I’ve come to recognize that the way I view my body is probably unhealthy.
I say probably; in reality, it is without question a definite.
I have body dysmorphia, and have for quite some time. I doubt I have to explain what it is (it’s a fairly common occurrence from what I gather, particularly for people my age), but as someone with a chronic condition, someone whose body is already different, already dysmorphed, as it were, the perspective that it lends is probably a unique one.
When it comes to my condition, I tend to assume no one is going to relate to how I feel. I dated someone who had it since literally birth, and even she couldn’t. This is because even when someone suffers from the same thing as you, they might suffer differently, or not at all. We are all made up of traumas that shape us, inform us, perplex us, frighten us, and even sometimes limit us.
I hate feeling like I’m only offering a “woe is me” narrative, in which I’m the victim; I hate the thought that I ever would be. But lately I’ve realized that my efforts to avoid this have backfired, and have found me underplaying the effect my condition has on me not just physically, but mentally, and emotionally: the scar-tissue of trauma built up from the things I’ve experienced from this disease I never asked for.
And that’s why today I wanted to write about it, about this body of mine that I’ve always struggled with, because maybe you can relate to this, or find some part of it relatable, and maybe you won’t feel so alone, or weird, like me.
Do you wildly vacillate between loving and hating how you look? Who you are?
Ever stare into a mirror one moment and think, “Wow, I look good,” or think, “Wow, I feel good,” and then the next moment feel absolutely disgusted with yourself, with your body and how it looks and feels?
This strange distortion begets only more insecurity, as you find yourself believing that you always look worse than you actually seem, and assume that even if you do feel good in a moment, to someone else seeing you, you must be hideous.
The condition I have (type 1 diabetes) requires that I oscillate wildly between low and high blood sugars, each with its own accompanying symptoms. Shifting back and forth between feeling good and feeling crummy about myself, and then actually physically feeling good and feeling crummy, lends to a wildly unstable living experience. Add to this the fact that I have medical devices literally attached to me, to my broken body, and you’ll find that it’s very difficult to ever feel “normal” when there already is no semblance to normal. There is no stability. There is no security.
I hate my body—but then I love it. I’ve had moments where I literally want to take a knife and cut off parts of it (the parts I hate and feel uncomfortable in), and then there are moments when I love it, when I feel very confident and content.
I suppose I resent my body. Hell, I wanted to kill it just a month ago (I suppose that says enough about the pits one can fall into when self-love isn’t present). But my attempt at suicide is by no means the only incident of me mistreating my body.
“I tried intermittent fasting to cope with the feelings of being bloated and sick from my chronic condition.” Sounds good, right? Understandable even? A rational course to follow, surely; but it’s not really true: I told people that lie, when in reality it was because I felt fat, and felt insecure in my body, and starving myself made me feel like I was fixing the problem, when all it really did was encourage me to starve myself, and further exacerbated the real problem. It took someone close to me telling me that what I was essentially doing was harboring an eating disorder, that I really was just starving myself so that I didn’t feel fat, for me to see it wasn’t healthy, and that it was in fact abusive. I’m still actively working on not doing this…
If you met me, you’d never think “Oh, he’s fat.” I keep myself in good-enough shape.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t still feel it. That in my head there aren’t voices constantly telling me “You look like this right now,” “Oh, you must look like this to them.”
Let me be a little more transparent. To do so, I’ve compiled a list:
What’s Hated About My Body:
The way my stomach bloats
The sides of my stomach, where my pump and CGM are located
The sticker marks leftover from those places
My legs, and how fat they look when I sit
My neck, and how it bunches when I look down
My arms, and the acne that forms on them
The musculature of my body
How my face looks when I smile
How sick I feel
How out of breath I feel
My intelligence (or lack thereof)
This isn’t the whole of it, but seeing even part of it written out affords a real sense of how far it’s gotten, and how bad those bad days can be.
Strangely enough, a lot of my experience with my body and how I feel in it informed me of transgenderism, whose individuals feel like their assigned gender isn’t correct to how they feel. What I’ve learned is that how one appears or is perceived has little to do with how one feels internally, and what their reality is to them. There is also the fact that my body and world both changed drastically when I was diagnosed, and thus I don’t really feel like myself in it. Sometimes I wonder if there is a self in it, or just more fragmented pieces of the already broken body…
Such is the nature of having an invisible disease. I describe it as “silent suffering” because though I may look fine, secretly I’m a sick person whose broken body is struggling to function at the most basic capacity, and that hidden reality makes for an anxious existence, in which no one truly sees me as me. I don’t know if anyone ever will.
I constantly feel this dichotomy of highs and lows, not only in blood sugar, but in mood and emotion, in how I view myself and my broken body.
There is no middle ground, and it’s absolutely maddening.
I feel sick right now. I feel hideous right now. I shy away from photographs and dodge glances because I feel gross.
I wrote the above yesterday, though this morning I no longer feel like that. Today I feel okay about my body. As I said, it’s ever changing.
But I wanted to write about it today and be more transparent than I have been with it previously because maybe someone else does feel like this, and maybe knowing you aren’t alone helps, that you aren’t the only one hiding behind a facade of happiness. You’re not alone.
I sure hope I’m not.