Monday, April 21, 2008

Males and eating disorders

In the current British Medical Journal, there is an article about a young male medical student, Daniel Samuel, and his anorexia. Apparently, his wake up call that he was anorexic was when he went into an ED clinic on one of his medical rotations. There, he realized he had a problem, writing "I entered a room full of human mirrors of my bony form. I felt the pain they were suffering-the pain I was suffering." The first 150 words of his essay can be read here.

This is unrelated but really spoke to me. In another article I read about this Dr., he said,
“The perfectionism associated with anorexia nervosa made me focus on my work more and more, and the drive to succeed in medical school isolated me: medical books and patients were my only friends." Sometimes I think this is a core issue for me in terms of academics. That was exactly what happened to me in my college years. I think it's still a fear I hold and one thing that hold me back from pursuing higher education. It's something I need to think about more.

Anyway, going back to males and eating disorders. I think it is important for men to speak about their eating disorders.
Males and eating disorders is still not a subject that is brought up frequently, though there have been more men sharing their experiences within the past few years. Just recently, former Prime Minister John Prescott of the UK admitted to suffering with bulimia for years. By speaking out, he lets go of the shame that is often seen with bulimia.

Last year, male model Ron Saxen wrote a book called The Good Eater about his own struggle with Binge Eating Disorder. I have not read the book, but I did hear him in an interview. His story was heart wrenching but amazing that he was able to get to where he is today. I think people could relate to him and hopefully it opened more dialogue for others. There are other males who have also written books about their struggles. Hopefully, by educating, reading, and speaking about these illnesses, there will be less stigmatization by all whether an individual is male or female. After all, eating disorders do not discriminate.

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