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Andrew’s Story

Eating disorders are so incredibly sad, disturbing, and horrifying to observe. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody!This illness takes on a character of it’s own and abuses you into pleasing what it wants. Meanwhile, family and friends watch from afar, and can’t understand why there’s a person running down that road. “Get out of there!”, they scream, but you’re skidding out of control, and you do not know how to get out of it.

My illness began when I was 13. I had heard about eating disorders in school and it never occurred to me that I could control my eating in such a way. Then, because of the mental recordings of “things kids said to me in elementary school” played over and over. Naturally, I thought in extremities, wanted the weight off quickly, and felt I deserved to starve.

Next thing I knew I was doing things I really did not want to do, but I listened to the distorted thinking in efforts to keep the anxiety down. I was very conscious of food, and tried to reach the endless goals from the disease. Of course, it’s never good enough in the face of perfection.

However, looks are deceptive and admiration dangerous. I remember one morning my mother came to wake me up, and she began to call for me. Within a few moments she acted as if I wasn’t there. As I was waking from the bed I said, “mom, I am right here”. She said, “oh, it didn’t look like anyone was there.” I didn’t want to see what my family was telling me. They were saying I was “gaunt”. I perceived my weight loss as “male model beauty” to have sunken cheeks, and if I was skeletal I might be noticed and cared for. It was like a poor man’s plastic surgery in which I could transform into someone “better”.

I just wanted to disappear into an impossible body and take up little space. I concluded that I was an “idiot”, an embarrassment, ruined lives and I should be silenced. Thus began an obsession that was an innocent request upon myself to make a change. I was an energetic kid and sometimes would disrupt class. I noticed that I was calm when I wasn’t eating much. I did not know it would take me over by storm.I didn’t know how literal and determined I could be to become skeletal. I also didn’t know the vicious cycle it becomes when fighting the body.

I received the anorexia nervosa diagnosis and some advice from professionals. I began to see this was not where I should be going, and was scared into eating again. I should have been in a program at this time, but due to the situation it seemed I straightened myself out on my own. However, over the next couple years I began to binge eat thinking I was “beating anorexia” this way, and using it as a way to self-soothe. Then, I got scared again when my weight was going up, and succumbed to bulimia and anorexia.

There came a point when the food cupboard was locked so I didn’t binge on all the food in the house, but I managed to get into it like a wild animal. Then, I ended up having my own “food stash” that inevitably I ate went through very quickly. A single taste would trigger a binge.

The worst of it was spending the entire summer of 2008 secluded in my house binging and purging all day or having a “fasting day”. I did not understand why my family was stressed around me. I said “this is my life now. I just make my self sick after meals. I don‘t need help.” I said it as if it were a normal everyday occurrence.  It got to the point where I convinced myself that somehow water would make me put on weight. Some days I was even afraid to brush my teeth. With heightened senses I developed new tricks to be more ill. I would try to make it look like I ate properly, purged in some odd places, competed with numbers/images. Got my family so frustrated for a while I was given a bucket to be sick in my room.

It wasn’t until the first week of grade 12 when those who saw me then knew something was terribly wrong. I did not look well, and it wasn’t until I was sent to hospital to get IV fluid that I realized I had hit rock bottom. Was this the rock bottom I was looking for? I was still obsessed with my weight, and wished so badly that I could reach the “double digits”. I didn’t think I was “sick enough” for treatment. By this time, the disorder had tore a huge wound into my family, and pushed away my friends. I played the role. I identified with the illness and freaked people out–they left.

I voluntarily went into an inpatient program to begin the process of learning how to eat again. I had to go back to the start taking in liquids until I could work up to solids once again. Treatment felt awful as the illness yelled at me to not listen to what the professionals were suggesting and exaggerated everything. I realized that I had a severe sickness and the thoughts and behaviors were because of it.

I advanced to a day-treatment program hanging on a hope, and some motivation for a happier life. I completed the program late January ‘09. I didn’t exactly return to school, but finished my education via alternative methods.

It’s been about four years since recovery now, I am still re-building relationships, enjoying food again, and learning how to take up a healthy amount of space. I deserve to be where my body functions best!

'Men Get Eating Disorders Too' is a registered charity in England and Wales no. 1139351.

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