Archive for the ‘Self harm’ Category

Male Anorexia

December 10, 2008

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:

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


BEAT – Young People’s Forum

December 9, 2008

Many young people have joined our forum. Young people have told us that they find it difficult being heard. We hope the forum will give them the opportunity to tell others how they feel and really be listened to.

Want to find out more?   Follow this link:

My Eating Disorders….

December 9, 2008

….is a  website is put together by a group of young women with eating disorders.  Each post is reflective of a constant struggle with body image and self esteem.  This blog also contains informational posts.

If you want to look at it, follow this link:

Boys get anorexia too.

December 9, 2008

For information provided by a family with direct experience click on the following link:

Men ‘unhappy’ with their bodies…….

December 9, 2008

The following article is provided by the BBC and relates to the programme  Manorexia which was shown on BBC2 on Saturday 13 September, at 13.45pm.   You may be able to get a repeat on IPlayer.   ED in boys and men is often ‘not seen’ as families are often unaware and don’t ‘look’ for it. 

By AnthonyBaxter.   Revealed Presenter.

One of Britain’s leading eating disorder experts says as many as one in five young men are deeply unhappy with their body image.

Dr John Morgan said that for every man with an eating disorder there were 10 more who desperately wanted to change the way they looked.   “One in five young men have some degree of quite extreme distress,” he said.  Dr Morgan said he had also seen a big rise in the number of men with anorexia and bulimia.  Dr Morgan, who runs the Yorkshire Centre for Eating Disorders in Leeds, told the BBC’s news programme for teenagers, Revealed, that men who were unhappy with their bodies would like to change them.

Eating disorder

While the official estimate for the number of men with an eating disorder stands at around 10-15% of all sufferers, the real figure is much higher.   “We know that 1 in 20 young people suffer from some degree of disordered eating and that at least 15% of them are men and yet that’s a tip of an iceberg,” he said.   “There are men who have problems with compulsive exercise and excessive bodybuilding who have an illness, but we haven’t defined them. Our definitions of illness have been focused on women, rather than men.” 

In 2000, a report for the Eating Disorder Association found that not enough was being done to help care for men with eating disorders.   Eight years on Dr Morgan says the situation is now worse.   “When the report was written there were some units that had dedicated expertise in male eating disorders. A couple of these have now closed down,” he explained.   “There’s a lack of funding, a lack of interest. You’re dealing with a situation where you’re trying to develop a national service for men across the country, but the Health Service is now more focused on the local.”
Seriously ill

At 13, George became seriously ill with anorexia. He says initially doctors didn’t spot the problem.   He said: “The diagnosis is very vague, especially in boys. It’s not something that someone would presume was the case.  “I was tested for cancer, Aids, gluten allergies, and all various things like that, which really, I knew deep down, were completely irrelevant.”  George was eventually admitted to a clinic where he was told he had just four weeks to live. His body had started to eat its own muscles and organs to survive. 

“Anorexia dictates everything you do,” George said.  “Everything that your healthy mind says is right, ‘You can eat this, it wont make you fat at all, in fact, it’s completely healthy, it’s what normal people do’.  “But then anorexia would jump in straight off and be like – ‘What are you doing, this is terrible. You’re driven by an evil, deceiving affliction that’s not good, it’s really wrong’.”Dr John Morgan said he believes images of male beauty in the media are part of the problem, and that there’s now just as much pressure on young men to look slim as there is on women.   “The ideal male body image has changed into quite an unhealthy shape,” he admitted.

Huge pressures

In the past blokes have been comfortable with beer bellies. Now, men and boys are under huge pressures to look good.”   He explains that while the slim but muscular look, a six-pack, big arms, and a slim waist, has become the cultural ‘norm’, it’s not a naturally obtainable figure.  Dr Morgan added: “It’s completely unhealthy, and to achieve that sort of shape you’ve got to be either working out for hours in a gym, making yourself sick, or taking certain kinds of illegal drugs.”

While it’s often actors, models and celebrities who are blamed for putting pressure on the rest of us to look slim, it seems stars are under an equally intensifying amount of pressure.

Marcus O’Donovan is an actor who’s been in Holby City and the recent Narnia film, Prince Caspian.  He said getting in shape for a role and enjoying a normal life is very difficult.  “The pressure is increasing on everyone to look better and better and better,” Marcus said.  “I like to eat, it’s that simple, I love my food, and I do find that I’m quite worried. I have to watch what I eat and make sure that I train. It’s quite difficult to balance that and a really happy lifestyle.”

The Eating Disorder Charity, BEAT says that since May this year, it’s seen a huge increase in the number of men coming forward and asking for help.  The charity says it thinks high profiled cases of eating disorders, like John Prescott’s battle with bulimia, encourages more men to seek help.

Revealed… Manorexia is on BBC2 on Saturday 13 September, at 13.45pm.

If you’re worried about any of the issues raised in this report and want to talk to someone about it you can call the BBC’s Action Line on 0800 110 100 which is free from UK landlines.





Published: 2008/09/12 06:32:23 GMT



Grey Thinking…

December 4, 2008

….is a mental health blog written by someone with experience of the issues raised, who has a particular interest in eating disorders, and who would like to share positive thinking, ideas and research with others with similar life experiences.   Some interesting thoughts here, written in a direct and open way.   Well worth a look if ED is your interest.

This is the link:

Bullying and teenage suicide

October 20, 2008

This film is from Canada, but the circumstances and tragic results could apply anywhere in the world.

If you ever needed a ‘prod’ to intervene or support a young person being bullied then I think that just looking at the children in this film will be enough.    Be warned that you may well experience emotional upset especially if you have suffered similar experiences and maybe considered similar outcomes.

BBC – ‘Mental risk’ of Facebook teens

September 11, 2008
Any comments from Facebook users on the following report? 

Children growing up alongside the rise of social networking websites may have a “potentially dangerous” view of the world, says a leading psychiatrist.

Dr Himanshu Tyagi said sites such as Facebook and MySpace may be harmful.

He told the Royal College of Psychiatrists annual meeting people with active online identities might place less value on their real lives.

And the West London Mental Health NHS Trust expert added this could raise the risk of impulsive acts or even suicide.


  It may be possible that young people who have no experience of a world without online societies put less value on their real world identities
Dr Himanshu Tyagi
West London Mental Health NHS Trust

Dr Tyagi said that people born after 1990 did not know a world without the widespread use of the internet.

He warned that the current crop of psychiatrists were perhaps not fully prepared to help young people with internet-related problems.

While social networking sites offered great benefits, he said, there were potential pitfalls.


“It’s a world where everything moves fast and changes all the time, where relationships are quickly disposed at the click of a mouse, where you can delete your profile if you don’t like it, and swap an unacceptable identity in the blink of an eye for one that is more acceptable.”

He said: “People used to the quick pace of online social networking may soon find the real world boring and unstimulating.

“It may be possible that young people who have no experience of a world without online societies put less value on their real world identities and can therefore be at risk in their real lives, perhaps more vulnerable to impulsive behaviour or even suicide.”

He called for more investigation and research into the issue.

However, Graham Jones, a psychologist with an interest in the impact of the internet, said that while over-use of social networking sites could lead to problems, the risks posed by them had been overplayed.

He said: “For every new generation, the experience they have of the world is a different one.

“When the printing press was first invented, I am sure there were crowds of people saying it was a bad thing.

“In my experience, the people who tend to be most active on sites such as Facebook or Bebo are those who are most socially active anyway – it is just an extension of what they are already doing.”

Published: 2008/07/03 12:30:52 GMT


September 10, 2008

DIPEx shows you a wide variety of personal experiences of health and illness. You can watch, listen to or read their interviews, find reliable information on treatment choices and where to find support.

The site covers cancers, heart disease, mental health, neurological conditions, screening programmes, pregnancy, teenage health, chronic illnesses and many others.

DIPEx was voted by the Times as one of the top 3 patient health sites (2006), was in the Guardian’s top 10 health websites (2004) and was singled out in a recent study (Times article March 2007) as a favourite, trusted site for patients.

Link to site:

World Suicide Prevention Day – 10th September

September 10, 2008

World Suicide Prevention Day – 10th September


2008 – Think Globally, Plan Nationally, Act Locally

(Click the link above to find World Suicide Prevention Day flyers in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Chinese, and to find a listing of activities from around the world.)

Think Globally – Extent of the Problem
Think Globally – Collaboration
Think Globally – Research
Plan Nationally – Strategy
Plan Nationally – Evaluation
Plan Nationally – Collaboration
Act Locally – Implementation of Programs
Act Locally – Community Initiatives
Act Locally – Advocacy
What You can do to Support World Suicide Prevention Day

World Suicide Prevention Day is held on September 10 each year as an initiative of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), and is co-sponsored by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The 2008 theme is “Think Globally. Plan Nationally. Act Locally.” This phrase, first used by the movement to save the environment, can equally well be applied to suicide prevention:

  • to develop global awareness of suicide as a major preventable cause of premature death,
  • to describe the political leadership and policy frameworks for suicide prevention provided by national suicide prevention strategies,
  • and to highlight the many practical prevention programmes that translate policy statements and research outcomes into activities at local, community levels.

This year’s theme “Think Globally. Plan Nationally. Act Locally”, is an opportunity for all sectors of the community: the public, charitable organizations, communities, researchers, clinicians, practitioners, politicians and policy makers, volunteers and those bereaved by suicide, to join with the IASP and WHO on World Suicide Prevention Day in focusing public attention on the unacceptable burden and costs of suicidal behaviours with diverse activities to promote understanding about suicide and highlight effective prevention activities.

Think Globally – Extent of the Problem

The WHO estimates that one million people die in the world each year by suicide. These figures represent an annual world mortality rate from suicide of 14.5 per 100 000 population. The reality is that every minute there are two more deaths by suicide.

In many developed countries suicide can be either the 2nd or 3rd leading cause of death among teenagers and young adults and is the 13th leading cause of death worldwide for people of all ages. In addition to those who die by suicide, many millions make non-fatal suicide attempts in the context of emotional distress and suffering for the people involved and their families.

There are substantial variations in suicide rates among different countries. However, one must be cautious in comparing suicide rates between countries since some countries report accurate suicide data and others fail to count a significant proportion of their suicides. Suicide rates, as reported to the WHO, are highest in Eastern European countries including Lithuania, Estonia, Belarus and the Russian Federation. These countries have suicide rates of the order of 45 to 75 per 100 000.

By contrast, reported suicide rates are lowest in the countries of Mediterranean Europe and the predominantly Catholic countries of Latin America (Colombia, Paraguay) and Asia (such as the Philippines) and in Muslim countries (such as Pakistan). These countries have suicide rates of less than 6 per 100 000. In the developed countries of North America, Europe and Australasia suicide rates tend to lie between these two extremes, ranging from 10-35 per 100 000.

Suicide data are not available from many countries in Africa and South America. In 2009 IASP will provide an opportunity for countries in South America to highlight the problem of suicide and to share knowledge in order to expand suicide prevention activities at its 25th International Congress in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Most suicides in the world occur in Asia, which is estimated to account for up to 60% of all suicides. Together, three countries – China India and Japan – because of their large populations, may account for up to 40% of all world suicides. However, because of the sheer size of their populations, some of these countries do not have complete national registration systems for deaths, including suicide, and may lack comprehensive medical verdict or coronial systems. Official mortality data which are reported to the WHO may be based on a sample of the population which is not necessarily representative. In addition, accurate suicide data may be difficult to establish if suicide remains stigmatized, criminalized or penalized.

A recent study attempted to overcome some of these problems to estimate suicide rates more accurately. This study was conducted in Tamil Nadu, India, and used trained lay interviewers to conduct ‘verbal autopsy’ interviews with family members for 39 000 deaths. Using this approach, the study found that suicide rates were 10 times those reported officially to the WHO. If these findings are applicable to other countries they suggest that global suicide deaths may, in fact, be much higher than the near one million previously estimated.