Got this email from JulietEcho in response to my last post about my struggles with anorexia. It was touching, so you get it too.
I’ll admit, I’m not a regular reader of your blog, but I’m vaguely familiar with you from Friendly Atheist mentions and from Blag Hag. When Jen mentioned in her post that you struggle with anorexia, I went to check out your posts on that topic.
I just want to thank you for sharing that – especially because you’re a guy. I’ve had anorexia/ED-NOS for eleven years now. It hit me when I was fourteen and my parents did all the wrong things, and it just took a long time for me to find the help I needed. The first time I was hospitalized, I became close with two teen guys on the ward who were also struggling with eating disorders. I was surprised by their experiences, and ever since then, I’ve been much more aware of the pressure society places on men as well as women.
When I attended college, there was a student in my year who was clearly anorexic. He was extremely thin, and the only times I saw him eat in the cafeteria, he was eating vegetables. There were many times during the four years at college when I thought about approaching him and offering support, but I always came up with an excuse. I was suffering my own relapse during my senior year, and I was still adjusting during my freshman year. I wasn’t sure if it would hurt more than help if I introduced myself into his life.
He died two years after graduation from his illness. I wonder how many other people didn’t approach him because they didn’t connect “eating disorder” with “male” or because they were afraid of offending him. Maybe he had plenty of support that I was unaware of, and it couldn’t save him. Still, I regret never introducing myself. No matter how many people who know, having an eating disorder is still lonely. It’s always there, ready to make any meal a difficult task or any glance in the mirror set off a panic attack. I’ve maintained a healthy weight for a few years now, but there are still times when I go to the kitchen for some lunch and end up sitting on the floor, crying, because it’s so hard.
Anyway, I hope you have a great support system, and you can always email me if you want to commiserate or share coping skills. I really respect your public honestly about your experiences, and I hope that it leads more guys to seek help, rather than avoid it out of embarrassment.