The Doctor's In!

Dr. Eris shares her struggle with self-image.

on Mar 18, 2013

Although I healed from my active eating disorder by the time I was 21 years old, I still felt uncomfortable in my own skin. When I was 25, I decided to get breast implants in hopes that I would feel more confident and that men would find me more attractive. They did! I also loved my augmented breasts. I felt sexy. But, because of my history with Body Dysmorphia, I was embarrassed to admit that they weren’t real. 

Ten years later my body rejected the saline implants (foreign object) and I developed an infection in my breast. For nine months no doctor could figure out what was wrong with me. They pumped me up with antibiotics in hopes of what was wrong would dissipate. It didn’t. Then I decided to undergo surgery to remove the breasts, hoping that it would take the pain and infection away. It didn’t. 

I woke up in the middle of surgery with a liposuction machine in my breast sucking out the infection. It didn’t work. I ended up getting a botched surgery, where the surgeon removed breast tissue, which is permanent, and the infection still remained. I was sent home with IVs of antibiotics in my arm and the surgeon kept telling me that I would be OK. But, something didn’t feel right. 

I checked myself into the hospital, where the doctors still didn’t know what was wrong with me. Finally, they sent me to one of the leading reconstructive breast surgeons in the country. I underwent surgery again, this time successful. He informed me that it would take time for me to heal. Clayton was by my bedside day and night supporting me through this difficult time. He slept on the floor at the hospital when there wasn’t an extra cot. He just wanted me to be OK. 

Losing a part of my breast was devastating to me. It affected my body image, which I had dealt with since childhood, my sense of self, my libido, and still leaves the question of whether I will ever to be able to breastfeed. As for most women, breasts symbolize femininity, sexual attractiveness, and motherhood. It is the same for me. After the surgery, my self-image was lower because something I had before was taken from me. A sense of grief kicked in, but I thought that I had to stay strong instead of show how scared I was. I felt as if my identity was no longer the same. I felt less attractive and desirable, even though my husband didn’t feel that way or make me feel that way. But, he didn’t know what was truly going on with me emotionally. He tried to understand, but I was too scared to let him in. The only way that I knew how to cope was to stay in denial and act as if I was strong. It was not until the therapy session you see on the show that I began to realize the effects this had on me, and my marriage. It was also the first time that I was able to be honest with Clayton about my emotions. We got to begin to work through the issues that surrounded our relationship for a few years thanks to the therapy session that we did on the reality show. Go figure!