Distorted body image...?

Posted , 2 users are following.

Two weeks ago I was discharged from the hospital due to low heart rate and low weight.  People say that I'm too skinny -- the doctors, my family, even some friends -- but my perception of my body changes all the time.  Like sometimes I look in the mirror and think that I am too skinny, but five minutes later I might be wearing different clothes or something and I'll think I look completely fine!  I know that distorted body image is when extremely underweight people see themselves as overweight, but I just see myself as normal-looking, not overweight.  Has anyone experienced something similar?  Sometimes I think that maybe my thinking that I look normal is due to distorted body image, but other times I think that maybe I really am normal, and people are just making a big deal out of nothing.  I mean, my mom is the one who comments on my body the most, but of course she's bound to do that -- because she's my mom!  Some people say I look totally normal - not even a little bit too skinny.  So I'm confused.  

And if I do have distorted body image...is there a physiological reason for that?  Are there certain connections in my brain that just aren't working?  Thanks.

0 likes, 4 replies

Report / Delete

4 Replies

  • Posted

    Hiya. Have you been admitted now or discharged - I was a bit confused.

    Hopefully either way you're getting support to help your recovery.

    I'll send something lengthier later to explain but yes Body dysmorphia is usually synonymous with an eating disorder. It's the nervosa aspect of the disorder (the fear).

    Have a read today of fight or flight and how we as humans / animals react to fear. It'll help you understand better.

    In a nutshell you perceive what you fear to be bigger based on past experiences.

    I'll be online this eve.

    Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Sorry, I meant I was discharged two weeks ago from the hospital where I was admitted for low heart rate and low body weight.  Thank you for the support!  My mom and I are looking into different treatment centers.
      Report / Delete Reply
  • Posted

    Heya - so you wanted to know a bit about Body dysmorphia.

    Our brains are set up to make ourselves look bigger when we see things which are dangerous. If you think of how animals behave when they are potentially under attack they have defence mechanisms (some sting...) but some animals put up a guard that tries to make their body as big as possible to the predator in a way to ward off the attacker. The same applies to humans when we used to have to hunt for our food.

    Time has changed since our fear was a lion in the bush, or a bear in the woods, but the behaviour hasn't changed. We still see the lion much closer than perhaps it is (like the time I was camping in the Serengeti...and saw a the guard dog about 50 m from my tent). In the dark, it looked like a lionness. In the dark and under attack / i.e. fear it felt like 25-50m away. Actually it wasn't a lionness it was a dog. But it seemed much bigger and closer.

    So how does this relate? What I am scared of is fear.

    We are scared of feelings and past experiences, which link back to feelings such as isolation and being cast out of society. That hasn't changed in any society. We are scared of being seen as a failure.

    If I give a more direct example. I step on the scales. It had gone up more than I would have liked. It had gone up 2kg since I last weighed myself.

    *Note, I actually don't know when that was...

    I automatically think that this is far too close to my target weight, panic and go back into restriction. (BAD KAT!!!) I try and rationalise and think it is possibly because of alcohol consumption at wedding and birthday. But even so...I spend ages agonising over this 2kg shift (which is as a friend eloquently put it 6 cans of diet coke) 

    My irrational thinking is catastrophising back to a time when I was bigger than my target weight at school and unhappy. Instead of rationalising and accepting that in the present I am where I am, it is afraid of the fear. It is thinking that 2kg will become 10kg and then I will be always unhappy and be like that 11 yr old girl.

    So really, what I'm afraid of is that torture at age 11.

    Is any of this making sense? Because when you eat you are afraid that eating is going to make you unhappy you or if we return to our prehistoric example attacked by a lion, your defence is to see yourself as larger because you are afraid of it. 

    To overcome this, you have to sit with these uncomfortable feelings and work through the food education as well.

    For example, my freak out the other day was not helped by the fact that this was one time I didn't have answers. Normally I do. Luckily my lovely dietitian the legend he is texted me back today to reassure me. It wasn't what I wanted to hear but at least I know now.

    A eureka moment for me was learning where the stomach was. Stomach as opposed to what we call tummy. Learning how long food takes to digest and understanding bloating and why the tummy / digestive organs feel full when food takes so long to digest. Another thing I noticed was that my legs would feel heavy when eating. That is completely psychological, except like with the case with the digestive organs when food is in your stomach (stomach not tummy) gravity pushes on your digestive system  which is what can make you feel full. But this is mostly water that's doing it.

    But we sufferers fear the worst especially when for some reason the jeans feel tight.

    Mindfulness really helps. I haven't been for a couple of weeks for one reason or another and my ability to think sensibly has gone out the window. Mindfulness really does help!

    Anyway, I fear I have rambled on. Hope some of this helps.

    Remember to be kind to yourself too. Recovery is hard. Really hard. You'll find days that you want to give up. You need to stick to the plan.

    Report / Delete Reply
    • Posted

      Thanks for the information! I find it fascinating how much the brain impacts what people feel in their bodies -- things that should be physioligical turn out to be completely psychological.
      Report / Delete Reply

Join this discussion or start a new one?

New discussion Reply

Report or request deletion

Thanks for your help!

We want the forums to be a useful resource for our users but it is important to remember that the forums are not moderated or reviewed by doctors and so you should not rely on opinions or advice given by other users in respect of any healthcare matters. Always speak to your doctor before acting and in cases of emergency seek appropriate medical assistance immediately. Use of the forums is subject to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and steps will be taken to remove posts identified as being in breach of those terms.

newnav-down newnav-up