To anyone seeking relief from Body Dysmorphic Disorder,
First, I want to acknowledge your brave decision to seek help and resources on your journey to recovery from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). You have found an incredible organization, The International OCD Foundation, with vast information and material to help you better understand the disorder and the available treatments. I am honored to offer you some words of encouragement as you begin to learn more about BDD.
Like you, I also have BDD. I remember life before receiving an official diagnosis. My experience may sound familiar to you: there are many stressful days and brutal nights of praying, wishing, and hoping that the flaws in your appearance will go away—or there is a cosmetic procedure to fix them. I know what it is like to feel different than those around you, fearing that you appear disfigured or deformed—and looking in the mirror brings on feelings of shame and disgust.
It has been a disorder that has dramatically impacted my life since I was eight years old. It has morphed and attacked different body parts throughout the years—my skin, nose, forehead size, hair, and more—always leaving me feeling inferior and grotesque. The disorder led me to quit school and work, isolate myself from friends and family, and attempt suicide. It was not until I found evidence-based treatment for the disorder that I learned how to manage the BDD symptoms, allowing me to live a full and meaningful life.
That is why I am speaking with you today. To let you know that you do not have to resign yourself to the fact that this nightmare will be your way of life forever. There is help out there. The International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) has a treatment search function (http://www.IOCDF.org/find-help) to locate a clinician or treatment center specializing in the specific therapy for BDD. The treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy, will help you address the flawed beliefs you hold about your appearance. In treatment, you will also address any teasing, bullying, and trauma that helped influence your appearance obsessions. The therapeutic tools will once again make leaving the house, interacting with others, and building personal relationships possible. Another focus will be on reconnecting with other prized traits and aspects of yourself to help find value outside of your appearance—overall helping to rebuild your self-esteem.
Although the treatment journey will not be easy, it is powerful–and it works! This website has so many resources to offer support, a sense of community, and assist in locating treatment. I would also suggest reading “The Broken Mirror,” by Katharine Phillips, one of the first (and still one of the best) books on BDD. It includes real recovery experiences from other people with BDD.
Remember, you can—and will—get better! You too can get past this. You will be able to create a fulfilled life driven by your values and goals—not by your fears. Good luck! You found a great place filled with resources to aid you on your journey, and I know you can do it. There is hope—recovery is a possibility! I encourage you to watch my video below – I discuss my journey with BDD titled “Personal Testimony – Living With BDD.”
Chris Trondsen, M.S., AMFT, APCC
OCD Southern California, an official affiliate of the IOCDF
IOCDF Lead Ambassador
IOCDF BDD SIG (Special Interest Group) Member
Personal Story: Living with BDD
Listen to Chris Trondsen share his personal experience living with OCD and Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)