Chloe Jennings-White feels happiest when she's strapped into her wheelchair.
Jennings-White explains, "When I’m in the wheelchair I’m not even thinking about the wheelchair. It's just normal for me, but anytime I’m walking it's always in my mind, sometimes dominating my mind, that this is not the way it's supposed to be."
From a young age, Jennings-White says, she felt as though she should be paralyzed.
“I think it was about 4 years old that I first consciously knew that my legs are not supposed to work. I'm not supposed to be able to walk,” said Jennings-White.
Her therapist Dr. Mark Malan explains it was around that age that she formed a positive association with having a disabled body image. He says her aunt, someone she was extremely close to, wore leg braces because of a spinal injury she suffered in a bike accident.
"We all have a body image. It's not too hard to understand. Women especially will understand this, what it feels like to want to have a breast augmentation or a facelift because they want to have a more positive body image,” explained Dr. Malan.
Dr. Malan says a person with BIID has emotional reasons for having a disabled body image.
"What she has is a real disability,” said Dr. Malan. “It's a psychological disability. It's just as real as if she has a physical disability."
"Wearing leg braces or being in a wheelchair is sort of like medication for someone who has this mental health problem."
As far as Jennings-White’s desire to take it past leg braces, and a wheelchair, and have a doctor surgically paralyze one of her legs, Dr. Malan says there may be another option one day down the line.
Dr. Malan said, "Could we do a reversible procedure where we can do like a nerve block where someone can experience what it's like, try it on for size and see if it's something they can use to cope with it."
For more information on BIID or Dr. Mark Malan log on to: www.relationshiphealth.org