Living With Body Dysmorphia And A Stoma

Nathan

Hey everyone!

Everyone has been so excited about the world opening up, but for me and many others with our conditions it brings the body image worries and the anxiety back!

Battling with physical and mental health for many years has made me a much stronger person. However, like all of us, sometimes it gets the better of me. I like to share my experiences to help others and make sure that people do not feel as alone as I did growing up with a stoma! So, I want to talk about body dysmorphia.

What is body dysmorphia?

Well, it’s a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance, which are usually unnoticeable to others.

Body dysmorphia is something that I suffer with and probably will always suffer with. It’s something I have accepted but I feel like not enough men talk about it! In the media, it is often spoken about how women suffer with body dysmorphia because of magazines, social media and celebrities looking perfect - with perfect bodies, perfect skin and everything looking perfect. Well, it’s not just women that feel they are inadequate, it’s us men too.

From a very early age, I have always felt ‘uncomfortable’.

Whether it’s been my weight or my appearance, I’ve always wanted to be better. I have always thought that a six pack is the aim. I put this down to seeing how people worship people with ‘good’ bodies. It’s weird because for me, a six pack doesn’t make a person attractive - far from it! But when I think of myself, it’s almost like I need to have a good body to feel worthy. It’s a tragic way of thinking! Now, with a stoma, I know I will never have the ‘perfect body’ but I have to remind myself…

What really is a ‘perfect body’?

Being 31, I realise that everything online, on social media or in magazines is fake. It’s all been tampered with and edited. No one is perfect, no matter how much I try and convince myself that I need to be perfect, no one is! However, I know a lot of people do have issues with their appearance.

It is important that you know you are not alone in overthinking about your appearance.

For me, this all stems from a young age. At the age of 15, I was 16 stone and had a 42-inch waist. I had been on diets from an early age, but nothing changed the size I was. Fast forward to the age of 31, while I’m not happy with my body – I am certainly happier than I used to be. It doesn’t faze me anymore about showing my ileostomy bag, but I still feel awkward about my weight and taking my top off!

Body dysmorphia can manifest in different ways depending on the individual.

I just want to remind you to check in with yourself. Allow yourself to feel however you feel, but then look at the facts. You’re probably not too fat, or too skinny, or too tall, or too short, or too anything. Find someone that you can be completely open with, that doesn’t just pay you compliments to make you feel better about yourself.

One big thing that I have never done myself but have known people use it and it’s worked is CBT, cognitive behavioural therapy. This treatment allows you to understand your triggers and allows you to retrain the way you think. It’s certainly something I am not against trying and will definitely give it a go!

I hope this post gave a bit of an insight into my life and makes you feel less alone in the way you are thinking. I’d love to hear if any of you suffer with body dysmorphia, especially since having surgeries for our condition, and what you do to control it.

I want you to know that you are beautiful exactly as you are.

The great thing about humans is we are all different, we all have our different quirks and that is what makes us unique. What you may find ugly about yourself – someone else will find attractive.

Keep smiling and remember you are never alone – even when you feel it the most! You have me :)

Until next time,

Nathan x

“It is important that you know you are not alone in overthinking about your appearance.” - @thatsnathan

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by Nathan Wheeler

Nathan Wheeler

About the author

Hello - I'm Nathan Wheeler! I'm a YouTuber and I've had an ileostomy since 2007 when I was just 17, so I have a pretty good idea about how to deal with the struggles of a stoma! I want to share my experiences with you and bring a light-hearted approach to all the questions that no one wants to ask! You can follow me an Instagram and YouTube.

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