(And I don’t even mention Lady Gaga.) But seriously, you shouldn’t gamble with your mental health
The first step to coping with a mental illness is to admit that you have a problem, and today I am taking that scary first step. I hope you will be supportive of my decision to go public with my disease. It has taken great courage to write this, and it will be a shocking confession for my friends and family.
I suffer from a severe case of RBDD (Reverse Body-Dysmorphic Disorder). This disease makes me believe that I am much younger and more attractive than I actually am.
I can handle it on most days, as long as I avoid mirrors or photographs, but as soon as I catch a glimpse of myself, the disease kicks in: who is that 30-something mother with a soft tummy that sticks out further than her boobs?
Like most RBDD sufferers, I see myself differently than others:
“You look great for your age,” people say.
“Do you know any other 20-year-olds with lines like this?” I ask them, pointing to a recent picture of myself.
“But you’re 35,” they say, “not 20.”
“I don’t think so. I just graduated college a couple of years ago so I can’t be older than 23, maybe 24.”
“You need help,” they say, rolling their eyes.
It must be a genetic disease, because my mother suffers from RBDD also. Recently she emailed me to say that she was waiting in line at a fast food place and two octogenarians (a really annoying way of saying 80-year-olds) were standing in front of her:
I was waiting in a long line at Wendy’s, there were six teenagers ahead of two old men, then me. I was busy watching the kids, girls with abdomens exposed, boys with low pants, underwear poking out. Then my attention shifted to the two old men. I was trying to surmise what they were thinking of the teenagers; you know your grandfather’s generation didn’t approve of sloppy dress and messy hair, or anything that wasn’t “proper.” As I was lost in thought, one of the men whispered to the other, “Yea, remember when we could get beer in the backroom at Joe’s when we were only 16.” The other man said, “Man, that was great, and I used to smoke pot out back.” What a SHOCK! These men were not your grandfather’s generation; they were mine. To add insult to injury, the young man behind the counter gave me a 10 percent senior discount without even asking me.
I decided that I needed help to cope with my RBDD, and I went to the most reliable source in the universe: Google. I found a helpful website for regular ole body-dysmorphic disorder, bddcentral.com, that recommended I try cognitive behavior therapy. This therapy would help me get back to my regular life of traveling and gambling. Gambling?
…the patient learns to tackle anxiety-provoking situations with a healthier outlook by analyzing her thinking process. She recognizes irrational thoughts…and can challenge them with rational, positive self-talk. She is then able to continue with her day, whether that means working, studying, playing online poker, traveling or spending time with family and friends, in a calm and upbeat fashion.
Seriously, playing online poker??? And the link connects me directly to an online website.
I’m no psychotherapist, but if you’re addicted to thinking about your face, then I don’t think it is healthy to be encouraged to enjoy alternate addictive activities. Why not also tell them alcohol can lessen anxiety and that cocaine can help shed a few pounds?
I can see the marketing people at partypoker.com: Our perfect clients are people who don’t want to leave the house and have addictive personalities, so let’s advertise on websites for agoraphobia, OCD, BDD, NA and AA.
In unrelated news, this is probably going to be my last column, so I wanted to say goodbye. I’ve found a new hobby, and I know any day now it is going to pay off big. I’ve got that lucky feeling. I did have to sell all the kids’ toys in order to buy back in, but it doesn’t matter, because I will be able to get them even better toys when I win.
In order to get permission from my mother to print her story I had to promise to let everyone know that she is not in her eighties, or even her seventies. She is … let me do some math … I’m 23 and when she had me she must have also been 23 so she is … 24?
Please like Pen Name Jane on Facebook. We are desperate for outward signs of approval.