Going through counseling for body dysmorphic disorder is, recently, making me feel like I am 5 years old again. Perhaps because my BDD is mild-medium severe, the treatment isn’t super intensive. The “homework” I’ve done has certainly exacerbated my symptoms at times, but a lot of what my counselor has assigned me to do looks like your basic self esteem work (with some specific behavior abatement and exposure work, too).
For instance, some of my recent homework has been to:
-Make a list of things I like about myself, and put that list in the bathroom at home and on my desk at work.
-Objectively describe body parts, starting first with those that I am mostly satisfied with and working up to describing those that I am less or not at all satisfied with.
My counselor has encouraged me to recruit J into my homework (ask him what he likes about you!). I’ve been encouraged to strip more, to dance naked at Sesso more and wear less clothing– all of which are counter intuitive, but the counter intuitiveness is what exposure therapy is all about. “You’re weight matters a whole lot less than you think,” she keeps telling me. “People do not notice as much as you think.” I’m still not totally sure, but I’m trying to repeat those lines as my new mantra (it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter). Reading my positive qualities list is having a positive effect, I think: when I zone out at work, I’m at least reading positive self talk, instead of focusing on my stomach which feels too fat or what food I should or shouldn’t eat later in the day.
I’m working on my self confidence, which is something I had long dismissed as the work for a little kid- shouldn’t I have learned all of this already in life? And if I should have, I probably did, right? So I don’t need to work on it now? What I am realizing, is that self confidence takes maintenance, and needs to be built into my self care. Making clear associations between how I take care of myself and my other self care activities is important, too (feeling good that I go to counseling as a way to do personal work, feeling good doing the work that I do as a form of helping others, feeling good getting a hair cut as a way to take care of my hair, etc.). Maybe some people do just “have self confidence,” but I am finding out that I need to consciously work on feeling confident and happy with myself.
What things do you like about yourself?