Broken Body, Mangled Mind

Body Image: a person’s perception of the aesthetics or sexual attractiveness of their body.

Body Dysmorphia: a mental health disorder* that often occurs in people with other mental health struggles, like anxiety, depression and OCD.
* DISORDER: in which a person cannot stop thinking about one or more perceived flaws in their appearance that is minor or unobservable by others.

*****

I have been all the sizes.

My clothing – over the years – has born every label, ranging from size 2 to size 18.

I have been a variety of weights.

The scale has ranged from 92 pounds (just before I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes) to 217 pounds (when I was pregnant with my son).

I have tried all the diets and exercise regimes. But I have never been truly happy with my physical self. I have yet to find the place where I can be happy with me.

And that throws me into an unhealthy loop. One where how I perceive my physical self directly affects my mental state and that mental state can then, in turn, negatively effect how I care for my physical self. Typically it means I will eat less or let my blood sugars ride high until I drop a couple of pounds. Which is so recklessly unhealthy.

At my absolute thinnest I was unknowingly on death’s door. I had yet to be diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and that weight-loss was due to consistently high blood sugars. But somewhere in all that mess, I thought I was happy.

Because I was thin. Because I have always thought thinness = happiness. Because people who are skinny are always smiling…on the outside…

My perception of myself has ruined a lot of moments and stopped me from doing a lot of things. I have cancelled plans, cried, had grown-up temper tantrums, avoided pictorial documentation of important life moments (like when my one and only kiddo was little), called in sick to work, abused my body, allowed my body to be abused. All because I was (am) upset with my physical appearance.

I am envious of those who embrace their bodies and celebrate their appearance. Oh, how I wish I be more like that. I wish I could pull confidence from myself like those beautiful, brave, inspiring souls.

I am so painfully self-conscious. My husband is lovely and uses his whole heart to try and build me up, telling me all the time how much he loves me, how beautiful he thinks I am. And yet, I feel guilty that I don’t look better. I worry that my physical disappointment will translate in to a diminished mental attractiveness. But ultimately I fear not being attractive enough physically to go out in the world. And spend a lot of time hiding.

When I was younger I was horribly tormented. My weight and physical appearance were the targets, and easy ones at that. I had (have) no self-esteem. It has been over 25 years since the worst of that torment but I still carry it all with me:

It is why I am unable to wear shorts or a bathing suit in public.
It is why I second guess everything I put on – I have to pick out my clothes the night before or several days before an event or outing, not to save time but to avoid running out of it.
It is why I am horribly cruel to myself.
It is why I have starved myself to the body of internal infections more than once.
It is why I have allowed myself (mind and body) to be taken advantage many times.
It is why I scrutinize every inch of myself – inside and out – every single day.
It is why I take things in to my heart that really belong in the trash.
It is always a trigger and can often lead to bouts of serious depression.

My posts that show my body, in any capacity, are the hardest for me to publish. I force myself to do them. For me it is an attempt to try to draw out some confidence. And, while I desperately try to be authentic, those pictures receive serious scrutiny and cropping.

Ironically, the day I decided to post this a picture of me was included in a collection of Type 1 Diabetics showing off their devices. It was a picture I took and sent in (then struggled through the regret of doing so) myself. I was inspired by a fellow T1D who wholeheartedly embraces herself in every way. It is the picture I have included in this post. And it makes me terrified to know people will see it. I am not ashamed of my Diabetes…but the same cannot be said about my body. I am hopeful posting it will help me in some way…

Lately, my mind has been all over the place (as I mentioned in a previous post) and a lot of it is because I do not feel good about physical me. And even though I say I don’t know why, a hard look in the mirror tells me it is more likely that I do…

Despite my best efforts (proper eating and activity – oh my gosh, I have tried so hard to be healthier, not that I wasn’t healthy but there is always room for improvement, right?) my body has changed. And, in the last year, I managed to put on 20 pounds.

If I actually publish this post I will most likely barf or faint – I can’t believe I am actually sharing all my numbers…for me that is terrifying. Like all those kids who threw food at me, cornered me to tease me, defaced my belongings and tortured me, are going to spring from the walls and do it all over again.

Worse than that bit of news is when I learned of that addition. I made the discovery at an Endo appointment that went incredibly well. It should have been a good day, a great day. But it was diminished. And it took everything in me to avoid a complete meltdown in the office. And it took even more to avoid a total derailment because of it. So I pushed it down. WAY down. And tried to focus on my T1D successes.

But that only ever lasts so long and it has fiercely been threatening to resurface from the very second I got it under…

Honestly, I’m totally devastated. I want to scream, cry, curl up in bed and never come out…I have tried to LOGIC and justify the situation so I do not succumb to the absolute sadness that I feel…”you’re super sensitive to insulin and required a lot more before switching to the pump, HORMONES, you’re older, pre-menopausal, HORMONES, but I have changed my eating habits for the better, I have been exercising more (a lot more), my clothes are old and shrunk, HORMONES, weight shifts over time, HORMONES…”

I don’t actually know if it is fucking HORMONES but that’s what I’m blaming it on because it can’t possibly be my fucking fault!

I was diagnosed with Body Dysmorphia as a teenager. It was the same time I was diagnosed with Dysthymia. And when I saw a counselor (back then), she was treating both. Though I don’t think she was successful in helping me at all.

I have seen several counselors and psychologists over the years. Only one, in my opinion, made any headway. I only saw her for a short time. She was a psychologists specially trained to work with Type 1 Diabetics. She helped me tremendously with my needle phobia. When we moved, I lost access to her because she worked at the Diabetes Clinic I was a patient at…

And I have yet to find someone to fill that role on my support team. BUT, we did manage to get a GP here (finally!) so I hope that doctor can give me a referral to someone new. Because the logical, practical me says I need someone. Because the turning wheels in my brain never stop and it doesn’t seem to matter who says what, especially me and those closest to me.

Maybe that GP can help me wrangle those awful fucking hormones too!

If you have (once again) made it this far, thanks for sticking it out – this post came together with a lot less cohesion than I had originally planned. But that’s honesty for you! And why this one will fall under Musings.

I publish posts like this for a couple of reasons:

For me personally, they serve as accountable journal-like entries. Something digital yet tangible that I can refer back to…which is easier to do than tracking down a paper journal I tossed a decade ago. I have found that acknowledging my feelings/emotions this way makes them real to me. And somehow that helps.

Another reason I post these rambling entries is to help other people. If I had found something like this years ago, I think it would have helped me. To know that someone else out there has feelings, thoughts, emotions that I have (that present as so out-of-the-norm compared to what I perceive around me) would have made things a little easier. And if something I have shared can do that for someone else, it is worth airing all my so-called dirty laundry.

Because I have been all the sizes.
And I still struggle, and that is okay.

Because I have been all the weights.
And I still struggle, and that is okay.

Because I have felt all the sad feelings.
And I still struggle, and that is okay.

Because I still question my worth.
And I still struggle, and that is okay.

Because I still do not feel confident.
And I still struggle, and that is okay.

Because I still do not really know why.
And I still struggle, and that is okay.

Becuase, if I have learned anything along the way, it is okay to not be okay.

12 thoughts on “Broken Body, Mangled Mind

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