Mental Health Awareness Week 2015: An open letter to BDD

With it being Mental Health Awareness Week, and with the recent revelations that celebrities such as Robert Pattinson and Hayden Panettiere suffer from Body Dysmorphic Disorder just as I do, it seems that knowledge of BDD is becoming more widespread and I thought I’d share something of my experience with this horrible condition.

Dear BDD,

There’s a lot I’d like to say to you. Above all I’d like to ask why? Just out of curiosity, why did you choose to prey on the mind of a vulnerable nine year old, and infest her brain with wicked thoughts? Why have you made me say such evil things to myself, why does malice drip from my words like venom?

Why have you made me feel like I’m not good enough, that I don’t deserve to be here, that my presence is  such an eyesore on society that the only way I could rectify the selfishness of my actions was by removing myself from the planet?

Why have you conditioned my brain to think that no matter what I think, say, or do, it is all worth nothing because nobody will be able to see past my hideous exterior?

Why did you make me stay indoors for so long? Why did I have to waste so much time in my agoraphobic cocoon, missing out on everything that was going on outside?

Why do you make me feel so uncomfortable in my own skin, like a cage that is keeping me from fulfilling my full potential as a person?

Why did you make me so obsessed with my image, and provoke the ritualistic behaviours which took over my life?

Why have you made me detest and avoid mirrors and reflective surfaces, to the extent that if I catch sight of myself it can ruin my day and send me into a deep depression?

Why do you drive me into periods of catatonia, unable to move, eat or wash?

Why do you stop me knowing what is real, and what you have fabricated in my mind? Why do you incur so much paranoia that I’m constantly on edge, unsure whether the friends, relationships and success I have in my life are a mirage, created to taunt me with the unattainable?

Why do you give me so much anxiety? And why does it make me feel sick, sweaty and shaky? Why must I have panic attacks?

BDD, you’re horrible.

You’re so horrible, yet you get away with it. You get away with it because you’re a lesser known mental illness, affecting a mere 1% of us. You get away with it because you’re mistaken for vanity. You get away with it because sadly, so many young girls and boys already have low self-esteem and body image issues that it’s not considered abnormal or unhealthy to hate your own appearance. You disguise yourself as something trivial and then transform into a life-consuming mental illness, cruelly opening the door for other mental illnesses.

BDD, you’re going to be exposed. The world will know who you are, so if you’re ever spotted, you can be stopped in your tracks because the longer you linger, the harder you are to get rid of.

Everyone will know that with the combined approach of medication and psychotherapy, there is a way to defeat you.

It might be too late for me, but it’s not too late for all the other young minds which you prey on.

Yours sincerely,