I started out writing Laurence’s story wanting to tell you all about his eating disorder, but then I decided it would be more appropriate to tell you Laurence’s story from his Mum’s viewpoint especially due to the fact Laurence passed away on 30 September 2009 aged 24 years suffering bulimia and severe depression.
Laurence was born on 26 November 1984 and like any other little boy had a normal run of the mill childhood. Laurence was a keen footballer who played for his local team from the age of 12 years, up to 6 months before he passed away. Laurence was a care assistant in a mental health setting caring for people very much like himself who suffered from an eating disorder, and who had tried to commit suicide and needed specialist mental health care.
Laurence’s eating disorder was not noticed by me and his Dad until he was around 21 years old, Laurence was a well built lad and great muscles, and strong legs to play his much loved game of football. Like most people from Northern Ireland, Laurence was a Man Utd supporter going to a lot of the games in Manchester, and watching practically every game he could watch in the local pub with is close circle of friends. Laurence has one brother Christopher who shared Laurence’ passion for football and Man Utd! they were also very close friends where Christopher was Laurence was always there too! Laurence had two long term relationships in his young life (one of four years, and one of around 2.5 years) both ladies were very much admired by Laurence, both became good friends to him, and both were extremely sad when he passed away.
Laurence began to eat on the hour every hour then disappear in between eating he also began to lose a lot of weight very quickly we thought he is young, growing and perhaps football is making him lose weight he’s ok he is still eating very well. Then we noticed he was eating a lot of food at dinnertime, lunchtime and nighttime but still getting very thin we then thought he had diabetes, or worse cancer! we never thought Laurence would be bulimic. We noticed stains in the toilet we didnt think anything of this as Laurence from a young age would always have reguratated his food we thought he eats to much and too quickly – we never once thought he would be suffering from bulima at even as young as 8 years old!
Laurence became depressed, he still went out with his friends but started to drink too much, we noticed him becoming more paranoid and over-sensitive about everything and very quickly his Dad and I (his Dad especially) became the enemy as time went on his suffering increased, he was vomiting 25 times per day, he drank more, and we noticed a change in his personality he was angry about everyone and everything and easily annoyed, the rows started to occur in our home, the shouting, the anger the tension was immense, then he tried to commit suicide – he tried 3 times and 3 times he failed. One night Laurence went to bed he had a pain in his chest all day we thought because he vomits, he has ate to fast ate too much – we didnt expect heart failure, he passed away at home, with his father and brother Chris giving him mouth to mouth resuscitation just 24 years old.
Laurence and myself sought help from our local GP and healthcare service, but they didnt understand this young man who had to work up the courage to seek help he was humiliated and embarrassed especially the fact he worked as a care assistant in this mental health area and knew some of the psychiatrists. We couldn’t find anyone to help – why? because we didnt know where to turn? when Laurence and myself sought out help from the local GP he didnt understand. Laurence’s suffering was invisible you cannot see into the brain the way you can see a cut, Laurence also suffered in silence – outside of the home he did not want any of his friends to know he was suffering. This was the most difficult as his Mum I had to watch him eat, vomit, eat, vomit and lose weight, I listened to him cry so many times in pure despair, and the fear I had for him how this would all end was every parent’s nightmare – because you love child regardless of their age and when they suffer you suffer too. As parents we were helpless, we were not informed as to bulimia or depression we did not understand, we didnt really help him but we loved him so much and still do, that is why I wanted to tell you Laurence’s story. Thank you for listening.
Help raise awareness of eating disorders males and the lack of services in Northern Ireland by ‘liking’ the Laurence Trust Facebook page: www.facebook.com/TheLaurenceTrust