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Unattractive Regardless, Why Bother?

Question:

I have a condition where despite the fact that I bathe and brush my teeth, I still have body odor and bad breath. I believe that it is Trimethylaminuria, a disorder which causes body odor due to a missing liver enzyme. It might be a similar disorder as I tested negative for this one. I’m not sure if the diagnosis was right. Anyway, I am well aware of the fact that I am a walking annoyance, joke and punching bag. Despite that, I work to live as happy a life as possible. I make sure to do things that I love doing like walking in the park, visiting museums, writing, even going to college. It took me a long time to get to the point of really enjoying those things again. I think my skin is pretty thick at this point or I just am no longer shocked by people’s behavior. So I now believe that I have the psychological energy to take better physical care of myself. To exercise, to take care of my hair, dress better etc. Before this problem I was a prissy type of person and took much pride in my appearance! After this, I just don’t see the point of looking good since I stink anyway. What is the point? Upon the sight of me people screw their faces up into either a disgusted, irritated, or very angry scowl. When they are with others they also laugh freely together. They yell that I’m nasty, stink, uggh, and yuck at the top of their lungs. I have decided to think of God’s face when I see theirs and to think of what God has done for me instead of what people have and are doing to me to get away from anger and vengeful thoughts taking over my every moment. My idea of God is the being that makes it possible for me to carry on despite these people’s behaviors. A God that has made it possible for every person to withstand all manner of trials. However, whenever I attempt to take really good care of my body, a voice says something like oh please like it matters. And mental images of people’s faces and their words ring in my head. I can’t push these images and insults away during these times. I do brush and shower regularly but it also seems pointless. Maybe I should just take my place under a bridge. No one would be the least bit surprised. Only that is not my life’s goal. I do lean towards suicidal a lot when I think of my body so I really don’t care for it much anyway. And it is not a belief of mine that God cares about that situation except that I rise above it. Any suggestions on how I can motivate myself to exercise, eat right, dress well, do something to my hair despite the fact that I stink?

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Answer:

There are two issues here: your condition itself, and your reaction to your circumstance. Let’s address each issue separately.

<p>First, this Trimethylaminuria or whatever it is.  You say that you aren't sure what your diagnosis is, but it is clear that you've seen some doctors about this.  That much is good.  What is bad is that whomever you've seen has not been able to give you a definitive idea of what is wrong.  I would suggest that you are not done yet with doctors, under the circumstance.  This is obviously not a trivial problem for you.  Rather, it is causing you grave distress to the point that you are suicidal at times.  I suggest that you pursue second and third opinions with different physicians and practitioners until you have exhausted resources you can spare for such activity.  If you can learn what is wrong, you have the possibility of being able to address the cause of the problem, through medical (or alternative medical) intervention, diet or whatever.</p>  <p>For the moment you are stuck dealing with this issue.  I want to emphasize that you've seemingly done a very good job handling this problem.  You have struggled with what seems to be depression-like despair and have wrestled it to the ground some.  You are clearly still dealing with depressive and rageful thoughts, but some symptoms are under control.  You're getting out of bed in the morning, for instance, and you are enjoying things again, for example.  These are real accomplishments, given that the stressful circumstance that has started you feeling depressed is still present.  You truly should feel proud of this accomplishment.</p>    <p>I think it would be a very good idea for you to enter psychotherapy for a time.  Based on what I understand about your circumstance, I'd suggest you ask for a therapist who advertises him or herself as offering cognitive behavioral therapy.  Such a therapist is in a very good position to help you learn how to best address your angry, rageful, depressive and suicidal thoughts in a rational, &quot;rise above it&quot; manner.</p>  <p>You're feeling like an outcast and low status, and I want to address that for a moment.  People have a cruel side to them.  You see it most clearly in small children, but it stays present through adulthood in many cases.  This cruelty often manifests in an &quot;us vs. them&quot; mentality, with people dividing themselves into groups of insiders and outsiders.  Often the outsiders would like to become insiders, but they are kept from membership by the insiders who use exclusion as a means of making themselves feel better.  If they can taunt you, then them must be superior, or something to that effect.  Though you've been forced into an outsider social role, you are not exactly alone.  There are other outsiders around and some of them might be available to be a friend if you let yourself be open to it.  There are also just other people around who are more mature than the run of the mill people around you, and they may be able to see past insider and outsider, and past your condition to the person you are inside and value you for that.  Look for such people as they can be great assets.  You don't need a lot of friends to feel like a valued person.  Just one or two good ones.</p>  <p>When you are made into an outsider, there are roughly two stances you can take towards it.  You can agree with the assessment that you are unworthy, and basically let a part of your own mind become a bully yourself, beating yourself up.  Alternatively, you can reject the assessment of your unworthiness and not cooperate with the people who would put you down.  Right now there is a strong part of you which agrees with the negative assessment of you as a bad, unworthy person and you are putting yourself down.  This is easy to do and natural enough, but it isn't the best thing for you to be thinking inside your head.  I recommend you explore ways to reject your rejection by these cruel people; to actively resist letting them brand you as a leper.  I'm not exactly sure what it might look like if you resisted being labeled.  Maybe you'd have a tee-shirt made that says, &quot;I'm a person, not a just bad smell&quot;, or &quot;ask me why I stink!&quot;.  If anyone did ask you, you could explain that you have a medical condition which causes the smell and which is out of your control, and you could then take the opportunity to make a joke and introduce yourself as a person, not just a target for taunts (e.g., &quot;That's my excuse.  What's yours? - grin!).  If you can act confidently towards people, and not just capitulate to their worst impulses, you can make a lot of headway.</p>  <p>Anyway, this is a tough problem for sure.  Good luck in making progress with it.</p>

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Comments
  • Bill

    I understand how you feel, I have had this since I was 13 and I am now 29. I went throught school, work, and to mental health doctors. What people dont understand is your afraid to go anywhere because we smell including the doctors. I too believe God helps us get through it. I dont know if I would have gotten through school and work without him. There is no cure for this and in my opinion based on experiance psychatrists dont help. They either wander off the subject or drive us nuts by saying I dont smell anything. It could be true because we dont smell 24/7 even though we think we do but its frustrating non the less. There are more of us out there than you think so dont get discouraged and think about suicide. If someone genuinely wants to know explain it to them if not ignore them. I know you say I cant but trust me after a while it will become second nature. The toughest part of this disease is the fear of being alone and dating, at least for me. I think there is someone out there for everyone. I know people in the trimethylaminuria support group who are married so there is hope and maybe one day they will be able to find the missing enzyme and cure us. Until then take care of yourself and dont think about suicide. Do what you want to do and what you enjoy doing in spite of the ignorant people. I still go to the movies and go out and enjoy myself at dinner as well. In regard to the ignorant, its only words dont worry about it, half the people you see talking about you or making faces or rubbing their noses you will never see again anyway. For those who you do see, they will eventually figure out there is something not normal about us and they wont be so mean or harsh. After all we are clean and dress nice and take care of ourselves so obviously we shouldnt smell like this so there is obviously a problem and they will figure that out or ask. Once that happens you would be surprised how genuinely nice some people can be. If you have any questions or would like to talk sometime just drop me an email at crusader2085@comcast.net
    Bill

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