Author Topic: Story  (Read 1041 times)

Offline Endless

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i hope its not wrong that i post this here, but this is someone elses story. i just thought it hit me hard becoz it is so like me. i am 28 now but this is exactly my life.  www. experienceproject .com/ stories /Have-Bdd/988034


I have a bitter story to tell. It haunts me day and night. It controls me. It manipulates me. It has beaten
me into submission. I suspect I have BDD, but I am not totally convinced. My story will explain my
suspicion.

 

   I am unlike almost all of you. Not only am I male, but I am older than you all are, so much older. I am 67
years of age and still tortured by body image. I have lived with the problem since pre-adolescence. My story
tells the negative experiences in my life and what I tried to do about it. It is a story of  courage,
if I may say so, and immense defeat.

 

   My story should be heard, not only because it is cathartic for me, but also because those of you so
much younger should benefit from my experiences and perhaps avoid some of my pitfalls.  With
this said, I must admit that it is likely most of my pitfalls could not have been prevented. I did the best I
knew how, even though if I were twelve years old again, I would do some things things differently.

 

   My body dysmorphic problems began when I was age twelve. I had big male breasts. I forced
myself to walk to the candy store without a shirt on to buy bubble gum cards.  It took courage. I
never made it to the store before hearing a neighborhood boy shout at me: "Why don't you go home
and get a bra?" At about this same age, while being examined in the doctor's office, I criss-crossed
my arms over my chest in embarrassment. The doctor slapped down my hands. I often walked along
the beach in utter jealousy of the boys without shirts. It pained me, as my jealousy of youngsters with
decent and excellent body builds still gives me pangs of jealousy to this day. I went into a clothing store
nearby the beach. I found a shirt, all white with a boatneck collar that I longed to wear. I tried it on, but
it accentuated my breasts. I bought it anyhow. I never could wear it. Every time I tried it on at home, I only
saw my breasts. These were my pre-adolescent years.

 

   I hit my teenage years. I cringed every time the guys got together for a pick-up basketball game at the
school yard. We had no uniforms, so we played shirts and skins. What if I were chosen as a skin? Worse
yet, what if we were playing with girls looking on? At age nineteen I had my first experience with a woman
in bed. Not only were my breasts big at this time, but my abdominal skin was probably worse than the
fat on my chest. It wasn't extra weight, mind you. At nineteen, I was fairly thin. It was my loose skin. I could
sit and hide pencils in the folds. The lights were a bit dimmed, she looked at my chest and abdomen and
said what I will never forget for my first experience: "Ooh! What's this?" I was shattered!  While out on a
speedboat with a female relative, she pulled at my breasts.  These were my teen years.

 

    I never spoke of my trauma, but I decided to become proactive about my condition. I started to run, first
around the block and then miles. I knew that aerobics could help general conditioning. I started to
weight lift to build muscle. I did lots of sit-ups. Nothing helped much. Loose skin is the bodybuilder's bane.
Some changes can be made. Everybody's skin and condition are different, but I could barely effect change.
I finally found a cosmetic surgeon after repeated visits. This was 1962. Cosmetic surgery was not what it
is today. Less was practiced and spoken about then. The doctor recognized my plight. He said in our initial
meeting: "We'll make a semi-circular cut on top of the areola...." That's all I had to hear. The remainder of
his words were a blur. I was in heaven. Somebody was going to do something for me. I was going to get
rid of my breasts! My problem was so severe that he only charged me fifty percent of the fee. Insurance
would pay the remainder because the doctor deemed my condition  a health hazzard to my heart to be
running with that weight flapping on my chest.

 

   I felt better about myself, started to bear my chest, and I became a fanatical long distance runner
and weightlifter. I got involved for years in three-hour daily routines. I did hundreds of sit-ups every day.
I was going to get what my youth had cheated me from having. The years went on, and there was no quit
in me. But my stomach was troubling me. It was not only loose skin but also protrusion of my abdominal
wall that made me look somewhat pregnant despite a sixpack of muscles beneath. I found that if I dieted,
I looked better because my vascularity improved. Also, my pregnant look was greatly reduced. I became
a fanatical dieter to go along with my exercise routine. People noted my weight change and chided me for
not eating. It was a source of humiliation to me, but my vascularity made veins pop in my abdomen. My
chest was a bit large but all solid muscle. I thought I looked pretty good, but I was mocked. "You look like

you just came out of a concentration camp."  "You eat like a bird."  It was painful to hear, but loose skin
was far more painful. At least when I stood I looked like solid muscle, despite my thinness. At one point
I dropped my 5'7" frame into the low nineties in weight. Body image will make you go to extremes because
 it is so painful. I realized I had to gain some weight. I even recognized it in the mirror. But my belly bulged,
and my stomach looked that much worse when I sat. I tugged at my loose skin and played "Hide the
Pencils" in  my loose abdominal folds. I got to the point where I could hide four or five pencils when I sat.

I had seven legitimate folds. Nothing helped. It bothered me to sit in clothing. It was uncomfortable.

 

    My exercise continued into my fifties. I did not care much that I was in great condition, as is the concern
of most guys in the gym. They were interested in a healthy heart and maintaining or losing weight. I was
running on the roads, doing sit-ups on the matt, stationary rowing and biking, swimming, and lifting
weights to HAVE A BODY. Yes, I was pleased with an incredible resting heart rate of 38 beats per minute.
Yes, I took pride when doctors stress-tested me, and one of them called me an "animal." But what I
wanted was a body. Somewhere through all this I lost awareness of dating women--women,  the most
beautiful site my eyes have ever seen. How did I lose sight of women? I barely dated from my mid-
thirties on. I was consumed with my body and inwardly cautious and self-conscious about its look.

 

   And then I payed the price of my excess. I required knee surgery at age 52, lower spinal surgery at 55,
and spinal surgery again at 57. My body started to give out. I could not play sports anymore, not

ping pong nor tennis nor softball. I couldn't drive motor scooters nor dirtbikes. And of course, my long
distance running days were over. My abdomen got worse. Aging and lack of running were contributing
factors. My abdomen drove me crazy. I knew I was body fixated, but this is just who I was then and who I
still am now. I made the supreme move to have an abdominoplasty from hip to hip. I knew the scars
were going to be there. I knew the downtime and discomfort, but I weighed it all, and opted to get rid of
loose skin. My chest had become flabbier, and the surgeon agreed to liposuctioning my breasts during
the same operation. What a mistake! My breasts collapsed, and my areolas turned downward. I was
dismayed and bitter that I continued to encounter stress and disappointment due to my body image.

 

   My abdominoplasty was three years ago. At about the same time I had a modified facelift to eliminate
jowls and a terribly sagging chicken neck. My skin is horrible. A year went by and my facelift started to
collapse, and the abdominoplasty faultered. My very midsection was wonderful, comfortable and tight,
but my obliques to the sides as they ran toward the hips started to collapse. I was angry, upset, dismayed,
and even more body conscious. I looked at television and saw anybody on screen and wondered why
I could not be like them, women as well as men. I hated my body. I did crossword puzzles in my car
while sipping a cup of coffee outside the coffee shop and envied every teenage boy and girl of moderate
and excellent build who walked into and out of the store. I felt cursed even though I don't believe there is
such a thing as being truly cursed. It was just a feeling that my eyes told me when I looked in the mirror.
I continued, despite it all, to keep my weight low, perhaps 105 to 110 pounds and exercise strenuously.  I
took all the criticisms at the gym that added to my tormented body image. "You look like you just came
out of a concentration camp.'  "Look at those scars. I know you didn't get them in the army. You're a
draft dodger." (his invention)  "He should take it easy on his exercise. Look at him. He's not in good shape."
"He's scary looking."  "He's frightening."  "Hey guys, don't you think he should gain five or ten pounds."

 

   My cosmetic merry-go-round continued. I found a surgeon who said he would correct my breasts and
neck. He operated twice on my neck because the sagging kept coming back. Now it looks quite good
despite heavy scarring. He had to operate on my breasts a total of five times. That's FIVE times. He kept
lifting my breasts due to the sagging, and narrowing the areolas that became more and more enlarged.
Each procedure never was good enough . My skin resorted to sagging and stretched areolas.

 

   This takes me to the present time. I was last operated on some nine months ago. I have just about
given up, yet I still occasionally visit and email cosmetic surgeons to ask them if they can do anything
to correct my embarrassing condition. I am 67 years old. If the average American male lives to age 75,
I have, on average, less than eight years to live and my body image is killing me. What a waste of my
hard-earned retirement. My abdominal skin folds, my breasts sag, my areolas are enlarged and
scarred, and my self-esteem is in the toilet. I was a school teacher for 36 years. I was successful in my career.
I have lived an honest life with achievements of which I am proud. But I am depressed about my terrible body.
My body image defines me in my own eyes so much more than it should. I am so much more than a body,
I tell myself, but this is the damage that poor body image inflicts.

 

    All the extreme exercise is contributing to the possibility that I might need surgeries soon on my
nerve-damaged and bone-damaged left foot and the adhesive capsulitis that is troubling my left shoulder.
Let's face it. My quest for a body took me to extremes, and I am paying the price. I am angry at what has
happened to me, and I feel cheated that I grew up with such an abnormal body.

 

   This takes me to my conclusion. As I ponder whether I have had the last of my surgeries because of my
age and because my skin might not be able to take anymore, I have considered that perhaps I am body
dysmorphic. My body image has morphed me into an obsessive-compulsive dieter and exerciser and
shrouded all the wonderful qualities that are far more important in making me a whole person than just
what my body looks like. But I am sick--sick with being consumed by my look. And so I have started
counseling at a BDD clinic, contacting people who are knowledgable in the field as well, and considering
beginning SSRI medication to reduce my preoccupation, anxiety, and depression so related to my
body image. I am reading everything I can about BDD and thinking always of where I can get the BEST
treatment. It is a horrible disorder, and I consider that I must be plagued with BDD despite my photos
being a "mess' in my eyes. When I have my shirt on, I look fine. But this is not enough for me. I know what
is beneath.

 

   This is an appeal also for you younger people. Get help, be you gal or guy. Don't live the agony through
the years. Body dysmorphia is coming into its own as far as being recognized and treated despite being
still in its infancy stages. More is being learned about its effective treatment, both pyschologically and
physiologically. The problem is now at least "out there." Go grab help.

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