Can Men With Eating Disorders Overcome the Stigma to Receive the Help They Need?
When someone mentions the words eating disorder, most people’s minds flash right to a skinny girl hovered over a toilet or exercising too much. They may even think of a chubby girl eating her feelings away. The main point it that it is always a female struggling with an eating disorder, not a male. Men with eating disorders is a real thing. There is a huge stigma that an eating disorder is a female disorder, that men with eating disorders simply do not exist.
This assumption could not be further from the truth. Men suffer from eating disorders just like females. This stigma of an eating disorder being a female disorder has held many men with eating disorders back from receiving the help they need. On top of the guilt and shame they feel from the disorder itself, men are faced with even more guilt and shame from the stigma that only females suffer from this disorder. This hinders men with eating disorders from admitting they have a problem and need help.
Antony Harvey who writes for â€œThe Mightyâ€ has come forward with this issue, because he suffers from an eating disorder and wants to smash this daunting stigma. Harvey explains, â€œI began purging what I ate when I was 16 as a useful means of keeping my weight down after a large meal.â€ He continues, â€œSince then itâ€™s become an uncontrollable monster. When I get the urge to binge, nothing can satisfy me until I feel the walls of my stomach stretched almost to breaking point.â€
Harvey explains his reasoning, â€œPurging is a necessary evil, almost a luxury that enables the binge to take place without affecting my waistline. In the moment of the purge, I feel a rush of satisfaction.â€ Harvey continues to explain the emotion behind it, â€œIâ€™ve beaten the system and gotten away with it â€” well done, me! Then Iâ€™m overcome by emptiness, regret, and shame.â€ Harvey also explains his process of binging and purging, â€œLater, I get tired and crave sugary food. Sometimes Iâ€™ll have a smaller secondary binge and purge on chocolate.â€
Harvey also explains how he feels when he walks into a fast food restaurant, â€œIâ€™ve been in a state of frenzy since I walked through the doors and the smell of oil and fat hit my nostrils.â€ Harvey continues, â€œI know what Iâ€™m doing is going to hurt me, but I donâ€™t care. I want to hurt. I want to eat until Iâ€™m stuffed. Itâ€™s a compulsion. Iâ€™m an addict scoring a fix.â€
Harvey hits the stigma right on the head stating, â€œLike many men, I refused to accept I had an eating disorder for a long time. I have always enjoyed food, and my weight has yo-yoed over the years.â€ Harvey continues, â€œIâ€™m 35 now and have only really been comfortable using the word â€œbulimiaâ€ for a year or two.â€ An eating disorder is very serious and anyone suffering from it should seek help without feeling guilty or shameful. Call us now to receive the help you or a loved one needs.