Editors Note: Today we have a guest post from Kati Sorensen-Young. Kati recently opened up about her experiences with dysmorphia and was generous enough to allow it to be re-posted here. For those who are unfamiliar with dysmorphia (which apparently includes spell check), the Mayo Clinic defines it as a mental illness “in which you can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance — a flaw that appears minor or can’t be seen by others. But you may feel so embarrassed, ashamed and anxious that you may avoid many social situations.” I’ll let Kati take it from here. Below are her comments without edit.
“Mental illness and verbose self-indulgence
Days when my dysmorphia gets really bad, I have a hard time pulling myself away from the mirror. Even though I don’t like my reflection, I feel a compulsive need to stare at it for hours picking out every flaw and obsessing over how bad I look.
As I pick and obsess, each flaw becomes more prominent and pronounced until I don’t even recognize the person I’m looking at. Taking photos helps. A bit. It wont make me like my image, but the act of capturing my image in a photo (or many — obsessive anxiety will utilize whatever outlet it’s given) helps me exit the loop and stop the internal critique where it is.
Posting the photos helps too. The symbolism of uploading my image allows my brain to step away from thinking about how I look and, as long as I stay away from mirrors and cameras after that, I can usually think about other things aside from my own face and body.
I mention all of this partly out of a prideful desire to excuse/explain away my vanity and self obsession (though the irony of doing so with a lengthy monologue about myself is not lost on me), but also because but I honestly do think that when people talk about these things honestly, it can help others to cope, feel accepted and feel understood.
The validation can be addictive when it comes but it’s never enough nor is it ever really received in the spirit it’s offered. “ANOTHER selfie? Oh, and a monologue. Great. Why does she think anyone cares? Maybe if I tell she’s pretty she’ll stfu already.” I can hear you say before commenting “You look so good. Don’t believe your brain!”
To that end, if you’ve made it this far, instead of responding to the photos, I’d love it (“I won’t love it. Feed me praise!” says my brain) if you could share your own coping strategies for when your brain works against you. It won’t fix my brain, but maybe it’ll put something positive into the world that wasn’t there before.”
Thank you again to Kati for sharing. If you’d like to be featured with a guest post, feel free to reach out through any of the typical contact methods.