Blog, Body Dysmorphia Disorder, OCD, Reflection, Uncategorized

A problem shared …

I saw my counsellor on Thursday night and spoke for an hour about my discovery of dermatillomania. We went into when it had began, how badly I suffer with the condition and how far my problem goes. It was a hard session.

Instead of getting the tube, I walked. Past the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street, through the tourists and traffic, through Green Park and past Buckingham Palace. Fourty five minutes stroll in the chill, instead of 4 minutes on the tube. It was lovely. Alone, quiet and peaceful.

My problem is severe and scarring is extensive, on numerous locations over my body. I’m so upset I’ve never looked into this morn before now. How can I have believed it was only me with this problem? I guess I didn’t realise other people have my particular issues either.

Although I’m mad and upset with myself, I’m feeling much better with myself for sharing the problem. My boyfriend (after three years!) knows why I disappear for long periods of time into another room and look shocked and awkward if he decides to walk into the bedroom when I haven’t heard him coming. And the fact I’ve been able to share it with my counsellor, not feeling judged or ‘weird’, is actually life changing. Without trying to sound cliche and ridiculous.

For the last two nights since counselling, I’ve actually picked a considerable amount less and felt slightly more in control. I’m not going to naive and think that all of a sudden it is going to slowly reduce into no problem, but it has made me feel less cornered by the problem being understood. Thank you to all of the women who’ve shared this problem and made me feel less alien!

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Blog, Body Dysmorphia Disorder, OCD, Reflection, Sharing

How did I not know?!

Dermatillomania … Have you ever heard of it? I hadn’t until last night! 

Well I have been suffering with this for 16 years, getting progressively worse over time. And I had absolutely no idea that it was a ‘thing’. And right now I can’t actually believe it. 

Last night I was reading about OCD and ways that people with body dymorphia disorder pick at their skin, because I’ve always done this and never spoken to anybody about it. In more extreme cases it is about harming yourself as well as trying to rid your skin of imperfections. And this part definitely resonates with me. 

Numerous times I’ve thought about how it possibly could be named self harm because of the damage I’ve done and continue to inflict upon myself, but because it’s not the mainstream image of self harm (excuse my ignorance here, the only self harm I’ve ever known about are ways such as cutting skin on wrists and legs etc with blades and sharper objects) I’ve told myself to stop being dramatic. In turn that’s stopped me getting help. 

I just didn’t know. 

There is also the huge deal of actually asking for help. The thought of having to show my affected areas to people fills me with so much dread. From going swimming where I don’t know anyone, the gym and only having my shorter pants clean, to going abroad and having to wear shorter clothes and possibly even swimwear. Going for smear tests is a huge thing every time it’s due (I have to go every year too because of abnormal cells being found in my first test) and the doctors for general tests. Never mind getting naked in front of my partner and being totally visible.

Every single relationship I have ever had (and still have) in my life have all been affected by this problem. It’s literally ruled the way I live for over half of my life. And now I need help.

Blog, Sharing

The moment of realisation.

The moment your brain actually decides to evaluate all of your symptoms and realise that 2 + 2 = depression is a glorious moment. Not only do you realise that no, you didn’t actually turn into a mad man, but you are also able to be cured and not end up in a mental hospital.

For a long while I was suffering with a long list of physical and emotional symptoms and it was getting me seriously down in the dumps. I’m not usually ill in general and for all of my ailments to point to no cure was so frustrating and also worrying. So (eventually) I wrote lists.

The first list was showing all of the things that were on my mind long term, or that were affecting me (mainly making me nervous, stressed or anxious).

  • Loss of Nan
  • Worry for my Grandad now alone
  • Loss of my aunt
  • Worry for my Grandad, Mum and all of that side of the family for the losses of Nan and aunt
  • Fertility worries
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome problems
  • Trying to lose weight
  • Can’t sleep
  • Trying to help cousin with new business
  • Guilt and sadness for another aunt on the same side of the family who’d been recently hospitalised
  • Mum is exhausted and I’m extremely worried she wouldn’t be ok
  • Dad works too much and is too tired and very sad.
  • Work stresses – ridiculous work load, pressure to study, pressure to progress, client visits and events, not any/much support. Work approx 10 hours overtime a week for which I don’t get any overtime pay. Scared of having claims made against me for mistakes or not actioning something that a client has sent, if I’ve missed it.
  • Friends putting pressure on me to meet up and spend money.
  • Flat – just moved out and have loads less money than before
  • Just bought a house – contractors, money, bills, labour that I have to do
  • Living in my overdraft
  • No money to actually enjoy myself.

The second list was a list of every physical symptom I was feeling.

  • Headaches
  • Grinding teeth day and night
  • Bad dreams – loss, death, rejection
  • Exhaustion
  • Dizziness
  • Talking – forgetting words, slurring, mind going blank mid sentence.
  • Sensitive (emotionally)
  • Chest pain – sharp stabbing pain sometimes and makes it painful to breathe
  • The feeling that my head will implode
  • Everything in my head is moving too fast for me to process
  • Sex drive very low
  • Reluctance to get out of bed
  • Just want to be alone, asleep, unconscious
  • Always panicking about dying
  • Ulcers in my mouth sometimes
  • Dippy belly a lot of the time or totally constipated
  • Biting my nails
  • Not worth making an effort with appearance
  • Extremely distracted
  • Clumsy / accident prone
  • Often sweaty even when cold
  • Anxiety

Both lists were pretty long to be honest!

Realising what was wrong and getting the help was like getting to the petrol station with an empty tank. Like I’d been running on empty for so long, hoping to survive, and then finally getting to a pit stop with help at hand.

Listen to your body! It tells you when things are wrong and it’s us that choose to ignore these signs!

I can already say that counselling is absolutely changing my life. I can also say that going on antidepressants was the best thing I could have done too. I was diagnosed with depression in March but thought I’d get through it, and have only just started on Sertraline. I wish I’d started them in April!

If you’re going through hard times, talk to someone trusted about it. Go and see your doctor. Write down how you’re feeling. Get help. Turn it around 🙂

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