Meet Amanda Gene. Today she shares her personal experience with anxiety, depression and body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).
According to the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation, “the term body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) describes a disabling preoccupation with perceived defects or flaws in appearance. It can affect both men and women and makes sufferers excessively self-conscious.
“They tend to check their appearance repeatedly and try to camouflage or alter the defects they see, often undergoing needless cosmetic treatments. Onlookers are frequently perplexed because they can see nothing out of the ordinary, but body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) causes devastating distress and interferes substantially with the ability to function socially.”
Although everyone has flaws that they are unhappy about, someone with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) takes it to an obsessive, unmanageable level. Amanda is candid about the role body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) played in her disordered eating patterns during college.
Hi, my name is Amanda Gene. I have been a mental health and disability blogger and YouTuber for the past 10 years. As a YouTuber, I share videos about anxiety, depression, body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and about being visually impaired because of a condition called nystagmus.
I am writing a book about nystagmus to help parents teach their children how to succeed with the condition. I am also developing a course to be used in conjunction with the book.
In my spare time, I love shopping, reading, talking with my friends, and playing with my pit bull, Duke. It is not just about work for me on YouTube. I love to show off my shopping sprees.
I started feeling depressed when I started college. I think the stress of being a college student, wanting to perform well and the weight of my family obligations caused my eating disorder.
I did not know why I was feeling so sad. I felt tired most of the time. I was unhappy, and I started eating extra portions at mealtimes to numb the pain.
I felt anxious most of the time. I felt like I was on edge worrying about my grandmother having Alzheimer’s. When I moved to the college dorms in 2011, I did not have many friends, and I used to binge eat in the dining hall.
When I came home from some meals, I would look into the mirror, and I would say things like, “You’re fat! You need to throw up to lose the weight.” Sometimes I would force myself to throw up.
When it came to my experience with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), I did not know what it was until I was in therapy in 2015. I had been bullied about my teeth, acne, and long hair which led me to have low self-esteem.
In college, I used to stare at myself in the mirror. I would judge my face, touching my acne and pushing back my cheeks to look at my teeth. I thought they looked broken and crooked, just like they were before I had braces.
I had negative thoughts that told me I was ugly, worthless and that I would never amount to anything. I did not like to leave my dorm.
Seeking Professional Help
At the time I was experiencing all my symptoms, my grandmother was battling Alzheimer’s. My grandfather knew I was struggling, and he encouraged me to talk to someone. In October 2015, I finally broke down and asked my nurse practitioner for a referral, and I went to outpatient therapy.
My diagnosis did not surprise me. I already knew that I had anxiety and depression. Although I binged and purged during college, I was never formally diagnosed with an eating disorder. The body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) diagnosis was a surprise, but I was grateful there was a name for what I was experiencing.
Amanda’s Treatment Protocol
I do not take medication for any of my diagnoses. When I was in therapy, my therapist had me try a special diet to improve my eating habits but it didn’t work for me.
I have found that walking, talking with friends, and writing in my journal are some of the best treatments for me. I have been out of therapy for over two years now, and I am doing well. I am a Christian, so studying the Bible, praying, and having fellowship with others helps a lot.
Amanda’s Life Today
My life is a much happier one than it was before. When my grandmother was sick, I felt sad. Even though she has since died, I feel at peace knowing that she is no longer suffering.
I still struggle with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). Even though I am at a healthy weight now, I still buy oversized clothes because I see myself as overweight. Before and after my period, my hormones cause flare-ups. It takes a lot of courage to remind myself that I am healthy.
Overall, I feel better about my body, and I continue to work on keeping it healthy by eating right and exercising when I can.
What You Should Know
Sometimes people can have body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) without even knowing it. I knew I didn’t like my body, and I was very uneasy about going out in public, but I didn’t know there was a name for what I was feeling. When I finally found out I had body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), and that with treatment things could improve, I felt better.
It is important to be positive when you know someone who is in recovery. Be careful about what you say and what you post on social media. One of my family members posted a hurtful meme about eating disorders. When I tried to speak to her privately about it, she ignored me. Make it a point to post positive things.
You should always remind people that they can recover from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), and that they have value. Remind them they are worth the time and effort it takes to get better.
Read my blog post to find out how to support a loved one who has body dysmorphic disorder.
Although Amanda has faced enormous obstacles, she has tackled them head on and persevered. Despite being visually impaired and struggling with anxiety, depression, and body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), she finished college with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in journalism with a minor in professional education.
Amanda Gene has made her test her testimony, and she shares her experience to help others facing similar struggles feel less alone. We should all take a page out of her playbook.
Amanda’s Favorite Resources
For more information on depression, read Amanda’s favorite article on the subject.
For more information on body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), check out this helpful article from Psychology Today.
Amanda loves the National Institute of Mental Health’s article on anxiety.
Amanda also loves YouTuber and therapist Kati Morton.
Having a loving and supportive group such as family and friends is also helpful. Please remember these are just a few resources. If you are struggling with either your physical or mental health, seek professional help.