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Mental Health Awareness Week- The importance of talking

You're probably aware it's mental health awareness week and I'm shocked how many people are posting about it this year, which shows the stigma is slowly breaking and people feel brave enough to talk about their issues. 

You might look at me and think wow she's super confident and happy. This is what I like people to see me for. Not when I'm a complete shell of myself. I've struggled with body dysmorphia since the age of 12. I would say the older I've got the worst it's become but I've been able to cope with it a lot more.

My struggle started after being continuously bullied on my appearance over the period of 8 months. It's mad to think that a bullies words can still affect you when it happened nearly 8 years ago. The guy who made me feel a complete outcast and the ugliest girl to exist will never how much he damaged me and the many times I've questioned my self worth. 

When you're bullied it never really leaves you, so those comments about my face every single day have stuck with me and when I hear someone mention a facial feature of mine I instantly crumble on the inside and begin to sweat because I can't ever think that anyone would talk about my face in a positive way. 

Bullying developed my body dysmorphia. I went from being a very happy little girl to a complete wreck. I was always paranoid someone was staring at me. I would beg my mum to let me have the day off school because I was so repulsed by my reflection. The amount of times I looked up plastic surgery and ruined my body is ridiculous. I hate that I was made to feel like that.

The thing with body dysmorphia is you could be the prettiest person in the world but you can't see that. I get people constantly telling me I shouldn't have an issue because I'm really attractive. Being told this doesn't make you feel any better about yourself, it makes you not want to open up or tell someone when things are really bad because you're made to feel stupid that you hate your appearance. Just because you can't see anything wrong with someone doesn't mean they are ok! 

People with body dysmorphia need that reassurance that they look ok. They aren't vain or attention seeking. It's terrifying when you feel so scared to leave the house because of the way you look. 

I went through a stage of sitting in front of the mirror every single night in hysterics praying I would wake up looking different. My family never understood just how tough it was to face people. I got my first job at Boots at 16. I think I phoned up ill every week because I was so terrified someone would make a comment about my face. The women there made me feel completely on edge all the time. It made my body dysmorphia ten times worse. I remember one day I was so anxious I had cried all morning, cried when I got to work and had my hair slightly down because I hated my face shape. My hair has always been a comfort blanket, something I could hide behind when everything was too much. I remember my manager taking me to the side and telling me I couldn't wear my hair like that. I felt victimised because she knew I wasn't ok. 

I pray for the day in a workplace or in school that you are able to go up to your manager or your teacher and put your hands up and say do you know what I'm not ok. Why are we allowed days off for colds when your mental health can affect everything you do. If my managers and the staff had a different approach to me maybe I wouldn't have been so terrified of work. 

For the last few years, I've had good and bad days. I have days where I will redo my makeup 3 times until my skin is literally red raw. I could shower three times because I'm convinced my hair is greasy. I can get changed over ten times because nothing will suit me on that day. It's such a draining, overwhelming thing to go through but I'm slowly getting better and trying my hardest not to fixate. 

If you struggle with body dysmorphia you will know that fixation is a huge part of your life. You will move around different aspects of your body and fixate on them for months.

So what are my coping mechanisms? Ignoring my mind is number 1. The second you start ignoring that little thing inside your head that's telling you you're disgusting the moment you feel like you can breathe again. 

I used to hate standing out. I now don't care. I wear what I want and when I walk into a room I no longer look at everyone's face for validation. I hold my head high and I pretend they don't exist. 

I never used to get in pictures, I now fake my confidence with my body image. I may hate the photo that's staring back at me but the more I do it the better I'm getting. 

I now do fashion shoots for you guys and I never in a million years thought I would be able to do that. I'm forever proving to myself that I am strong and just because I hate the way I look it's not going to define my life or get in the way of what I want to do.

Please don't miss out on opportunities because you hate the way you look. Go do them and you will honestly feel better because the moment you start kicking body dysmorphias ass the better you will feel about life and won't care what people think.

You definitely aren't alone. Keep achieving your dreams x

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