I was asked to be in the ‘Mirror, Mirror’ report on 60 minutes in 2001 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAuc2xAM7-8) when I was 23 and seeing the doctor involved. I declined due to being too embarrassed, so I applaud those that took part, along with Jolien (sadly not here anymore apparently) and the others in the British documentary a few years afterward.
I tried dating (most recently about 3 years ago, I will not be trying again in the foreseeable future due to repeated failures, stresses, heightened bdd symptoms, women expecting children, and trying to focus on self improvement), working (age 15 to 27), University etc for over a decade, often with false assistance from alcohol and party type acquaintances that have long since vanished. I am now 36, single and unemployed, and finding it harder to maintain the few friends and family (and interests) I’ve valued and trusted long term, although most are now busy with careers, wives and small kids, so I understand that people just get damned busy, while I’m a hermit for the most part. I am exercising twice a week with a friend of 21 years, now I’ve finally quit smoking (which is about the worst thing for facial appearance, what an idiot. Kids, smoking is truly insane and the most uncool thing ever :P).
I will say I’m very thankful for the good I still find in life, myself, activity and select others I trust and can be seen by to a degree. Relatively positive times and thoughts ease the pain of still being here and fighting off thoughts of escape. I hope I don’t come off too emo here. BDD is a tough gig, and even my immediate family still struggle to understand or empathise, but they care. I hope you all can find someone to be in your corner and help you still find some times that are somewhat enjoyable, or better yet, manage/overcome BDD :). Also, despite being quite hopeless at it and the BDD remaining constant, I’m thankful for the dating experiences I had, along with work and friends, because it made me feel somewhat human and that I have value and am an ok person despite feeling hideous most of the time (and getting worse with age and years of stress).
I plan to keep fighting. Along with regular exercise with a trusted friend at his home where I feel relatively safe, I’ve started seeing a new therapist with a focus on hypnotherapy and relaxation techniques, having tried talking therapy and medications with minimal benefit. I’m not expecting a magic cure, but it’s worth trying things, and it has helped a little with my stress. Last year I got a rare opportunity to see my favourite lifelong musician twice, with my family who are also fans, and despite the anxiety of being in a crowd of 15,000 (all strangers ready to deem you repulsive at a glance), I’ve truly never felt happier.
I also recently met a journalist friend from overseas after 15 years of online/phone friendship when she came to Australia to cover a band tour. I accompanied her, which meant going on planes, interstate for the first time in my life. While quite taxing mentally, it was absolutely amazing to hang out with her after so long and have that adventure and make great memories. Having things to look forward to, even small things like a friend dropping in on a day you feel up to being seen, relatively (trusting someone is a big part of this) is key to surviving with BDD, at least in my 25 years with it. Socialising can take a lot of energy, so for most it probably doesn’t have to be too often, but BDD is a bit different for everyone. Woodwork and music also help keep my mind busy and give some entertainment and self worth.
I have never met another BDD sufferer (to my knowledge), nor chatted with any online. That opportunity, afforded by your efforts here, may be something quite beneficial, to have an actual experience that confirms I am not alone, despite feeling pretty much that way for most of my life. I know this stems partly from a bit of childhood chaos (given the choice of which parent to live with at age 5, choosing my 23 year old father that tended to prioritise partying and friends over providing a truly comfortable, stable environment for a kid, my mother moving away when I was ten, father refusing to have a telephone, being ridiculed for my skinniness at school, being a bored overachiever who took to being a class clown to try and fit in, resulting in me being banished from my class at age 11, into the Principal’s office for months, etc etc…). Acne came on strong, then I started wearing foundation and kids noticed, causing more embarrassment Then needing sunglasses, only going out at night, hours spent in mirrors, mirrored surfaces, running away from everyone and everything, quitting uni, jobs, girls (or them quitting me due to my issues)…I think I’ve covered most of the basics without going on forever