Our Alumni client, Charlie, shares his experience of his eating disorder recovery with Orri’s treatment.
Before arriving at Orri, I was studying for my Masters, which I have taken a break from to focus on my eating disorder recovery. The eating disorder diagnoses I was given were Anorexia Nervosa and rumination disorder.
Honestly, I knew I had a problem because I kept losing weight, having already been underweight for several years. I also refused to eat with anyone else and took several hours to finish meals. The symptoms and difficulties I was living with were fatigue and low energy, as well as difficulty concentrating on anything but food, all of which made both leisure time and studying harder.
My illness impacted me in that it interfered with my life goals and weakened my relationship with my family. It made me feel like a failure because of this, but also gave me some affirmation when I finally got the body I had wanted for most of my life. By that point, however, I could barely do any work or even feed myself. My illness took away much more than it gave me, in other words.
I didn’t have to tell anyone for a long time because it was obvious to others that I had a problem, refusing to eat with them as often as I did. I did feel able to tell my family when I finally sought help, though, because I knew they would be supportive and hold me accountable.
I sought help and I went to my GP for help. Neither they, nor Orri, were able to offer me any treatment at first, though. In my GP’s case, I had to wait three months for their referral to an NHS eating disorders service to come through. (This was the second time I’d been referred, the first being over a year before and never amounting to anything.) As for Orri, they advised 3-6 weeks of support from a private inpatient clinic they often collaborate with before admission to their service.
I certainly felt I came across some barriers to accessing support, such as long wait times and not being offered any treatment at first, but not because I’m a male. Although I was the only man in my ward at the inpatient clinic, my gender was rarely commented upon and I never felt excluded because of it. It’s been the same story at Orri so far, where there are several other male clients who receive the same level of care and respect as anyone else.
I’m doing much better now, in that I can eat meals with others in a reasonable time and have a healthy BMI again. I’ve also strengthened my relationship with my family, and am almost ready to return to my studies. I’ve still got a long way to go in my journey, though, because I have several other problems unrelated to eating.
Orri has supported me in my recovery by giving me weekly 1:1 support with dietitians and therapists, who have all challenged me to overcome my difficulties without it ever feeling like too much.
The advice I would give to other men who may be suffering is that there’s no reason to prolong their suffering. I went several years without actually believing that I had an eating disorder, and paid for it as a result. Had I sought help sooner, I would’ve had an easier time recovering because my symptoms and difficulties became worse over time. Even when I did seek help, it took me over 2 months to actually receive any treatment. Because of how much my physical health deteriorated in that time, I would advise anyone starting their journey to do so sooner than later. I would also advise men that although there may be fewer of us with eating disorders than there are women, that neither invalidates our problems nor imposes any additional constraints on overcoming them.
I would also advise men that although there may be fewer of us with eating disorders than there are women, that neither invalidates our problems nor imposes any additional constraints on overcoming them.
If you have felt inspired by this experience and wish to feature your own on our website, you can submit a Guest Blog for Orri here.
Find out more about Orri’s campaign for Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2023, here: https://www.orri-uk.com/eating-disorders-awareness-week/
As always, remember your #BROS.