A Patient's Perspective On BDD
A Patient's Perspective On BDD
Chris Trondsen (Recovering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder) gives expert video advice on: Is treatment for BDD worth the effort?; What advice do you have for someone dealing with BDD who doesn't want to do their therapy assignment?; What tips do you have for someone struggling with BDD? and more...
Is treatment for BDD worth the effort?
Treatment is so worth it; there were definitely times that I wanted to give up; there were times that I did give up and my family had to stage an intervention to get me back on track; there were times that I lied to my therapist, that I fought, that I didn't do things, there was a lot of that mess going on. But once I really got to the point that I knew that this is what I had to do and I started seeing successes and I started being honest, it did get tiring and long but the process isn't black and white; its not like you start it and then x amount of years later you're better. You're constantly getting your life back slowly through it so then when you finally see that its really working for you, it becomes worth it. You get to do things that you never even dreamed of. I think the biggest thing is there's things that I could start doing again that I didn't think I wanted to do. I didn't care about a job as long as I had money to buy the products that I needed that was fine. I didn't need to date as long as my skin was clear then I would find a date. So when you start getting your life back and you start doing these things that you really wanted to do, you're like, "Wow, this is really worth it and thank god I went through it."
What advice do you have for someone dealing with BDD who doesn't want to do their therapy assignment?
I understand some of the things that you go through nobody on this planet, unless they have BDD, will ever understand. How hard it is, how high the anxiety will get in your body, and it will, but just get through it. Because once you get through it it's another beat, it's another success for you, it's your BDD getting beaten down and you're on to the next thing. And it's going to be hard and you're going to go through some of the most uncomfortable situations, but that light at the end of the tunnel. Your life back is worth it, you have to be willing to go through it, whatever it takes.
What tips do you have for someone struggling with BDD?
My first tip is to understand that you have the problem. Your never going to get any where until you admit to yourself, you don't even need to get to the point yet that you are 100% ok with what you are just get to the point that you are open like “hey maybe this is a disease.” Tell somebody that is going to be supportive. Go out there and find someone. I know it's not easy but find someone in your neighbouring town, online; there are so many uses of media to find treatment, find help. That is where you really need to start. And then you need to start to realize what BDD is. Kind of realize there is a disease inside of you, that you need to beat, and you need to know what it is. You need to separate yourself from it and realize you are a normal person with out it, and there is BBD inside of you, and once you get to that point that you are open, that you have found people who are supporting you, and you know what the disease is like, and now in treatment, your next step is to just do the treatments like no other. This is what is going to get you better. That's up to you. But make it the most important thing in your life; because once this is out of the way you can start enjoying the things that have been interfering in your life.
Do you think the media plays a role in BDD?
I think that BDD is definitely something you're born with. I don't think people get it from the media, but it does affect everybody on an everyday life. When you have BDD, your idea of perfect and what you have to reach keeps getting higher. Now, for me, a male, my body can't look normal. It has to be model thin, and cut, and hard, and my skin can't be okay, it has to be as good as the models', which of course, they're airbrushed, but when you have BDD, you don't think rationally. You think that's what my body has to look like, that's what my face has to look like. So now my skin has to be completely flawless, wrinkle, acne-free, it has to be tanned. I have to be in perfect shape. I can't look okay, I have to look hot, I have to look perfect. So it's shoved down your throat, and all this checklist that I have is kind of out of date, because now do I not want to look okay. Now I want to look as good as somebody gracing the cover of a magazine. So it's just constantly making in-your-face, reminding you that you're not perfect, that you have to look perfect, and that you have to get that much higher.
What role does society play in BDD?
We've gotten to a point in society now, where looks for a man is more important. The high paying actors are all good looking. There are products now, not only do you need a product to shave but what you use after you shave and you need to start dyeing your hair and you can't be bald and women are looking for more attractive men. So you can't get to that point where now you feel like you've really have to catch up too. And I think that society is really pushing that at you, men need to look better now. So, whereas in the past a man might be okay looking, now I have to look just as good as a girl because that's what they're telling me.
What do you have to say to people who question if BDD is really just vanity?
One thing that I deal with in my treatment, and still deal with to this day, are people that don't consider BDD to be a real disease. They think it's about vanity. They think, sometimes I say things for attention. That was one of the hardest things. That was one of the things that kept me from getting treatment earlier because I was so afraid of bringing up the BDD because I didn't want to reach out to someone and say, this is really what's going on in my head, I need help. They'll look up at me and think, oh my God, what a stuck-up little kid who's doing all these annoying things and not paying his bills and not getting a job because he doesn't think he looks good. This is ridiculous, get over it. And there's still people that probably think that, and there's people that are going to be seeing me right now or see me already and think that that's all it is, but I know what I went through. I had never had thought about suicide. I never got to the point where, if my roommate had never walked though that door I wouldn't be sitting here right now. And for it to get so bad and to get to that point and consume my life, I know that it has to be something real, it has to be something stuck. I wish it was vanity. I wish that what I had was was being a little overly cautious and caring about my looks because I would never have lost as much life, as much time, as much relationship as I did.
What advice do you have for someone caring for a person with BDD?
My biggest advice to someone caring for a person with BDD is to be able to play in the middle. You don't want to give them reassurance. Once somebody gets reassurance from someone, they start going for outside advice and they don't go back into themselves They don't start going to the thinking process like, '"Maybe I am over exaggerating." They start going for reassurance, and you don't want to enable them. But at the same time being hard on them, yelling at them, getting frustrated with them, threatening to take away their treatment -- that's all going to give them so much more anxiety and stress, and that's going to come out in the BDD. Really be down the middle. Follow the therapist's advice: be supportive without being overprotective.