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Friday, October 19, 2012

The Fun House Mirror


It is difficult as a female of this species. Difficult to feel safe, to be treated equally, to be accepted, to feel worthy of love, to love ourselves as we are. We hear about it every day, how young girls are starving themselves to death to be beautiful and women are obsessing over cosmetic surgery to be perfect. It is a self esteem issue that is fueled by our narcissistic society. Not many girls have the inborn strength and confidence it takes to not let that affect them. Unfortunately it is also hard to find decent role models to learn from. 

People with anorexia and bulimia often suffer from body dysmorphic disorder. When they look at themselves in the mirror, pictures or even just at their arms and legs, they don't see what you or I would see looking at them.They are never thin enough, ripped enough, pouty enough. This condition is more common than most think. Many people with the condition become athletes, body builders, models, etc because they are always working to look perfect. But they can never see the reality, it is a mental condition that filters perception. It is also a symptom of PMDD. Not all sufferers have it. I do. 

The flip in perception can happen instantly without warning. I can be standing in front of the mirror in the morning after my shower admiring God's handiwork, pleased as punch and 20 minutes later look again and actually see myself 20lbs heavier. I literally see, with my eyes, a bigger me. Lumps and rolls and all. In my mind I know that I could not have possibly gained that much weight in a matter of a day, let alone less than half an hour, but there it is in front of me. And behind me! I call it the 'fun house mirror phase'. It's like a carnival house of mirrors that makes your head look tiny and your ass look like the Goodyear Blimp.

Now imagine what goes through someone's mind when they cannot trust what they see with their own eyes in their own mirror. How do I know that anything else is real? How can I tell the difference? Am I crazy? Is this it, have I finally snapped?! And then the panic sets in or the fear and reclusive social anxiety/paranoia. I mean, how can I leave the house and go out there if I can't tell reality from whatever crazy shit my brain has decided to do today? 

It does not stop with weight. My skin looks blotchy and bumpy, my hair looks dull. But if I ask a friend standing right next to me they don't see a difference. It is all in my head, literally. It doesn't happen every month and usually only lasts a few days, thank my lucky stars! But it took a long time for me to figure out what was going on and to learn to cope. There are days when I only look in the mirror one time, first thing in the morning to get ready. Then I avoid them all day so it doesn't ruin my mood. I dress extra nicely on the days I don't feel like it, just to convince myself that the clothes still fit and no one is staring at me like an elephant in a bikini. 

They are small things and might seem silly to some but they help me avoid triggers. A trigger avoided is one less meltdown I have to deal with, one less pit I have to climb out of tooth and nail.


**Don't forget to feed the fish while you are here. Scroll to the bottom to find them. It is quite relaxing.

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