TRIGGER WARNING: THIS POST DESCRIBES BODY DYSMORPHIA, SELF HATRED AND SELF HARM IN A WAY THAT MAY BE TRIGGERING TO SOME. IF YOU ARE EFFECTED BY BODY DYSMORPHIC DISORDER OR ARE IN RECOVERY FOR BODY DYSMORPHIC DISORDER (ie, IF YOU HATE YOUR BODY TO AN IRRATIONAL EXTENT AND/OR HAVE EITHER ENGAGED IN ACTS OF SELF HARM OR SERIOUSLY CONSIDERED ENGAGING IN ACTS OF SELF HARM), PLEASE ONLY PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
I wonder what it would be like to just get up and walk. How would my life be different if I could just stand up and move around without panicking about how I’m going to feel my fat bouncing with every step? I must waste so much time thinking about all the lumps and blobs jerking up and down every time I lift a foot up and set it on the ground. I make myself exercise every morning, but that pulling and stretching and flopping and shuddering I feel in every spot on my body where a healthy woman with my body shape is supposed to have fat fills me with so much hate and disgust that on some days, I honestly can not stand it.
Those bad days…the days where I can’t shut out the disgust with carefully constructed, rational mantras about how this is normal, how “real women” have curves, and how the bounce can’t really be so bad, it must be amplified at least a thousand times in my head…the days where my husband’s obvious attraction to my floppy, lumpy body seems so much more irrational to me than the extent to which I hate it…those are the days when it is just so hard to pretend that everything is ok. It is so hard to go to work, do my job, and interact with other adults. It is so hard to stop feeling that bounce… to stop wanting to claw at my own body until the disgusting parts of it are gone. It is so hard to pretend to do my work when I can feel the tug of my fat on chunks of my skin. Even when I’m sitting at my desk, that feeling of pulling and stretching is still there.
Most days, I can talk myself out of the full extent of my hatred for my body. Regardless of how I feel about it, I know I need my body to live. And I do want to keep living. Life isn’t always perfect and beautiful for any of us, but there is enough good that I can see in the world and enough that is positive in my own life that I want to keep living. And I have to coexist with this body to do that. Regardless of how I feel about it, I know I need to keep it working or I won’t be able to stay in my life.
And so, I set a script for these days. I wear long pants and shirts with sleeves long enough to cover my arm fat to keep me from being able to easily engage in acts of self harm. I try to stay at work and around other people until I know my husband will be home so I don’t end up in a situation where it’s too easy to start the obsessive grabbing and clawing at the parts of me that I find most offensive. Or I come home on a day like today when the office got a bit too empty too early and blog in yoga pants and a hoodie with a mug of camomile tea. I keep packets of freeze-dried fruit and vegetables in my desk and brought a salad for lunch, but of course I haven’t been able to make myself actually eat anything since my carefully pre-planned breakfast of chia seeds left overnight in milk. Most days I’m so good about sticking to my planned meals and eating when my alarms remind me, but on days like today, on days when every step is torture and every movement makes me fixate on the ways that my body is wrong, these are the days where even freeze-dried peas are impossible to swallow and I know no solid food is going to stay down.
And so, I wait, I write, and I sip my tea. I know that I am privileged to live with a loving, supportive partner in a way that many people with body dysmorphia aren’t. I am so very, very thankful and so humbled by my knowledge that I am lucky in a way that many people in my situation are not. When he gets home, we will probably eat dinner together, and I’ll probably go only a little below the minimum number of calories my doctor has told me I need to stay alive. And my body and I will keep moving forward together.
And I can hope that maybe tomorrow will be a better day.