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margharris
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Awakening through BDD
   Wed Dec 12, 2018 9:20 pm

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Body dysmorphia: Compulsion S##t.

Permanent Linkby margharris on Tue Aug 04, 2015 12:14 am

Overcoming compulsions:
You absolutely have to want to stop to be able to stop. If you say you can’t then you never will. The person with BDD is not seeing that their compulsion is part of an illness. Unless you know your thinking is wrong, you will not have the inner reserves to fight against what your brain tells you.
The reality check is that we can all curse God for something wrong with our appearance. I can curse God that I was given freckles but there is no point to that perspective. I have to get on with life in the body I was born with. If I thought I had to fix it, where would I stop. I would merely find something else to think was not the best about my look. I think I would settle on my chin. And so it goes. I am not picture perfect. Woohoo! Do you really give a toss if I am not? You wouldn’t be bothered to look twice at my arms or chin. But when it comes to your own look your brain sends you fear.
What makes me different than a person with BDD is not appearance but the level of worry triggered by the amygdala. My amygdala is not connected to give me an emotional response to the look of my freckles. They are just freckles and nothing more. I don’t link the look of them to any story of disgust. My rational brain stays in control of my responses. I may not like the look of my skin but there is nothing abnormal or hideous or fearful about having freckles. No one cares about my freckles. I don’t have to check them or cover them up. People engage with me through my personality. I am in touch with me as an entity through my own soul. I am a reflection of my soul and not my skin. So I know if I feared my own look, I would not be thinking rationally.
That mindset of reality checking and recognizing your urges are driven by emotion of anxiety and are not rational is the area needing continuous work in BDD. If you wouldn’t teach what you do to your friend, then it is not right for you to do. You need to develop your own new circuitry that says NO regardless of how distressed that makes you feel in the moment. That anxiety feeling will pass when you are doing right.
The pain of your compulsions will first be felt by family members. They have no positive link to any reason for the compulsions existence. To them they are a constant reminder of the pain and torment that you and they live under. Their personal motivation to have them cease will be much much stronger than yours. Hence you are likely to hear the complaints that you need to stop, the anger when you don’t and the family fracture over their continuation. They are merely trying to save you all from more pain.
What can family do to help you stop? Positive and negative consequences such as bribes and arguments are common. Ignoring doesn’t work either. We can only look to organizations like AA for a role model to follow and treat your compulsions like an addiction.
You can create distance between the compulsive act and the person. You might need to take down the mirrors or cover them up. You might need to wear gloves to stop giving into the sensations of touch. You might need to ban yourself on the computer and restrict the sites you surf.
Getting in control of your compulsions takes you to actively do the work to stop the things you do to feel safe and stop the things you avoid doing to feel safe. You will feel safe when you truly know it is just your brain sending you all this information. It just keeps funneling it down a shoot that says this is your BDD needs. But BDD is a lying disorder.
Lets go to the plane disaster. Every bit of rubbish on the beach is from the MH370. That might be an initial thought when you pick up the litter. Your emotions want it to be so. But then your rational brain takes over and you think twice. You gain perspective of all it could be. You think…what are the chances? You override your emotional brain and need some confirmation. You check in with the scientists. That is logic at work. Now the scientists tell you it is rubbish. A rational pers...

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Body dysmorphia: Your whole story. Fess up.

Permanent Linkby margharris on Tue Jul 28, 2015 2:09 am

Fessing up to all that BDD is and how it impacts your life is the story seldom told. It is most common for BDDers to fragment their life story and select only the ugly fear story for retelling. That is the fix story that justifies all that they do. All the obsessing, compulsions and disconnect.
My son has his exaggerated hairloss story. Regardless of how many people have told him he looks fine, he continues the rant. The fact no one cares isn’t completely lost to him. He cares and that is all that is significant to him. Should he care so much is not the perspective he welcomes. But in reality he doesn’t care well for his hair. It is seldom washed, mercilessly cut, and doused in concealers that cling to the scalp.
I include my friend’s story here to show how insidious and ubiquitous these compulsions are:

“My hands were constantly on my hair any chance I wasn't in the wig. My mind was on my hair constantly, so any other activity was strained. I did not even comprehend that I was obsessed with my hair until I stopped cutting it, crazy as that sounds, that's the truth!
When I was initially stopping the cutting, I did notice that any thoughts of touching, styling, conditioning or looking at my hair always lead me to cutting, so it was only then, that I forced myself not to do any of those things, and was only then that I did began to see how everything I thought about, was having to do with my hair, and only then I began to really see the depth of my obsession.”


When you are in the grip of obsession you don’t see yourself as the bird pecking itself. There is no logic to what you do even though you are trying to problem solve all the time. There is such an overload of anxiety that you can’t fathom all this worry is clouding your judgement. You have to do all the checks, camouflage, avoidance and destructive behaviours. It keeps you safe? Does it? You don’t really know anymore. You have long forgotten what it is like to live without fear. Life is this awful risk that isn’t worth living in the frame of reference you have given it. You are trapped into defending your own logic that tries to explain what defies explanation…..Why you live this way?

I asked my son to stop touching. He said he couldn’t even though it is such an obvious trigger. Sort of reminds me of the alcoholic thinking one drink would do as a limit. Just another symptom of fragmented stories. He doesn’t connect that which he deems protective and the whole obsession of painful torture.
Maybe as a meditation he needs to say ten good things about himself each morning. Expanding his focus from that negative list will take effort. Once he has a more holisitic image of himself, he mightn’t need protection. The perfect image might not be as relevant to his view of his own success and how to achieve it.
It would be a good practice to write out your own story. All you do. All the time. All the hurt. Try and condense all your life into one story to see the place this illness has in it. Focus on your connections. As you devoted your time to your illness, all your connections to others and to yourself will have suffered. To break your connection to this illness, you need to reach out to others to share and reconnect. The opposite of this addiction is connection.

Wish you all well. Marg

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Body dysmorphia: Monster compulsions.

Permanent Linkby margharris on Fri Jul 24, 2015 11:34 pm

It is true that you have to love yourself just as you are and take the risk that that is going to be OK. After all that is what we have to do throughout life as our bodies alter as the years advance. But when you have fragments of stories you create about yourself it becomes very hard to do. Seldom do you put all the story of what you do and why all together. Then you might have to make that judgement call that prompts you to stop. While you remain in a state of disconnect from all that you are, you remain compulsive.
Compulsions seem to start out as some reward that makes you feel better, but without any sense of the need to regulate them. The great feeling doesn’t last but the urge to do the action remains strong. You feel compelled and do whatever it is that the urge requires to just relieve this constant pressure. You become the bird caught in a cage of distress picking out its own feathers.
How do you break these compulsions that trap you in their web of lies. They never make you feel good. You seem to become more addicted to doing them until you are not even aware of doing them.
My son body checks all the time. In the midst of a serious cooking session, he would lift up his tshirt to have a quick look at body hair. A DHT story of how much testosterone he must be making will have followed. A few minutes later, I catch him doing it again. Do I say nothing or make him aware I am noticing him doing it and he should stop? I always run the risk of a blow up. He resents my intrusion more than he resents these urges. Will I be another neck rung today, as he defends his idea that his urges keep the monster at bay. Secretly, he knows he feeds the monster himself but doesn’t know how to stop.
We have mentioned mindfulness many times. Yesterday my son admitted he didn’t know how to do it. We talked about two techniques he could try to develop the skills. The first was to do things in “ slow mo”. Just the act of slow motion will make the things you do more conscious. Most of you will have very heightened anxiety and so are prone to racing thoughts, speech and physical actions. Deliberately moving slowly will have you become present in your true life, now.
The other technique is to do your own commentary. You talk yourself through the day about what you are doing. He tried this one when he went down the street for the daily grocery run. Always a stressful time, he was able to talk to himself about getting out of the car and what he needed to do. This made him more conscious of any body scanning he would have likely done on other people. He actually came home and commented that he had liked doing that. So maybe he will slowly develop something to become mindful of what he is doing rather than acting on automatic pilot.
Three icecreams bought in a day in the middle of winter? A sugar crave that once started is another monster to get back in the box. Haircutting, scissors in hand need their fix. Is it ever going to be OK to let this monster loose? Alcohol? If you have to quit then there is no better time than NOW. You just don’t want the monster of alcoholism and the generational damage that does in your family. Body touching, mirror checking, online browsing for cute celebs. If it feels like an urge that is not health promoting but results in your own negative appraisal or you feeling numb……. Then you are disconnecting from your true self in doing these actions. You are disconnecting from your own ability to judge and therefore manage what you do.
The pleasure principle means you do what benefits you. That instant gratification rather than seeing long term allows you to suspend judgement of what you do. So you defend three ice creams because you aren’t fat now. You defend hair cutting because people like it short. You defend alcohol, it is how you relax and make friends.
So you have to get real with the story you make up to defend whatever is your compulsion you have chosen to do. It is a monster in your life.
Setting your pat...

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Body dysmorphia: Containing the monster.

Permanent Linkby margharris on Mon Jul 20, 2015 6:38 am

It has been three months since we started on Prozac and Lyrica. My son’s progress to reclaim his life has been just short of a miracle. When he is focused on his life he seems back to normal. He is able to carry out responsibilities, meet up with friends and handle the little frustrations of life. A few months ago any trifle would have meant another neck wrung.
He has asked about starting work again but there is just a hurdle standing in the way…… His BDD and how he handles a build up of stressors. The outreach worker mentioned that it wasn’t whether he could do a shift but what he did when he returned after a shift. What could trigger his BDD? And what he could do to handle stress now that alcohol wasn’t the option of choice.
So those concerns now need to be addressed. How does he unwind and manage anxiety. BDD at some level is a coping strategy that focuses attention by placing the focus on appearance. Mindfulness of what he is doing is essential. Meditation has been mentioned in the past. It is something he needs to develop to handle anxiety. Anxiety just can’t be avoided. He needs to plan how he will tackle it when he starts to feel it creep up. He hasn’t got alcohol as his go to. So I think he isn’t ready for work just yet. He needs to know what he can do and have a list of relaxation tools. Whether that list contains reading, exercise, daily walks, meditating or doing something he enjoys like cooking, he needs to develop that list of things he can connect with.
I realise now how destructive alcoholism is to the whole equation of getting well. Alcohol stops you developing connections. The addiction takes away all chance or choice of connection. You don’t go to do any of those healthy things. There is an absence of connection. So sobriety isn’t really the opposite of addiction. I rather think it is connection.
I could ring a friend or go shopping or start cleaning or get my hair done. An alcoholic loses all of that. Isolation and aloneness accompanies the love affair with the bottle.

The doc for the first time asked about his BDD symptoms. He is obviously thinking he is well enough to address this monster. He called it a monster, like it was some alien creature sitting on his shoulder.

" Did you open the box and let it out or shut the box up? "

He wants him to be mindfully aware of what his triggers are. Taking control of his thoughts requires him to focusing on these thoughts and the behaviours that allow the monster out. Once the monster has control, the doc described it like a vortex that sucks him in. He will lose perspective.

So that gets us back to all the compulsions I listed at the start of this blog adventure….
the shower inspection, touching, comparing to others, online browsing at celebs or fixes, camouflaging, and talking it up, are just a few that come to mind.

Story telling is a major problem for most BDDers. It certainly is with my son. He never tells his whole story of all that he does and all the devastation he creates from his BDD behaviours. He focuses on part of a story. What he says in his mind is the same story all of you say. “It is embarrassing and makes me feel hideous and deformed. I have unlucky genetics. If only I could get it fixed. If I looked different all would be well. My brother got it right.”

That would be how he described his BDD but that story doesn’t mention the shower, the touching, browsing, comparing, or the frustration and anger or what he avoids. That would be the whole story that he seldom tells.

Touching is a despicable problem still. He just starts with the hand on his face and moves around his neck or down his back, ultimately it will end up on his head for a check. I know too what he is thinking when he trolls the celeb pages. It will be all about what hairdo they are pulling off. It just a real shame that the media has this focus on air brushing anything that isn’t perfect. This makes everyone self conscious of flaws. But all this that he does has to ...

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Body dysmorphia: Docs update.

Permanent Linkby margharris on Tue Jul 07, 2015 6:58 am

My son was very present during our visit and spoke with confidence. He didn't need any prodding to explain how things had been going. The doc was pleased he had started at AA and felt he was the best he had ever seen him. He felt the new girlfriend was a good addition to help him reflect on how he behaved himself. My son mentioned how concerned she was about appearance and how that bothered him. He would be talking to her across a table and see her eyes gaze over to someone coming in. He felt she was checking them out for how they looked. The doc mentioned that it was important for him to realise he did the same thing. He needed to live in the moment and work on cultivating mindfulness. It is really about focusing on what is important. Being present for the person talking was important in nurturing your own sense of self and the connection you made to that other person.
The medication of Prozac 60mg and Lyrica 150mg twice a day was to stay unchanged. He could take another 150mg Lyrica at bedtime if he felt really stressed. As he has developed some insomnia with the meds, the doc prescribed the addition of 2mg Melatonin one hour before bedtime. The MRIs havent been read yet but he spoke to the guy who does the TMS while we were there. So I gather TMS is definitely an option he thinks is worth doing.
I didn't really think it was appropriate to mention my own concerns. It is important for him to own this illness himself. I would have liked to see about CBT but it doesn't even get mentioned at this stage. I feel they are waiting to see how the meds go for at least 4 months at the therapeutic dose suggested by Katherine Phillips and maybe do some TMS. They are after him developing insight himself. Mindfulness was mentioned though. The outreach worker will do some techniques on this to help him stay in control and sleep better.
He has been a lot better, despite the last hiccup so I have to be pleased for him. Meds do work a lot. Marg

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