My entire school life I was bullied and this continued into my working life too. I was short, covered in freckles, chubby, goofy and worse still I was ginger. Every child’s worst nightmare and every bully’s best target. I was never comfortable with how I looked, I had no boobs, I was shy around boys and around pretty girls. It is no wonder that I have attempted to transform myself into a blonde with ample breasts and a continuous fight to stay slim.
At the age of 17 I discovered amphetamines and was amazed by how confident they initially made me and how much weight I lost in such a short space of time. I became skinny, attractive and confident. At least for the short-term. This false sense of happiness was quickly replaced by psychosis and paranoia and other mental malfunctions that taking copious amounts of speed brings on. I became a recluse, a hermit and someone who people did not want to be around because I was bordering insanity. However, I was still skinny and thus in my mind, happy about that at-least.
At the age of 18 I cleaned up from speed, moved to London, got a job, found new friends and set about on another adventure. By the time I was 19 I was nearly 10 stone (from the 7 1/2 stone that I had been a year earlier) and hated what I saw in the mirror. It didn’t help that I worked in a shopping centre and the easiest food for me to eat was MacDonald’s. MacDonald’s for breakfast, MacDonald’s for lunch and home cooked rich food for my tea followed by alcohol. Lot’s of alcohol. Alcohol made me confident for a while, until I started getting larey on it, started relying on it to help me pull boys and then eventually driving everyone away because they couldn’t cope with me whilst I was on it. One morning I looked in the mirror, so disgusted with what I saw, that I contacted the local dealer, went to the chemist for needles and relapsed immediately. Within 3 weeks I had lost almost all of the 2.5 stone I had gained and I was happy. At-least until I ended up homeless, in trouble with the police, practically friend-less and spending each day searching for money for my next bag of drugs. Along came the psychosis, paranoia and mental disturbances again. But I was skinny, which was the one thing I was happy about and the thing that made me not care about the other issues. I even ended up in casualty one night having nearly died of metal poisoning and overdose but still, I was skinny and that kept me going.
Again I cleaned up my act, got off the streets, got into a hostel, slept and ate and became popular. Even with the boys I was a popular and confident character yet inside I was dying as I saw the weight go back on. I went travelling, settled into a violent and drink fueled relationship and had a baby. I got a job as an Ann Summers rep and enjoyed attending parties and running my own unit of 16 girls, working my way to the top new-comer in the company. But then I after 9 months, I finished with my violent and nasty ex and relapsed. It had started as a low carb diet that was going really well but I wanted to lose weight faster. I talked myself into believing that if i just took a little dab each day I would still live a normal life but lose weight and be happy at the same time.
3 years later I was at death’s door, I had self-mutilated myself to pieces, could not sustain a conversation without feeling totally psychotic and had been so sleep deprived that I slept about 2 nights a week for the entire 3 years. But I was a size 6, 25 inch waist, 32 inch hip, flat stomach, toned and weighed less than 7.5 stone. I looked amazing. I did not feel amazing. In fact I knew that if I didn’t get help, I would not live another 12 months. Every-time I stood up I thought I’d pass out and then there was the added torture that I was a drug addict mother. Please don’t be mistaken, I was the best mother I could be at the time. Patient with my son, caring, loving and ensuring he was educated and loved. My fear was that I would not live to see past his 4th birthday. I got myself into rehab and came off speed for the last time.
Gradually the weight started to come back on and I was faced once more with all my old demons. Only this time I managed to keep the weight gain to a sensible state, not going above 8.5 stone. I was healthy, although I still hated what I saw in the mirror.
3 years later again, I fell pregnant with my daughter. To my horror I craved burgers every day throughout the pregnancy. Burgers were the only food that stopped me feeling so hideously sick every day. I gained 4 stone. I still look back at my pre and post birth pictures and feel disgusted. I should be feeling happy and joyous over the birth of such a beautiful little girl, yet all I feel is sickness and sadness about how grotesque I looked in my opinion.
After the birth I decided enough was enough and I stuck to a strict low carb diet, each day I watched as 2lb a day at times dropped off me. I was happy again, I was getting my figure back.
Eventually I left my husband and lost even more weight. A year ago I was 8.4 stone which was the lightest I had been for 4 years and once again I was happy. But there was a hidden catch that i wasn’t even aware was happening to me. That catch was called cocaine. I had been dabbling in it every other weekend when I didn’t have the kids but I had failed to notice that the usage had increased to weekday usage too. Still, I was happy. I was skinny and was also attending the gym 3 times a week so I looked very toned and good. I also started modelling too so at this time my confidence was the highest it had ever been in my life.
I had a cosmetic issue that I was not happy about, and so in a bid to perfect myself, I set about getting this problem resolved. The operation went wrong, twice. I was left in sickening amounts of pain, unable to go to the gym. So tired that the only option I’d had, was to stuff myself full of carbohydrate loaded foods and thus gain weight again.
6 months and a nervous breakdown later, I am out the other side although one last-ditch attempt at correcting the cosmetic problem has left me once again in agony, devastated that once again the surgeon has disfigured me to an extent that I now feel the issue is worse than it was before. And what is happening? I am gaining weight faster than I can think.
The worst thing this time is, that the more weight I gain, the more crap I feel. The more crap I feel, the more I want to drink. The more I drink, the more food I eat. Now we have a vicious circle.
Today I looked in the mirror and wanted to smash it. I can’t even bare to let my boyfriend see me and I certainly do not wish to venture out of the house. I want to lose weight fast but there is only one way to do that; which is no longer an option in my life. I don’t want my kids taken from me, nor to lose everything and everyone around me. That isn’t going to happen. I am still miserable though. I need to do something to sort this out.
For the record, I weigh about 9.4 stone. I am not sure because I threw my scales out a few weeks ago (something I now regret). I look down and see fat and wobbly cellulite. Yet I am a size 10. I know I am not fat, but the image I see in the mirror is horrible. I hate it and right now I hate me.
Looking back at my life I had always assumed that my drug abuse and addiction was a result of an unhappy and horrible up-bringing. However now I am starting to believe that the real reason I took drugs, lays simply in the fact that they helped me be happy with my body. Every time I have relapsed it has been because I have hated the sight of my own reflection.
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD, also body dysmorphia, dysmorphic syndrome; originally dysmorphophobia) is a type of mental illness, asomatoform disorder, wherein the affected person is exclusively concerned with body image, manifested as excessive concern about and preoccupation with a perceived defect of their physical features.  The person complains of a defect in either one feature or several features of their body; or vaguely complains about their general appearance, which causes psychological distress that impairs either occupational or social functioning, or both. Occasionally, BDD occurs to the degree of causing severe emotional depression and anxiety, and the possible development of other anxiety disorders, social withdrawal, or social isolation.
The causes of Body Dysmorphic Disorder are different for each person, usually a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors from either the person’s past or present life. Furthermore, mental and physical abuse, and emotional neglect, are life-experiences that can contribute to a person developing BDD. The onset of the symptoms of a mentally unhealthy preoccupation with body image occurs either in adolescence or in early adulthood, whence begins self-criticism of the personal appearance, from which develop atypical aesthetic-standards derived from the internal perceptual discrepancy between the person’s ‘actual self’ and the ‘ideal self’. The symptoms of body dysmorphia include psychological depression, social phobia, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Even causing the affected to become hostile towards family members for no reason is accepted as a symptom.
As a form of mental illness, BDD is linked to a diminished quality of life, can be co-morbid with major depressive disorder and social phobia (chronic social anxiety); features a suicidal ideation rate of 80 percent, in extreme cases linked with dissociation, and thus can be considered a factor in the person’s attempting suicide. BDD can be treated with either psychotherapy or psychiatric medication, or both; moreover, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are effective treatments. Although originally a mental-illness diagnosis usually applied to women, Body Dysmorphic Disorder occurs equally among men and women, and occasionally in children and older adults. About 76% of parents think their child is either over conceited or simply lying about their condition.  Approximately one-to-two percent (1–2%) of the world’s population might meet the diagnostic criteria for a diagnosis of Body Dysmorphic Disorder.