Brother Tommy's Story
''It stopped everything I loved, I gave up doing arts, I lost my football career and time with my family and friends. I was just in the eating disorder mind set, I thought my eating disorder was my identity''.
My eating disorder has had some huge impacts on my life, the main one being that I had a heart attack. I have isolated myself from everyone, I lost family and friends.
I have a lot of damage done to my internal organs, which is only just getting better now, I also have bad nerve damage in my legs.
I think people glamorise eating disorders and don’t realise how serious they are. A lot of people think it is all about diets and how you look, but it is so much more than that.
I isolated myself, I couldn’t do things like go out for meals, or do anything socially that involved eating. It impacted on the time I could spend with my wife. Now I don’t let that hold me back, I love going out and spending time with my wife.
''I believe that to thrive, you need to have someone there who you can speak to. Whether that’s a family member or a friend, or maybe online help if you can’t speak to anyone, find someone who can encourage you to get help and keep going''.
I think I was predisposed to an eating disorder but grief triggers it. It started when my mum died. I recovered after that, but when my wife got cancer I relapsed. Then when my dad died I struggled again.
I was really scared about speaking about my mental health because of what others would think. Someone once called me a drug addict in the street because I was so skinny. People don’t think it’s an illness, they think it is a choice.
A lot of people would say to me that men don’t suffer from eating disorders, it was a female illness. So I was scared to speak about it as I didn’t think I would be accepted by society.
My recovery began in October 2015 when I went to hospital to get help. Now I’m in recovery I’m gaining back everything I lost.
I’m now a vegan and that is really opening doors that my eating disorder closed. It’s great for me and has given me a new way of looking at food, however I know that it is not for everyone and shouldn’t be used to mask an eating disorder.
I had tried to get better for others, but I realised to do it I had to get better for myself. Knowing you have to gain weight is really scary, but gradually you accept it is part of your recovery.
I hid it from my wife for years until I had a relapse, but she was my rock in my recovery. She has also had cancer, so we support each other, that’s what a marriage is about.
My wife and my father were great supports for me. My dad was the one who told me I had to recover for myself, he was a catalyst to get help.
I have also set up a Youtube channel on my recovery. I like to share all the good things that are going on in my life now, that I can go out and about and that I am gaining weight. But I also try to share the bad times and even though recovery is tricky, I am happy. I feel like I’m born again. You can’t be the person you were before, but you can be a new person and get back what you lost.
Recovery is possible, it can happen. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s impossible. You are not defined by your mental health.
Binge on life, purge on negativity and starve guilty feelings.