Brian: I had such a strange tingling feeling all over that I bought another bag of chips, then another, then another...
I'm a 42 year old man, six feet one tall and I live in the bedsit-land area in Birmingham called Moseley.
I am the youngest of 8 kids (5 brothers 2 sisters) and was doted on by my mum. I caught pneumonia when I was four and I had to be put in a ventilator, so my mum became even more clingy and protective, this turned me into a fat schoolboy.
By the time I was 13 I was 12 stone and had to shop for men's trousers, as 38" waists were not available in kids sizes.
I was bullied a lot, but not too much as my brother was in the next year up from me and was a bit of a tough nut. I managed to drift my way through school, but left at 16 because I hated it and went to work at a DIY Centre
By this time I was 16 stone but put on a happy face, as you do.
Gradually without knowing it I began to lose weight through working, heavy lifting and dashing about. This was in 1981. I was meeting new people, workmates and going to parties and people were saying how good I looked weight-wise.
It gave me such a buzz that I gradually cut out more and more and my weight went down to 11 stone, then 10.
Even at 10, the compliments kept coming, so the weight continued to fall off me: 9 stone, then 8. By this time I was looking gaunt and ill and found work hard. I went to see a GP but all he did was prescribe anti-depressants and told me to eat more.
Not surprisingly I continued to lose weight until I collapsed at work and had to be taken to hospital by ambulance. In hospital they tested me for AIDs. I was put on the tropical disease ward and saw a dietitian the next day. I suppose this was my first brush with anorexia although at the time I was not aware that the next one, in 1997, would almost kill me.
After I was discharged from hospital I went on holiday to Blackpool with the family. On the sea front my sister dared me to try a chip, well when I did I had such a strange tingling feeling all over that I bought another bag of chips, then another, then another.
It terrified me being so out of control, that was when I started binging and then vomiting, but even then my weight, to my horror, still crept up to 13 stone.
I was so depressed about the comments from my workmates that I quit my job. I recall a till girl saying 'oh Brian, you lost all that, now you're spoiling it'.
The next two years were spent in a haze of binging, vomiting, handfuls of laxatives: I recall eating a whole loaf, butter, jam, crisps and chocolate biscuits spread with butter. Two suicide attempts and a short spell in hospital later I managed to slowly ease myself off binging. I
n 1983 I bought my own flat and left home. By then my weight was pretty stable I had a job in a care home and was an out gay man.
However in January 1996 my mum (age 77) caught Salmonella and was dead in a week - I recall the people going round her house with swabs testing all the food. Soon after in February my dad went to hospital for piles where they found he was riddled with cancer - he was dead in 2 days. A double blow.
I started to worry about food again and the idea of all that infected food at my mums repulsed me. I cut down dramatically and by August 1996 I was down to 8 stone and living on black coffee and fruit.
My sister (a nurse) noticed something was wrong and made a G.P appointment. My elderly GP in his sixties just prescribed Diazepam and prozac. My partner at the time who I met in 1990 also noticed my loss, but it fell on deaf ears. Finally my sister reported me to the local mental health team in Jan 1997 and they assigned a nurse to me who weighed me. This time I was 6 stone 8 and he said I should go into hospital.
At first I refused, then both he and a social worker said I was to be sectioned, so I went in thinking it would be just 4 or 5 weeks out of my life. When I was admitted I weighed 6 stone 5 (BMI 10).
THE UNIT WAS ME AND 9 GIRLS but none of the therapy related to me at all: I never wanted my periods to stop and stay a little girl, I never wanted to be a supermodel.
In the first 2 weeks I actually came down to 6 stone 2 as they were feeding me the same size portions as the girls. They had to adapt for me as I was the first and only man they ever had in there.
Well, in August 1997 I was discharged weighing 9 stone 7 on the condition that I saw my nurse weekly to get weighed. I maintained my weight till I was discharged from all the services but then another disaster struck.
Our 13 year old cat had to be put to sleep and neither my partner, Nick, nor I could eat for days. I remembered how much I loved the buzz of staving myself.
Now in 2005 I weigh 8 stone (BMI 14.7). I suffer from osteoporosis and have lost 30% of my heart muscle as my body started to eat my heart for fuel during my low weight days. I find it a struggle, I am on 3 build-up drinks a day and just about manage to maintain my weight. My new GP is fab; he is the same age as me and we have long chats. I've also lost all my top teeth and have dentures. My GP said 'Anorexia is just a box you put all the rubbish of your life in'.
I plod on, I can't work, I still fear food and worry about eating daily. I would've found it very helpful to talk to another man with Anorexia to see how they coped but I couldn't find one. I urge any man who's in my situation to get help don't be afraid. Male eating disorders do exist, you just don't hear about them. I hope this will help someone.
Page created on June 2nd, 2005
Page updated on December 18th, 2009