Tuesday 1 March 2016

Part #2 of my talk: "Eating disorders are not just a 'girl thing'"

Things began to get more obvious over the school summer holidays when Ben was at home and we were with him more.

By this time he was exercising like crazy, every day. He joined our local gym and would run there and back as well as doing all the usual situps, etc.

He developed a big interest in cooking and especially healthy cooking. He'd slim down recipes, cutting out all the fats and carbohydrates and make some quite weird concoctions that tasted pretty disgusting.

He was also isolating himself. I don't think he saw any of his friends throughout the entire summer holidays which was unusual for him.

He was getting snappy and miserable, and not very nice to be around. And of course because he was eating less yet exercising more, he was losing weight.

By this time we were beginning to get a bit concerned about things, but we hoped he'd snap out of it once he was back at school, with his friends and on the rugby field.

But as the summer went on, Ben became more and more obsessive.

He began to buy those Men's Health magazines with pictures of Adonis type bodies and the diet and exercise regimes you needed to do to get a body like that.

But meanwhile he seemed to be unable to understand that if he was doing all this exercise then he needed to be eating more. I even bought him a book all about nutrition for athletes, but he ignored it. It was as if he knew better.

Very gradually began to dawn on us that this "health kick" wasn't normal, and so in the September, I took Ben along to see the GP hoping he’d be able to talk some sense into him.

But the GP failed to pick up on it.

I mean skinny boys aren’t unusual. Boys don’t get periods which can stop. Ben had no height or weight records to compare him with.

And crucially his BMI was still within the "healthy" range. Never forget he’d been a big guy - a 'prop' in the rugby team. Later we estimated that by this time he’d lost a quarter of his bodyweight, yet his BMI was still registering as "normal".

And it didn’t help that Ben was sitting there saying that nothing was wrong – it was just his mum being paranoid.

So he was sent home, told to eat more and come back in a week or so.

Throughout October we went to and fro to the GPs only to be told the same old thing: go home, eat more and come back in a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile all the warning signs were getting stronger by the day...


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