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Mental Health Awareness Week – Body Image and OCD

May 17th 2019

Wow. What a busy week it’s been here over at OCD Youth.

The OCD Action National Conference on Saturday was an incredibly inspiring, emotive and educational affair, prompting great discussions and insight from world leading experts as well as people who live with OCD and their carers, parents, guardians and supporters. This week was also mental health awareness week in the UK, too. The theme for this year focused on body image, and already there have been so many stories, posts and videos uploaded on social media and various websites, so I won’t keep repeating what’s already been said.

However, I do feel that I want to touch upon some issues that I’ve faced personally around this theme, and I’d like to talk about how that co-exists with my experiences of OCD and the thoughts and behaviours. I feel it’s really important to talk about body image, especially from a male perspective at the moment, because it is an issue that’s seemingly becoming more common, although this might just be down to more men feeling able to share their problems.

Over the last 2 years or so, I’ve been gaining more weight due to poor food choices, a real lack of motivation to change my habits (thanks for that one, depression) and the tablets I’ve been on for my OCD and depression. It’s really been a struggle to look at my body and so vehemently dislike what I see staring back at me. It’s an experience shared by many, I’m sure, but when it’s combined with OCD, the negative thoughts already have a fast track ticket to the front of the queue and they can become all encompassing.

I’ve had to work incredibly hard to ensure that I don’t let the thoughts take over, which is a practice that I’ve learnt to develop and manage over the years with OCD. Finding ways to try and change my perspective about my body image has been a process of trial and error, and some things work for me whereas others make things worse. One thing I will say is that the support that’s been given to me has made such a difference, and even writing this article is helping me to accept what’s going on in my head.

If you’re struggling with anything to do with the theme of this week’s mental health awareness week, then please reach out to the relevant services such as the BDD Foundation, BEAT and Mind, or talk to people in your life that you feel you can trust.

As I always like to say to people when I’m giving talks or writing articles, please don’t give up hope. Have faith in yourself, reach out to people when and if you feel able, and remember that you’re not alone.

We will continue to support campaigns and awareness weeks like this one, and our campaigns officer, Terry, is working hard behind the scenes with other charities and organisations on future campaigns.


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