My name is Jack and I suffered with bulimia nervosa for over 3 years. I have never met another man who has suffered from an eating disorder, but we are definitely out there. Most sufferers tend to be female and most of the support groups, websites and media tend to be female focused. This makes it tough for us men. It can feel painfully lonely. Having an eating disorder certainly isn’t something you can discuss with your other male friends. So having the support of God can be beneficial during these times. It’s comforting to know that you are never truly alone.
For me, my eating disorder began with a simple, harmless diet. It started off simple enough. I wanted to lose some weight that I had gained during college. I started cutting back on sweets and chocolate. Then as I started to lose weight, I increasingly began to cut back on calories. I restricted more and more. Eventually I was just hungry all the time. The rebound was just waiting to happen.
One day at work a co-worker brought in some birthday cake. I told myself that I would allow myself to have “just one slice”. It tasted amazing. I couldn’t hold back. I quickly devoured around 5 slices and immediately panic set in. “What have I done?” I rushed to the bathroom and so began my life with bulimia.
Straight away I knew this was a dangerous habit to fall into. Each day I would pray to God for strength to stop, but unfortunately no matter how hard I tried, I could not resist the urge to binge on food. In time my binge/purge episodes became more frequent and my life started to come apart at the seams.
I was scared for my mental health. I was constantly moody, anxious, irritable. My social life began to wither and I became a recluse. I was tired, listless, foggy and terrified someone would discover my dark secret.
I think being a male only made it worse. Men are supposed to be tough and macho, but here was me worrying about the fat content of a rice cake. I felt so ashamed.
Eventually, after a heavy binge/purge session, I just broke down. I couldn’t do this any more. I needed help. I plucked up the courage to visited my local doctor. I remember being so terrified waiting to see him. “What would he say, what would he think?.” Looking back I realize how silly these thoughts were. It was exactly that type of thinking that held me back from seeking help. I went in, broke down in tears and confessed everything. To my relief he listened to my story and was very supportive. He then referred me to a local therapist.
My therapist became a cornerstone in my recovery. I joined an online support group, where I could chat with other people suffering from eating disorders. Suddenly I wasn’t alone anymore and that was such a huge relief! I also decided to open up and confess everything to my parents. They were a little shocked and stunned to say the least, but in time they became understanding and supportive. After telling them it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I could finally stop lying to them.
I started to follow a structured eating program, three meals and three snacks daily. At first it was tough, but as each day passed it became easier and easier. My binge purge episodes started to decrease and become less intense. I could think clearer. I felt more relaxed, calm and centered. My energy started to come back. I wasn’t so tired all the time. My recovery wasn’t all sunshine and roses. I had relapses, mood swings, anxiety attacks, bloating and weight fluctuations, but with my support group and my faith in God behind me I was able to keep going.
Encouragement for others
My recovery from bulimia took me just over a year. The only regret I have is that I was too embarrassed and ashamed to seek help sooner. I was trying to live up to the typical male stereotype. We all need help sometimes (yes, even men are allowed to ask for help).
That’s why I want to share my story. I want other men to know that, yes, we are out there. Men do suffer from eating disorders. More importantly, I want them to know that, with the right support, you CAN recover. Don’t lose another day in your life to your eating disorder. The sooner you start recovery the better.
I have kept a diary of my recovery journey here: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/blog/jack. It’s trigger free and I hope you find it inspirational and motivational. Now, for the first time in a long time, I am excited. Each day feels like a new adventure. Recovery is possible. Just make sure you get the support you need!