Bullying, Bulimia and Me: Sam’s Recovery Story, Part II
This two-part article was written exclusively for EatingDisordersOnline.com by Sam Thomas, founder and director of the UK-based organization Men Get Eating Disorders Too. Sam shares how he recovered from bulimia and used his experience to start the site.
When I was 17, I contacted my real dad as I didn’t know him at all. At 18, I relocated in an attempt to make a fresh start. I had to build a relationship with my dad from scratch. I felt so unsettled in my life at this point that the bulimia was even worse. I went to the doctor again when I was 18 because then I knew I was old enough to make decisions by myself.
I expected the doctor to be as sympathetic as the first, but I didn’t feel he was as understanding. He didn’t confront the bulimia, and put me on Prozac for depression instead. I was put down for counseling, but the waiting list was two years long. Fortunately, my life had moved on so much that it became easier to deal with my bulimia. I had been able to move away from so many of the triggers – the bullying, my home life, etc. – so moving in itself was helpful.
I got involved in volunteering, which gave me a greater sense of self-esteem, and I focused on eating properly and exercising. A combination of coping mechanisms helped me to ease back the bulimia. I had a better sense of my own identity and made friends, which affirmed who I was. Things were falling into place, which made it easier to recover – a process that was largely unconscious.
Creating Something Positive from a Negative Experience
Once I’d been volunteering for mental health charities for a little while, I was inspired to set up my own charity – this became Men Get Eating Disorders Too. Eating disorders are typically thought only to affect young women, and I was shocked to find there were no resources online that were targeted at men with eating disorders. I set up the website, which gradually evolved into a charity when I realized the full extent of need there was for this sort of service.
Raising awareness is our priority, but we also train professionals to understand issues and allow people to access care. We’re a national charity in the United Kingdom, and from a very small organisation we are steadily growing larger and larger.
My goal is to banish all stereotypes associated with eating disorders so that people of all walks of life can seek the help they need and recover from their eating disorder, irrespective of their age or gender.