Body Dysmorphia

Hello lovely readers!

Today’s post is an extremely personal one. I’m very open and honest about my journey with Cushing’s Disease and there are an immense amount of layers when it comes to this disease and the negative effects it has on the body.

The issue I’m talking about today is something that not only Cushing’s patients suffer from. This is an issue women and men all around the globe deal with. The issue? 

Body Dysmorphia.

Those two words may or may not have hit you like a truck. If it did, you probably know every single feeling I’m about to talk about. I’m here to let you know, you’re definitely not alone. This disorder is heavy on an individual and difficult to overcome. 

April 2015 - 3 months into weight gain

April 2015 - 3 months into weight gain

If you aren’t entirely familiar with body dysmorphia, it’s a mental disorder where an individual has an area or areas of the body that they obsess over that they don’t think is good enough and affects them mentally and socially. They will go as far as avoiding going out in public so that people won’t see their “flaws”, even though no one around them perceives anything about them as a flaw. 

Every single human has something on their body that they aren’t completely happy about but body dysmorphia is on a whole other level. A level that takes over your life. Unfortunately, I am able to say it’s taken over my life.

For those of you who don’t know what Cushing’s Disease is, in a quick little snapshot into the disease, it’s caused by excess cortisol secretion in the pituitary gland causing many, many issues in the body but for this post, we’ll focus on the most physical one: the weight gain. It’s caused either by a steroid medication (high doses) or a pituitary or an adrenal tumour.

December 2016 - 1 month before surgery 

December 2016 - 1 month before surgery 

Most of us know cortisol causes weight gain in the abdominal area but imagine it growing 10-15 pounds a month with proper diet and exercise. Essentially, Cushing’s is a disease where you have absolutely no control over your body as long as you’re exposed to high levels of a steroid medication or have a tumour inside your body. Working out and eating so well and only gaining weight instead of losing it, especially before answers, can really drive someone insane.

Long story short, in 1.5 years, I went from being 88 pounds to 188 pounds the morning of surgery. My face and body looked nothing like me. People who saw me on the daily didn’t even recognize me if I went a week or two without seeing them. My family members didn’t recognize. Friends didn’t recognize me. It was traumatizing. Upsetting. Heartbreaking. I felt like I lost who I was with this disease in my mind and physically. 

I had surgery January 27, 2017 and fast forward to the end of May 2018, I’ve gone down from 188 pounds to 124 pounds. I’ve made a tremendous improvement but it’s still just not the same.

2014 - 2017 - 2018

2014 - 2017 - 2018

I still can’t wear jeans. I can’t wear the clothes I want to. Why? Because my gut, although having gone down, is still disproportionate compared to my body. Before this all, I could wear everything I wanted proportionately and now nothing fits right. My gut isn’t huge per se, but it’s a lot bigger than my legs and bum and doesn’t match the upper-half of my body. Needless to say, it’s beyond screwed me up.

I’ve become so obsessive, so scared to leave my house, so ashamed to take photos of anything but my face that I’ve decided I need to get help. I need it. I want it. I want to live my life. I’m sick and tired of basing my worth on whether I can fit into certain clothing or how I look.

I reached out to a clinic in Hamilton, ON that helps those with eating disorders, body dysmorphia, anxiety and depression. I’m incredibly excited to start my long, healing process. I know it’ll be worth it because I know deep down, that I’m worth it. And guess what? You are too. I mean it. 

Although it’s hard to believe in myself some days, it definitely is easier for me to be able to tell others the truth and mean it. You are worth more than the part of your body you’re unhappy about. People really don’t notice what you’re so incredibly worried about, I promise you that. The people who you go see to get professional help? They won’t judge you. They’re listening, they’re ready and willing to help.

2014 - 2017 - start of 2018

2014 - 2017 - start of 2018

I have some tips on what I do to help myself on really bad days. Please know I’m not sharing these as a “cure” or “for sure” exercises that will help heal you. They’re merely self-love exercises that someone has to work really hard on. Full disclosure: Some days it’ll help and some days you’ll feel like, “why in the hell am I bothering with this?” And honestly? That’s totally okay!! Ride the waves of your emotions. Feel them. Embrace them. Try your best to use them as a reminder of how not to treat yourself but to treat yourself with more love and kindness, instead. 

  1. Look in the mirror and get out whatever negative feelings I’m feeling.
  2. Follow with focusing on the things on me that I DO like. “I love my big brown eyes”. “I love my smile”. Focus on even the smallest of things, ya know what I’m saying? A-n-y-t-h-i-n-g you love about yourself
  4. List from number 4? Put it somewhere where you’ll see it daily. Change it weekly/monthly if you need to. 
  5. This is a toughie, but try it: instead of focusing on “fixing” or “perfecting” the areas you don’t love, focus on accentuating the areas you DO love! Trust me, you’ll feel so much better when you focus on those parts you love!

Simple little list but such a huge feat when you’re feeling like you’re at the bottom. It’s a work in progress. One that’s absolutely worth it. 

And one more thing lovelies - Don’t be afraid to reach out to others if you need to. You’d be surprised at how many people will be understanding and/or are going through the same thing as you. There is strength in togetherness and together, you can uplift each other!