Dear Shrink That I Don’t Have:
I’ve been spending a lot of time on the interwebs lately. I don’t know if that’s a good thing. I’ve been learning a lot about Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Anorexia. Mostly via YouTube videos. Do you know how many people suffer from those? Seemingly quite a few. But I don’t.
I mean, in seventh grade I began eating as little as possible to get by. I was already active, so I didn’t exercise as obsessively as some do. I kept this up until I moved in with my dad at 16. Even then it was only a little better.
My mom came to visit once and said I was filling out and looked nice. All I heard was ‘filling out.’
That was a setback.
I dated an asshole, the things he did to make me hate myself are too many for this letter. Another setback.
Then, slowly, I started being able to eat more than salad in front of others. I met my current boyfriend and my eating habit progressed further.
Except now I’m 135 lbs. Do you know what 135lbs is? It’s AVERAGE for a woman of 5’6”. For some reason my brain keeps changing ‘Average,’ in my head into ‘Fucking Fat Cow.’
People tell me I’m beautiful, but I can’t hear them, because I’m too busy seeing all the things I hate about myself. I’m 22, are 22 year old supposed to have cellulite there? I’m pretty sure that’s cellulite. Why is my skin shitty? Oh because I eat sugar. God, my face is too round, why is it so round? Remember when you used to have ABS there? You shouldn’t ever have a child… you’re going to balloon up and it’s going to be hideous. Plus, what child would want to be raised by someone like you? Why can’t you just STOP EATING ALREADY?
The thing is that I’m slip-slip sliding back to a place that I used to be. A place my boyfriend doesn’t even know exists. It’s a deep, dark, scary place.
But you see, dear shrink, I don’t have a problem. Because the doctor I went to for my many health problems between the ages of 12 and 16 told me I needed to make time to eat, but never saw that maybe my not eating was a deeper problem. (Seriously, woman… since when is a middle-schooler or even early high-schooler TOO BUSY TO EAT, ARE YOU DENSE?)
Both of the therapists I went to when I was 19, told me that I was of sound mind, despite the fact that my boyfriend talked me into going because he didn’t know how to deal with my depression. I didn’t have any problems…maybe I should try some breathing exercises. (Gee, thanks…because my much cheaper yoga class couldn’t have taught me that.)
Is there something about me that causes those in the medical field to disregard me as healthy in every way? I don’t feel healthy in every way. The fact that I feel like I have problem should indicate a problem even if no real problem exists. But no, they always send me on my way with dismissive looks and half-hearted advice.
So I don’t get “help,” I let my friends and family think I’m just crazy and I bury the worst of it. I deal with the accusations of being irrational. I deal with people getting mad at me because I’m ‘not happy with my body’ and I wait for the upswing. I watch videos on YouTube by people with Anorexia and with BDD and secretly I’m a little jealous. They’re DIAGNOSED, they have problems. They’re not just that whiny chick who isn’t smart enough to be happy with herself.
Because as far as the world knows, I have no problems…I’m just irrational.
So thanks, Shrink That I Don’t Have… I’m so glad that we’re on the same page here.
P.S. Too bad I can’t afford to visit you either. I’m bummed that I’m missing out on our quality time together.
I’m 22, as well, and your post made me feel as though you were writing my own thoughts. I’ve put on seven or eight pounds (up from 120 before moving in with my boyfriend) and I can’t take my clothes off in front of the mirror (not that it was far easier ten pounds ago).
I am perfectly *rationally* aware that I am no where near “fat cow,” but no one can convince my emotional mind otherwise. People tell me I’m “over reacting” and that “it’s all in my head” and my rational mind tells me this, too. But this reality of being trapped in a body that feels so far from who I want to be, however dysmorphic, feels more real than any other.
My eating disorder is partially a function of the need to control my life and to minimize negative emotions. I am not a therapist, nor do I assume this will work for anyone, but I have to recommend looking into DBT therapy. I still feel all these bad things, of course, but it truly saved my life.
I hope to hear more from you because I promise, you are not alone in how you feel. And I’m sure, no matter how much it’s hard to believe now, that you are beautiful.
Oh sweetie, I wish I could hug you and take away all of your pain. I very much understand self-loathing and hating yourself – more than I’d like to.
But you, like me, are lovable and worthy of all the good things in the world.
Wow, super powerful. I’m glad you shared this with us. Please keep writing – we’ll always be your “shrink.” And we’re free.
It’s so hard looking into the mirror and not liking what you see. Keep letting this out. We believe you! 💜