I am sure all of you who attended Monday evening’s meeting will want to join me in expressing our utmost thanks to Michael for sharing his story with us. Michael has also made a video which can be viewed at https://newmaudsleycarers-kent.co.uk/recovery-stories/ so that those of you that couldn’t attend can share in his journey. The video covers all stages of Michael’s journey from his early teen years in which he felt uncomfortable with his body shape and size, to today where he is happily married, has a wonderful career teaching music and is ok with overeating sometimes – as he pointed out “we all have a lazy Duvet day to recharge from time to time. It is normal!”
There is so much that we can learn from Michael’s story, and in this email I will pull out some the things that really stood out for me.
Michael’s key message to anyone caring for a loved one with an eating disorder is to remember it is part of their identity and you cannot simply tell them to stop or fix them. Instead come alongside your loved one with hope, compassion, empathy and patience. Your loved one needs you by their side even when you don’t know what to do. It is their personal battle and you can be their constant ally in that battle.
Michael never thought he would be recovered enough to be able to have a normal and healthy relationship with food, understanding it is ok to fall off the wagon from time to time. Michael felt able to talk to us so openly about his journey because he does now feel he is in a position in which he can live a normal life, accepting that he has some vulnerabilities around his mental health which he feels he can now manage.Michael believes that if he had received specialist ED help when he was diagnosed with anorexia at the age of 15, he would possibly not have morphed through the over eating disorders of bulimia and binge eating disorder. Note : in the early 2000s it was almost impossible for boys and young men to get help for eating disorders. In our case I consider we were fortunate that our son age 12 lost so much weight so quickly that he was admitted for in patient care which saved his life and led to a full recovery within two years. https://newmaudsleycarers-kent.co.uk/boys-get-anorexia-too/
Michael found the peer support that he received from the London Men’s ED group was pivotal in his recovery. He describes this as liberating, meeting other young men with eating disorders in a safe, confidential and non judgemental environment. (I have confirmed with MaleVoiced https://www.malevoiced.com/ that this group is still going and meets 7-8.30pm every second Tuesday of the month. Anyone who would like details should contact Brad Powell at firstname.lastname@example.org I have met several male sufferers over the past decade who have said that this group was the only real source of support that they found helpful)
I am attaching a more detailed piece on Michael’s story including more on his video and the Q&A from the carer support group session.
I am also attaching two capsules:
Supporting a loved one with Bulimia or Binge Eating Disorder
Caring for a Young Adult with an eating disorder (including reference to male sufferers)
Thank you again to Michael for spending Monday evening with us. I will let you know when the video has been uploaded to the website.
Our next support group will be on Monday August 23rd from 7pm and I will circulate the Zoom link nearer the time.
Remember to take care of yourselves as well as providing your ongoing love and support to your loved ones struggling with an eating disorder. You are all incredible caring individuals.