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My body makes me feel less of a person – even when I’m at my strongest

My body makes me feel less of a person – even when I’m at my strongest

Dan Beeson is struggling with his body image

I’m ashamed of my body, it makes me feel like less of a person. I’m also ashamed that it’s taken until now to get to grips with the ambition and dedication it takes to change it.

It’s been the hardest, most rewarding and eye-opening year of my life that’s taught me a great deal about who I am and what’s important to me – but I’ve a mountain left to climb, and I’m still not sure whether I have what it takes to succeed, or whether my motives are kind.

I write very openly and honestly about mental health, talking about my own experiences and my panic disorder diagnosis, and I have never felt stronger, but I feel vulnerable talking about my body – because this time I feel great shame.

During cognitive behavioral therapy you are taught the practice of mindfulness – you practice refocusing the mind on what is happening in your life right in that moment and noticing when you waver. This has only added guilt to my shame.

I want a good body for reasons that sicken me; I want admiration, to make heads turn, to feel ‘elite’

I feel guilty because I don’t want my appearance to matter so much to me but I let it loom over the professional and personal successes I have been lucky enough to enjoy and worked hard to achieve until they are saturated by the hurt I feel on looking into my reflection.

I feel like less of a person when I see people with better bodies than me – in those moments everything I have achieved seems obsolete and I wonder how much happier I would be if I were someone with a body to be proud of and who had my achievements under his belt.

Thoughts like this sabotage my own potential – feeling that a certain appearance will better me and my life pays complete disrespect to the journey I have been on and the fundamentals of who I am but I can’t help it.

I can’t compete when my achievements don’t look like the perfect physique.

I want a good body for reasons that sicken me; I want admiration, to make heads turn, to feel ‘elite’ – I should want a good body for my health, to build self-confidence and a sense of completion.

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I will very rarely take my shirt off in public

It’s only taken until now, due to therapy, to realize this attitude to my body image is ridden with terminal superficiality and I now owe it to myself to reassess my desire for a better body – a desire which I feel is ingrained and will never leave me – and seek genuine reasons to improve for myself – myself being the operative word – and not for a contrived portrayal.

This guilt and shame has been there a long time, but like the problems with my mental health, I again feel I have been afforded the strength and determination needed to remove these damaging emotions, including the unbeknownst superficiality which constantly impedes my quality of life, and look into the mirror one day and be proud of what I see, not only because I look good, but because I did it for the right reasons and not the wrong.

Dan is Head of Engagement at Gay Star News and works with the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ LGBT special interest group as a lived-experience adviser to the Department of Health.

Dan is also nominated for the UK’s National Diversity Award for Positive Role Model, click here to vote, and recently spoke as part of the mental health panel at Digital Pride. Watch the video here.

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