Hi, nice to meet you
My name is Vivien, and I am from Hungary. I am 29 years old currently living in Turkey with my husband.
My Story with Body Dysmorphic Disorder
I grew up in a toxic household where one parent is a covert narcissist, the other one had no patience to raise the fourth child whatsoever. Since I can remember my parents were fighting all the time many times pulling me in the middle. I hated to go home from kindergarten and school because I never felt safe from the unlimited attention and abuse of a narcissist and the constant fights that were going on. But I had no choice so early on, eating became my coping mechanism. Food was always there for me to make me feel better. So, I ate, and ate, and ate.
I started kindergarten as a chubby kid. It was very hard for me to find any friends and at the same time, the bullying has begun. I was only 5, but I already knew skinny is normal and fat is bad. By the time I started attending primary school, I was overweight. I was targeted every single day by more or less the same kids. I would get physically sick in the morning because I was terrified to go to school. My parents knew about the bullying, the teachers knew about it too, but nobody did anything. My father said that I have to stand up for myself, but little he knew it's hard to fight back when there are 10 kids standing around you pushing you around and calling you horrible names. I was 8 when the thought of wanting to be skinny came to my mind for the first time. I associated skinny with normal, and normal with being left alone. So, I went on a diet which was unsuccessful because of the need of eating at home to cope with the bullying and the abuse. I became frustrated and I knew that I was less than others.
Middle school was even worse than primary school because that is the time when our body starts to change and I soon realized that nature wasn't as generous with me as with many other girls. At that age, we start to compare ourselves to others more than ever and I felt ugly and I hated that I was a tomboy. I wore clothes to cover myself up and in the hope of not getting attention. The boys were cracking jokes about me not being a girl and being disgusting. During this time dieting was part of my life and the failure of not being able to lose weight and the dissatisfaction with my looks were constantly on my mind.
High school started and the bullying came to an end, but it was too late. By the time I started high school I had no self-esteem, no confidence, and I was ashamed. Terribly ashamed of how I looked and who I was as a person. I became a people pleaser because at that time I thought that is the only way people will talk to me. People actually talked to me, and I made some great friends but it was at that time when the tiny black cloud following me everywhere became a dark fog. It was extremely hard to navigate in that fog and many times I couldn't see the value of the moment that I was experiencing and many times I still can’t until this day. When I was 17 I got into a toxic and abusive relationship and lost a significant amount of weight. I knew that I was smaller, but I couldn't see myself as how I truly looked like. I will never forget what my boyfriend said once: "Girls at your age are not supposed to look like this". I knew it wasn’t right but the relationship gave me an escape from my parents’ drama so I became very attached to it. My family also didn’t help by changing the "you are overweight you have to lose weight" track to the "you are anorexic you have to eat" one. I always wanted to be skinny, and honestly, I was. And it breaks my heart that I couldn't see it or enjoy it. I remember changing 4-5 times before going to school crying because I thought I looked hideous while my mother was screaming at me: "don't be such a vein monkey!" Little she knew I was terrified inside to leave the house. During high school, I took summer jobs in a boutique and I remember standing in front of the big mirror by the changing rooms... I hated it, I wished I could cover it. I was looking at myself for hours every day going over and over what I hated about myself. At that time, I started to obsess over my body and I was constantly thinking about how to lose more weight... of course, this put me under a fair amount of stress. I didn't eat meals, I had bars of chocolate and energy drink.
I started university when I was 19. It was definitely good for me to leave the toxic household and my narc parent's influence couldn't reach me as strongly as before. But I brought all the bad habits, lack of awareness, and my fully developed body dysmorphic disorder with me. I ended my toxic relationship and unfortunately straight jumped into the next one. In the first half-year of the relationship, I gained back all the weight I got rid of plus many extras. My fragile self-confidence became non-existent and I fell into a hole deeper than I could imagine. I couldn't leave the house for days, I couldn't attend classes because I was so terrified and ashamed. I felt that people will look at me and think that I am disgusting. I dreaded meeting people who knew me before my weight gain because I knew that they will think: "What did this girl do to herself? Why did she let herself go like that?" 2 years went by living like this, I passed my exams while my social life went from healthy to zero and I was isolated. Nobody understood me and my binge eating has started.
During the last year of my BA degree, I got a chance to study in China, so off I went. The change of environment didn't make my condition any better, but at least I had some fun. China and other Asian cultures, in general, are quite fatphobic, and I was told by countless people that "I would look so beautiful if I lost weight". I thought more than ever that having fun is the privilege of the pretty and skinny people so I started to skip classes in China too. I couldn't face people, I hated to be ignored and titled as the “designated fat friend”. I was always the girl on diet but when I got home I binged on fast food because that was the only thing that made me feel safe. Fast forward, I made a life in China, I miraculously passed my exams, I worked and I had no intention of going back to Hungary. I met my husband in 2017 and we got married last year. Kudos to him for sticking by my insecure, clingy, and miserable being. Of course, BDD made and is making a lot of trouble in my relationship because I was and sometimes still am jealous, insecure, needy and controlling and what my husband hates the most of all: miserable and complaining. I had to work hard on resolving my issues and he gave me numerous chances that’s why we made it. We left China last year, and now we are living in Turkey.
My body dysmorphia is hanging over me every day, every hour, and every minute. The thought of me not being pretty enough, the thought of me being overweight, the thought of my husband not having a wife that he can be proud of is constantly on my mind. It's daunting, draining, and exhausting. Some days I feel okay, some days I feel horrible. I could break all the mirrors and hate on the world for hours. I took control over my binge eating but food still controls my meal choices most of the times. I lost some weight and based on my BMI I am not obese anymore but it does not affect my self-image positively. I still have a lot to do, and I have a lot to tell. I want to share my story, my struggles, my ways to survive and many other things. I want to tell everything.
I invested a significant amount of time and effort into researching body dysmorphia. I wanted to know what I am dealing with and just by knowing that this is a condition that generates my horrible thoughts and behavioural patterns helps a little bit to put things into perspective. I hope that my writings will be helpful to somebody and that we can go to a journey of healing and recovering together.