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Lad Describes What It's Like Living With Harrowing Eating Disorder

Josh Teal

| Last updated 

Lad Describes What It's Like Living With Harrowing Eating Disorder

According to new research made by one the UK's leading treatment centres, one in four men struggle with eating disorders.

Surprising figures like this go unnoticed because mainstream society tends to see eating disorders, not as gender neutral, but as something exclusive to women - who are known to be more open.

Men, on the other hand, are notorious for brushing mental health blips under the carpet. As with depression and anxiety, we choose, or are rather pressured, to "man up" than lose face in front of a GP and get the help we might be needing. The help that could stop us from suffering psychical and psychological damage, that in some severe cases - especially anorexia - can lead to death.

Following these stats, we reached out on Twitter to see if anyone was willing to share their story of living with a type of body dysmorphic disorder. One of the people who got in touch was Kieran*, a 19-year-old lad whose troubles stemmed back to the anxiety he experienced as a kid. This is his story.


Credit: PA

I've suffered from anxiety since childhood. When I was 9, my family moved from the UK to an Island in the South Atlantic Ocean called Ascension Island. My sister fit in well with the people from the island but I was bullied because of the colour of my skin and the power my dad had on the island. Being shy certainly provoked it in the first place though. This is where I started over eating junk food to ease the fact that no one liked me. I would go through the daily verbal abuse about my weight, how shit I am at football, how dumb I am and so on.

We moved to Dubai in 2007 and the same thing happened. My sister got on with everyone, and I didn't. The school children used any technique they could to make them seem more powerful than others. I was shoved to the side and the only time a popular kid would speak to me is if they were saying something horrible to me. Stuff like "why the fuck is this fat kid playing football with us?", "Why is your sister so hot and you're so fat and ugly?


During the four years I was there, my parents were both ridiculously stressed, so we went out to eat around 2 or 3 times a week. This was the main thing I seriously enjoyed about living in Dubai. I had burgers, pizzas, and more every time we went out. The Americans who lived next door were also the only real friends I had."

After Dubai, I moved to Oman. I had to re-take year ten because of the move. I thought it would be better as my sister had gone to university. But in fact, no one wanted to talk to me. The reason was because on the second day I was there, I was sitting on a bench and some guy took a picture of my butt crack and made a group on BBM. It had 650 members, including students from other schools. I found out about this 4 weeks after it had happened, which also made me aware of why people would always laugh at me behind my back. This caused me to eat more and made my depression start to kick in again.

After this year, there was no way I was staying abroad so I moved back to the UK with my parents. I put on fake confidence the first week of year 11 and managed to make friends. I met a girl and it ended before it started. But it ended badly, and she used my weight against me. After I finished year 11, I went to sixth form and my confidence was none existent and no one wanted to speak to me other than a few people, and when they weren't there my anxiety was through the roof.

In May 2014, during my exams, I started forcing myself to throw up in the mornings. I would smoke too much cannabis and eat too much on most nights, and in the morning I knew I had to get rid of it.


Credit: Getty

I felt weak and I only ever ate if I was stoned, and even then I didn't want to eat. I had no energy and as I failed my AS exams, there was a huge pressure to get a job, but I couldn't work as I couldn't think straight, or barely walk for longer than a few hours. That September, I got a job behind a bar in my village. My boss' were awful to me and made me feel awful for not being able to use my strength with things like kegs of beer.

After this week, I quit forcing myself to throw up and quit my job. Someone who also worked in the pub convinced me to go back to college. I went from 14 stone to 10 stone between June and September 2014. However, after I quit my job, I managed to get back into college to do a level 3 BTEC in the only subject area I've learned to enjoy through education, film.


After the bulimia in September 2014, I was borderline anorexic but I started eating more during the beginning of the course. I'm now 11.5 stone, and 6'3". I overcame the eating disorder last year, because the damage I was doing to myself became clear when I couldn't do a physical task because of my strength.

I realised that if I don't fix this problem, then soon enough it wouldn't just be me suffering from my actions, it would also be my friends and family. I wasn't going to let myself end up in hospital. All I had to do was realise. I was lucky to have stopped the problem on my own, which a lot of people can't.

I have only seen doctors about my mental health in recent months, and it's getting better. If I had a message for anyone suffering from something similar to what I have gone through for similar reasons, all I would say to them is that you just have to realise what damage it is causing.

Look at yourself through the eyes of the people who love you and try to destroy this crushing frame of mind through strength and willpower, but don't do what I did by staying silent. Speak to someone who can help and you can get yourself out of it a lot easier than the way I did.


Starting to eat regularly again was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but if I can do it then I am pretty sure anyone can if they can manage to change their frame of mind and perspective towards themselves.

If you think that you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder - you can help them. Men Get Eating Disorders Too (MGEDT) is a charity that is 'seeking to raise awareness of eating disorders in men and to support sufferers, carers and their families.'

There are also helplines that you can ring, such as Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or - if you need urgent help - NHS 111

Don't allow your health to be dictated by false stigma.

*Name has been changed to protect identity.

Mental Health Awareness week is all about not only letting people know it's okay to open up about mental health, but also about listening to friends, family and colleagues.

Have you made your #RelationshipsResolution?

For more information go to the Mental Health Foundation website.

Words by Josh Teal

Featured image credit: Getty/Peter Dazeley

Josh Teal
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