One teenage girl's struggle with Body Dismorphic Disorder following abuse by her father.
The reason I'm writing this is because I have to. My therapist says it is Compulsory For My Progress. Ha. The only thing it does is give me cramp in my small, slim wrists and tiredness. I don't even know why I am writing this now. I don't have to, not if I don't want to. And I don't want to. Does any of this make sense to you? It doesn't to me.
I don't want to Make Progress. I don't want to Get Through My Problems. In fact, I'd rather shove my head in a toilet for a week. Or worse. But if I could do anything I wanted, anything at all, right this minute, I'd grab all my savings and push off to somewhere like Africa and happily hang myself from a tree. No one would notice, not really. I don't think anyone would mind me just clearing off and never coming back, ever. In the end they'd take it for granted that I was permanently absent from the family. It would be much easier that way.
It isn't, of course. It never is. I couldn't really go to Africa. Or anywhere else, for that matter. Alan is so strict and stern he won't even let me out into the front garden. I mean, it's not his fault, h'es just very careful about my welfare. Not that I'd want to go out. I couldn't ever let anyone on the outisde see me. Not any more. My bruises take care of that. Not to mention the other stuff, stuff I try unsuccessfully to cover up. When I stand in front of the mirror now, and peel off my trousers and sweater, just in my underwear, I can't bear to look. All I see are ugly deformities, swollen limbs, cut and rough. I can't familiarise myself with my once flawless, rosy skin, now black and blue and shiny, tender right down to the muscle. And that's just my body; legs, arms, stomach, thighs, my 36C chest that's so ballooned and beaten I can't wear a bra anymore, because the stiff material presses hard and uncomfortable against the mottled skin. See? I simply couldn't let anyone else gawp and stare at me.
I wear thick, knitted sweaters and baggy, shapeless trousers all day, everyday, spring, summer, autumn and winter. It's the only way I can begin to accpet myself for what I am - a bruised, battered, scarred 16 year old who can't do so much as lift her arm without it hurting. When I'm covered up, I can begin to believe that the bruises aren't really there, that they're just a figment of my imagination. They're not, of course. They're there, and it's frightenning.
Mum and my therapist are always trying to get me to wear something else, something different. A pair of jeans, a t-shirt, anything except my regulation sweater and loose bottoms. What I wear for bed isn't much different.
In winter, I wear a chunky, woollen grey jumper-dress that belonged to my sister Charlotte when she was my age and pregnant. It's old and faded and a bit tight on me, which is slightly odd as it's a maternity dress, but it covers up my hideous limbs and out-of-proportion stomach and thighs. I know it's strange, but it's the only way I feel safe.
In the summer, when it gets warmer and a bit hot and stuffy in my bed, I change my jumper-dress for a long, flowing Victorain white nightgown. It reaches the floor and the sleeves come way past my knuckles, but it does a good job of covering me up. The only problem is that the material is wearing thin after one too many times in the washing machine, and if I look closely I can see the lurid skin showing through.
My Nan always says that it doesn't matter what I wear for bed, because it's only me and no one else can see anything, but somehow I just can't bring myself to believe her.
Someday, I might be Ok with myself, with the way my body looks, but sadly, today is not that day.