I’m not sure how to tackle body dysmorphia. What steps can I take?

I’ve had it for as long as I can remember, from being bullied at a young age in school for being overweight. It severely impacts me getting into/maintaining any relationships as I’m never comfortable. If anyone shows interest in me my mind sort of tricks me into thinking they must only be joking and I never build up the courage to follow through, or if I do then I’ll make excuses to end the relationship quickly and the stress is too much and I’m too embarrassed to be open about it with anyone. Sexual performance is impacted a lot as I’m always very nervous about my body etc. After my longest relationship where I was just beginning to get more comfortable (but still hiding it and not being open) ended about 2 years ago, I’ve avoided any interactions through fear and, having put on some weight, my confidence is extremely low. Despite having just received a promotion in work and purchased a house- things that were aspirations for years- I can’t find a way to feel happy.
Asked by Anon

Hello and thank you for reaching out to Betterhelp for support during this challenging time. So sorry to hear that you have had the trauma of being excessively bullied throughout your school age and that the impacts have carried over into adulthood. When you hear words to make you question your self esteem, confidence and resilience for years, it is hard to create a new slate after the fact. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be an effective form of therapy for supporting your growth via challenging the unhelpful thoughts that have been established for so long. It is never too late to shift your thinking and start chipping away at the iceberg of judgement you possess. 

You have gotten to the point of self sabotaging to prevent yourself from getting close to another person in a way that will make your thoughts towards your body more vulnerable. You deserve to be happy and you deserve companionship if you are seeking it. I would suggest making a practice of building up your confidence by practicing gratitude for what your body has done for you thus far. Sometimes if we look in the mirror and start to challenge the awkwardness of seeing ourselves, we can begin to see what others might see when they look at us. Physiologially, your brain sees you in a different way than others see you because we look at ourselves through an abstructed lens. Challenge yourself to see this different and offer compliments to start doing things differently. 

Congratulations on your promotion and this is reflective of the growth mindset and willingness to learn that you have demonstrated in other areas of life. We tend to overcompensate in the opposite area of life from where we are lacking. If you more secure at work, it makes sense that you struggle with your personal life. Start taking these unhelpful thoughts that make you question yourself, and reflect on A) Do we have evidence to support that they are true? B) What would you tell someone close to you if they shared that they were having the thought? C) What is a more productive thought to replace the negative one with?


Hope that this was helpful! All the best!