Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 333708

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Distorted self-image? Any techniques helped you?

Posted by Racer on April 7, 2004, at 11:37:15

Mind you, I think I'm most interested in techniques that apply to distorted body image, but I also realize that my problem extends beyond that to encompass all the rest of me.

So, if you've had success in improving a distorted body image, can you tell me something about what worked for you, and why you think it worked?

Thanks!

 

Any response? Anyone? Please? (nm)

Posted by Racer on April 8, 2004, at 14:47:52

In reply to Distorted self-image? Any techniques helped you?, posted by Racer on April 7, 2004, at 11:37:15

 

Can't Help Racer

Posted by mair on April 8, 2004, at 15:22:29

In reply to Any response? Anyone? Please? (nm), posted by Racer on April 8, 2004, at 14:47:52

Sorry, but I'm as clueless as you seem to be. Distortions of all sorts (not just the body) are problems for me I think. I've never had an eating disorder, but I certainly can be very self-conscious about my appearance/physical characteristics.

Mair

 

Re: Distorted self-image? Any techniques helped you? Racer

Posted by terrics on April 8, 2004, at 22:49:07

In reply to Distorted self-image? Any techniques helped you?, posted by Racer on April 7, 2004, at 11:37:15

I'm listening. I think some of it improves by itself. I think the less time I spend thinking inwardly the less I think of my self image; Which is helpful because when I am not thinking of it,it is not a problem. Does that make any sense? terrics

 

Re: Distorted self-image? Any techniques helped you? Racer

Posted by Fallen4myT on April 8, 2004, at 23:20:26

In reply to Distorted self-image? Any techniques helped you?, posted by Racer on April 7, 2004, at 11:37:15

Racer...sorry youre not getting a lot of replies YET but some folks are out of town and stuff cause of the holiday..I do not have a distorted self image so I don't know the answers..I have a pretty healthy self image looks wise. I know I have seen posts made or comments within posts on this so you will get replies just hang in there and HUGS

 

Re: Distorted self-image/body-image... Racer

Posted by 64Bowtie on April 9, 2004, at 5:48:44

In reply to Distorted self-image? Any techniques helped you?, posted by Racer on April 7, 2004, at 11:37:15

Racer,

What they think of you.... is none of your business anyway! So stop waiting for them to tell you to jump and how high....!

Rod

 

Sorry, I don't understand how this applies? (nm) 64Bowtie

Posted by Racer on April 9, 2004, at 15:26:27

In reply to Re: Distorted self-image/body-image... Racer, posted by 64Bowtie on April 9, 2004, at 5:48:44

 

Re: Any response? Anyone? Please? Racer

Posted by noa on April 9, 2004, at 18:44:29

In reply to Any response? Anyone? Please? (nm), posted by Racer on April 8, 2004, at 14:47:52

Sorry, Racer. It's an excellent question. I don't have any answers.

 

Re: Sorry, I don't understand how this applies? Racer

Posted by 64Bowtie on April 9, 2004, at 19:15:02

In reply to Sorry, I don't understand how this applies? (nm) 64Bowtie, posted by Racer on April 9, 2004, at 15:26:27

Racer, you asked for help. You say you have a distorted body / self image. Unless you are poly-schizoid, which you are not, the baseline or the distorted image must come from someone else. First, answer this: is your opinion distorted or another person's opinion? If it is another person, why worry? What they might think of you is none of your business anyway, so why worry? If you, however, blame yourself for the distortion, who else has to know? This is not something that might brand you as evil if you keep it to yourself. So, again I ask, why worry? Image may bias how you feel in public, so put on your best face in public.

Rod

 

I guess I see what you were trying to get at... 64Bowtie

Posted by Racer on April 9, 2004, at 19:39:16

In reply to Re: Sorry, I don't understand how this applies? Racer, posted by 64Bowtie on April 9, 2004, at 19:15:02

The body image is one thing -- I feel fat, but people are starting to tell me that I'm quite thin - but there's also the whole split between me thinking I'm not worthwhile, and others saying I'm too hard on myself. That feeds into my whole self-defeating cycle, where I do set myself up for failure, and then get to beat up on myself when I do fail.

So, you might be right about not worrying about it, but this has so much to do with my misery that I'd rather work on it and try to get past it. Does that make sense to you?

Thank you for your input, I do appreciate that you took the time to post.

 

Re: Distorted self-image? Any techniques helped you? Racer

Posted by Dinah on April 9, 2004, at 20:08:20

In reply to Distorted self-image? Any techniques helped you?, posted by Racer on April 7, 2004, at 11:37:15

I wish I had an answer. If I have a distorted body image at all, it's in the positive direction. If I think about it, I remember I'm fat and ugly and look like my mother. If I really look in the mirror, I remember it. But my self image is of the young girl I used to be.

My husband on the other hand used to be quite overweight but now is trim and very attractive. He never can get past thinking of himself as the boy he used to be, no matter what messages the mirror or anyone else gives him.

I wonder if there's a set point to our body image. We figure out what we look like at some point and no amount of information changes the core belief.

 

Re: Any response? Anyone? Please?*si trigger* Racer

Posted by karen_kay on April 9, 2004, at 20:33:16

In reply to Any response? Anyone? Please? (nm), posted by Racer on April 8, 2004, at 14:47:52

racer dear... i used to absolutely hate my body and myself. to the point that i would hit myself with anything that was around. i had a mother who would call me fat and ugly growing up. i carried those words around with me until i left that house.

after i left the town and lived on my own, what i did (without a therapist) was started small. i used ot look in the mirror and cry because i thought i didn't even look human. but, when i got away from my mother, i started with my eyes. i love my eyes. and i'd tell myself, 'girl, you have beautiful eyes. if nothing else is workng in your life, you have beautiful eyes and that's all you need.' after a while, i felt better about myself. then, i began to focus on my neck. (granted, i lost quite a bit of weight at the time, but that doesn't apply to you as you are thin).. so, i'd look in the mirror and stare at my eyes and neck. and i'd tell myself over and over again, while looking at my eyes and touching my neck, 'girl, the world can go to he!!, but you sure have beautiful eyes and the longes neck in the world. you are beautiful.' it worked. then, i moved on to my collar bones. same thing. stare in the mirrorand tell myself over and over again that i have beautiful eyes, the most beautiful neck and wonderful collar bones. and i'd touch them. i'd move on to various parts of my body that i liked. my hip bones, my legs, other parts that i liked and possibly recieved compliments on.....

i know, it sounds like crap. but, looking, staring at your body, starting very small with a feature that you like and reapeating to yourself that THAT feature is beautiful worked for me. i swear on my life. i now accept my body. and respect it. i think my body is beautiful. try it darling. and when you start thinking those bad thoughts, just remember, 'i have the most beautiful eyes in the world. the rest of the world can go to he!!...." that's what worked for me..

sorry it took me so long to post this girlie. it's just hard for me to remember the horrible things my mother said. but, i hope that you find a way to work things out dear. i know you are beautiful. i hope that one day you know it too. take care racer.

 

Re: Any response? Anyone? Please?*si trigger* karen_kay

Posted by Racer on April 9, 2004, at 20:52:00

In reply to Re: Any response? Anyone? Please?*si trigger* Racer, posted by karen_kay on April 9, 2004, at 20:33:16

You hit on part of the problem there: the part about 'this doesn't apply to you, because you're thin...' I don't feel thin! I look at myself in the mirror, and I see a horrid beached whale with a huge belly and thunderous thighs and fat calves and droopy arms. Not to mention just generally being as fat as a house.

Now, I'm not stupid -- I am nuts, but I'm not stupid -- I can read the scale, and I can hear other people tell me I'm not fat. In fact, a few have expressed concern about my weight. The problem is, I can't see or feel it. To me, I'm a hugely fat slob of a monster. THAT's what I'm hoping to get over.

I think your method would be a good one, if I weren't in this whole "hideous monster" state. Right now, I have to be a little bit careful NOT to look in the mirror at all, because every time I do, it distresses me so much. Intellectually, I guess I know a lot about what brought this on in the first place, and even what brought this on most recently (withdrawal from the now former therapist -- that's pretty much a pattern for me, withdrawing and restricting my eating), but how to get past the terror of getting even fatter, how to learn to see myself more accurately, etc.

Thank you. I know it must be hard to remember that sort of thing. Thank you for your generousity in offering it to me.

 

Re: Any response? Anyone? Please?*si trigger*

Posted by Dinah on April 9, 2004, at 20:57:17

In reply to Re: Any response? Anyone? Please?*si trigger* karen_kay, posted by Racer on April 9, 2004, at 20:52:00

> Intellectually, I guess I know a lot about what brought this on in the first place, and even what brought this on most recently (withdrawal from the now former therapist -- that's pretty much a pattern for me, withdrawing and restricting my eating), but how to get past the terror of getting even fatter, how to learn to see myself more accurately, etc.

Hmmm... That reminds me of my OCD theory. That OCD is an outlet for extra energy when stress goes up. Sort of like a release valve. That the brain looping over and over something, even something monstrously unpleasant, is an escape from the real unpleasant things. Is there any chance that you're mind might be doing an OCD'ish similar thing? Since you *know* intellectually that it isn't true. I'm not saying *you* are doing it. I think it's some sort of automatic neural system response to emotional overload. Or that's my theory anyway, no matter how harebrained it sounds.

 

that was my problem racer.. Racer

Posted by karen_kay on April 9, 2004, at 21:43:35

In reply to Re: Any response? Anyone? Please?*si trigger* karen_kay, posted by Racer on April 9, 2004, at 20:52:00

i wasn't fat.. i lost the weight. yet the thoughts and words that my mother said still lingered in my head.

i hated looking in the mirron. when i did, i would cry. in fact, growing up, the only mirror i owned was a small one to do my makeup. that was it.

but, when i got out on my own, i lost weight and started small. i found something that i could like aobut myself. my eyes. (btw, sorry if my typing is horrible, i received my nerve pills today and took them with wine :) but anyway, i started with something i couldn't argue about. i have my father's eyes. dark brown and beautiful.. something i absolutely could not say was ugly. you have to find something about yourself you like and start with that. (and i'm really not meaning to sound preachy, please don't get me wrong) after you convince yourself that there is one physical quality that is beautiful, move on to another.. it worked for me dear. it might just work for you. maybe. it really worked wonders for me.

i'm honestly not trying to sound preachy. and i heard from everyone 'you're not fat at all dear. you look so good, blah blah blah' i still saw the fat, ugly girl in the mirror. now, when i look in my full length mirror, i see a beautiful woman.

i'm sorry you are struggling with this. it's painful, i know. but, you are a strong woman. and one day, youwill see how truly beautiful you are. i know it in my heart. there's no such thing as an ugly person. i really believe that. i once posted that my therapist's wife was ugly. and i stil feel bad about that. she isn't ugly at all. i just think i was angry at him when i posted that. or perhaps i was jealous?

anyway. you'll figure it out. just telling you how i did it. start small dear. do you have a feature that you honestly like about yourself? concentrate on that one. then, move on to the next one dear. in time, you'll figure out that you really are a beautiful woman. i really do believe that. and even though we all have 'things' about ourselves that we don't like, the ones that we do far outweigh the ones that we don't..... you'll foigure it out dear. i realy6 do believe it. but, i feel for you too. know that. (racer) i'd hug you if i was there. and tell you how beautiful you are. until you honestly believe it. i'll be thinking about you for a while dear. actually, for quite a while. take care racer, i really wish i could help you more.

 

Re: that was my problem racer.. karen_kay

Posted by EmmyS on April 9, 2004, at 22:00:57

In reply to that was my problem racer.. Racer, posted by karen_kay on April 9, 2004, at 21:43:35

KK - Would you please change majors and go into one of the human services? You are a born helper. :-)

Emmy

 

emmy, thank you, you can't know :) (nm) EmmyS

Posted by karen_kay on April 9, 2004, at 23:00:44

In reply to Re: that was my problem racer.. karen_kay, posted by EmmyS on April 9, 2004, at 22:00:57

 

Re: Any response? Anyone? Please? Racer

Posted by antigua on April 10, 2004, at 10:15:03

In reply to Any response? Anyone? Please? (nm), posted by Racer on April 8, 2004, at 14:47:52

I live with my distorted body image every day. I have always believed I am fat, even when I weighed 99 lbs. In the past year I've lost over 35 lbs, and I'm close to my pre-children weight, which is still underweight. When I look in the mirror, I don't see any difference between those two women: all I see is a fat stomach. I've bought all new clothes, but the new ones are now falling off too, but still, I don't see the difference.

My distorted image is clearly related to sexual abuse. I sometimes believe(d) that if I was just thin enough, nobody would see me and I could hide. Or, I would be so fat that no one would ever want to be near me--a protective device really. My eating disorder is to "throw up" what was stuffed down or to starve myself as punishment for what was done to me. In bad times, while I look better because I'm thinner, it often means that I'm not doing well. Being thinner draws attention to my body, which is the furthest thing from my mind.

Does any of this make any sense? I rely on my scale to monitor my image. If it goes too low then I know I have to eat more and pay attention to why I'm hurting myself. When I'm heavier, I have to be careful that I don't overindulge.
But, except for clothes fitting better and people telling me how much better I look, I wouldn't know the difference: I still see a fat person. My T says once I've dealt w/all the issues, it won't be such a problem. I choose to believe her, and try not to stress too much about it unless it gets unhealthy.
antigua

 

Gee, that sounds familiar... antigua

Posted by Racer on April 10, 2004, at 12:06:17

In reply to Re: Any response? Anyone? Please? Racer, posted by antigua on April 10, 2004, at 10:15:03

You've hit on a lot of what I'm talking about. Right now, for example, I'm sitting in an office style swivel chair, with both legs drawn up so that my whole body can fit into the seat area. Making myself as small as I can be, so that I won't be seen. Not talking, because I don't have the energy to try to make myself heard.

On the other hand, although I'm very, very withdrawn right now, and distressed over being so fat, I don't feel actively depressed. I think this is My Maladaptive Coping Mechanism. If I can be withdrawn enough, self-sufficient enough, empty enough, then I won't be depressed. Of course, I experience almost every eating event as failure, and can hardly stand to be in my body, but the more empty my stomach feels, the more I feel as if I can get through another day. Crazy, huh?

The new therapist said something about me being very thin, and I let it go by. I not only don't feel "very thin," I feel grossly fat. I look at the height/weight charts and shudder, because they're so weird and wildly distorted.

The hardest part for me right now is knowing that this is distorted, and still being terrified to gain weight. On the one hand, I want to be able to see myself and not worry so much about how fat I am; on the other, I so desperately want to lose enough weight to be thin and am terrified of gaining back to where I was before this depression. (In other words, back to a more natural weight for me.)

{{sigh}} Guess if I made sense with all this, I wouldn't be here in the first place?

Thanks for your response. While I'm sorry you're going through this, I'm also glad I'm not the only one who's suffering this way.

 

You know, Dinah...

Posted by Racer on April 10, 2004, at 21:01:46

In reply to Re: Any response? Anyone? Please?*si trigger*, posted by Dinah on April 9, 2004, at 20:57:17

You managed to bring up two -- not one, but two -- count 'em, two -- of my own pet theories.

First of all, I do think that certain parts of our personalities are formed at certain times in our lives, and don't change much after that. For instance, if you look at the way people around you dress, you'll probably see that their style -- as opposed to fashion -- stays pretty consistent over time. It's as if they learned to dress a certain way, and that's always what looks good to them. Sure, there'll be variations, but the overall 'feel' of the clothes will stay pretty much the same. It's why I'll never be a Birkenstock sort of a gal, or like asymmetrics very much on me. When I first started to notice what I wore, those things were not what everyone else wore. And I'll bet you're right about the self-image getting pretty well set at about the same point, too. That would make a certain amount of sense in regards to me. Maybe I'll be able to address that one day...

The other thing that had a lot of resonance for me was the part about OCD. YES, I *know* that I retreat into restricted eating when I feel certain types of stress. This time, it was that feeling that there was no one I could turn to for help. The last therapist really damaged me, because she never seemed to listen to me, or hear me. In response, I stopped trying to tell her anything, and just sucked back inside myself. That's part of the feeling with food right now: if I can just stop wanting -- food, love, sex, ANYTHING -- if I can just suck my skin tightly over my bones and empty myself out inside, then maybe I'll be OK. Maybe I'll be able to empty out the pain, too. Something like that, anyway.

Thank you for your input. I think I agree pretty well with much of what you said. Now to see how I can apply any of this to my life...

 

Another thing Racer

Posted by antigua on April 10, 2004, at 22:33:13

In reply to You know, Dinah..., posted by Racer on April 10, 2004, at 21:01:46

I don't know if this is true for you, but I've discovered that most of the medical professionals I've told about the eating disorders seem to skirt around the issue, as if discussing it will give me some attention they think I want (which I don't want) and will make it worse. Maybe this is just me, or something I'm sensitive about. I remember telling one T I hadn't eaten in three days and there was no response at all. I thought that was odd.

My regular T and I have a silent agreement. She only brings it up very, very rarely and if I bring it up I let her know how serious it is. If I think it's serious, she understands what I mean. I certainly don't believe that I use not eating as an attention-getting device--if anything, all I want to do is get so thin that I will disappear! But then again, there's also that theory that women w/eating disorders who have been sexually abused are striving to return their body to that pre-pubescent stage when we weren't sexual beings. That doesn't work for me, though, because my abuse took place when I was younger.
antigua

 

Re: Another thing Racer antigua

Posted by Racer on April 10, 2004, at 22:54:29

In reply to Another thing Racer, posted by antigua on April 10, 2004, at 22:33:13

Yeah, I've run into a lot of that sort of, "You just want attention" stuff. Not only about the weight issues, but about a lot of other issues as well. Part of it is the women/doctors thing -- doctors are still learning that women are hysterical, after all, and overdramatize everything.

When I was in my early teens -- surprise, surprise, after the sexual abuse -- I started having really terrible nightmares, and they kept me from sleeping. I told the doctor that I couldn't sleep, and needed some sort of help. The doctor -- female doctor -- didn't even bother to listen. She just told me to take an ASPIRIN to help me sleep. I tried to tell her that I would lie in bed and watch the clock, so I knew that I wasn't nodding off and not realizing it. Nope, she "knew" that I was just seeking attention. (Truly, I didn't know how to get help for what ailed me, but I did try for a while. And got slapped in the face -- metaphorically -- for doing so.)

The weight thing only came up twice with Dr EyeCandy: Once at our first visit, when I said that I had a history of anorexia. He asked, "Was it diagnosed?" I said that it came up in therapy, but was mostly corrected when I gained 70 pounds on anti-depressants. He responded, "So it wasn't diagnosed?" I then made the mistake of pointing out that my periods had never stopped -- I could see by the look on his face that he made his 'diagnosis' right there: making it up.

The second time, I said something about worrying about my weight being too low. I told him that I was trying to gain some weight, because I was within what I consider to be my Danger Zone. I weighed about 15 pounds less than when I got out of the hospital, and about 20 pounds less than the place where I start to feel pretty healthy and stop feeling hugely obese. He nearly jumped out of his chair to yell, "NO!!!" So, I "stopped worrying about it" -- or, more plainly stated, started secretly planning to drop a few pounds, to look better. Right. I'm worried about my weight now, by the way: I can't seem to lose any more weight, and have no power to control my eating, and I am so fat! Grrr. I know better, and I still can't seem to control it. I do things like right now: my dinner is on the counter in the kitchen, but I can't have it until I've finished this...

Sorry, I'm going on again. It all bothers me a lot.

What am I doing about it? I wrote a list of the things that scare me, for my new therapist, and while most of them are about medications and Dr EyeCandy, I did include the fear that I'll never learn to handle stress and still eat. That the hiding portion of this will never be within my control or manageable at least.

(When the therapist mentioned that I was 'very thin,' I let it pass. I couldn't talk about it at all, so maybe I'll be able to talk about it to her after she reads it. Maybe not. Maybe I'll only ever be able to write about it to people who can't see me. I hope not.)

Thanks for sharing, Antigua. I appreciate the comments, and hope we'll both get past this one day.

 

Re: Another thing Racer Racer

Posted by antigua on April 10, 2004, at 23:08:18

In reply to Re: Another thing Racer antigua, posted by Racer on April 10, 2004, at 22:54:29

I love it, some doctors are just so compassionate. When I went to see my Ob/Gyn/GP last year, she actually had the nerve to say "Well, the depression agrees with you, you've never looked better." What??? I was there for help and she told me I was doing great. That's why I depend on my therapist, she at least knows the score.

I'm vicariously proud of you for trying to get help when you were a teenager. I had no clue of what to do, or how to handle what I what I was feeling. That's when my eating disorders started, but nobody noticed then either. I was 87 lbs at 16 years old; someone should have done something and maybe I wouldn't be dealing w/this decades later. I have an 11-yr old daughter and I watch her and her friends w/eagle eyes.

Even if it is a call for attention, shouldn't someone listen? If a young girl can't talk about the abuse, or perhaps doesn't remember it, shouldn't her body be the indicator? My parents were worthless when it came to that. My father (who was the abuser) would tell me I was fat and I never saw my mother.

Sorry, don't mean to sound depressing. Sometimes it's just all a bit much. I can spot an abused girl a mile away.
antigua


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