Conversations about battling, beating and living with eating disorders have featured prominently on Liveline this week. One voice that’s seldom heard is that of male sufferers. 36-year old Emmet spoke to Joe Duffy on Thursday about his experiences living with anorexia aligned with orthorexia. Emmet told Joe he was happy the topic was being aired, as it affects so many more people than the individual:
“I’m so immensely proud of everyone who has spoken on the radio this week and spoken on behalf of people with eating disorders, their families and everyone because it’s a demon, it’s a demon that takes over everyone. You think of those 200,000 those people in the country suffering from an eating disorder and then multiply that by four, when you think of all their families, that’s the amount of people it affects.”
Emmet says he was eager to dispel any illusions that men were not just impacted as family members, but also as sufferers. He says starting out, it was difficult to tackle the condition with no direct role models:
“The stereotype that’s there is the female; the young female, the young teen boy maybe. I’m 36 years old, I’m heterosexual. When I developed my eating disorder and I went looking for information, I couldn’t find anything that related to me. I couldn’t find any relatable story, any relatable person out there. It was a very lonely place.”
He told Joe the onset of the illness was a bit of a shock for him:
“It was something that too me completely by surprise, I’ve never had issues with food before, I never had any sort of dieting culture or anything like that.”
Emmet lost about one third of his body weight and finding help was a bit of a battle. Eventually he got a diagnosis of anorexia with orthorexia, which he describes as “extreme fear of what goes into your food”. Emmet says he’s still in treatment. He spent 3 months in a residential facililty, finishing up 3 months ago and that was very succesful, he says. Emmet told Joe he now has weekly therapy sessions, group meetings and regular input from a dietician. His message is ultimately a hopeful one. Emmet wants to let other male sufferers know they are not alone:
“I just want to speak out for the other males who are there in the country that maybe feel like they can’t speak and to tell them don’t be afraid, no matter what age you are, don’t be afraid and don’t give up.”
You can listen back to Emmet’s chat with Joe Duffy on Liveline in the full interview here.
If you have been affected, contact Bodywhys (@bodywhys) Helpline 01 210 7906 or email@example.com.
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