Thanks to the BBC for covering the e-petition calling on the Government to take action on the serious lack of awareness and hence support for men suffering from eating disorders.
As a recovered anorexic, I wasted almost 25 years of my life, simply ‘existing’ but realistically balancing precariously on the cusp of life and death. It took pneumonia and a collapsed lung to scare me into the reality that life was incredibly precious and that mine was slipping away. Knowledge and understanding of eating disorders back then were limited and male sufferers weren’t affected – were they? Of course they were and they still continue to be, yet whilst our knowledge of eating disorders has improved greatly, I regret that diagnosis and treatment haven’t made the same advances. We spend money at the very advanced stage, trying to prevent individuals from dying but we avoid the Early Intervention strategies that could prevent so many of these problems reaching crisis point. Successful recovery not only improves the lives of individuals, it releases talent and potential to the economy and country as a whole.
Since recovery 4 years ago I have run three marathons, raised over £10,000 for charity and successfully engaged in working with youngsters, including young offenders – besides the day job. Those who suffer from an eating disorder aren’t delinquent, are not psychopaths, are not dis-functional. The majority are intelligent, loving, giving human beings – in fact they are in reality very much like anyone else.
As human beings we all strive for the nivarna of being ‘normal’ – something that is so ill-defined that it doesn’t exist. Yet that doesn’t stop us chasing the ideal, through diet, exercise and sometimes damaging substances.
Men (and this won’t come as a shock to any guy) aren’t that different to women. We too feel emotion, elation, worry and pain. We too get nervous, feel inadequate and worry about our future and that of loved ones. Why is it so difficult therefore to comprehend that we too are likely to suffer the same mental illnesses? (because that’s what an eating disorder really is). Men need to be treated with dignity and respect for admitting that there’s a problem but, society is still confused by the man who doesn’t bury his problems and ‘move on’.
The sooner men receive the understanding and support that should be mandated the sooner we can release their potential talents and contributions to society.