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Ben’s Story

This is me, roughly a year ago people flocked in thousands in the the hope of catching a glimpse of the Olympic torch. I however had to watch it from a bed – a bed in the corner of a hospital room marking the real seriousness of what I had got myself into. Pictured (below) is me upon release amazingly a few weeks later, holding the torch like many others it sparked a desire for change, to get well. So this is my story and my battle with anorexia…

I grew up with my mum and my sister, even though young, I had a wise head on me. When I was young my mum and I had to move due to a relationship breakdown with my dad. My mum is my rock and vice versa even at a young age we shared everything so I had to be grown up we were there for each other.

That all changed my mum met a new man who become her new partner.We didn’t see eye to eye at first because he was entering OUR circle, though eventually I saw him as the father I didn’t quite have.

One Christmas mum booked me for tennis lessons. At first I begged not to go but grew to love it after the first few sessions and I hooked. Then I got into cycling too and noticed the weight fell off. I was fit and healthy and still no worries or concerns about food.

So I started to come out my shell, meet new people. At school I was always the stupid one, maybe an escape from acting grown up? I always loved school but eventually college would call and I would meet anorexia for the first time. 
College starts, yippee but unfortunately I felt lonely my friends and I didn’t see as much of each other my gaps were always different. So I filled my time with sport as not aware how it was to become an obsession.

At the time, I had a reception job down the local tennis centre even worked on court too I loved it easily racking up 4+ hours a day! But as I became increasingly good and taught during my gaps I knew I had to get fitter. Running was my answer 40 miles a week sport was now a must if i didn’t do it my day was ruined.

My schedule became more hectic I took on more hours could never say no, meals were at a desk or on the go. Sometimes I would miss a meal I was busy. Next my appetite had gone and would have breakdowns at work. I phoned my mum crying down the phone, “what’s happening to me why am I crying” – the stress had got to me. Wearing a running watch didn’t help I could track calories and if I didn’t burn I didn’t deserve them, food now had to be earned.

The weight was dropping and people would stare, of course I was skeleton a shadow but I didn’t see it, I loved coaching but one day they told my mum maybe it wasn’t best for me to be round the kids, they were right I wasn’t a role model I couldn’t even hop. I gave up running as physically I had to as my body had become weak. I became increasing enclosed staying at home and wanting just to be in my mums company. Meanwhile, the weight continued to drop. Weeks past and eventually I came home telling my mum “I’m so sorry I’ve been killing myself.” I was sick of getting happy by watching people gorge on food and going hours scanning supermarket shelves I wanted to be better.

Although mentally I had improved physically things were different, like the rest of your body, your hearts a muscle and to my surprise that had shrunk too, I had to be hospitalised.

Upon arrival I was weighed tagged and hooked up to a heart machine with wires everywhere. I woke to nurses saying I was the lowest heart rate they had ever saw and the doctors themselves said the same in sheer amazement I’d hadn’t gone in to cardiac arrest. Mum stayed with me that night she recalls watching my heart rate not knowing if she had spent her last hours with me, I can’t forgive myself for what I put her through looking back. I had to cancel I holiday and be bed bound, I was told It could be months sometimes a year till I was released I was forever optimistic and said two weeks, mental I was fine physical I knew I would get better.

The turning point was when I ate tray after tray of food. In amazement the nurses stood back and the psychologists were taken back by my sudden progress, too.

The hardest part was the bed boundness take away my legs then and I felt awful showers sat down reminded how useless and dependent my body had become. Duing my stay, I met a great friend during my stay and another person from school, which made life easier. Two weeks had passed and true to my word I was released thanks to the rock that was my mum I had put on a weight. Finally I was ready to return to the real world. Adapting was hard and seeing people just in town reduced me to tears, home wasn’t easy at first I did miss hospital. My weight did go in to flux for the first few weeks upsetting mum. We wouldn’t talk I’d feel like I failed but the following week I would gain and she would say sorry. I knew a level of trust had to be built longer term and she had to trust I was doing everything I could to get better. Like any mum I realised she was only looking out for me.

One year later I’ve now put on a significant amount of weight since I was admitted. I reconnected with many friends, found who I am and love standing out with vintage clothes – most of all, I’m now happy in my skin.  I may have changed and become someone new but for the better. Recovery from anorexia has opened my eyes to the things I was missing in life and what truly mattered.

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

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