I first discovered The Laurence Trust a few years ago. I was sitting in my parents’ house, picked up the newspaper and was shocked to see a picture of a normal young lad who had an eating disorder like me. It was the first time I could really relate to someone’s story, but unfortunately the strain of the illness took Laurence’s life. I myself had also refused to go to support groups, because I felt they would be full of girls and I would be embarrassed, so I hid it from absolutely everyone. I kept it as my deep, deep secret.
For me, bulimia started when I was about 15. I was a normal, healthy young lad and had friends at school. I was a bit of a joker, to be honest, and would stuff myself with sweets on the way home from school. I remember one particular day I came back from the shops, I ate a bag of sweets and felt really sick. I had always hated vomiting, but I found I was able to throw the sweets up. I did it again. This happened a few times over the next few months; I wasn’t afraid of throwing up anymore. To be honest, at the beginning I thought it was great – I was able to eat all I wanted and not get fat! Everyone else was putting on weight and going on diets but I could eat whatever the hell I wanted. Fantastic!!!
At the age of 17/18, bulimia began to turn against me. I began throwing up all my meals, I didn’t want to leave the house, was having panic attacks, the shakes and I had very few friends. Anytime I felt stressed, I would cope by stuffing myself with food. I would have, for example, a 2-litre bottle of Coke, a McDonalds, a Chinese and sweets, then I would just throw it all up. For me, bulimia was almost like a drug addiction and sometimes, after a binge, I would even sit and drink cans of beer to relieve my stress and anxiety.
My family knew that something was wrong though. My brother could smell vomit on my breath and see it in the toilet, and there was always food missing from the house. My dad also asked if I was being sick, but I just denied it.
When I was 19, I went travelling to Australia. I was still a healthy weight when I left, but the bulimia continued when I was there, and when I returned about 6 months later, my parents were shocked at how skinny I looked – I had lost about 2 stone. Over the next few years, I lost even more weight, I always had heartburn, I often felt dizzy and faint and I had become a nightmare for my family to live with, due to having severe mood swings. At my lowest point around 2010, I dropped to about 9.5 stone. I’m convinced that if I had continued that way… well, it’s not worth thinking about what might have happened!
I was in denial with myself and, even when people commented on how skinny I looked, it just went in one ear and out the other. Eventually, however, I told my family that I had bulimia and, with their help and support (and a few relapses – the last one being two years ago), I have managed to live a normal life.
This summer – after three years of training – I qualify for a career in the NHS and I currently hold a part-time job as a support worker. I feel very lucky that things have turned out OK for me in the end.