and weeks to follow seemed to come in waves all in a blur. I had to work through my grief. It was a tough road, but one thing I have learned from all of it is I can enjoy and be thankful that I am able to look back at the sixteen years I had with my mother and smile. Days of fishing, dancing and cooking in the kitchen. These are the memories that I cherish the most.

It has been 15 years since my mother died, and in that time frame I have grown. My mother has missed seeing me go off to college, graduations, and many happy and sad days in-between. There are days when I wake up and I wish I could just sit down and have a cup of coffee and talk to my mom.  I hope as I write this, she is looking down on me from heaven and she is smiling at the young woman I have become.

After my mother died my grandparents took over my care. They have fed, clothed, and provided treats for me. Even though my grandmother died in 2018, I am still thankful for all the help that she provided. Now it’s just my grandpa and I. He continues to provide for me while I work on my freelancing career. He has provided food, clothing, shelter and more. I am thankful that he helped me fight for the education I received at The University of West Florida. After college, my grandpa could have sent me on my way after continuously looking for employment. He hasn’t given up on me. I can’t thank him enough for helping me grow into the young woman I am today.

On the anniversary of my mother’s death I sit with my grief and I miss my mother. I also rejoice in the fact that she is with Jesus, and one day I will meet her again in Heaven. Sometimes I look back at all the things that my grandpa has provided for me and I can not express enough gratitude. Like in years past I will treat him to lunch. I am not sure yet where we will be dining, but I am sure it will be great.