December 31st, 2011

2011, A good year for male eating disorder sufferers?

2011 has been a whirlwind year for me, Men Get Eating Disorders Too and of course my colleagues and I think this year we have seen some brilliant recognition of not only the charity but also the very reason we exist. While we still have a long way to go in what we do and what we want to achieve as it is the last day of 2011 I thought it would be a good idea to recap what has gone on!

First off at MGEDT we released our first ever national leaflet and poster campaign which was distributed around the UK to healthcare professionals, voluntary organisations and distributed heavily at events and conferences we attended throughout the year. This was shortly followed by our first ever national conference to address the issue of men and eating disorders, which featured some of our supporters, professionals and staff from the charity. We also had some good media coverage this year, including appearances live on national television, national and local radio, print and online articles and various blogs and guest columns.

Possibly the biggest achievement this year was the launch of our first ever live support chat sessions, the only sessions of their kind worldwide to offer specific support to men with eating disorders. This pilot session will continue to run into early 2012 but I personally feel it has been a massive success, giving men the opportunity to speak out about their issues in a safe environment, easing the isolation they have as a result of their issues.

Personally, I have had some fantastic experiences this year, from media appearances to challenges with Sarah, all the way to sitting on a research panel for Oxford University and the Men’s Health steering group. If anything it proves that the issues of eating disorders and body image in men are starting to be taken seriously, with more organisations and bodies realising the need to have representation of these issues, which is a big step in the world of men’s health.

It has also been a fantastic year for press, with several high profile research studies and figure releases highlighting the very need for increased service provision, better awareness and more support availability, both peer and professional.

In July 2011, the Royal College of General Practitioners released figures showing a 66% rise in the number of men being admitted for the treatment of eating disorders in the UK, urging GP’s to be more aware of the symptoms of eating disorders in men.

In August 2011 another set of statistics were released regarding the rise in eating disorder cases in young people, including a large amount of boys. This again led to national scale publicity in most major publications, radio and television.

In September 2011 there was a slightly different release which was all about the rise in weight loss surgery in young people, including a large amount of men. This was a good release as it is important to recognise that eating disorders are not necessarily restrictive but lesser known disorders such as binge and compulsive eating can cause just as many problems for sufferers and yet are not seen in the same light in restricting disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.

A lot of other stuff went on too, including the UK’s first ever fat talk free week, a highlight of self-harm in young people and a lot of focus on the effects of bullying to the mental health of all young people. We also saw really busy periods in both men’s health week and eating disorders awareness week. So much more happened in what I think has been our biggest and busiest year yet, but I have concentrated on some of the really key points here.

Undoubtedly, we still have a long way to go to make sure the appropriate recognition is given to male body image, eating disorders and mental health as a whole, but I would like to think that in 2011 we made a very good start. We have lots of stuff going on in 2012 to make sure that eating disorders and men’s mental health will remain firmly on the agenda and hopefully go that extra mile, building on what we have achieved this year. I would personally like to get out to more universities, deliver more training to professionals and stay on the media train to get our message out there.

All that is really left to do is thank everyone that has supported our campaigns, told their stories and contributed to the massive successes this year. It has been a good year for our cause, we have a long way to go still, but all in all, I think we made a good deal of progress.

Until 2012!


October 20th, 2011

A story on Anorexia and Fat Talk, submitted to me by the wonderful Emma!

So Fat Talk Free week is in full swing and I have a bit of an unannounced treat for you all! A lovely lady got in touch today and said she would like to write something on the subject, so instead of me going on, I would like to introduce you to the wonderful Emma who has written about her experiences of Fat Talk & Anorexia.

Emma – Anorexia & Fat Talk

A dangerous spiral comes into action in that you lose weight which leads to you receiving compliments. Your work has been noticed so you then think you have met the bar of competitiveness, you need to maintain the positive attention you are receiving so you continue exercising and restricting.

Your appearance becomes normal, causing people to stop commenting, you feel as if you have lost your ‘special skills’ so you think you have let yourself down and you cannot compare to others around you. This means you continue to work out, eat less and loose weight to have that buzz which you previously received.

With each compliment you are made to believe the idea that you have been accepted and have met the high standards of competiveness around you. In fact, you are sinking lower and lower accepting the fat voice as your own.

Fat talk effects me in the respect that when I feel down, sad or tired I focus more on myself and less on my surroundings. I find it hard to share my feelings to the outside world so all of my problems and issues circle inside. Everything is internalized and I cannot escape. When this happens I find that I highlight all of my flaws and issues causing a doubting voice to emerge. The doubting voice takes over and means that I do not believe I can do anything, I do not believe I am good enough. This feeling of inferiority causes the fat voice to emerge meaning that I believe I am fat and cannot compare my body image to anyone else’s. When this gets started it doesn’t stop. The fat chants go round and round in my head making me feel worse and more inferior, causing there to be an even larger decline in my mood. I go more internal and this means that I keep all of my feelings locked up in a cage inside. 

The only way that I get through these dark times is with the belief that it will pass. Soon the bad feelings will be over. I have to push through, continue with my eating plan, keep myself busy and surround myself with people who make me feel good and appreciate me for who I am. These factors all make up for the bad feelings on the inside.

Before you can rid yourself of fat talk you need to work on the idea that not all of what you see is truth. I know as much as anyone how hard it is! But the media doesn’t always tell us the whole story or the truth. Images of slim models can be manipulated in a way which makes them more attractive and slimmer, teachers can make you feel inferior and not worthy of their praise, people surrounding you may not appreciate you for the beautiful person you are and the skills you have, as an individual you may not be accepted for who you are or you may have lost your way with education, relationships or work. When these things occur you have to remember you are a worthy and lovely person who deserves every piece of praise for persistently trying your best. Don’t feel disheartened if you do not feel accepted, it is because the people around you are too judgmental, don’t sink to their level and return the hostility. There will be plenty of people around you who will accept you, and love you for who you are and the qualities you possess. Don’t waste your time with doubters and haters.

Finally just be happy to be you because you are an individual, you are beautiful; you have everything to live for! Have courage and be strong.

Keep Smiling

Thank you Emma! What do you think about Fat Talk? How does it affect you? 

September 9th, 2011

Eating disorders are serious and complex conditions, affecting people of any age and gender, with the condition Anorexia Nervosa carrying the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

I recently wrote for Mental Healthy articles about the rise of eating disorders in men and the rise of young people being admitted to hospital for eating disorders and yet despite these alarming figures there is still a distinct lack of research in the area of men and the experiences of young people.

Read more via the link

August 19th, 2011

I had been given a copy of ‘Becoming John’ by its author, John Evans so we thought it would be a wonderful idea to give you all a taster on the website, well my opinion on it anyway!

The title I chose for the review is actually from the first chapter of the book, which struck me when I first read it. I have never heard that phrase used before, which kind of spells out what a lot of people feel about recovery.

Read all my review via the link to the MGEDT website.

August 1st, 2011

"Today, the NHS has released figures showing a worrying trend in the number of young people receiving treatment from the NHS for eating disorders.

The figures indicate that in the last three years 98 children between the ages of five and seven were admitted to hospitals due to disordered eating, alongside 99 aged eight and nine and almost 400 between ten and twelve.

Also around 1,500 teenagers between thirteen and fifteen have been hospitalised for severe disordered eating in the same period.”

Read more and my opinions via the link.