How My Obsession with Mirrors Exposed My Crippling Body Dysmorphic Disorder
For as long as I can remember, I have had a very intense love affair with mirrors, but not in the way you imagine. It has been a sordid and often torturous relationship that I have tried in vain to break off but despite all my efforts, I could never quite assert my independence.
My obsession with mirrors came into full bloom in my early twenties. I was convinced that my head was too big for my body and that my face was grotesquely massive and I absolutely hated taking pictures. So you can imagine how terrified I am at the realization that we now embody an era dedicated to the usage of selfies.
But even back in the day, whenever pictures were part of the itinerary, I alway tried to escape the scene. My getaway plan was always thwarted and after awkwardly posing for a plethora of shots, I would examine the finished results and be utterly dismayed at how I looked compared to everybody else.
Why was my head so big and where was my neck? Everyone else seemed to look regal and effortlessly flawless and I was unable to measure up. I would spend the remainder of the day feeling defeated and depressed.
What frustrated me the most was that nobody understood my inclinations. We would all laugh it off and I would pretend like I was over it but I never stopped fixating on the images in question — helplessly trying to convince myself that I didn’t look as bad as I thought I did.
I would hold the camera hostage for hours trying to make sense of the distorted images in my view. Sometimes I was successful in calming my nerves and getting myself to that place that would allow me to be functional again and other times I would give up and spend the rest of the day in a repressed state.
As the years went by, my symptoms became more pervasive and harder to control. My preoccupation with my face and hair would lead me to visit the restroom at work — multiple times a day.
I would stand in the mirror striking various poses, hoping to find the one that would release me from bondage and allow me to go back to my desk. I would fiddle with my hair and try different ways to style it so that my head would seem smaller and not so prominent.
I became paranoid and convinced that my my co-workers were probably discussing the fact I always seemed to be in front of the mirror every time they entered the restroom. When the main door opened — I would run and hide in the stall and wait for them to finish their business and then come back out and continue my regimen.
This handicap also affected my social life. If I found myself in a restaurant or a private residence I would immediately and instinctively race to the restroom and quickly shuffle my hair and stare intently in the mirror, trying to confirm that my reflection was good enough to get me through the engagement.
My sex life also suffers because even though I compensate by being overly spontaneous and adventurous — deep down I’m terrified that I look like an extreme idiot when I attempt my seductive stunts. But each time I am always assured that I’m physically desirable which does very little to assuage my doubts.
I constantly make comparisons using my friends, random people on the train, even celebrities. I could be having a conversation with someone and act like I am engaged but I am really focusing on the fact that their features are better defined and cleanly delicate compared to my disorganized template.
The crazy thing is that I know I am attractive despite how long I have been grappling with this condition. I recently read an article featuring the actress Uma Thurman, where she explained the fact that she has always suffered from a condition known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
As I internalized her predicament, I started to recognize myself in her testimony — and then I turned to Google for more information. That was the day I finally understood what was happening to me and why. I found out that BDD is a chronic mental illness that forces the sufferer to be excessively concerned about a perceived body defect.
Ever since my self-diagnosis, I have been more diligent when it comes to controlling my impulses. I do intend to seek professional help and guidance so that I can considerably minimize the effects it will have on my life in the future.
I am looking forward to the moment when I look in the mirror and see the inner peace engulfing my features. That will be the day I am officially born again.