Case Studies

Service user story of BDD

“I have always had issues within myself. As far back as I remember I had never felt truly comfortable in my own skin. Things seemed to get worse as I started to go through puberty and dramatically changed when I entered my teenage years. I noticed rituals started to invade my life; I began obsessing over my clothes, hygiene and mainly physical appearance. I would spend hours staring in front of the mirror scrutinising every inch of myself. I would try anything to mask myself and to make me blend in; to fade into the background.

My mum started to notice the changes that slowly crept over me; I couldn’t hide the chaos inside my head. She was concerned and wanted me to see a doctor. I became more and more withdrawn. I stopped leaving the house and began self harming. I blamed myself for everything; even things I knew deep down were completely out of my control. I was really scared but I knew I couldn’t continue like this. These changes in me where affecting my family and my friends. Everybody knew I was hiding my feelings but rather then talk about what was happening, I pushed everyone away. Luckily, I had such a supportive mum, she came with me to see our GP and I was referred to CAMHS for one to one counselling.

By age fourteen I was diagnosed with depression and had been prescribed antidepressants. Unfortunately the help I was getting only took the edge off. I continued to self harm and felt hopeless again as counselling was supposed to be my magical ‘cure’. Although some of the issues I had within myself were put to rest a lot more were uncovered.

I ended up taking an overdose and my counsellor was worried about my safety. So then I was then admitted to Bethlem Royal Hospital’s adolescent mental health unit. I felt like I was trapped and being treated for a condition that was only a small part of a much bigger picture. So I plucked up the courage to see one of the hospital’s doctors. She asked me questions I hadn’t been asked before, ones I hadn’t even asked myself. Suddenly things made sense; there actually was an explanation for my behaviour!

The doctor told me that she thought I had something called Body Dysmorphic Disorder. I had no idea such a thing existed but when the doctor told me there was a chance I would be part of a research trial, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Luckily I was accepted and began a course of CBT at the Michael Rutter Centre. I had to travel to the clinic via two trains each way but it was worth every second as I quickly saw the treatment was having a positive effect.

I had one to one sessions with Dr. Laura Bowyer. She spoke with obvious passion and genuine concern. She gently encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone with exposure tasks but she never pushed me. She always spoke to me as an equal and if it wasn’t for Laura and the Michael Rutter Centre I don’t know where I would be today. I was convinced my problems were real and not something in my head that could be treated. But it was psychological and was very treatable. I am proof that CBT for BDD really works. I have turned my life around in every possible way.”

Parent story of BDD

“Megan is the middle of 3 children and has dyslexia. Her brother and sister both have Aspergers & ADHD & I always thought of her as the ‘normal’ one. Her BDD developed over a few years, around puberty. At first it wasn’t a problem, but as time went on it began to affect her more and more. She became more and more withdrawn, sometimes not leaving the house for days.

It was still a huge shock when I discovered she was self harming, after visiting our GP, she was referred to CAMHS who diagnosed her with depression & put her on anti depressants & gave her one to one counselling. This helped a little but she still occasionally cut & one evening took an overdose. As a result she was admitted to a children’s mental health unit as her CAMHS worker felt she was a danger to herself.

While in there she met a lovely doctor who diagnosed her with BDD & told us about the Michael Rutter Centre & a research project they were doing. She kindly referred Megan to the project & to our delight they accepted her.

The journey to the centre took 2 trains and a couple of hours but it was worth it! During the sessions she was given specialist one to one cognitive behavioural therapy tailored to her problems. I noticed a difference in her behaviour after the first few sessions.

Since finishing the course Megan has totally transformed her life. She has more confidence and when she is faced with a problem that in the past she wouldn’t have been able to cope with, she uses the techniques the Centre taught her & deals with it with minimum fuss or stress.

Megan has now moved out of the family home into a flat with her fiancé and has a baby – something she wouldn’t have been able to cope with such a short time ago. I am so proud of her and grateful to the Michael Rutter Centre for all their help.”

Other BDD stories

“I have to do my hair every morning until it looks right… This means washing, straightening, styling, and then starting again if it doesn’t turn out. Usually I don’t get into school before lunch time.” Steven, 17 years

“I’ve always hated my chin. I think it’s too big and juts too far out. It’s humiliating because I feel like everyone notices how big it is. I feel like a walking chin sometimes…” Jamie, 15 years 

“I just feel ugly. My face doesn’t go together properly. My nose is too big, my eyes too small, and my forehead’s too wide. I hate looking in the mirror.” Ruby, 17 years 

“I really don’t like my hands. They’re too big and masculine looking. I wear gloves whenever possible and keep them in my lap at all times during school. I’m always comparing my hands to the girls in my class – I feel like my hands are disgusting compared to theirs. I think I’d cry if I had to write on the board in front of everyone.”  Gemma, 14 years

Share this page