… and boys can get eating disorders too.

Ahoy,

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.

Bekah X

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.

 

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9 thoughts on “… and boys can get eating disorders too.

  1. Wow. Thank’s for sharing this, Tyler. This was a brave and powerful message. It made me feel so sad for the struggle you’ve been through. “Anyone who noticed my weight loss continued to congratulate me on it and say how impressive it was.” This is what makes me angry – our culture has very distorted views about what is valuable and what equates to success. I feel angry that the media that, in order to get a story, they are happy to crush a child’s self-esteem. We’ve got it all wrong. We don’t have to be rich, thin, professionally successful, etc. in order to be valuable. You are an amazing person and I pray that you will find more strength with each new day to be confidently and happily you!

    • Isn’t it just! I read it over again just now and it really is a very powerful message indeed.

      I think you’re right, Keturah. Our society has the wrong idea about what is valuable, about what is good – and about what is worthwhile. It has the wrong ideas about what is worth investing time and money into. And it makes me mad too.

      Hope to see you sometime soon! X

    • Thanks for the reply!

      I agree that there are definitely some potentially destructive and very distorted views in society about what we value in people. I remember the media and the discussion around childhood obesity at the time being very concentrated on it either being the parents fault or stating that schools should do more to get us fit. I can say safely that neither of those views were true in my case.

      Thanks for your prayers. Especially in the last few years I am finding new reasons to wake up with a smile every day.

  2. I think this was a really important and valuable thing to include on your blog Bek 🙂
    A guy’s perspective isn’t one you hear often on this topic and I really enjoyed reading it, thanks to Tyler for sharing! Goodluck 🙂

    • No problem at all!

      It felt great to write about something like this and I’m thankful to Bek for posting it. It just isn’t something I felt comfortable discussing on my own blog.

      Since I wrote this I felt comfortable enough to sit down with a couple of close friends and talked about much of what was discussed here. Great to finally have them understand why I would sometimes be in a strange state of mind with no explanation given.

      Hoping this reaches a few guys who might be struggling away silently!

  3. This was a fantastic blog post – thank you for sharing!

    Eating disorders in males is actually a large topic that I will be covering on my blog, The Boy Diaries. I am hoping that, by discussing how I have been affected by an eating disorder, to help remove the stigma of men having eating disorders.

    Treatments and recovery strategies should be tailored to both males and females, and I thank you for pushing the idea of inclusivity and presenting a compelling story that proves that this is a problem for men too!

    All the best,
    TBD

    • Thanks for your encouragement!

      So lovely to see other guys out there willing to talk about these things; to help other males realise they aren’t alone in their food struggles. Time to tear down the stigmas! X

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