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Neil’s story

Where do I start? It’s hard to know where to start when you can’t really remember how it began. There wasn’t an epiphany or a conscious decision to do it, but between the age of 13 and 14, I decided to watch what I was eating.

I was keen on, and successful at, athletics. I had risen to the dizzy heights of top 5 in the national rankings, but I didn’t know how to reach the top. I was already training more than time and my body would allow. I was already on a funding scheme which provided professional physiotherapy and nutrition information. I was already receiving sports science knowledge to improve my efficiency and thus my performance.

It wasn’t enough! It wasn’t working, I still wasn’t as good as my other competitors. They were fitter, they were leaner, I needed to change.

I slowly began to lose weight and realised that being conscious and smarter about what I ate, allowed me to lose more weight. But it wasn’t happening quickly enough I needed results and I needed them quickly. So I began to lose more weight quicker. It worked too! I was flying, winning national medals, getting accolades and bursaries and even at the age of 18, a place on the National Team at the European Cup.

My weight loss had given me so much. But at a cost, a devastating cost.

If I look back 5 years and think how much my anorexia had given me. It’s hard to even consider how much it has stolen from me. How much has been taken away from me.

After my time at the top of my athletics game, I got a succession of injuries. Thus, virtually ending my career. Without athletics, you could have seen that things would fall apart. But, one thing I should explain about me is I’m a survivor, I will strive for success. From anything!

So, having no athletics I entered the world of work. No not just a normal office admin job like other school leavers, I entered the world of Investment banking. Soon I was a manager – I had assistants, my own clients, went on business trips and had targets to think about. I’m not boasting, because it wasn’t me, it was driven by the starvation, the loneliness and the uncompromising will to be the best.

Imagine my dismay when one day, I ended up in hospital – in a psychiatric ward, confined to my bed with nurses forcing me to eat.

It was that quick! One day I was in work, the next I was in hospital.

The scary part about being in hospital was the amount of time it gave me to reflect and realising that everything I’d lost was because of anorexia. I have so many mementos of the good times but I couldn’t remember them through the anorexic haze. It all passed in a blur. Never happy with my success, always wanting more, never happy with what I’d achieved.

So that brings me to today. A year since I woke up in that hospital bed. A year since I made the decision to get better. Seven months in a Unit, but I made it through and now, well now!?

I have a job, a girlfriend, friends. I have what they call a life. I don’t have any of the superficial success, but I’m happy and healthy. That is a success in itself.

So what has actually changed? I still think in an anorexic way. I still want to restrict when I’m stressed. I still get anxious when I’m under achieving. But I recognise this, I know its not healthy and I confront it. I battle it. Because I know that is does not achieve anything. It might do in the short term, but sooner or later it’ll all fall apart. I know now and I remind myself. The only success from anorexia is losing.

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

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