I am an extremely private person. I have always felt that I should only share the absolute bare minimum with any information. I have always felt that people would take the information I tell and use it against me in some manner. After speaking with my therapist, this is an irrational thought that I have developed. For some reason, I feel the need to protect myself so that I appear as normal or as perfect as possible.
But here I am. I’m trying to break that irrational thought process and open up about all the imperfections that I have. I’m almost thirty, and I’m ready to share the parts of me that scare me. I’m ready to share the parts of me that make my anxiety shoot through the roof. I want my readers (hopefully they will come, if not this will be a cathartic process for myself) to know that I am imperfect in almost every single way. That I developed unhealthy coping mechanisms, but that I am willing to push myself to change. Where I work, we have a motto that says, “I am better than I was yesterday.” I want to live it, breath it, and really share that message. I may not be perfect, but I am developing a growth mindset. This means that I am willing to challenge my thinking, to be a better person inside and out.
I’m going to share with you one of my hardest obstacles with my Body Dysmorphia. I cannot look in a mirror the way that most people do. That’s right. The mirror, my own reflection, is my absolute worst enemy.
When I was about 12 years old, I started really primping and getting ready for the day. However, if I would look in the mirror and certain angles or see my whole body in the reflection of the mirror, it would ruin my day. I would have panic attacks, melt down, start to obsess over any imperfection I had, or think about hurting myself. My coping mechanism was to turn off the lights when I got ready. You read that correctly. No lights, only some natural light from the window. I would crouch or sit down so that I would only see part of my face while getting ready. While doing my makeup, I would need to get extremely close to the mirror. When I got dressed, I would check my outfit by standing as far away as possible from the full body mirror so that I didn’t have to see my body closely.
The worst part of getting ready, was that I was never satisfied with my outfit choice. I would change outfits at least 5 times a day. I would be late to school because of this process. Sometimes, the process sparked so much anxiety that I couldn’t make it to school because I would be too worried that my classmates would think I was the ugliest and fattest person in the world.
I wish I could tell you that I have developed ways to avoid this problem. However, 25 years later, I still go through the same process. I tend to miss hanging out with friends, family parties, and work functions because of this obsession.
I do attend work regularly. My job is working with kids. Kids are amazing, they never care what you look like. This aspect of my job has really helped lower my obsessions in the morning. Thank goodness for kids!
I would love to answer any questions you have about my avoidance and issues with mirrors. I would also love to hear about any similar experiences you have faced with your own reflections.
Until next time….Be better than you were yesterday.