You might have seen recently I been doing the rounds in the media sharing my story on male eating disorders and body dysmorphia. That has been the first time I have ever spoken about my issues with food and exercise and my negative perception of my body image. And, this is the first time I’ve ever written about it.
As far back as I can remember I’ve always has issues with the way I look. I was called a ‘big child in the pram’ when I was 2. I wasn’t fat, just big with a massive head of hair.
Apart from that, up until my early teens I don’t remember suffering with body dysmorphia. But once I hit my teens it feels like my world changed. I usually think of my life in two parts. Pre mental health diagnosis and post diagnosis.
When I was in my early teens, myself and my sister were enlisted for lifesaving classes at our local swimming pool. The boys weren’t allowed to wear shorts, it was budgie smugglers only. Walking around the pool having to hop in and out of the pool while practicing and discussing lifesaving scenarios in your tiny budgie smugglers sent anxiety racing through my body. This was the first time I remember feeling very body conscious.
I would go home from the pool and straight to my bedroom and feel so sad and angry that I didn’t look like the other guys. I wasn’t deformed or anything I just wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. That is where my depression started and never really stopped.
I went to those tortuous lifesaving classes through my entire teens and it was the most miserable time of my life. My depression just got worse and I hated myself more and more. From my early teens to my early 30s I hated myself. I had skinny wrists, I had no calf muscles, I had a flabby belly and lower back fat which I couldn’t get rid no matter how much I worked out. I have no defined jaw line which meant I hated people seeing me side on. I would turn away in traffic when cars pulled up beside me and hated people taking photos of me. I still do.
I tried to commit suicide in my 20’s, twice. Once I tried to slit my wrists and the other time I tried to hang myself. Both times I chickened out. I couldn’t face the pain. I also had a job in a warehouse for a short time and I wouldn’t even pick things up in front of girls as I didn’t want them to see my lower back fat through my top. My body dysmorphia controlled my life. I’ve written other blogs about my anxiety, which stemmed from my body dysmorphia but my anxiety triggers now are separate to this.
I’m now 40 years old. I’ve had an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise for ever. When I’m working out I’m all in. When I’m not, I’m all out. There never seems to be a middle playing field with me. Right now I’m all out. I’m probably 3 stone over my desired weight. I’ll probably get back in some sort of shape and the spiral will start all over again. It’s an obsession.
I’m writing this blog in the hope that someone reads this and realises they aren’t alone. I eventually figured out a diet and workout plan that helped me with my body shape. I just need to figure out how to maintain it. The hardest thing is to keep motivated and to develop a healthy relationship with food and exercise. That is a working progress even to this day.
I will record a podcast soon on this topic and chat to a nutritionist and fitness instructor. It’s important to get opinions from experts. That’s something I didn’t do for a long time. You are never too old or young to change things.
By : Keith Russell.