Written by Jill Clingan
We all have things about our bodies that we don’t like. Maybe we try to hide our stretch marks or cellulite. Maybe we worry about the deepening laugh lines around our eyes or the new gray hairs we see in the mirror. Maybe we wish our stomach was flatter or that our nose was smaller. Many of us struggle with parts of our bodies that we wish were different. Most of us, though, continue about our daily lives, and while our perceived flaws may bother us (and may even bother us a lot), they do not cripple us.
For someone with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), however, that obsessive focus on what they do not like about their body becomes a crippling obsession. A person with Body Dysmorphic Disorder feels trapped inside their own body, preoccupied with perceived flaws in a way that is emotionally devastating and disruptive to their life. Individuals with BDD feel such anxiety and shame about their body that they may repeatedly check their appearance, avoid social situations, or go to great lengths to try to fix or hide the part of their body they believe is flawed. The Mayo Clinic explains that “preoccupation with […] appearance and excessive thoughts and repetitive behaviors can be unwanted, difficult to control and so time-consuming that they can cause major distress or problems in [one’s] social life, work, school or other areas of functioning.”
If you have Body Dysmorphic Disorder, you may have difficulty talking to others about what you are going through because people might not understand why you just can’t quit thinking so negatively about your body. While I do not have BDD, I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and sometimes it’s difficult for me to talk about my OCD because some people don’t understand why I can’t just stop ruminating. Similarly, people might tell you that your perceived flaw isn’t a big deal or that you should just quit thinking about it so much. If only it were that simple!
While dealing with Body Dysmorphic Disorder or any other psychological disorder is not simple, it is also far from hopeless. Individual therapy can be extremely beneficial in helping you overcome your BDD. Another greatly helpful option is to join a support group. As the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation explains, “Support groups provide a safe environment where you can talk openly about your BDD, as well as give support and encouragement to others.” In a support group, you can feel understood, supported, and encouraged, all critical components of the healing process.
If you want to try out a BDD support group, Prairie Wellness Counseling Center, LLC has a new virtual BDD group starting soon! All are welcome, including men, women, and nonbinary persons. The support group is $25 per session and will meet virtually every other Wednesday from 5:30-6:30 pm. If you would like to pursue individual therapy for help with BDD, or if you want more information about the BDD support group, please reach out! You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 913.214.1219.