“If only our eyes saw souls instead of bodies how very different our ideals of beauty would be.” -Unknown
I was diagnosed with Body Dysmorphic Disorder two years ago after becoming obsessed with the condition of my facial skin.
I spent the majority of my diagnosis numbed by medication; starring blankly into the mirror picking at severe cystic acne only I could see. I was emotionless and unable to control my compulsion to pick.
I felt so alone and frustrated in my experience, spending my days convincing myself that what I saw was real. My obsession controlled me and I lost everything.
I stopped eating, ended a five-year relationship, dropped out of university and missed out on so many special occasions and family celebrations, choosing instead to spend my days in front of the mirror.
Watch: Singer Christina Anu reflects on positive body image. Post continues after video.
My perception of reality was distorted by the expectation of perfection and the pursuit to meet the impossible standards of beauty our society has defined.
Our world has become so obsessed with physical beauty that we have forgotten what being beautiful truly means. Through my experience I was reminded that any any moment physical beauty can be taken away but the parts of ourselves hidden deep inside, our heart, spirit and soul, will never fade. Those parts of us only grow brighter and more beautiful with experience.
Beauty isn’t a perfect hip to waist ratio, prominent cheekbones or flawless skin. Those things are temporary. Beauty is standing in front of the mirror with tears running down your face because although you want to, you cannot stop your hands from picking. (Post continues after gallery.)
Beauty is admitting yourself to the psychiatric floor and being brave enough to ask for help. Beauty is losing absolutely everything but never once giving up and letting your illness win. Beauty is the real you, the spirit inside facing every single one of life’s challenges with unwavering courage.
Today my beauty looks much different. Today my beauty is found in my courage to share my story, my passion for self love and desire to help others to discover their inner light all while facing my own life challenges with the same strength I faced my mental illness.
It’s hard to look back on the experience because it still fills me with so much fear. I still find myself questioning my reality and I don’t go a day without thinking about a relapse. It’s hard to understand how an obsession with my facial skin and the compulsion to pick was able to destroy my entire life.
But as I grow further from that experience I am able to see the value in my mental illness. Everything happened for a reason. My experience with dysmorphia cracked me open, refined my heart, spirit and soul and forced me to acknowledge the real me, and the beauty that has always been inside.
The next time you look in the mirror and begin to criticise yourself for the way you look, imagine for a minute that you lost everything and that you are forced to look inside. What does that look like? What parts of yourself have you forgotten? Your soul cannot be ugly. You are perfection. Acknowledge the parts of you that are desperately trying to shine through.
Robin is a social work student, who is fascinated by the use of holistic healing in mental health and social work practice. She incorporates meditation and spirituality into her every day life and loves sharing her passion for nutrition, alternative therapy and self love with everyone she meets.
She blogs about everything health and happiness at laughinginflowers.com