All I See Are Funhouse Mirrors, And It’s Not Fun Any Longer

depression, Life, Weight Loss

Warning, this is a very serious post about a mental illness that I have. It is not to be treated as a light subject in any way.

Honestly, this post has been in my head for awhile now, but I’ve been dreading writing it down and giving it life. It’s a side of my life that I honestly hate talking about because it makes me feel so terrible about myself.

But I can’t really put it off any longer. Thanks to Facebook for throwing the reminder in my face, I was at one of my lowest weights a year ago.

Sounds exciting, right? Not when I have put back on almost 30 pounds over the last year.

Why? I know a lot of the reasons why. Most of it is due to complete laziness. It also has to do with stress. Letting my sweet tooth control me. Going through a severe stage of depression. Getting a promotion at work and taking on additional responsibilities. But mostly not putting the time into it like I did a few years ago.

But that’s not what this post is about. Let’s discuss something that has such a stigma around it, and you will rarely hear much about – male body dysmorphia.

What it is about is the fact that even at my lowest weight, after losing nearly 80 pounds, I hated looking at myself in the mirror. I hated pictures of myself.

I lost 80 pounds and could only see the 249 pound person I let myself get to.

And now that I’ve put on 30 pounds and am not even close to my original goal weight any longer? It’s terrible. All I do is look at myself and see the flaws. Constantly.

And you know what is especially hard about it? Is that I am such a hypocrite about body images. I highly encourage people to be comfortable with themselves. I use the word beautiful and share it as often as I can. I make sure to promote healthy self views from a young age.


I think stretch marks are amazingly symbolic of the journey that a person has gone through, especially after childbirth. I have stretch marks. Do I think that about myself? Absolutely not. To me, they are a constant reminder of what I did to myself.

I also have loose skin on my stomach from the rapid weight loss (60 pounds in less than a year). Could I do something about it? Probably. But I am always telling myself what’s the point? I have these stretch marks and this loose skin that I am never going to be comfortable in my own body.

I refuse to go swimming with other people because I have such insecurities with my own body. Is it really that bad? Probably not, but the way I see myself I just can’t get through that mental block.

I wear a compression shirt. Every. Single. Day. Why? Because at this point it is such a security blanket to me that I can’t imagine going a day without it. It squeezes in all my imperfections and hides them away, at least for the day. I can dress nice, and feel good about myself for a little while until I catch my reflection somewhere in something.

I know that it is such a problem for me that I intentionally go out of my way to try to make sure other people don’t feel the way I do about myself. When people say nice things about me physically, I generally do not believe it. In my eyes, I do not see myself as an attractive person, in the slightest. Which is ironic because people tell me my two youngest look just like me and say that they are beautiful. Should be a compliment, right? Right.


My negative feelings about myself physically have been the reason for many of my periods of depression. I start to feel so down on myself that I often will try to seek some sort of validation that things aren’t as bad as I think they are. You know, the cheesy social media post selfies seeking attention, or things like that?

But those never go how you imagine, and you generally do not get the feedback you were hoping for. Maybe it’s because I’m a guy and people aren’t comfortable giving men compliments? I don’t know. But when you’re already feeling terrible about yourself and you throw a final S.O.S. out there and get nothing in return? It’s a really quick shortcut to depression and negative self feelings.


When I did photography I would try to limit the amount of editing I did to my clients because I wanted to capture their true essence. Their genuine beauty. And I was great at it. I would often have conversations with clients who would ask for things to be removed and I would push back and tell them it’s a part of them that they should own and feel beautiful in their own skin (things that aren’t temporary like birth marks, moles, etc – not things like pimples that come and go).

But when I see pictures of myself? I want to edit one picture for hours. I want to make that person an attractive person. Because I’ve never felt that way about myself, maybe at least I can manipulate it through editing, right? Not quite.


Body dysmorphia is terrible. I should be proud of how far I’ve come, but all I can do is yell at myself for how close I was to my goal, and how much I’ve let slip away.

And what do I do about it? Nothing! I could be doing more exercises to tone the areas I’m extremely uncomfortable with (my stomach and my chest), but I don’t. Because no one is holding me accountable. Stupid, I know.

I started running a month ago. And I’ve put on 5 pounds. How flipping discouraging is that? I’m doing more strenuous activity than I’ve ever done and my body just mocks me.

I don’t know what I’m supposed to do to fix my body image issues. I wish I did. I wish I could stop looking at a mirror or a picture of myself and just stop seeing a distorted funhouse mirror version of myself. But I can’t. I don’t know how long I’ve had these feelings. I was in amazing shape when I was in my first year of college (before marriage), but pretty quickly started putting on weight over the next 10 years. When I look at the picture above I wish I could get back to that. I tell myself I would be happy now if I were that person again.

But I know I wasn’t happy with that person when I was there, either.

I could lie and tell you it’s not an every day battle, but it really is. Every day when I have to put on this shirt. Every evening when I climb into bed (which, surprisingly I can’t sleep with a lot of clothes on so that certainly doesn’t help). Every time I see a picture of myself. Every time I look in the mirror and notice my hair is not looking good. Or that it is staring to recede. Or that I look terrible with facial hair. Or that I wish I didn’t have to wear glasses. But putting contacts in is such a hassle. Or that I never feel comfortable with my clothing style. Or how I struggle when I run. Or that I constantly question if I’m eating the wrong things or the wrong amounts. Or thinking about all the toning exercises I should be doing but never do. Every day when I see people who just make things look so effortless.

It’s exhausting.


I wouldn’t wish body dysmorphia on my worst enemy. It literally eats you alive from the inside out. Honestly, I’m surprised I never battled with an eating disorder as much as I don’t have self love for myself. I think it’s because I just stopped looking in the mirror for a long time. And I “noped” out of a lot of picture opportunities.

Someday it will get better. I’m trying to learn to love myself, but it’s not easy.

So the next time you hear me give someone a compliment about the way they look, know that I am saying it with a lot of intentionality and meaning. It is not a superficial remark. I don’t ever want anyone to feel about themselves the way I feel about myself. And if I’m giving you, or someone close to you a compliment? It’s coming from deep in my heart and carries more weight than you probably think (in a making you feel positivity sort of way, if that makes sense).


Dear God,

Today I’m praying boldly and selfishly. I’m praying that You help me overcome these negative feelings and help me to start loving myself. Please continue to guide me towards living a healthier life. I hope to be healthier to live a longer life to be able to do more good in this world for You.

I want to be able to be more active with my loved ones and spend more quality time with them. To be a support and role model for my children.

Please help me in overcoming my control issues with food. And help me in having more will power to be more active and do the things I know I should be doing. My body was given to me by You and I need to be treating it as the gift it is.

Amen


You ARE beautiful. Every single one of you. I hope if you hear it enough it will eventually start to sink in.

With all my love.

Kyle

Let’s Talk About Something Serious

depression, Life

I know I’ve been away for a long while, and this time it’s been for good reason. Life has been a mess lately.

The world is not crumbling around me, but I am falling apart while the world keeps moving. Or I was. Or, I don’t even know which word to use. Anymore it seems like it all depends on either who is asking me, or what time of day it is. I wake up on a high, and crawl into bed at the end of the day on a low. Or vise versa.

And there doesn’t really seem to be any rhyme or reason to any of it.

Is life bad? Not even close. I am blessed beyond belief. But there’s this constant state of self-doubt, self-awareness, self-hate that I can’t seem to get out of my head for more than a few days at a time.

Right now? Right now I’m not feeling the best, which is why I’m finally putting this into words, while my emotions are on high alert. Why? Because I said stupid things to people who didn’t deserve them. Why? Probably lots of reasons.

So let’s talk about something serious. Let’s talk about the things people avoid talking about like the plague. Let’s talk about self-harm, suicide and depression.

Now, let’s get one thing straight right off the bat. I have never attempted to hurt myself before.

Ever.

But that doesn’t mean I’ve never thought about it, or that I don’t think about it.

Because I have, and I do.

Do you need to be concerned? Absolutely not. I have things in check. I know my blessings outweigh the negative in my life. I have people in life that depend on me that I can not fail.

But there are days where I really feel like the world and people in it would be better off if I weren’t.

I am a 29 year-old, semi-successful (one of my flaws), male. “The world is in front of me.” I have a great family – a marriage that is better than most I have ever known, great kids who love me and make me proud, and a job that I enjoy.

But I feel like such a failure. I feel like the negative things I do in life way outweigh the good. I feel like I am constantly disappointing people. It seems like every day I am finding a new person to fail. To anger, to hurt, to bother.

But I push through each day. I, generally, keep a smile on my face.


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This is what depression really is. Depression is feeling like you are achieving all of your goals, yet they still aren’t good enough. Depression is having great people around you, but treating them like garbage for fear of hurting them (isn’t that ironic?). Depression is not even allowing people to know the real you for fear they will see all of your flaws.

Don’t look at my scars. Just keep looking at the smile on my face. A smile holds a thousand truths, but it can also hold a thousand lies.

22

Let me tell you one of my least favorite words in the English language – “fine”. “Fine” is such a nasty word. It is meaningless. It is full of lies. It is full of pain, anger, fear.

17

“I’m fine”. If I ever tell you these words, just know that I truly am not fine.

20

“You have all this good in life, there’s no reason for you to be feeling the way you do.” “What reason do you have?” “What’s so bad that you let it take control?”

“You’re just being stupid.”

Yeah. I get it. And I know. But depression doesn’t care about any of the good. It feeds on the negativity. It grabs hold and doesn’t let go. It will let up some, but it never lets go completely.

It will wait in the darkness for its opportunity to drag you right back down.

And it does. Every. Single. Time. It feeds on the self-doubt. Feeds on the failures.

And grows.

To the point where there are days that I look at myself in the mirror and finally say “Yeah, I get it. It’s no wonder people don’t want to be around me. I don’t even want to be around me.”


About 3 years ago I was diagnosed as clinically depressed. I went through the whole thing of talking to my doctor, being medicated, everything. It was a low point in my life. There are certain things that I’ve only recently shared with my own wife. Some of the painful thoughts that have gone through my head.

If I were ever going to do something, I knew exactly how I would do it. There are points along the bypass where, if a car were to go off, there would be no coming back.

And I’ve had days where I have avoided the bypass completely for fear that I may actually do it.


Depression is not a laughing matter. It is nothing to joke about. It is nothing to judge others on. It is nothing to ignore.

Am I depressed right now? Probably not. But I know the beast is lurking in the shadows. It’s constantly there. Just waiting patiently. And I just feed it. I question all my decisions. I am more negative on myself than anyone else has ever been.

My flaws shine like the sun reflecting off a metal object. Blinding and overpowering.

I feel myself letting others down. Every day.

But I have to stop. I am a good person. I have done a lot of good, and will continue to do a lot of good.


I have a lot of insecurities. Shocker, right? I compare myself to others and wonder what I am doing wrong to not have what they have. I see something someone else has, or does for their significant other, or their children, and the first thing I think is “oh, I wonder if my own wife/family/children resent me for not being able to do those things for them.”

And it hurts. It hurts so much to work so hard and feel like you are still coming up short.

How do I compete with these people? I can’t. And I shouldn’t ..

I meet new people and instantly search for their flaws so I have a reason to push them away. I would rather be a jerk and hurt someone else, than to allow myself to be hurt by them. Because it’s happened. Pretty much every time I let someone into my life. They either just completely ignore me, or they walk out of my life, and cause a lot of pain and suffering in the aftermath.

So I put up walls whenever I meet new people. And I build them high, and thick. And I am a jerk, say stupid things, and push them away.

I set myself up to be depressed.

I so badly want for someone to just tell me “yeah, I want to be your friend” but I don’t even give them a chance.

I so badly want for someone to ask for a sledgehammer so they can start knocking those walls down themselves.

I want someone to say “yeah, you’re worth it to me”.


But depression doesn’t have to be all-consuming. And it’s not always a bad thing. The best thing depression has done for me is helped me to realize the blessings I do have in my life. I can’t give my children the world, but I can make sure they are taken care of and have all the right tools to succeed in life. And they love me for what I do for them and give them. I can’t take my wife out on regular dates, or to give her the house of her dreams, or the vacations she deserves. But she loves me anyways, even through all my faults. She sticks by my side and helps me through the good and the bad. I don’t make a lot of money, but I have a good job that I’m not miserable in, with people I like being around, and I am able to still provide for all of my families needs, as well as some of their wants.

21

What am I missing in life? Probably purpose. I don’t know where I fit in in this crazy world. I pile so much onto my plate in hopes that something will eventually jump up and say “Me! Me! I’m your niche!”. And friends. I feel so alone in this world. I feel like people don’t want to be around me. But it’s probably because I don’t give them the opportunity.

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I have a good life. I know that. But I also have days of depression.

It doesn’t make me a bad person. It doesn’t take away from the good I have, or the good I’ve done.

It just means that some days are harder than others. And that I need to always focus on the blessings in my life. Because they are always there. No one is ever truly alone in this world. When depression kicks in, we just like to pretend that they aren’t. It’s easier to feed the beast than it is to fight back.


Always give life a chance. There is good in everything, and not everyone is bad or out to hurt you. People do care. Just because you don’t hear from them for awhile, or they don’t talk back right away, or write you back, or whatever, it doesn’t mean they don’t care.

Chances are, they just have their own demons they’re fighting that you know nothing about.

K~

 

Some Self Reflection…

Family, Life

It’s going on two weeks now since I had my big “aha” moment and oh, what a difference it has made.

Without the judgement, criticism and guilt clouding my heart and head, I am now at a point where I can begin to talk to myself and get to the bottom of my issues that had caused me to be the person I was.

And it has been very enlightening.

I’m learning a little bit more about myself everyday, and actually taking the time to hear what others are saying as well.

The walls are starting to crumble and fall all around me, in a good way. It feels amazing to be able to let the light shine in, letting others in as well after all these years.


One of the most surprising things I have found about myself is that I truly do care about people’s opinions about me. For years, decades even, I have been telling myself that no one else matters. Their thoughts and opinions didn’t make a difference. But in all honesty, I was way wrong. The comments and judgments have crept in through my cracked walls and have slowly, over long periods of time, clouded my heart. My anger and bitterness have been defense mechanisms. Not out of jealousy, not out of spite, but out of pain. I have not had a terribly difficult life, but I have still overcome a lot to get to where I am today. And it hurts when my morals, ethics, accomplishments, struggles and achievements are questioned or put down. Maybe that’s the reason I am never satisfied with my accomplishments? Maybe I try to distance myself through my career and achievements from those who put me down? Maybe .. 

I used to have a really close relationship with my three brothers. They would come over at least every other weekend and hang out with me. We would do all sorts of things – movies, video games, cooking, basketball. But then they just stopped doing that. I don’t remember the last time I actually hung out with any of them. It’s probably been at least 5 or 6 years.

And I guess that has created this feeling of abandonment. And because of that I started treating them like garbage. And any feeling of abandonment just grows into a fear of it. So I never let anyone in for fear that they will one day do the same thing. And, unfortunately, anytime I have tried having friends in the past it has always ended in disaster. Because I push people away, or I am critical, or something. Something always happens.

But I have to stop assuming. Stop thinking that just because it has happened in the last that it is going to happen in the future. Having friends is a good thing. It’s someone to talk to where I otherwise have no one (other than my wife).

I also am being honest with the fact that I have so many insecurities. I’m never good enough. I can always do better. I hate the way I look. These are the things internally I have been dealing with every, single, day. So I keep people at a distance so they can’t see the person I really am.

It’s been almost 2 weeks now and my heart has been opened. There’s room now. And it’s allowed me to be honest and open about things I would normally never talk about.

Last year I went through a period in my life where I just wanted to give up. I was diagnosed as depressed, I was put on medication, and I had to go and speak to my doctor once a month and be monitored. Things ended up getting better, as they always do. I had my wife to support me and stand by my side. But I still was never able to talk to her about some of the thoughts that went through my head. I was finally able to do that this week and it felt so freeing.

I’m able to speak openly and honestly now in a, mostly, positive way. The truth is what it is, and I don’t advocate lying, but it doesn’t have to be said in a hurtful way. Tact is something I’ve always been told I lack, and I’m working on it now. Other people’s feelings matter.

The biggest thing I’m working on though is guilt. And that involves forgiving myself, which I am having a harder time doing.

I had a good childhood and had a lot of opportunities placed in front of me. And yet I ended up being this angry person.

My wife on the other hand didn’t have it so easy, and yet she was the kindest person ever when we got married. Forgave everyone, gave them chances and opportunities, stopped to listen and understand. But after being married for almost 10 years now she started to be more like me. Pushing people away because didn’t like them. Avoiding her family because it was easier than dealing with me being grouchy. And she eventually became this person she doesn’t even recognize anymore.

But I do recognize that person. That person is me. Or rather, that person is who I used to be.

And it’s not fair to her because she truly is an amazing person. But because I have been so selfish she has suffered. She’s now as lonely as I am.

What kind of husband was I?

Not a very good one. But because she is such an amazing woman she has always been there by my side. And always forgiving me when I’m just a stupid jerk.

So this change is for her, as much if not more as it is for me. Because it’s not too late to be the best husband I can be. It’s not too late to be a good friend.

This past week has been a rollercoaster for us. We have gotten to this point now where honesty IS the best policy. So we have been telling each other everything. Instead of assuming, we ask. Instead of getting mad, we try to understand. She’s said things, I’ve said things, but we have been honest with each other. And we now get to grow from it.

And I’m glad I had this revelation before I lost one of the best things in my life.

I was a terrible person. My problems with people have stemmed from my attitude towards them. If I were just understanding, and patient, and kind, I might not feel so alone today.

I need to let people in. Literally. So I open my doors to my friends and family who I have pushed out before. To my family, I’m sorry for being such a jerk. For having a better-than-thou attitude. To A’s family, I’m sorry that you felt like you couldn’t come around when I was around. She needs you in her life. And I would be glad to have you around. Spend time with us, spend the night, be together again.

The first step in recovery is acceptance. I will not be that man I was before. No, you know what, I wasn’t much of a man. I will be a man now. I will be proud of who I am, and I will be someone others are proud to know.

I love you all, as much as I have shown otherwise in the past.

K~