Mental Health Awareness Week blog: how body image affected me

Body image can affect mental health

Concerns about appearance can have a detrimental effect on mental health for both men and women

Body image is the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (May 13-19). Here, one woman who receives support from Coastal West Sussex Mind, describes some of her experiences and how they have affected her mental health:

“I broke my front teeth when I was 12. I had to wait until I was 16 to get crowns. These were big and ugly so I eventually paid in my 40s to have nicer ones fitted. I then felt more comfortable to smile but I still show a lot of my gums and my teeth are crowded and a bit crooked. Having these problems with my teeth has affected my self-esteem.

“Making a career choice at school was difficult. I remember you could only become an air hostess if you had a certain height and glamorous looks so I wrote myself off for various jobs.

“I avoid mirrors when I am in shops and shudder if I catch myself in a mirror. I have got better at looking at myself at home but I would still never have a mirror over the mantelpiece.

“I think people look at me and think to themselves that I am ugly. I think I am ugly, especially my nose, chin and eyelids.

“I went through childhood and adolescence without telling anyone how I was feeling. I wish I had been encouraged to talk more about my emotions, then I may have been able to control them.

“Now I suffer with anxiety and depression and I wish I knew if it is due to brain chemicals, genes or just life experience.

“Other thoughts I have are about not being good enough and I think I have lived a pretence for a lot of my life.” – C.

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