Help for Male Anorexic Patients; A Survivor Speaks Out - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: |

Help for Male Anorexic Patients; A Survivor Speaks Out

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

It's hard to fight the norms that society has created, especially when it comes to gender issues. That is especially true with eating disorders. I spoke to one young man from New Castle, South Shields, UK, who will be the first one to tell you, men get eating disorders, too.

 18 year old Kyle Carter, like many kids, was a victim of bullying. He remembers when his ordeal began, sometime between 8 and 10 years old, "This new kid came in. I didn't think much of it, at the time. It seemed to be, every time he encountered me, he would, repeatedly, call me fat. It wasn't on just one occasion. It would be repeatedly, over and over again, every day."

The bullying followed Kyle into secondary school. The taunting was the same. The only difference, it was someone else calling him fat.  

"I think that was, possibly, the spark, in my mind, that something needs to change. I think that was the start of rapid weight loss. It wasn't slow.   It was quite rapid, in the sense that I was losing weight, very quickly and every week," Kyle said.

Kyle was losing about 2 – 4 pounds a week. His mother noticed there was a problem and got him psychiatric help. That doctor didn't think there was a problem. So, Kyle and his family admitted him to a hospital, where he stayed for about a month.

"So, I came out of there and not much had changed, to be fair, because I was put in a regular ward, in the hospital, where it was, basically, just for any referral, any individual. It wasn't based, solely on eating disorders or any sort of mental illness. It was a general hospital. Anyone could come in and, just get treated," he added.

From that point, things started to spiral out of control. Any slight weight gain and Kyle felt he had to get rid of it. Like many others, he found a way to drop the pounds he kept gaining back. By the age of 13, Kyle reached his lightest weight, about 70 pounds. It was then, that he was referred to a specialist eating disorder unit in Edinburgh, Scotland.

"It was a combination of not eating and exercise," Kyle recalled. "I did purge. I did make myself sick, on occasion. I didn't use laxatives, though.   That is not something I did get into. But, even though I wasn't doing that, it was still a harmful combination, what I was doing. "

While in Edinburgh, he picked up some other behaviors.  Kyle says he got to the point where he wasn't even sure what he wanted from life and he couldn't see a way out of the hole he had been put into, "At that point, I thought I was in control. All through my illness, believed I was the one controlling my actions when, really, I was unaware that I was being controlled by anorexia."

Kay Watt, co-executive director and founder of the Eating Disorder Center at San Antonio, is all too familiar with this scenario.

"It was so frustrating," she says, "to see people not get well and to come back, try. We had to send them out, again. Come back, try. We had to send them out, again. Outpatient therapy just can't contain the needs of a person recovering from an eating disorder. You need a physician. You need a psychiatrist. You need psychologists. You need groups. You need daily monitoring of food intake."

The staff at EDCASA is highly trained. They stay with the patients all day, every day. Along with doctors and clinicians, there are registered dietitians, dietary staff, even a gardener.  

"We have an organic garden. We grow food. We harvest it and we eat it," Kay explained.

Proper nutrition, learning how to cope with the issues that trigger eating disorders and general knowledge about them combine to form an excellent force to combat them.  

Kasi Howard says knowledge, above all, is key, "I think it's more and more people coming forward. I think doing stories, like this, is helpful, educating the public that this, really, is not a female disease, that men struggle from it, as well. I think having people coming forward, having people tell their stories and expanding our treatment options, out there."

"The lack of specialized treatment, for men and boys with eating disorders, is a very, real problem that needs to be addressed, in our profession.   And, the fact that that specialized care is not there does not mean someone should wait to get treatment. There is good treatment available, now," Kay added.

Kyle has been recovered for almost a year now. He can speak from experience when he says, "There is hope and you can beat your eating disorder, whether it's bulimia or anorexia or anything else. It can be done. No matter what position you're in, weight, state of mind, the whole process, you can break out of that and live your life and be happy. Because that's all anyone want, is to be happy and that can be achieved."  

The Eating Disorder Center at San Antonio is one, of a handful of eating disorder clinics in Texas. If you, or someone you know has or thinks they may be dealing with an eating disorder, call them at 210-826-7447 for a free assessment or visit their web site

Powered by Frankly