Psyche is powered by Vocal creators. You support Anarda Nashai by reading, sharing and tipping stories... more

Psyche is powered by Vocal.
Vocal is a platform that provides storytelling tools and engaged communities for writers, musicians, filmmakers, podcasters, and other creators to get discovered and fund their creativity.

How does Vocal work?
Creators share their stories on Vocal’s communities. In return, creators earn money when they are tipped and when their stories are read.

How do I join Vocal?
Vocal welcomes creators of all shapes and sizes. Join for free and start creating.

To learn more about Vocal, visit our resources.

Show less

Interviews with a Big Black Broad: Sessions #7

One Woman's Unique Insight into Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Interviewer:  When did you began to seek professional help to treat your BDD?

BBB:  I'm sure it's not surprising that I was reluctant.  I was complacent in dealing with my issues on my own up 'til the age of 28.  I hid from mirrors.  I would dwell in front of mirrors. I took down mirrors.  I put them back up.  I spent all my money on food, alcohol, makeup, hair products and expensive girdles of all kinds.  I hid from the world for days and weeks on end.  I drank to endure those moments when I gave in to the mounting pressures I felt to rejoin the world even when I felt the worst about myself.  The annoyance of having to deal with a disorder that caused me to focus so much on myself had also taken its toll on me.  I wasn't a purposefully vain person.  I wasn't someone who would choose to be so self-consumed.  I wanted to travel the world.  I loved people and wanted to meet more of them from all walks of life.  I didn't want to assume that everyone who stared at me only did so because they saw someone ugly.  I needed the courage to live the life I ultimately wanted.  How could I live any longer without being able to face myself in the mirror?  Without being able to leave my house without being inebriated in some way?  So, I faced the fact that I would remain stuck in the same positions in my life (literally) if I didn't at least try professional help.  

I scrolled the internet and found my first psychotherapist. A female who was at that time approaching her 50's.  I began with telling her about my depressed moments, my angry moments, the binge eating, the binge "liquid" dieting... but I never told her about my deplorable self-image.  "I'm bipolar," I told her, my head down.  "Why don't you let me be the judge of that," she rebutted.  I'd heard about bipolar disorder a lot up till then.  There were so many others with the same limited knowledge of mental health disorders as I who had misused the word bipolar to describe me.  This was their way of making sure I knew how embarrassed I should be about what they considered to be my cultural misconduct of not just acting crazy, but being crazy.  In my experience as a black woman, this method of bullying is common in the black community.  I call it "The Shaming Coercion." This happens when, in one way or another, a person is made to feel so down on themselves for acting or being different that they are forced to conform to normalcy in order to fit in and feel comfortable within the community.  Being called bipolar was that attempted act of coercion.  

So, I went to therapy twice a week after work without telling anyone.  For all they knew, I was "working late" or "having dinner with friends."  I only told the therapist what I wanted her to know about my feelings.  I'm sure she knew that I was bullshitting her, that I wasn't quite ready to open up and get to the truth just yet.  Over several months, all conversations and questions let back to her demanding that I describe myself.  This made me furious enough to storm out of her office, and out of the offices of a few other therapists that I saw thereafter.  A couple of them referred me to psychiatrists who offered me medication to help manage my symptoms while I continued therapy.  "I can't take that shit, Doc, I'm black!" I said as I tore up her prescription and walked out.  Each professional suggested that I get out more, seek committed companionship—start a family.  One therapist shared her personal story of triumph over depression in order to inspire me.  "When I started my family, I found my real purpose in life. It's like my entire life began to make sense and I started to become a better version of myself," she said as she kept her head down while jotting things down in her writing pad.  I became enraged.  She hadn't known enough about me to rightfully assume that having a family was even a goal of mine.  The feminist in me wanted to lunge across the couch and wring her fucking neck.  I mean, I hadn't come to her for help with creating a Match.com profile, I went there for psychological help.  "These bitches are nuts!" I thought.  I stormed out their offices again and again following each ridiculous encounter.  No more female doctors for me.  I only see male therapists now, and even the feminist in me would have to say, I'm better for it.  

What made you stick with professional treatment?  When did your therapy start to yield results in treating your BDD?

Initially, I sought therapy off and on for about five years during my late 20's and early 30's before I began to find it beneficial.  At 33 after a most disastrous and down right scary drunken outburst that left me short of being committed to a mental institution, and after seeing a couple of state appointed quacks who only wanted to keep me doped up on anti-psychotic medication in order to keep me from "losing it" again, I finally found an awesome counselor who was able to bring me full circle in order for me to confront the source of my problem.  He became the mirror that I hadn't wanted to face all those years before.  He was unbelievably easy to talk to, and he did not assume that I came to him to be socially "normalized" rather than diagnosed and treated for mental illness.  He was interested in getting to know me as an individual instead of lobbying for me to revert to conventional type in order to achieve the goal of living my best quality of life.  I truly appreciated him for that.  I confided in him that I'd slipped up once when I was 28 while talking to a therapist and described my physical appearance to her when she asked me how I saw myself.  I told her everything I saw when I looked in the mirror, tears stinging my eyelids.  She leaned back and stared at me for several minutes before asking me,  "Do you know what Body Dysmorphic Disorder is?"  I told him how I'd laughed at her insinuation, how I'd sarcastically reminded her that I was no where near being anorexic and that I had never had plastic surgery.  I told him how disappointed and disgusted I was with her lack of knowledge and professionalism on my way out her office.

He laughed with me as I recalled the incident in very graphic and comedic terms.  Then he leaned back, stared at me, and asked me to describe myself.  I realized that my inner dialogue was essentially the same as it had been all my life:  I'm ugly. That's why I feel bad all the time.  That's why I can't truly face the world.  That's why I will always feel like I should be by myself.  He leaned in and took my hand as I started to sob.  "Do you know what Body Dysmorphic Disorder is?" he asked as he looked me in the eye.  I wiped my face with the handkerchief he offered me.  "No, I guess I don't," I finally admitted.  After many sessions with him and a few other counselors and psychiatrists, I can honestly say that I know what BDD is now and that I am a sufferer of this disease.  At the age of 33, I had accepted my diagnosis and decided to embrace the treatment options of proper medication and cognitive behavioral therapy in order to see progress.  I haven't regretted it since.

Interviewer:  How did your friends and family respond to your diagnosis and decision to seek treatment when you finally told them?

Now, that's a never ending story for another session.

Now Reading
Interviews with a Big Black Broad: Sessions #7
Read Next
Is There Really a "Post-Abortion Syndrome"?