This Is What An Eating Disorder Looks Like In A 25 Year Old Man

what an eating disorder looks like
what an eating disorder looks like

Daily Blog #359

I have always been hesitant to go in-depth with talking about my eating disorder. Aside from my depression, it is the battle that I struggle the most with. In fact, I would be willing to go as far as to say that it is worse than my depression simply because it’s the battle that I still struggle with the most to this very day.

The reason that I am sharing what it is that I am about to share is to encourage others. We are never alone in our struggles, and while we are going to encounter many gruelling obstacles in life, we are stronger than any of them.

This is what an eating disorder looks like in a 25-year-old man.

At first, it was easy. It was easy to start replacing all good tasting foods with vegetables because I didn’t mind vegetables in the first place. My daily menu usually consisted of a fruit smoothie for breakfast, a big salad for lunch, and meat with some veggies for dinner. Rarely would I eat processed carbs, and never would I treat myself with dessert.

Shortly after, though, my weight was starting to plateau. It wasn’t coming off nearly as easily as it once had, so I decided to go to extreme measures. To compensate for the plateau, I started to skip means and would pride myself on going to bed with a growling and empty stomach.

The best way that I could describe it, eating became like a job to me. I wouldn’t go anywhere without pre-planning my meals, would never eat out if the restaurant didn’t have nutrition information online, and I would never go out with friends because I knew that I wouldn’t be in control.

Every bit of my spare time was spent repeatedly counting my calories over and over again in my head. Some days, I thought that my brain was going to explode from how many times I repeated this process, and if I’m being honest, I honestly don’t know how it didn’t.

My life was focused on dieting and exercising.

There was very little adventure, few memories were being made, and the hell if I would ever eat something that were to put me over my caloric intake for the day. That is, of course, unless I were to binge.

Binging to me was worse than not eating at all. Every holiday feast, every buffet, every meal I would have to try and find the strength to tell myself to stop. Again, since we’re being honest here, I still have to do this.

Every time that I go to a buffet, I ask my parents for help. Help in telling me to slow down, help in controlling how much I eat and help in getting me to stop when they can tell I am getting uncomfortable. As a 25-year-old, it sometimes feels as if I am a baby again and my parents are having to feed me.

Family dinners? Same thing. Except for this time, it’s my sister helping me. There have been a few times where she has tried to distract me just so I won’t continue to stuff my face.

With binging, you lose all sense of self-control. You prevent yourself from eating certain foods for so long that the minute you taste something good, your brain goes crazy and all you want is more. Once you are done, you can’t move, and you feel like a physical and emotional piece of trash. At least I did.

This is how I felt on my niece’s third birthday party. We celebrated with a buffet of all her favorite foods and sweets.  It started out fine because I hadn’t had anything to eat all day knowing that I was going to have a lot of “junk food” later on in the day, but once I saw the food, something in my head went off.

I lost all control. I had two plates of food, and then my sweet tooth kicked in. Chocolate, Rice Krispies, M&M’s, everything that was there, I ate. This was before everyone sang happy birthday and cut her cake. Well, everyone but me.

While everyone was upstairs singing happy birthday to my three-year-old niece, I was in the basement throwing up in the toilet. I had so much food that I had made myself sick. And the sad part is that once I puked it all up, I felt as if all of the bad food was out of my body. After a short time, I went upstairs, grabbed some more food, and repeated the process of eating and vomiting.

Side note, I have never told anyone this story before, and to be honest, it feels somewhat liberating.

This was the first time that I had ever made myself puke from food, and at that point, I felt like I had reached a new all-time low. But what I didn’t know is that this day would be just the beginning.

For months after this, I would often find myself kneeling next to a toilet after eating just to make myself sick so that I would “feel better” about myself. Once I realized how easy it was for me, I started eating normal foods again knowing that if I were to overdo it, then at least I had an escape route.

My eating disorder is something that still impacts me to this very day.

For the last five years of my life, I have been battling with my eating disorder daily. I’m proud to say that it is not nearly as bad as it once was, but it does still impact my life significantly.

There are meals where I think about vomiting, times when I stay at home from eating out with family or friends because I fear of the food that I would potentially eat, and memories that I miss out on because I stay confined to my pattern. Eating certain foods trigger certain thoughts, and there are times when I feel full, that I will question if I am going to binge or not. Sometimes I even do.

Part of me believes that my eating disorder will always be in the back of my mind, but only time will tell. All I can say, though, is that this is my life, and I am going to live it.

Who knows if I will ever be back to “normal.” But I also don’t want to be normal anymore. Instead, I want to be different because being different means that I am being me. Well that, and because striving to be normal is what helped to largely contribute to my eating disorder in the first place.

But I also don’t want to be normal anymore. Instead, I want to be different because being different means that I am being me. Well that, and because striving to be normal is what helped to largely contribute to my eating disorder in the first place.

If I experience negative thoughts towards food, that’s fine. I know my strength, and I know that I have to power and strength to prevent these thoughts from controlling my life any further. So from here on out, while every day will bring new challenges, it’s only onwards and upwards.

The point is, we are all different.

We all have our strengths, and we all have our weaknesses. One of my weaknesses is my eating disorder. I’m strong enough to admit that, and it is because of that strength to which I know that I will overcome it. I may be 25 years old, I may be a male, but I also know that this is my life, and I am going to live it to the fullest.

Michael Bonnell

4/24/2019

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