Male Anorexia

The following is from Teens First for Health by Great Ormond Street Hospital.  To reach the site for the article and other information click this link:

 http://www.childrenfirst.nhs.uk/teens/life/campaigns/archive/2006/eating_disorders.html

Male Anorexia

Eating disorders affect more girls than boys, but boys get them too. Sixteen-year-old Mark James* spoke to Anna Bailey about his battle with anorexia.

“I first noticed that I had a problem with food when I become obsessed with a diet I was on. Throughout my teens I had always been overweight so when I hit 16 stone I went on a strict diet and started exercising. But the more weight I started to lose the more compliments I would get and the more weight I wanted to shed. In the end it became a destructive cycle.

Christmas

The crux came at Christmas time. I had lost around six stone in three months. But rather than tucking into all the Christmas trimmings I ate very little because I still thought I looked very fat. At just ten stone my family obviously knew this wasn’t the case and were slightly concerned I had lost weight too quickly. They then suggested I go and see a doctor.

Misdiagnosed

The first doctor I went to see wasn’t very helpful. I was told that boys don’t get anorexia and my eating habits were put down to depression. The leaflets I was given to read were also targeted towards girls. I felt extremely isolated and wondered if I was the only boy in the world who felt they had an eating disorder. Eventually I found a psychiatrist who confirmed what I had been thinking. It was a relief to know that there was something wrong and someone was taking me seriously.

Rock bottom

My anorexia actually got worse before I started to get better. It was all I could think about during the day and I started to calorie count. I wouldn’t eat any food over 100 calories and I cut out all meat, crisps, chocolates, nuts and cakes. At my lowest point I was only having a bowl of cereal in the morning.  This had a huge impact on my energy levels at school and I was falling asleep by eight o’clock at night. But at that point I didn’t care; I was willing to take the risk with my health as long as I wasn’t gaining any weight. My friends thought I was just going through a ‘MK’ (Mary Kate Olsen) diet faze to look cool and would tease me for being too thin, but inside I was very unhappy and ill. Every time I would go to eat I felt so guilty that I would instantly exercise off the weight or make myself sick. I couldn’t help myself; it was that overpowering.

Hospital

Eventually the weight loss took its toll on my heart. I started to get sharp pains and I plummeted to six stone. At this point I was just a couple of days off from being hospitalised and coming near to death. When the doctor told me this it was a real wake up call and I knew that I had to do something about it.

Recovery

In order to get better I started to try and eat a bit more. So instead of eating one bowl of cereal a day I would have two. I also stopped exercising so much and tried to do activities like drama to raise my self-esteem. Through doing new things I meet new friends who have supported me.

Future

I am slowly getting better now and overcoming my anorexia one day at a time.

I don’t know whether I will fully get over it but at least I know now that I am not a freak and that there are people around to help me. I am now an Ambassador for the Eating Disorders Association and it’s great to meet people like me who are getting better. I also wanted to help other boys who might be going through the same experiences as me but don’t know where to turn to. It makes me really mad seeing stick thin images of anorexics in the press because you don’t need to be really thin to have anorexia. You can look fit and muscly but still think in an anorexic way. There isn’t a label or image that fits all and that’s why the disease is so deceptive.

Top tips

My advice to anyone who thinks that they may have anorexia or an eating disorder is to ask for help. Either speak to a friend, your family or the doctor but don’t leave it too late because it can get worse. It’s better to take control before the disorder takes control of your life.

*The real name of this individual has been changed to protect his identity.

infoFor more help and information

For more help and information about eating disorders please contact beat.

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One Response to “Male Anorexia”

  1. Male Anorexia - Even Men Can Succumb To Eating Disorders, What Now? Says:

    […] Male Anorexia Eating disorders affect more girls than boys, but boys get them […]

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