After reading Cosmo this month and their article from Dave Chawner saying that It’s not just women who get anorexia gave me the idea that people really need to speak to about the affect that it can have on men when they’re battling an eating disorder.
What really got to me about Dave’s story was the way he had met the woman of his dreams, and he believed his happiness was attached to his weight. Dave said in his interview “I subconsciously began to associate slimming with success.” That statement literally broke my heart reading it, I have been there, I used to starve myself, and I genuinely believed that my weight was attached to my happiness too, that people would like me more if I was slimmer, and that people would treat me better if I didn’t have the excess weight.
The worrying thing about this is when it comes to men, it seems like eating disorders tend do go under diagnosed, under treated and under research, and I have to agree, when it comes to male eating disorders to be diagnosed it can sometimes come across that eating disorders are something to be associated with women. Dave Chawner made a really good point in his interview with Cosmo “People assume eating disorders are a ‘women’s issue’ when then unfortunately causes men to go underdiagnosed.”
When you’re battling an eating disorder, it can be incredibly difficult to imagine your life outside of your eating disorder, your life can begin to revolve around food, worrying about the situations where you might have to eat, what you could order, what you would have to do to work it off, all of those things can end up making your life hell.
During those moments where you’re worrying about food, about losing weight, it can change you as a person, it can make you feel like a prisoner in your own mind, it changes the relationship that you have with food, the relationship you have with your body, and the relationship you have with yourself in general.
When you’re starving yourself the way you are around food can be so different, for example when you’re sitting down in school or at work and someone walks in with a cup of coffee, you instantly smell it and it smells so good, if you’ve got an advert in your magazine, and you see it, then you instantly become sidetracked and all you can think about is the food you’ve seen, how it would smell, how it would taste, everything.
In terms of your mind, when you’re worrying too much about your intake, any other problems like school, work, family, friends, they don’t seem to compare to your eating habits or even keeping track of what you’re doing (working out, eating etc) and this can make it incredibly difficult when it comes to being around your friends and family.
When you’re at school you tend to speak socially over lunch, or break time, and even at home when you have dinner you sit around the table and speak about how your day is and it can be an incredible amount of pressure on a person who is struggling with an eating disorder. It can really isolate you from the people that you love and care about, while you fight this silent yet in some cases possibly visible (any size person can struggle with an eating disorder) battle without those important people knowing.
When it comes to exercise it can take everything out of you, you end up worrying about what your next workout should include and worry about how many calories you need to burn and the obsession that you might have with food, body image and exercise, it can be very frustrating for someone.
The media can play a huge part, especially when it comes to body positivity and the messages that they send out. When it comes to men, they can tend to feel the need to be muscular, to have big muscles, the six pack, and younger men can be affected even more than men going through adolescence.
There is a pressure on people to be a specific body weight or have a particular body image which can affect a wide variety of people from various different backgrounds, but also the pressure can be piled on by magazines and celebrities.
The idea of the perfect guy can be to have muscles and be toned, have fabulous abs, lift, and with social media being at a touch of the app store, it can be incredibly difficult for men to avoid the pressure. What doesn’t help is sometimes (not all the time) photo editing can be carried out which can make it even more difficult for people to avoid that kind of pressure.
The perfect partner is someone who is there for you, loves you, cares about you for more than what is on the outside.
If you are seeing signs that could be linked to an eating disorder, please check out the NHS website for full information on how to get help, signs and more. You are not alone. You can do this.