Inspirational dad walks 525 miles in honor of son's suicide after body dysmorphic disorder battle

Whenever I think about body image issues, it always reminds me of Christina Aguilera's music video for the hit "Beautiful." In particular, I think about the anorexic girl in front of the mirror who sucks in her stomach, obviously wanting to look skinnier.

Although that song ends on a positive note, that is not how it is for a lot of people—particularly those struck with body dysmorphic disorder, a mental illness where the person shows excessive concern with their physical features.

Unfortunately, in the case of Nathaniel Asselin, the disorder leads to suicide. Despite the tragedy, though, I am incredibly inspired by Nathaniel's dad, 63-year-old Denis Asselin, who is about to complete his 525-mile walk from Philadelphia to Boston to honor his son while educating others along the way.


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The dad has been documenting his pilgrimage on Walking with Nathaniel, where he talks about his son, what inspired him to take this journey, tries to teach people about the mental illness of BDD (which is related to obsessive compulsive disorder and he claims not a lot have heard of) and asks people to donate to the OCD foundation to fund more research on body dysmorphic disorder.

In a special for CNN, Denis Asselin also talked about his goals and the things he has learned during his "journey of faith". He writes about what he hoped to accomplish:

My primary goals are to tell Nathaniel's story -- so that awareness about brain disorders, especially OCD and BDD, can spread far and wide -- and to raise much needed funds for the International OCD Foundation so research and programs can help other sufferers, their families and their friends.

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It all sounds like an emotionally, physically and mentally overwhelming journey to me, but I'm glad this dad is taking it. His story is both sad and inspirational as he aims to tell more people about BDD. I hope that he has been successful on his journey that more people will become aware of this very real problem.

Have you ever heard of body dysmorphic disorder? What do you think about his dad taking this 525-mile journey in support of his deceased son's mental illness? Share with us in the comments below!

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Topics: diseases  mental health  body image