Tonight’s blog post comes from someone I’ve talked to through my blog. His name is Tyler, and Tyler has experienced an eating disorder. I asked him if he would be willing to share that experience with us so we are better able to understand that eating disorders aren’t just something that happen with girls – anyone, regardless of gender or age is at risk. And Tyler agreed! Which I am very thankful for. Hope it’s useful for you, friends.
Different eyes; Shared experiences
Today I’m going to try and write about something almost taboo and pretty close to my heart and something that I have never dared write about previously. I’m a 20 year old male who suffered with childhood obesity before becoming a bulimia sufferer.
When I was young I was very overweight. I’d get called “fatty” and teased about my weight in the playground regularly. I appeared on A Current Affair at the age of 8 as part of a story on the “Obesity epidemic” gripping Australian kids. I joined a gym especially for overweight kids and joined Weight Watchers where I would receive a weekly weigh-in surrounded by overweight adults.
High school was a very unpleasant place for me. I attended a single-sex school and lacked the confidence to cope with such a testosterone-filled environment. From the first day I was teased about my weight and by the third week I had been punched to the ground.
Eventually I grew taller and started to thin out. I had been trying to lose weight from such a young age and didn’t know anything else. I would still get really upset at any mention of my weight. I hated my weight. I hated how I looked. Social anxiety crippled me.
I was determined to look like the other guys who were fit and confident. I thought the solution to all my problems lay in losing more weight. So I stopped eating my breakfast some days. Then I stopped taking lunch. I continued along this path until I was deliberately throwing up my food regularly to try and lose more weight. I would get dizzy and light headed during the day. I used to cry in bed, praying that I would lose weight and be like the other kids. Before long, I was underweight. Anyone who noticed my weight loss continued to congratulate me on it and say how impressive it was.
One of the biggest changes for me came through a stable relationship with a girl. Finally being accepted by someone and loved helped me to see myself in a different light. I still took me a long time to tell her that I hid a lot under the smile I put on for the world.
One of the biggest barriers to breaking my spiral was the empty, cold loneliness I felt. It wasn’t something guys could suffer from. Anorexia, bulimia and body image issues were female-only conditions and I couldn’t possibly be suffering from them. I didn’t feel as though there was help or anyone who would understand what I was going through. I felt as though I was stupid and not allowed to feel the way I did.
It is still something I struggle with today in different ways. I’m still not very confident. I haven’t been able to go on a date or even chase a romantic interest for two years. I’m still very sensitive about how I look. And I was only recently able to drink a coffee that was full cream without wanting to throw it up.
Eating disorders and related issues can affect anyone and don’t discriminate over gender. I didn’t believe it until I had no choice but to believe.