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29 Apr 2003

Always comparing myself?
Hi Doc,

i need some help and advise! i am a 19 year old female.
The prob is, i am forever comparing myself to other women and girls i see! I think that i'm extremly over weight but according to my BMI i am 20%, which is normal weight. I cry about my weight, i dream about it almost every night and am always comparing myself to other girls, i want to be the thinnest person in the world! My fiance is very supportive and loving towards me but nobody understands, NO ONE! i live in fear of what someone thinks of me! i occasionally over eat... or eat a little too much and sit with a guilty feeling in my head. i can't even watch a movie because all i think about is how small and thin the girls look. Then i think of how i want to look.. but just continue to cry because i don't look like that! Please help! i know there is something wrong, my head is messed up! What can i do to make it stop? A few years ago i did have a eating disorder - i hardly ate a thing. Now at 19, my life was going so well, but something is eating me up inside...

<Thank You so much for your time!>
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Expert
CyberShrink
cybershrink

01 Jan 0001

T, you are really describing a potentially severe Eating Disorder. There is absolutely nothing whatsoever which is especially attractive or clever about thin girls, compared to any others ; and from what yo say you are a pleasant young lady of entirely normal size and shape, who has become obsessed with false ideas about thinness, to a degree that you are becoming miserable about your nice normal looks, and are seeking to become a skinny freak. This is a disorder from which some people die, and many others become severely ill and miserable for years.
Why "live in fear" of what others might think of you --- when they think you look fine, you reject their opinions, I bet ; but if anyone with really lousy taste suggested you might be a tad overweight, then you'd take their worthless opinion very seriously indeed.
So long as you are maintaining a weight within the normal range ( there's no absolutely specific weight you ae supposed to be at, except one at which your body functions well, and no lower than that ) then you are eating just fine, and not "overeating". Beware the slippery slope that starts with feeling guilty over "overeating" after a perfectly normal meal, then moves on towards thinking about harmful ways to deal with this, like inducing oneself to vomit up the meal, or abusing laxatives, or over-exercising, etc. Then we're sliding down into the clutches of Anorexia / Bulimia Nervosa.
You probably look delightful at your normal weight, and you'd look hideous as " the thinnest person in the world " --- no-one wants to look at a bag of bones who has nothing else to talk about except weight and thinness. Remember that part of the Eating Disorders includes severe dstortions of one's body image, so that someone who looks to everyone else like a concentration camp victim, feels to herself, still over-weight and too wide / thick / fat.
You say that a few years ago you had an eating disorder ? Well, T, it sounds very much as if you're back in that territory again. You really do need to see a good psychiatrist, preferably someone working with an Eating Disorders unit or program, for assessment and to start treatment. You still have an excellent chance of getting free from this enslavement to false ideas about body shape and size, and these obsessions about controlling things by diet and exercise. You have already made important progress on your own, as evidenced by your loving and concerned fiancee --- for his sake as well as yours, get to the right experts and set this right.
As you probably know, ex-Eating Disorder patients can lead entirely normal lives. People with Eating Disorders, tend to lose their periods, to be infertile, to get bad teeth and other related problems, and to remain miserable and chained to distorted ideas about how they ought to look, when they could be happy, healthy, and enjoying the way they DO happen to look.
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