Bulimia: it happens to men too
Bulimia is known for being a deeply hidden illness. Many sufferers can go for several years without anyone finding out, and this means it can become such an ingrained part of someone’s life that asking for help – let alone recovering – can be incredibly difficult. But it’s not impossible; it’s never impossible.
Bulimia doesn’t tend to get mentioned as much as Anorexia and I’m never quite sure why that is. The binge-purge cycle isn’t easy to talk about, but ignoring it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening – it just makes sufferers feel even more isolated.
Yesterday ITV ran an interview with a male sufferer – 56-year-old William Davis. A former police officer, Mr Davis has experienced bulimia for 35 years; all through his time in the force – and he kept it a secret. According to the article, 20-25% of people affected by eating disorders are men – but where are they, and how can we break this stigma that illnesses such as bulimia only affect women?
I’ve been in self-help groups packed to the rafters with women and girls struggling with different eating disorders – I was one of them – but in all my time in these groups I only met one man, a younger guy from Scotland. Most of the literature I’ve come across tends to use female imagery and often only include the odd paragraph mentioning the prevalence among men, and that’s usually for statistical purposes. We never talk about the specific issues men may face while fighting a battle with food.
We need to raise the profile of eating disorders among our male population. These aren’t illnesses just limited to teenagers, or women, but a growing number of men too silenced to ask for help. These men are our husbands, fathers, sons and friends, and they are entitled to help, support and recognition as much as anyone else. Bulimia is a serious health concern, and the longer it goes untreated the more damage it can do physically, emotionally and psychologically.
Men Get Eating Disorders Too is an organization dedicated to reaching those men suffering in silence and they’re committed to breaking the gendered stigma of eating disorders. If you or a man you care about struggles with food, then I’d really encourage you to contact them for help and advice. We can turn the tide of eating disorders in men, but we need to work together. I want to see the % of male sufferers increase – not because more men develop eating disorders, but because the silent majority begin to come forward.
You can see the interview with William Davis here – http://www.itv.com/news/central/2016-02-11/men-under-pressure-male-eating-disorders/
And you can contact Men Get Eating Disorders Too via their website – http://mengetedstoo.co.uk
Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2016 start on February the 22nd.
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