Loving My Body More

For years, i have struggled with my body image. Last year I got diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder. As I’m writing this, it’s been a bad day body image wise and the beautiful weather the last few days doesn’t help! Even though I’ve learned to love my body throughout my time in therapy, I still have the odd bad day, but that is totally okay! With it being a bad day, I had an idea to write a post about this topic, as when I first got diagnosed what I did first was google and read many articles, websites and watch many youtube videos on how to love your body, so I thought this would be a good post to write and it may help others which would be amazing.

I remember first struggling with my body image in my school years. I have always seen myself as ugly, weirdly shaped and just not attractive at all. This manifested in many self-damaging behaviors, including self-harm. I had CBT last year, throughout that I learned a fair few things about BDD and my relationship with my body. I learned that how I view my body wasn’t correct and was a distorted view.

In all honesty, when I got told I had BDD, I felt low, it got me feeling so low I had more horrible, intrusive thoughts than ever. But I spoke about it with my doctor and my therapist, after I got a better understanding of it, I was feeling a lot better about it and was confident that CBT would help it – it’s one of the best things for BDD, that and medication, which at the time, I was on both… talk about great timing, eh?! I knew it was going to be a long long road to recovery, and to this day I am still on that road.

The first thing I did on this road to learning to love my body more is to try and limit myself to how many times I can look in the mirror and how long for each time. I was going to completely stop but that wouldn’t be helpful I thought because stopping something I have done for a long time can have negative effects, which I could do without! Atidepressants also kick started me in beating BDD. I heard it was the best thing for me to do, medication and therapy, it helped me in terms of giving me that push in the right direction and is also helping me manage my mental illness’.

I’ve always worn oversized, long clothes to hide my body, so this was the second thing I was aiming to do. Luckily, as I was in therapy and at the time we were focusing on my body views and such, I was getting ready to jet off to sunny, beautiful Tenerife for a week! What a perfect opportunity to fight my safety blanket of covering my body with clothes, because obviously wearing clothes that are big obviously isn’t the best in blistering weather. It went well, I think it was easier because everybody was wearing the same sort of clothes, so my brain thought nobody would notice me, which it was right.. For once. When I landed back onto beautiful british soil, it was sunny (surprisingly) so I carried on what I was doing and looking back, I think this was the thing that had the most impact on me. I can now wear shorts without feeling that anxious (as i am writing this, it’s snowing so no shorts for a while…)

CBT has proved vital in my quest to improve my body image, and obviously there are going to be bad days but with the techniques, i’ve learnt, hopefully, it wont get as bad as it did before CBT, but it’s looking likely that I am going back to 1 to 1 therapy so maybe I will go over the techniques!  If you are reading this and struggle with your body image, please don’t forget that it can and will get better. It may seem like it is never going to happen but just hang in there and keep trying to fight it. There is loads of support out there, such as the bdd foundation (https://bddfoundation.org/) which has tons of resources for people who struggle or for people who want to help other people.

 

 

(so sorry for my recent absence from blogging, I’m working so much in my job and I’ve just had no time to blog, same with reading, hoping to get more posts out in the upcoming weeks x)

CBT: Nineteenth Session

Before I go into writing this post fully, this is my last post for a week as I am off to sunny Tenerife for a weeks holiday!

This week, I started an annoying nervous habit of sniffing up, it’s not hayfever or a cold, it’s just an annoying habit which I want to stop! My therapist said it’s more than likely related to my MH. The only way to challenge it is habit reversal, she also said because I’m so conscious about it, I could be doing it more so I need to learn to not be so conscious about it and it may stop – easier said than done, but I can do it!

As my therapist knew I was going on holiday, this session was all about that, basically talking about it and asking me how I felt about going. I am scared of going on holiday as I’m going to be the furthest away from home I’ve ever been, the furthest away from my safe place. Also, because it’s going to obviously be hot, I will be wearing shorts which will be very uncomfortable for me due to my body dysmorphia, but my therapist put it simply like this “everyone else will be wearing shorts, nobody will notice you” which is very true!

I mentioned that I am still doing my exposure therapy, but obviously, my therapist doesn’t want me to do it on holiday. I’m just scared of having no one to talk to in person about my MH if I struggle on my holiday.

I hope I can enjoy my holiday, I fly tomorrow and a part of me is excited but a part of me is very scared. I hope it turns out well and I have a good week to chill out and just have a break from working on my mental health and relax.

Sorry that this post is short, the session wasn’t such CBT based as some of the sessions are just talking and not much on CBT techniques!

CBT: Eighteenth Session

We mainly focused on BDD and my emotions/moods in this session, which I’m really happy about! I have wanted to challenge my BDD for ages but it just wasn’t time and there were other things to challenge, now is the time though and I am ready!

My therapist introduced me to a thought record sheet for my body dysmorphia, I will list all my thoughts about what I feel about my body and what I think others are thinking. I also have to list the situation/trigger which will help my therapist find my triggers and work on them. It also involves rating emotions, this record will help me as I will be able to find what is the worst situation for my BDD and then I can challenge it, slowly but surely.

We went over the negative core beliefs that we did many sessions ago, she asked me if I thought they were still true, because of all the work I’ve done. Many of them I thought were not true anymore, like where I was scared of people seeing me when I have a panic attack, turns out I don’t really look different. There are still a few that I feel I can work on, such as.  “I’m a failure” “I’m not good enough” There were a few more.. but I stupidly left my sheet in my session! Silly me!

I also looked at a worksheet called “wheel of emotions” My therapist gave me that just to reassure me that the feelings/emotions I have are perfectly normal. She also mentioned that my mood swings could just be more obvious as I am now obviously thinking about my moods.

I’m still doing the exposure therapy, it’s going really well and I’m actually feeling proud of myself for the first time in months!

CBT: Sixteenth Session

I have had a fairly good week coming up to this session, things were going to plan, I did exposure therapy once and went out fishing every day, however.. my mood swings have been really bad, like I feel so depressed but half an hour later I’m on some sort of high and enjoying everything? It’s so tiring and frustrating… I know it’s not normal but I don’t know what’s causing it which is even more frustrating!

I also worry about losing my friends and being lonely. I told my therapist all of this, the session didn’t turn out to be like CBT but it was basically a talking session where I just spoke about what I was feeling, sometimes you need sessions like this, it really helps a lot!

My therapist mentioned that the mood swings can be caused by me working on my mental health as doing so can make you really happy or really depressed very often, I didn’t really think about it like that, but she is a therapist and I’m not smart haha!

We went to exposure therapy, she mentioned that I really need to try my hardest doing it more than once, but I am. It’s extremely hard and she knows that and said don’t get down about not being able to do it, easier said than done! I am hoping and praying I’ll do it more than once before my next session.

My therapist mentioned an assessment but didn’t say anything more about it. Truthfully, I want to ask for one as I know something isn’t wrong and I’m pretty sure it’s not to do with my mental illness’ I’ve been diagnosed with. That is just so scary for me, it may seem such a small thing to ask for but I’m honestly so scared of doing it, I hope I am able to ask, I really want to ask. Ugh, why are these things so hard?!

I hope my next session goes well, I’m not feeling confident about CBT at the moment, I’m not sure but all that confidence and hopefulness has just emptied out of me and I can’t find the reason why.

Liam

CBT: Twelfth session

// TRIGGER WARNING – SELF HARM //

This post was meant to go up yesterday, but I actually went out and socialised! Shock! I had a great time and challenged my anxiety in multiple ways!As I made a list in the previous session, throughout the week I was trying to tick things off, and add things onto it. I found it really motivating to do so.

As I made a list in the previous session, throughout the week I was trying to tick things off, and add things onto it. I found it really motivating to do so.

I filled out the usual GAD-7 PHQ-9 questionnaire. The scores are going down slowly, which is great! We focused the session on what we can do to get the scores down. She mentioned that my depression can go down with doing things, challenging it. Not staying in all day where it’ll get worse and then the self-harm starts again. I’ve only self-harmed once in two weeks! I am beyond happy about this, things are looking so good it’s brilliant I LOVE IT! We also talked about the CBT formula and the cycle of depression, which I am apparently slowly breaking! Woo!

I mentioned how I seem to be so agitated and I tend to just snap at people lately, even my parents and sisters. I seem to snap for some reason. It makes me feel so crap when I just shout at them but I have no reason why I do so. I also explained how I sleep so much and it’s not making me feel any better, so she wants me to set up a schedule, for each week – I had one with my previous therapist but with my relapse of SH and being moved up to higher intensity therapist, I didn’t really stick by it.

The schedule for this week included getting up at 10 am, prevent boredom by doing things I love – reading, blogging, writing, fishing, listening to music etc. Go out with a friend, which I did yesterday and it was the best day for a long time! It also includes me buying a journal which I’ve already done – god I am getting this scheduled one brilliantly!!! I told her about my low self-esteem and how I feel about myself. She then mentioned trying a “positive qualities log” as she explained how people may say nice stuff, but when you’re struggling it just goes over your head and you don’t really take notice. This log should help me with that. I have to write everything people say positive about me, may it be in person, on twitter or anything!

After the schedule idea was explained and it sounded really good, I think it’ll help a lot. We talked more about my irritability, and like my snapping at people. She mentioned a stress ball and asked what I do to chill… I then realised I don’t really do much to chill and that’s where I could be going wrong. I need to chill out more.

I went on to how I feel about my depression getting better, but my anxiety is still really bad. I know that I am going to ask my doctor about propranolol to reduce the physical symptoms but I also need to make my anxiety go down with other things, not just medication. We are hopefully going to look at that soon – if my doctor does give me propranolol that is!

As always, thanks for reading!

Liam

 

CBT: Eleventh Session

// TRIGGER WARNING – SELF HARM //

I went into this session the best I’ve felt in a long time. I only self-harmed once in 7 days. I am so proud of myself for being clean for 7 days. I told my therapist this obviously, and she was so made up and she knew I was going to be so much happier when I start going out more. I went for a meal last Friday, a party on Saturday and wales on Sunday. That is such a big step for me with my social anxiety!

My therapist did say that once I start fighting my anxiety and panic attacks and start going out more, my depression will get slightly better over time and my self-harm should do.. and it is!

We basically just talked about what I did the last week, and what I wanted to. There was no CBT involved really, it was just talking and I love it when the session is like that, it’s ace to get things off my chest! I told her about my blog and volunteering with time to change. I also told her that I’m starting to really have an interest in mental health, however, I’ve not done any a-levels and spent my time in college training to be a chef so my life can only go down one route, but as my therapist said.. there’s always time to change! I can always do a-levels whenever I want to! Or even a counselling course!

She asked me to write a list of things I wanted to do. At first, I listed about 3 things as I was struggling, but we got talked about what I want to do and the list was massive!

The list is:

  • Go out more – challenge my anxiety
  • Start working again
  • Read more – it’s a good distraction for me
  • Going out alone – don’t be afraid to go out by myself
  • Go to London – meet some of my really close friends from twitter!
  • Meetup in July – try and go to a meetup in July.
  • Blog more, and do media for time to change.
  • Host talks – Something I’d love to do, express my passion in mental health and host talks in youth centres, schools etc.

I never realised this until yesterday. It’s good to have a list of goals what you want to do, it keeps me motivated, and whenever I feel low, all I have to do is look at the list to get motivated to feel better.

I’d recommend making a list of things you want to do, I am always adding things to it, it’s not a list of what you need to do as soon as possible, it’s just for motivation purposes and it’s helping me already!

As always, thanks for reading!

Liam

Loving yourself.

This is something I personally struggle with, loving myself. Not so “loving” but having a good attitude towards yourself, not putting yourself down just because you can’t do something, being angry at yourself and so on. May it be during your recovery, the way you handle your mental health or anything. I lack motivation all the time and I tend to hate myself, hate myself for not going out, hate myself for not being able to push myself out, and hating myself for having so many problems mentally.

Self-care is so important and helps you to feel better about yourself. Prior to my relapse, I was doing so well with self-care. (I have a post on self-care if you want to read it’s here) Now, it’s literally gone through the window and all the good self-care I was doing is no longer. I really need to get back into the rhythm and routine of doing something to self-care every single day.

I have been struggling for motivation since the relapse, I’ve tried everything, absolutely everything. I can feel my motivation coming back, but extremely slowly which is annoying. I’ve recently been trying to find a hobby which helps me just release all my feelings/relax, and I’ve found fishing to be helpful for that!

BDD doesn’t help me with liking myself, due to me looking at my body in a different way to others, it just doesn’t help with confidence what so ever. I am trying ever so hard to beat it though, it is manageable and beatable with CBT and medication, which i’m currently on!

I was having a chat earlier last week with one of my best friends Laura (her twitter is here) and she is so supportive, whenever I’m struggling she always helps me and doesn’t take my shit and no for an answer! she knows that I need motivation and she has literally just given me so much motivation to carry on trying to beat my mental illnesses and to write this post too! It’s great if your struggling with getting motivation, it’s important that you have good people/people you like around you to help you with that, may it be a friend or even your parents or a family member! They can all help!

I’ve been struggling a lot recently with my mental health and I need to learn to “love myself” more. So, if you’re struggling to “love” yourself like I am. Just know that you can do it. I am learning to do it slowly, and so can you. It’s extremely hard but I can do it, and you can.

As always, thanks for reading!

Liam

CBT: Ninth Session

This session, again, was the best session I’ve ever had. It’s making me feel so good how each session is just getting better and better! I’m thinking back to my first few sessions with my previous therapist, I liked the sessions and learned a lot about myself and my mental health, but I just think they didn’t help much as it takes me a while to open up in a session, and I’m so happy I’m having longer sessions now!

I had a mini panic attack out of the blue today just before this session, didn’t really know why up until I had the session, funnily enough, the session was solely about panic attacks and how they work, how they get triggered, and what I can do to stop them/control them!

As usual, it started out with doing a questionnaire. I then told her how bad I felt last weekend, solely because I got invited out for a few drinks but I kept overthinking it and said no, and it made me feel so down and depressed. She then went on to explain how it’s a vicious cycle. Being invited to go out, end up saying no and then feeling low and then the self-inflicting behaviours start, but she reassured me that we can break that vicious cycle.

We talked about the symptoms I get from panic attacks, she wrote them down (legs shake, uncontrollable breathing, churning stomach and light-headedness) She then explained how thinking about those symptoms or panic, can actually cause you to panic, I thought that was pretty unbelievable, so she told me to say those symptoms out loud until I felt those symptoms, it actually happened. Me thinking and saying the symptoms out loud, actually brought on the symptoms, something I’ve never heard of/thought of before. She wants me to try and socialise more, and if I feel a panic attack coming on, don’t leave situations like I normally would, and try to ride the panic attack out and see how good I’d feel then – as I feel awful going home from somewhere early as I had a panic attack.

My therapist also explained about the trigger of panic attacks – fast breathing. If you are able to control your breathing, you can stop the panic happening. She then told me to start breathing really heavy, as I would if I was panicking. I did it, and it caused a panic attack, and she was able to calm me down out of it within minutes. That was just to teach me the trigger of panic attacks and also teach me that they are not dangerous or bad. We went through Diaphragmatic breathing, and she showed me how to do it, I have to practice it every single day now. I have tried doing it before, but when I went bad in terms of mental health, I just stopped as I had no motivation what so ever.

This was my last session for two weeks. I am motivated to do well in between those two weeks. It scares me as whenever I have no CBT for a week, I tend to go downhill a bit, but I am determined to not go down and just keep going up!

As always, thanks for reading!

Liam

 

CBT: Eighth Session

I was going into this session with a bag load of nerves, anxiety and panic. I was panicking for this session as I had to tell my therapist something pretty serious which happened within the week of having no CBT. Luckily enough I could actually tell her, sometimes when I want to say things, they just don’t come out, but they did today!

As usual, I filled out a PHQ-9 GAD-7 questionnaire but didn’t get told if my scores were higher, the same or lower. It was hard for me to truly say everything, but I did and it made me feel so much better getting it off my chest. We then spoke about how I went out to Liverpool, and that I panicked when out, and how it stops me from going out again.

We started on this formulation sheet, that spoke about my experience of bullying in high school, which makes me think that everyone is thinking horrible things about me, so anxiety is basically being the bully now. We figured out that my core belief is that people will think I’m “weird” “not normal” and “strange” which I worry about people thinking on a day to day basis, and it makes me panic when I see people staring at me, as I immediately think that they are thinking that.

I also found out my unhelpful thinking habits, I got told to have a read over them within the week without CBT, and I related to “emotional reasoning” “judgments” “mind-reading” “prediction” and “critical self” These are important to find out, as once you’ve found out you can then focus on beating the thinking habits! She also wants me to start exposure therapy again after a few more CBT sessions, but she wants it to be more intense, like in my previous exposure therapy, I just left after doing it for like 5 minutes at a time, she wants me to do it until I have a panic attack, and that panic attack ends. Which is scary!

I got shown a “thought record” which she wants me to fill out, especially when I go out. It has columns of “emotions/moods” “physical sensations” “unhelpful thoughts/images” This will give her a wider view of what I feel like when I go out. Pretty similar to a panic diary, same layout just different columns!

I spoke with her about how I rarely go out because of the chance of anxiety taking over and then making me panic, and therefore going home early. We both know my mental health is ruling my life, but the session was so good and informative, I came out of it with such a big smile on my face, knowing that I have learnt so much about my mental health in one hour session means a lot as it’s stuff I 100% know and I 100% know I can beat!

After that session, I felt the best I have felt in months. It felt so good, to come out of a session not drained, and feeling happy! On to the next one next week!

As always, thanks for reading!

Liam

CBT: Seventh Session

I could not help but dread this session, new place to go, new therapist to meet. So much to worry and overthink about. I was worrying that my therapist wouldn’t be as nice as my previous one, or as understanding. Turns out she was just as good!

This session was basically a duplicate of my first ever CBT session really, so this post will probably be very short! We first started off with the usual GAD-7 PHQ-9 forms and asked my about my medication, told her that I had side effects but they are slowly easing off, she asked me the questions and I answered, and she asked why and such, just so she could get more details, as she was writing notes on me.

I told her absolutely everything, even things that I didn’t tell my other therapist. I was shocked I was able to! Things like past experiences of bullying in high school, such as comments about my appearance and my speech, which she thinks is a trigger for my MH as I always think back to that, and feel that everyone will say stuff like people did in the past. I also explained to her how I feel on the way I look, and she said she thinks I  have BDD (body dysmorphic disorder) which could be a big part of my anxiety. Finding that out was very overwhelming. I could have cried, I was really close to doing so. She gave me some information on what it was, and a website called www.bddfoundation.org to have a look at.

She then mentioned that it will be a hard road to recovery for me, but it will work! She did mention that it’ll get worse before it gets better and because of my SH, she is going to take things carefully, which I totally appreciate. I was so scared, and I even told her. It was so hard for me to go into a new place and go to a new therapist, and she totally understood! She gave me a sheet of unhelpful thinking habits and wants me to look through them and tell her which ones I feel like I do, such as “mind reading” as I assume people are going to think I look weird because I feel like I’m too thin and look too thin, which links into BDD and such. Also “catastrophizing” as I imagine/believe the worst will happen in every situation,  which I actually went through with my previous therapist!

I haven’t got CBT next week, which might be a bit offputting for me as I’m in a routine now of going to CBT every Wednesday. Coming out of the session I had yesterday, I felt overwhelmed, but after a few hours of trying to get my head around the session and BDD, I can’t feel demotivated. I will beat this mental health, I will learn to manage it.

 

As always, thanks for reading!

Liam