Consider Eating Disorders in Men

[Gentle music]>>One of the reasons I was reluctant to seek help was because I thought I’d be judged, I guess society had made it a…a feminine illness.>>I think what GPs need to know…or understand…is it’s not gender specific…>>And it…it is not about control… that’s my own personal perception…it’s about security… …your eating disorder is body armour.>>Well, you know, if you know somebody’s doing a lot of exercise…maybe that’s… …consider it could be an eating disorder, that it might not just be… “oh my god that’s amazing you’re doing loads of exercise you’re so healthy”.>>Often what I wanted in the early stages of seeking help is for it to be accepted, to be known about, for it to be in the room. I want first and foremost to be listened to…somebody to just hold the space… be empathetic…not to feel like I’m being judged.>>From my experience, it can be very frightening to expose the thing that you might be very ashamed of. If someone’s gonna…suddenly snatch it off you… … or try to remove that way of coping that can be very threatening.>>For that GP it’s ten minutes of their day but for that patient that’s weeks… …months…potentially even years of thinking about this.>>Depression’s what I went in for… …so it was the crisis point of the depression that got me to go.>>My eating was a total mess. I was beginning have severe gastrointestinal problems. I was having heart palpitations…but…I looked bloody fabulous, so my GP was like… “Oh you’ll be fine”.>>You already feel terrible about it… …but one of the things that was really helpful was when my GP just said… “I’m worried about you”. She would ask how I felt about “this procedure?” or “that treatment?” That sent a really powerful, empowering message to me. “You’re part of the decision-making here… …I’m not going to force you to do anything”.>>What was difficult for my GP to understand, was the eating disorder was fulfilling a…function, so to then suddenly have to deal with it was…terrifying.>>Somehow you think that if you ask for help, that proves you’re a failure.>>My GP was great…she really knew the local charities, and was like “In the meantime, whilst you’re waiting on a referral, here’s some groups that can help you”. And she’s really empathetic… she would always make sure… I knew when she was working and…like…so…that…I could book appointments with her… …as opposed to having to repeat it to someone new every time.>>A GP once said to me “I’m not exactly sure who we should be referring you to.” “I’m gonna have to ask one of my colleagues and I can get back to you”. And that honesty was great.>>It’s a complicated process…there’s no easy fix… and no two people are the same. I think that’s important. We don’t all fit into one box.>>My GP knew it was nothing to do with food…but…me…as a person.>>I think giving hope helps. Instead of saying you’re going to take the eating disorder away… saying we can give you your attention span back…your love of life back… …intellect back, fun back, your personality, your relationship with yourself, with others… All of these positive things, rather than taking away stuff. [Gentle music]

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