Eating Disorders in Men: One ACUTE Patient's Path to Recovery
August 28, 2019
When I sat down to write about my path to the ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders at Denver Health and the experience I had there, it turned out to be a more arduous process than I expected. It seemed straightforward enough, yet for some reason I could not find the words to accurately and succinctly articulate both what led me to that point and the unbelievable gratefulness I feel for all members of the ACUTE team. The only thing that seemed to suffice was a (fairly) tortured metaphor that kept creeping into my head:
I wanted the rainbow without the rain. When I realized it wasn’t possible,
ACUTE became my ballast through the storm.
This may not make sense to some, but I feel it might resonate with those who have grappled with an eating disorder. It took me more than three years and while going through severe physical complications, I could no longer hide to admit to myself that I was losing my battle and needed help. In those three years, I fought daily, trying to figure out how to explain what was going on. On the surface, it didn’t make sense.
I was a former collegiate athlete, a captain of my college lacrosse team, fairly bright and athletic, with strong and meaningful relationships with family, friends and my girlfriend. I was working toward a successful career as a financial advisor.
Can men have eating disorders?
The reality was that I had an illness and could no longer brush aside the fact that I was breaking down – both physically and mentally. At my worst, it felt like my eating disorder took everything from me. It destroyed my body, my relationships, my spirit and my hope – but it also became my perverted sense of control among the chaos.
The moment I decided to swallow my pride and feigned ignorance and seek help, I moved back home and attempted to find treatment. My family and I searched diligently and found nothing but roadblocks. I was rejected from no less than seven treatment centers for various reasons, including a lack of space, being too much of a medical liability, or plainly, because they didn’t treat men. This fed the negative feedback loop in my head, throwing me even deeper into my eating disorder. With a stroke of luck, and perhaps some divine intervention, we found ACUTE, and they were willing to help.
To say that I was nervous to fly from New York to Denver for treatment would have been a gross understatement. I had no idea what to expect.
How would I be treated as a male?
Could I fight capitulation long enough to physically and mentally stabilize?
It wasn’t always an easy or pleasant process. I wasn’t going to get better overnight. But with time, I found my worries turned into what I hadn’t felt in years - hope.
Eating Disorder Treatment at ACUTE
The team and ACUTE treated me with incredible care and respect. It didn’t matter that I didn’t fit the “typical mold” of an eating disorder patient. I was sick, and they wanted to help.
I can truly and confidently say that my heart still beats because of ACUTE. I’m still here.
I normally keep my feelings to myself, but I felt my experience was worth sharing for those who might be stuck. Ignoring my problems for as long as I did and convincing myself that I had control of them have led to lifelong physical and emotional issues. My hope is that by writing this, someone might be encouraged to not wait as long to seek the help they need and deserve.
It takes far more courage to attack the problem and face the storm. And when you do, you’ll realize that there is hope on the horizon and a rainbow just beyond your view. Thank you ACUTE, for helping me to see that.
Eating Disorders in Men: Statistic
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, in the United States alone, eating disorders will affect 10 million males at some point in their lives. But due in large part to cultural bias, they are much less likely to seek treatment for their eating disorder.
Eating disorders affect people of all ages and genders, including men. If you or a loved one needs help with an eating disorder, contact ACUTE's admission team for a free evaluation.
If you want to share your patient story at Denver Health, email Patient_Stories@dhha.org.