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  Danny: 'Boys have eating disorders too'
Updated 25 September 2003, 10.01
Boys get eating disorders too
When Danny started acting strangely and his appearance changed, no-one suspected he had an eating disorder.

He tells us what it's like to be a boy suffering from what is often viewed as a "girls' problem".

"People don't realise how hard it's been for me being a boy and suffering from an eating disorder.

It has been one of the hardest things to admit to myself and to the people around me.

It's difficult to say when things started to change for me - all I can remember thinking was: "Why is everyone else so skinny? Why can't I be like them?"

Film stars

It was as little as reading a magazine or looking at a website, seeing film stars and just wishing I was like them.

Things just progressed from there.

I'd have to eat everything in front of me, hoping my family wouldn't worry about me, but afterwards I'd go upstairs to the bathroom.

If I didn't do anything, I'd get really low, worrying about what I've just eaten. I'd convince myself that it was all going to turn straight into fat.

I'd find myself going into the kitchen when my mum was there just to grab a bag of crisps or something.

Friends made comments

I'd take it up to my room, put it into my school bag and then get rid it the next day - just to try and make my mum think that I was eating enough.

Things went on like this for several months until I realised to myself that this couldn't go on.

PE teachers and friends were beginning to comment on how much I'd changed, but then they'd just put it to one side and say it was because 'I was growing so fast'.

I realised there must be a way I could stop myself from doing all of this. Surely it wasn't making me any skinnier or healthier?

Counsellor

Things went on like this for a few months, just saying to myself 'I'll get help soon' but putting it off.

Then I noticed a poster talking about a drop-in centre with a school counsellor.

I built up the courage to call in one day, just to see if I had a problem or if what I was doing was that bad.

I started seeing the counsellor. He gave me some leaflets about being "bulimic" and all the reasons why people had the illness.

Specialist help

He suggested I see someone at the another centre for more specialist help, which at the time made me feel worse because it was the initial phase of admitting to myself that I really had a problem that could end up being serious unless I got some help.

After several months of counselling, they helped me to get over this problem.

I still have days when I'll read a magazine and think about how everyone looks so perfect, but I've learnt to help myself and I know that I'm not overweight.

The hardest thing was realising that I had a problem.

If I hadn't realised, I don't know if anyone else would have because being bulimic is thought of as a 'girls' problem'."

Danny, 14, Stockport


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