Body Dysmorphic Disorder In Childhood
Body Dysmorphic Disorder In Childhood
Chris Trondsen (Recovering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder) gives expert video advice on: How did body dysmorphic disorder start for you?; How did your concern about your hair affect you as a child?; How did BDD impact your childhood? and more...
How did body dysmorphic disorder start for you?
For me, body dismorphic disorder really started in the second grade, when I was probably about six or seven years old. While the other kids were on the playground playing handball and stuff, I was in the bathroom, combing my hair. That's my first memory: just being really fixated with my hair, making sure every hair was in place, and spending recess or taking breaks from classes, restroom breaks, to go fix my hair.
How did your concern about your hair affect you as a child?
I remember we had a physical fitness test and when we came back into the classroom I was all sweaty and my hair was messed up, I asked if I could go to the bathroom and the teacher actually didn't allow me, he said I could go after the test so the entire time I was taking the test I was so fixated on my hair being messed up and being sweaty and out of place that I completely failed the test and once they let me go to the bathroom and fix it I was ok. But until then I was so fixated with my hair that I couldn't focus on the task.
How did BDD impact your childhood?
Most kids at that age don't even care. I, of course, thought BDD was normal. I didn't know other kids weren't doing this. I just remember family vacations and it was just like such a long period of time was consumed by my haircut, how it was combed, the little activities that a seven or eight year old goes through. Everything was more focused on my hair and my appearance, so that I don't always remember some things that happened to me as a kid. I just remember the struggles I went through.
How did BDD progress as you entered adolescence?
For me BDD, in middle school I was really concerned with under-eye circles, and I used to get ready in the bathroom with the lights completely off. I would have a little bit of hallway light so I could actually physically see me, but it was as dark as possible when I showered, when I combed my hair, when I got ready. I just felt that you couldn't see the under-eye circles, and I wasn't so consumed by it when I started getting ready in the dark. I also remember kind of having my own home remedies; I would put lotion under my eyes to get the circles, I felt it made the under-eye circles look better, and in doing so, you know, the oily lotion was on my face and had me break out a little bit, and then that became a concern. I was also really concerned with my weight, and how I looked, and how my clothes fit. I just remember that a lot of middle school besides the uneasiness most kids go through, it was just this consumption with under my eyes, and my skin, and my weight, and it was kind of just such a focus.
As you developed new concerns, did you stop worrying about your hair?
I still concerned about my hair, but suddenly it was kind of like second; it wasn't as important. I just remembered under my eye circles were just an obsession. It was like I would have to get ready in the dark. I would always try to move my head a certain way in the light for pictures because I thought it would make me look less tired. I knew what kind of bathroom lights made me look tired; so I wouldn't get ready in bathrooms that had those kind of lights, I would just get ready in the dark. And besides you are eleven years old taking a shower in the dark because you don't even want to see yourself.
How did you cope with BDD in middle school?
About 6th to 8th grade, 11 to 13, I just remember a big one was the lighting, when I'd get ready, showering with the lights off and always wanting it kind of dark and stuff like that. Definitely with my pimples and stuff I would kind of like ask my mom, "What can you do", and she'd put a little concealer on it or I would try to hid it or not look somebody in the eye when I talk. And I think a main one with my weight, I was so concerned about how my clothes fit. So I was always tucking and un-tucking and adjusting the pants, adjusting the shorts and kind of making sure everything fit just right. And in my head made it look . . . I looked skinner or I looked better if I kept messing with it until it got perfect.
Looking back, did you really have an issue with weight at that age?
Looking back, did you really have an issue with weight at that age? No, I, didn't, I have a pictures and stuff from it, and I was always, in my head I was always like a chubby kid and people look at these pictures and they're like "You weren't really chubby" y'know. You were five foot, I was extremely short until tenth grade, so I wasn't like tall and thin until about the tenth grade, but I was never really made fun of, I was never like the fat kid and I took it to a whole new level. I took it to the level, where, I quit karate because I remember quitting karate when I was a kid because I hated the way that the gi fit me; and you had mirrors all around, so instead of doing karate, I was more focused on how I looked and I kept running to the bathroom to kind of adjust it, I thought it made me look skinnier; or soccer, you had to tuck in your shirt, but I felt like tucking my shirt made me look heavier, so I wanted to untuck my shirt, which they wouldn't let me, so I quit soccer and it, instead of just being, like, uncomfortable, or, being realistic with it, I took it to this whole new level where I let it decide my life, and looking back, I wish I could shake myself and be like "You're FINE, you're normal, you had little girlfriends and everything's okay", but of course, back then I really thought something was wrong with me.