Not Just a Woman’s Issue: Charles’s Battle with an Eating Disorder, Part II
This two-part article was written exclusively for EatingDisordersOnline.com by Charles Friedman, creator of the blog Every Bodies Beautiful Image. In this article, Charles talks about his struggles with depression, ADHD and an eating disorder as well as how his son has made a positive impact on his life.
I was put in a group home because my parents didn't want me living at their house anymore. I was also declared incompetent to work by the state. I sat on the foot of the bed they gave me and decided no, this is not what I deserve; this is not how I am supposed to end up. Somehow from somewhere inside me came strength. When I was in the hospital I met a lot of people my age that had been through far worse than I had and they survived. They still fought for their lives, they didn't give up. From them I learned that I didn't have to accept a future that others determine for me, that I was strong enough to fight and to work for the life I want. And so that night while everyone slept I left the group home with some people I met in the hospital and stayed with them.
One of the people I had met convinced me to call my parents and let them know that I was alive. I did they begged me to come home and after a few days I did. By now I was 20. I was collecting assistance from the state as according to them I was incompetent to work. I started working for an uncle as a wholesale food distributor. I worked for him for ten years and everyday was verbally abused by him. I wasn't allowed to talk.
Things Got Better But My Psychological Issues Were Still There
During my tenure there I worked on my goal of building a life for myself. I met the woman who eventually I would marry in 1994. I became a volunteer firefighter and an EMT. I became a CPR instructor and I was certified to teach others to teach CPR. I got a job as a professional EMT and stopped working for my uncle. I also cancelled the state assistance as I didn't want it anymore. I was finally winning, but my psychological problems were still there and an on the job outburst cost me my job. I found another EMT job closer to home and the same thing happened so I went back to working for my uncle for another two years. My cousins stopped looking at me as a cousin and started seeing me as an employee, our relationship has since completely dissolved.
The Eating Disorder Returned
By 2003 I was married and I got a job selling mattresses and became quite successful and for the first time in my life I felt good about myself. I went back to college and finished a 4 year degree in 3 years. I began to see myself as a decent, caring, intelligent individual. I had accomplished what no one else ever had. I healed myself, or so I thought. My ADHD was still there and the manifestations strained my marriage. My "strange" behavior kept me from advancing at work. My depression returned as did my self-hatred. Its funny how you can slip into old habits that have been dormant for years but that was what happened, only this time instead of starving myself, I ate. I was always eating and went from being a solid 200 pounds without an ounce of body fat to being 265. And all body fat. My muscle tone disappeared, and my outside began to reflect what I felt like on the inside.
In 2008 my son was born and again I felt some light, some happiness, but when I returned to work I found I had been demoted and moved into the same slow showrooms that I started my career in. I wasn't making money which increased my depression. I eventually transferred into the office to work in the telemarketing division in 2010. I was thriving at work but my problems were still there. In 2012 I went to see the doctor who had treated me in the hospital and started taking Adderall. It worked, for the first time I was able to focus and my outbursts decreased. However the damage had been done and on July 3,2012 I was let go. Again my depression returned and the urge to harm myself was unbearable. I began to starve myself. This time however I wouldn't eat for several days, until I was dizzy from hunger and then I would eat just enough to stop the dizzy spell. By June of 2013 I was down to 220 pounds just from starving myself. This in spite of getting a job on the recommendation of a former manager. I was still depressed which made no sense. I was performing far beyond expectation at work and had been put in charge of the mattress department. I had a good family at home and people at work genuinely liked me. And yet I was still starving myself and still in my mind I was self-harming. I still didn't understand I had an eating disorder.
Blogging for Inspiration
In September of 2013 I started the blog Every Bodies Beautiful Image as a way to find inspiration within myself again. I never meant to start something that would affect so many others, but as I kept going I began to learn. I realized that starving myself and gorging myself was an eating disorder and just because I am a male doesn't invalidate the fact that I had an eating disorder. I also saw that the blog that I had put together was having a positive effect on others people based on feedback I was getting. I kept at it and began attracting attention. Then another blogger submitted an article to my blog which got sourced by the Huffington Post. Even though I wasn't the author who I made sure found out that I was contacted on her behalf, I felt so amazed and proud that something I created was being looked at by such a well known publication. I felt warmth that I never felt before. I was becoming happy. I changed one of my other blogs into a body positive blog which also has taken off. Things are really starting to look up after fighting all this time.
Staying Strong for My Son
I have learned a lot from my experience and from other bloggers within the body positive community. I learned that I deserve to be happy and that it is okay to feel good about myself. I have learned how to stop myself from slipping backward into the darkness of my depression. I learned how to control the urge to skip meals and sometimes force myself to eat.
The most important thing I learned from all this is to never give up on yourself, even when things look their darkest. I chose to fight for the right to feel successful, to find love, to be happy, and to be me. Now I have my son and he has the same troubles I had at his age. A new battle has begun and you can believe that we are going to fight!