Stretch Marks are Ruining My Life
I am only 20 and I’ve had stretch marks since I hit puberty. I was chubby when I was younger and I didn’t eat right. I think that’s the reason why I got stretch marks all over my body. Literally everywhere. On my arms, my breasts, my hips my thighs and knees and behind my calves. Some people think it’s over reacting, but I developed many issues because of my stretch marks. I love my body the way it is now and I know I worked hard to get here.
A few years ago I developed bad anorexia because of my body. I stopped eating, not to get rid of the fat, but to get rid of my stretch marks. It didn’t work. I still stop eating sometimes, but I’m not anorexic anymore. I also started self-harming because I was ashamed of my body. I still cut sometimes. I also do drugs and drink a lot cause I’m not happy when I’m sober I’m only hungry and happy if I smoke weed.
I hate myself to the extreme and I’ve tried suicide and I think of it all the time. I don’t know if I’m a danger to myself. The stretch marks are the cause of my depression. I disgust myself and I’m ashamed of my body. I quit studying, I can’t find a job, I don’t have a social life and I don’t think I deserve to be loved.
What man would want me? Why do I have these marks if I’m not pregnant or fat? I’m thin and I have a pretty face .Why did this happen to me? Men call me beautiful and funny. I feel like a fake propaganda. Their opinion isn’t important to me, actually. But I’m mean to myself. I don’t have self-esteem. I’m so lost. My body, my home is killing me. Living in this body is like living in a cave…and I just wanna leave. I wanna feel the sun in my skin and feel feminine and wear dresses and sleeveless t shirts and I can’t. Can you help?
A: Please allow me to be very direct. Your problem is not your stretch marks, it is self-hatred. We all have flaws, both inside and out. Some folks hate their nose, some might not like the way they laugh, some people have lost a limb or breast to an accident or illness, some people suffer from mental illness, and some folks have stretch marks. My point is that none of us are perfect. Almost everyone I have ever met, both clinically and personally, has no problem coming up with a list of things they would like to change about themselves.
What matters in terms of self-esteem, is also being able to list the things we like about ourselves and developing the ability to put more weight on those things. Have you ever heard the story of a Cherokee legend in which an elder is teaching his grandson about the struggle between good and evil inside us all? He uses an analogy of a good white wolf and a bad black wolf and basically states that the one we feed is the one that will live. Here’s a link to another interesting interpretation, stating that we need to accept both (or all) parts of ourselves.
My point is that you can spend the rest of your life focusing on the parts of yourself that you don’t like, or you can spend your time focusing on what you do like. And as corny as it sounds I believe in the sage advice that “in order for someone else to love us, we must first learn to love ourself.”
You have allowed this issues to have way too much power in your life for too long. You blame your stretch marks for your depression, self-harm behaviors, substance abuse issues, unemployment, and social isolation. You don’t mention if you have ever sought professional help for any of these issues. If you haven’t, it is time. If you have and haven’t gotten the results you wanted, then I’d suggest finding a different therapist and/or psychiatrist who specializes in body image issues and depression. If you are still suicidal, please call a Crisis Hotline or go to the emergency room for evaluation. The issues you mention are serious and should not be taken lightly. Please get help now.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts
Counts, H. (2014). Stretch Marks are Ruining My Life. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 28, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/03/06/stretch-marks-are-ruining-my-life/