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Male Eating Disorders: An Invisible Struggle

 

Using his voice, passion and determination, John’s lifelong struggle with an eating disorder empowers him to fight his own battle and to help others fight theirs.

A turbulent childhood and undiagnosed learning disability led John to binge food for comfort and starve himself for a sense of control. Because of the other battles he was fighting, John describes his eating disorder as an ‘invisible struggle’ – it began instinctively and unknowingly in his childhood as a means to cope with adversity.

“Subconsciously, I felt like having control over my body would give me some control over other things,” he explains. “And in my mind, I had control.”

A formal diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and dyslexia later in life legitimized what John was experiencing. Finally receiving the treatment he needed to manage his PTSD, for the first time his eating disorder could be brought to light.

Mental health affects everybody and I don’t want anyone to feel alone in their struggle.

John was fighting against a deep-seated belief that his weight and worth were interrelated. When he was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, he immediately found himself concerned about weight gain as a result of his new need to take insulin. His fear manifested into insulin abuse, excessive exercise and starvation. Stuck in a damaging cycle, John craved change. He sought treatment for his eating disorder because he wanted a better life.

Enrolment in treatment led John to confront his unhealthy behaviours, as well as the misconception that eating disorders are exclusive to women. “As a male fighting an illness believed to be dominated by women, I feel responsible to be a voice,” says John.

Fighting the disease and the stigma, John regularly seeks opportunities to be an advocate and to speak publicly about his experience. “Mental health affects everybody and I don’t want anyone to feel alone in their struggle,” says John.

While John’s eating disorder isn’t yet where he wants it to be, his commitment to treatment and passion for advocacy have brought it to a place it’s never been before, and day by day, he is making the invisible struggle visible.

Help others, like John fight their eating disorder. 

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