To the outside world he appears “normal.” No one knows that on the inside he feels completely trapped. When he looks in the mirror, he’s filled with a sense of disgust and shame. He has started to isolate himself from friends and family, preferring to stay home rather than face the anxiety of being out in public-feeling stressed about how bad he thinks that he looks.
He tries not to eat a lot during the day, and when he does sticks to mainly “healthy foods.” Many nights, he finds himself bingeing. He eats a whole pizza and a box of cookies. Filled with a sense of guilt, shame, and disgust with himself, he goes to the bathroom and makes himself sick. He wishes there was a way to stop this terrible cycle.
He is not simply making the choice to restrict his food, binge, and then purge. He is struggling with an eating disorder.
You Are Not Alone
Unfortunately, there’s still a pervasive myth that eating disorders are a “woman’s disease.” However, the reality is that eating disorders do not discriminate. They affect people of all genders, races, ages, ethnic backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, weights, and body types.
It’s been reported that 20 million women and 10 million men in the US, will struggle with an eating disorder in their life. However, the statistics are likely skewed as often eating disorders among men and boys are often underreported, not recognized, or untreated-due to stigma, shame, and lack of education/awareness.
Another issue is that there aren’t as many resources for men who are struggling with eating disorders-as many eating disorder treatment centers, groups, and programs, are exclusively for women and girls.
I want you to know that if you are a boy or a man who is struggling with a painful relationship to food-you are so not alone. Whether it’s an eating disorder, or disordered eating-both can be devastating.
In my private therapy practice in Rockville, Maryland, I am thankful to be able to help men and boys to recover from eating disorders. While it might feel like you “are the only one,” you are definitely not alone in struggling with this.
You Deserve To Get Help
Often men and boys are taught to hide their emotions or to try to “tough it up.” It’s important to note that seeking help when you are struggling is a sign of true strength, not weakness.
No matter what your mind is telling you, you deserve to seek help from trained professionals. Eating disorders are treatable illnesses and recovery is possible.
No one should have to struggle with an eating disorder alone.
Living with an eating disorder can feel miserable. It may give you a temporary “high” or feeling of “comfort,” however in the long run, it only leads to increased anxiety and unhappiness.
Maybe part of you is scared or unsure if you even want to let go of your eating disorder. This is entirely normal. However, you’ve been doing things the same way and continuing to have the same result. What if you tried something different? If you find that you hate your life in recovery, you can always go back to your eating disorder. However, once recovered, I don’t think that you will want to.
Ultimately, you deserve a life that is free from constant thoughts about food and your body.
Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LCSW-C: is an eating disorder therapist in private practice in Rockville, Maryland. Jennifer specializes in helping teens and adults struggling with anorexia, binge eating disorder, bulimia, compulsive exercise, and body image issues. Jennifer provides eating disorder therapy in Rockville, MD. Connect with Jennifer through her website: www.jenniferrollin.com
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.