Sunday, 4 May 2014

Guest Blogger: Support BDD day - 17th May 2014 by Roo James.

Hello there readers of this blog.  Pamela has invited me to hijack this blog today.  To make it more piratey, I am typing this wearing an eye patch.

My name is Roo and, among many awesome talents and jobs, I write funny stuff.  Sometimes I even do it on a computer and leave the crayons in their box.  But I am here today to talk about a special event happening on the 17th of this month.  This day is to spread awareness of a mental disorder that affects 1 in 100 people.  It attacks men as equally as women and is not very well known.  Those who have heard of it tend to sadly be misinformed thanks to terrible media coverage.  I am talking about Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

BDD is a disorder where the sufferer believes that they are physically unattractive or deformed to the point of obsession.  Many sufferers find they can't do everyday tasks because they fear being seen or ridiculed.  It breaks their confidence and can lead to depression, agoraphobia, social anxiety, eating disorders, self harm, and suicide.  No one knows exactly how it starts but the most popular theory is the patient is predisposed at birth and then an emotional "trigger" such as bullying, abuse, bereavement, or depression will start off the illness.

BDD gets a lot of negative press.  It is often referred to as "perceived ugliness syndrome" which is offensive because the distress is very real.  It is put down as a lack of confidence rather than a disorder and gets thrown in with plastic surgery addiction and eating disorders. It is something only Supermodels and Hollywood stars get according to magazines. The truth is BDD is actually a form of Obsessive Compulsive disorder.  With OCD, the sufferer will do certain actions such as excessive cleaning to control their environment and not being able to do so causes deep distress.  With BDD, the control happens with the body of the sufferer.  Excessive showering, cosmetics, dieting/over-eating, exercise, skin picking, etc.

BDD sufferers can't just get over it.  To ask a BDD sufferer to just deal with it is like asking someone to hold their breathe for ten years.  It just won't happen.  Not without serious help.  Treating BDD is very difficult.  For a start, it is hard to diagnose and can be mistaken for other illnesses like despression.  Also, many sufferers feel too ashamed to come forward, thinking they are being selfish or they really are ugly.  Secondly (is that even a word?), it is not a common illness and as such, not everywhere has the facilities and training to deal with it.  Lastly, every sufferer is different.  While Cognitive Behavior Therapy and anti depressants are the most popular forms of treatment, each sufferer will react differently and what works for one may not work for another. .

There are charities trying to change this.  BODY for example has been set up for sufferers of BDD as well as those with eating disorders.  They educate people about BDD, offer sufferers a place to get help, and visit schools to teach children about positive body image.  They are funded by people like you and me and they are small but with help and support, they can reach so many people.  Years ago, it was much harder to get help.  I know because I was one of those people looking for help and coming up with nothing.

I suffered BDD from very young childhood.  Yes, you read that right.  I was only a child.  I was not diagnosed until my late teens and getting help was a struggle.  I could not afford to see my closest specialist who was 200 miles away. My doctors tried but it was much like throwing carrots at a guinea pig.  Not that they like that, don't do it.  They tend to get upset.  I had to look for my own treatment program and while I have its butt pretty much kicked, it never goes away.  It sits on the door step, drinking the milk if you bother to still have it delivered and waiting for a chance to get back in.  That is the case for many and that is why it is so important that people like you help.  You can help by supporting charities like BODY.  You can help by educating your children or younger siblings about positive body image.  You can help by writing to MPs and asking for more funding into research and training for dealing with BDD patients.

For more information about BDD and BODY, visit their website.

If you would like to really make me suffer, please sponsor me on a 5k Canix run for BODY here.

Want to contact Roo James?  Fans, agents, and Nigerian Princes can contact her here.

Picture by Meghan Murphy, courtesy of Roo James.  Copyright 2012 -2014.

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