Men Struggle With Eating Disorders, You Just Never Hear Much About It
*TRIGGER WARNING FOR THOSE SENSITIVE TO THE SUBJECT. PLEASE READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION*
There is a serious problem when it comes eating disorders, and even more so with the way they are portrayed in the media. Maybe it’s just my personal experience, but when I first was exposed to what an eating disorder is, the poster figure was a thin girl, always. Aside from Aaron Carter opening up about his battles with Anorexia, I have never seen much more of any other man come out ever since. Ironically, statistics state that 25–40 percent of people plagued with an eating disorder are in fact, men. Personally, I did not realize eating disorders could care less about your gender, because the one I developed certainly could care less about mine.
I remember my sophomore year being the year I developed poor eating habits due to severe depression caused by a lack of acceptance for coming out of the closet. I had absolutely no life and all I did was smoke cigarettes to cut my appetite and toss out every homemade lunch my mother made me. At that time, anorexia was not a term that ever crossed my mind because I was simply starving to punish myself and did not focus on my weight.
One morning, my mother woke me up and told me we were going to the hospital for a routine check-up; I did not return home for two and a half weeks. I weighed 108 pounds and my heart rate was in the 40’s, something that was very deadly. To my extreme displeasure, the doctor had said that I was a horse hair away from dying. My family and that doctor saved my life, but my eating disorder continued to thrive off of devouring my stability for years to come.
When I was in college, I began taking a medication called Seroquel and it is very notorious for causing severe weight gain. During my senior year of college, I spent all my lonely nights binge eating tubs of ice cream and always Baked Lays potato chips with a soft drink to follow and possibly candy for dessert. Simultaneously, I began to notice myself getting heavier (go figure). My chest went from pecs to an a-cup suitable for a training bra. Every time I sat down, my insecurities would thrive as what I perceived to be a belly would depress me. I use to joke that if I wanted to transition into a woman, my man boobs and girlish voice would be a major head start. All jokes aside, my perception of my body had not changed and neither did my eating habits.
After graduating school, I moved home to Florida and bought a gym membership at YouFit. What started off as an innocent goal to get toned and shed a cup size became an obsession over everything I ate and how much I worked out. I recall being up for an extra two hours one night googling how many calories are in a piece of Swiss cheese because I could not let it go that I ate ONE before bed. No longer was I worried about packing a healthy lunch for work, but merely the numbers within the Tuppaware and a life consuming fear of gaining more weight.
Following work, I would go straight to the gym and burn off as many calories as I could on the elliptical and top off my workout with some crunches and light lifting. At the end of the summer, I went from 153 pounds to 128; this type of transition and behavior rang a very familiar bell with a finger ten times stronger than the last.
Even after losing nearly half my body weight, I still felt big. Everyone would laugh at me because to them I was as skinny as a pretzel stick, but there was much more that met my eye. Three years later, I am writing an article about my experience with anorexia while regretting the fact that I just binge ate fifteen Oreos and drank a Dr. Brown’s Cream Soda. My eating habits have changed but the habit of obsession over my body is a ghost in my closet that refuses to stop haunting me. Even if I am slim and know that I am, the way I see myself in the mirror is what consumes me every day.
There are thousands of other guys out there with a very similar story to mine, suffering in silence because they are scared of what others will think. These men need to be represented when it comes to the discussion about eating disorders. Aaron Carter is a rare example, but a beautiful one because he simply opened up about this. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, most men are afraid to open up because of the very true fact that eating disorders are viewed as a “woman’s disorder”. Much of these men do not seek treatment and continue to suffer; enough is enough is certainly enough. We are all worth the love, support, recovery, and understanding above all else.