By Anonymous

Eating disorders don’t affect men. They are for girls. Right? Until recently I thought likewise.  Truth is, I’d probably think so too, had I not recently been awarded my Blue Peter anorexia badge.

I’m hesitant to use the phrase rock bottom, I’m one of the lucky ones.  I can lean on a wonderful network of friends and family, people who have supported me through thick and thin (literally). I had a cracking new job to fight for – and the benefit of private medical care.  Most aren’t that lucky.  Nevertheless, I dipped pretty low. As low as I’ve ever been. Lower than I ever want to go again.  I did a stint in the Priory. A dystopian and terrifying place, while at the same time eye opening and highly beneficial. But that’s another story for another day.

I also lost the love of my life. There’s still a chance we may one day be together again. But not until I am better and in a good place. Not until she’s had time to recover.  The most heartbreaking thing, the thing that keeps me awake at night, is that I just couldn’t see it until it was too late.  I just couldn’t see the hurt I was causing.  I couldn’t see how I was withdrawing from society or the misery I was bringing to those around me.  I couldn’t see how my relationships with people I loved and cared for were breaking. It took losing it all for my eyes to open.

It seems so simple now. Laughably so. Despite being advised on countless occasions by so many medical professionals, I honestly believed that they were all wrong.  I was right. I was healthy. I was just losing weight and getting fit -what’s wrong with that?  It enraged me that I was in the best nick of my life, putting everything into my body shape and sacrificing all that is bad, and all people would say is, “you’ve lost weight…you look too thin”.  My body was a temple. Everyone else had the problem.

Image: Demeter Attila (the author is not pictured above)

I didn’t know it at the time but the more deprived my body, the more I wanted to be on my own.  I didn’t want to interact with people.  Everything had to be exactly as I had planned.  I wanted to run and run and run some despite my body crying out that it couldn’t take it.  Thrice daily trips to the gym would be followed by a slow walk home, unable to muster the energy to get from A to B.  An hour on the treadmill and then I’d go to the supermarket just looking at food. Picking it up, checking the labels and then putting it back.  Then off to at M&S; then Tesco.  Day after day; time after time before ultimately settling on my pre-arranged mountain of broccoli and cauliflower.  There were rules and they couldn’t be broken. If there was a chance I would be put in a situation I couldn’t control, I’d spend the day fretting.

I turned down social invites for fear of food and eventually, the invitations dried up. That was a good thing – it saved the fretting.  There was no sense to my rules either. If the food was not okay, heaven forbid anyone who tried to get me to eat it.  Gradually I cut out more and more – it was a sort of game. A game I had to win.

When I was fit, strong, healthy and eating what I wanted, I was happy. I laughed. I could be spontaneous. I had friends. I could love. I could relax. I could think straight. I could enjoy a bit of cake or a plate of curry. I could drink cider in the park. I enjoyed being in the company of others.  That all went. I was no good to anyone.  I managed to hide it to such an extent that the entire burden fell on the person I care for more than anything on this earth. She was a rock. She was amazing. She tried to warn me. I fought it off. There was nothing to see here. All was well. I was just under pressure and could snap out of it whenever I wanted. It was just that time hadn’t come yet. But the excuses kept coming. Something had to give.

At my worst I would spend an hour on a treadmill and then deny myself an apple for fear of the sugar.  I’d walk for hours in a sort of daze – I didn’t want to do myself damage – but I would cross the road knowing that I would be helpless if I had to get out of the way.  Once a target weight was reached, i’d push a little further. First I cut carbs completely. Then I tried a high fat diet, but then I cut fat entirely.  I trekked in the mountains for four days living off tomatoes and lettuce. The rest of the group laughed and talked. I couldn’t join in, even though I wanted to. I was terrified that if I did, I’d come back from holiday having gained a pound or two and that simply couldn’t happen.

After my relationship ended, I thought for a while and decided I wouldn’t go into treatment.  I thought I could still snap out of it when I started my new job and after all, I would be much better off saving the £200 health insurance premium.  This was even after seeing a consultant psychiatrist and being warned I was very ill.  Then I went back to the flat I’d previously lived in and suddenly my eyes were open. What had I done? Where had I gone? Who had I become? Like a dementor, I had sucked all the joy and laughter out of life and replaced it with nothing but misery. That’s when I checked into The Priory.

Zayn Malik has recently opened up about his experience of an eating disorder

And now?

Thing aren’t fixed,  they never will be.  Like alcoholism it will never go away completely. And I don’t want it to. That reminder is needed to keep me on the straight and narrow. There are good days and there are bad ones.   Trying to still eat and not running myself into the ground isn’t easy but I will get there. I have to rebuild my life for myself first and foremost.  I still often doubt myself. Do I want to go to the gym, or is it the illness? Am I really full, or is it the anorexia?  I can’t describe how that feels. No one should have to go through it, and I hope to god you don’t.  I don’t have the answers and I never will, anyone who tells you they do have an answer is a liar. There isn’t a quick fix, recovery takes time and willing and we all have it within us.

For what it is worth, my advice would be to keep busy and keep talking. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to be able to talk openly, you realise that people are understanding and people care more than you think.  My family is closer than ever. I am rebuilding friendships all the time. These days, if I am down, I pick up the phone and I’d recommend that you do the same.  There’s no shame in crying and not you, nor I can help being ill. In time, I have wrestled back to rationality and logic and although it doesn’t stop the guilt, I take comfort in it.

It’s like the old saying, “we can get better because we’re not dead yet.”  Whoever said that’s got a point, you know.



  1. January 10, 2017 / 10:49 am

    Well done for talking openly about your eating disorder. This is an important step towards your recovery. You’re doing very well! Keep it up!

  2. Uncle N.
    January 13, 2017 / 12:01 pm

    You have crossed the Rubicon.
    Life starts afresh.
    You will be the stronger for this.
    Your return to happiness has commenced.
    Live life to the full, we pass this way but once.

  3. Ian
    January 16, 2017 / 1:31 pm

    Good luck mate- you can’t ever be fixed, but you can get better. x

  4. Beth
    October 25, 2017 / 8:25 pm

    Thank you for the article, anonymous guy. I really appreciate your openness and I wish you all the best. I even cried because I could relate so much. My partner is still here but he says he went through hell during the last months while I was in the hospital, unable to leave. If he hadn’t been able to take it, I would have understood him. Or, I would now, at least. I really hope you and your SO get back together if that’s what you hope. Realising someone likes you unconditionally, no matter how low or high your weight is, how fit you are and look, how healthy your vitals are, how much you live up to society’s expectations.

    My partner still is going to hell, because I decided to not lie anymore, talk about my thoughts. And, oh boy, how I talk. I talk a lot. He is absolutely puzzled and shocked to see (or, rather: hear) about how much I can worry my brain about when it’s okay to use diet products or eat something “healthy” or low sugar, or do all the low carb stuff or “stand” hunger because your next meal is only 10 minutes away, and when it’s okay to work out to get fit and enjoy sports or take the stairs on a daily basis, or whether it is “more right” to count macros or calories like the self-optimizing people around you do…and when it marks the beginning of a relapse. I can’t stop brooding about stuff like that because it’s everywhere. There are gyms everywhere, there are diet promotions everywhere, and when I go shopping, there are different fat percentage versions of the same product everywhere. The thoughts just whoosh through my brain when I see or hear something about these topics or am faced with the decision whether to buy a diet coke or a “normal” one when standing in front of the vending machine. My partner says he feels sorry for me because he just kind of doesn’t understand how one can think about such boring stuff over and over again.

    Aaand this (kind of part of my problem mentioned above):
    “Trying to still eat and not running myself into the ground isn’t easy but I will get there. I have to rebuild my life for myself first and foremost. I still often doubt myself. Do I want to go to the gym, or is it the illness? Am I really full, or is it the anorexia? I can’t describe how that feels. No one should have to go through it, and I hope to god you don’t.”

    This. This. This.
    Like I said. The rumination about when things related to your body, diet, or physical activity are “okay” and when they are ed.
    Despite being weight restored, despite still gaining back to my old, definitely-not-skinny self. I look absolutely normal and noone would judge me for buying something low in calories because I don’t “look” like having an ed anymore, so it is entirely up to myself to judge.

    I sometimes feel like a rabbit caught in the headlights.
    The illness is my thinking patterns. It’s not about food, it’s about the way you think, your automatic patterns. Even if I’m aware of them, I can’t really think of other ways of thinking. To me, it feels like imagining a color I have never seen before.
    I had them before the onset of my anorexia (late, I was already well into my twenties), and while I’m feeling some changes for the better (“wait, so that’s what…empathy feels like?”, “wow, I can actually sometimes feel that it’s me who is responsible for my well-being”, “I am me. I don’t exist only by being seen and judged by others”, “I can’t procrastinate living due to my fear of facing my true limits”), it is so hard to…I don’t know what. Let go of them. Do I truly want that? What will be left of myself? How do other people relate to life? When is it a disorder? If it’s the mindset that determines the difference between a diet, a fitness lifestyle and an ED, what is “wrong” with my mindset and how should I fix it in spite of learning that I’m okay and that there is no right and wrong, that ‘I don’t need to fix myself’?…sigh.

    Wow, that had to get out. I feel a lot better now (and yes, I’m seeing a psychologist for CBT on a regular basis 😉 ). I wish every single one of you all the best (and lots of yummy chocolate 🙂 ).

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