Dearest readers, my name is Tryn.I’m 25 years old, a mother of a beautiful little girl, three fur babies, and I have body dysmorphic disorder. It’s so nice to meet you! Don’t worry, you aren’t about to read a depressing, self-loathing, ‘support-group’ type introduction to my life. In fact, I hope you laugh a few times as you read this. I hope I leave you, at the end of this, with all the good feels. So, if you’re still interested...sit down, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.
My journey began at the ripe old age of 7. That’s as far back as I can remember, anyway. They say eating disorders don’t happen that young...but mine certainly began to blossom that early.
I remember playing with my dolls, and thinking, “I hope I look like this when I get older”. I remember wishing on the first star I saw at night to grow up and be ‘skinny’. I remember praying that I grew up to be as beautiful as Rose from Titanic...and for a unicorn. Spoiler alert: the unicorn never happened.
The preoccupation with my looks didn’t subside as I got older. In fact, they grew worse. When I was about twelve I started going through puberty. From what I’ve learned about my body, too many hormones mean I store everything I consume as fat. Like a lot of pre-teens, I put on some weight; but unlike a lot of pre-teens, it destroyed me.
I couldn’t figure out how to get rid of the pounds. Nothing seemed to work. But, how much do most twelve-year-olds know about that kind of thing? I sure didn’t know much. Luckily, the summer before 8th grade I grew a few inches, the hormones decreased. and seemingly overnight...I was the stick I’d always wanted to be.
I can’t say that I didn’t love the attention of being as skinny as I was. I loved the comments. I loved being tiny. I was hooked; and the second I thought I was getting bigger I decreased my food intake until I felt comfortable again.
Then a funny thing happened where I never felt comfortable. I was always seeing something I didn’t want to. So…I never stopped restricting. Before I knew it, I was dealing with full-blown anorexia, and at age 14 I was hospitalized weighing below 100 pounds (on a 5’4 frame).
Despite what you may think, this story isn’t just about an eating disorder. In fact, despite what I initially thought, the story didn’t even start with an eating disorder. Through years of analyzing which came first, the chicken or the egg...or in this case the anorexia or the body dysmorphic disorder...I have to say, I have come to the conclusion that the dysmorphia is the culprit for many of the issues I continue to live with every day.
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a monster in the closet for more people than you think. It isn’t easy to spot, let alone diagnose, and it’s as misunderstood as any attempt at a real conversation with Ozzy Osbourne. I’ve often found myself thinking, “I wish I was ill with something people could see and understand”. The sad truth, readers, is I am not the only one who thinks that way. There are hundreds of quotes from people with this disorder who truly wish they could trade BDD for something as life threatening, and serious, as cancer. Because at least then… people would understand us better, and we wouldn’t have to feel like our disorder is a burden on others. We think, “at least then people won’t just get annoyed with me, tell me to stop complaining, and get over it.”
BDD looks different for everyone, and I can only speak to my own struggles with this because it is such a highly-individualized experience. Can I let you all in on a little secret? This is the first time I’ve spoken out about my experience in such a raw, and vulnerable way. I never say much for fear I will annoy the people around me with my constant obsessing, nit-picking, and need for reassurance. Like many others, I keep this to myself and suffer alone...
Just me and my thoughts.
My weight is at the forefront of my mind at all hours of the day, and that is not an exaggeration. I mirror check in any surface that is reflective. I check the size of my thighs by wrapping my hands around them to see how high up I can get before my fingers don’t touch anymore. I squeeze at the skin under my belly button, and on my inner thighs to see how much I can grab. And because of my obsessive checking, I can tell if that amount is getting smaller or not. I also restrict my food intake. These are things I do multiple times a day…every day...and it is exhausting.
I know for a fact that being thinner is my most serious obsession, and the one that has crippled me the most over the years. But, I also have others. I keep bangs to cover at least one eyebrow at all times so that no one (including myself) can see if they’re uneven. I pick at the skin around my nails sometimes until it bleeds to make sure there is no dead skin. I keep my nails done at all times so they are long, and pretty enough to keep me satisfied, and I cannot handle having any nose hair that I can see.
I do what I can to help alleviate the anxiety my image-concerns give me. I still perform some of my less incapacitating rituals, like the mirror checking, because I don’t feel it affects me in a negative way. I try to force myself to be social, because I know being stuck alone, in my house, with my thoughts is not a good place to be. I even took a social media break for a few months when things got really bad. These little things help, but I know that this is something I will live with for the rest of my life.
By now, you’re probably wondering what the point of this little article is. My hope, is that through raw honesty I can open your eyes to what someone you may know, and love, could be going through. To inspire those of you dealing with this to get help if you need it. To let you know that you are not alone in this. And to help myself through this journey by getting my thoughts out of my head, and onto paper (or a screen), in hopes that I will reach someone who feels isolated by their own obsessions.
So, readers...for now I want to leave you with a very humble and genuine thank you. Thank you for taking the time to go through my experience with me in the littlest of ways. Thank you for reading. And thank you for being you.
Find me on IG @baltimoremadge