lets begin at the beginning!

Despite making this blog a while ago its taken me ages to get to the point to start writing this first post mainly because i’ve not actually been too sure where to start… I want this blog to be more about sharing my experience as a girlfriend of someone with an eating disorder, than actually about TB (The boy-i have no idea how else to refer to him!)  but i’ve come to realise that its going to be really hard to completely separate these entirely, so along the way I will have to share some of our story.

This is why i have decided to make this an anonymous blog, although TB does know i am writing it! And even if this doesn’t reach anyone and no one else reads this but us, it will hopefully help us to look back and see how far we’ve come over time, and when its tough (because its going to be) writing always helps me to really think and reflect on my feelings.

So as the title says, i think the best way to start is at the beginning! i’ll try and keep it brief! Theres so much to put in one post, so this will just be the overview of how we got to where we are now,

TB and i met on the first day of university 5 years ago, from the off of our relationship it was clear that climbing was a massive part of his life, it wasn’t just a hobby he did every now and again, it really was his identity. In the first year that we were together i don’t think i  really noticed much was up with his eating, i just presumed that he ate very healthily (looking back now i can see that he was already slowly narrowing his food groups) but it was hard to tell as we were first years and always out drinking. I think the compulsive exercising must have begun some point in this year but it was most likely hidden from me. Towards the end of first year his weight had dropped, but still at this point i would say i hadn’t really though ‘eating disorder’.During this year TB hadn’t been able to climb as much as he would have liked and so when the summer came it was a struggle to get him away from the rock!

It was during this first summer that i think something started to niggle at me, i had never seen TB eat so much, and i could see the correlation to Climbing-i would have a really antsy stressed boyfriend if it had been longer than 2 days since climbing.

The second year of uni was a real struggle for us as a couple, for a variety of reasons TB really wasn’t enjoying uni, wasn’t able to climb as much as he wanted and so threw himself into his uni work, we barely saw each other once a week. Its safe to say that because of all of this by the end of this year TB has extremely narrow food groups and it was very clear that something was up. We made it through the year and after a very difficult week away camping i finally managed to broach the subject of an ‘eating disorder’, it was one of the most difficult conversations of my life (i’ll go into more detail at a later date) as i knew that i could possibly loose him by just bringing it up.

Again, by the end of the summer before we went back to uni TB’s weight was up again after a summer of training and free ‘healthy’ (i mean TB’s idea of healthy) food at his parents (TB’s parents didn’t know he had anything wrong until this year)

I was away from uni for our third year on a placement, this was really tough for us, not really because of this distance (we got through by writing letters) but because my visits mean’t a weekend of eating proper meals and no climbing, basically a complete disruption of routine. It was really tough and i vividly remember turning up towards the end of the year after 5 weeks apart and being terrified at how he was looking, i batch cooked lots of meat and veg in freezer bags so that i knew he had something in. By the end of this year TB was well and truely in the grips of an eating disorder and using exercise as punishment and reward for food. A day spend climbing/being active mean’t a good meal, a day sitting and doing nothing mean’t barely eating enough to get by.

Fast forward to my final year of uni, TB moved in with me and my housemates as it was more convenient for his job. Again this year was tough, it was my final year and i needed support and help, but TB was so far in the grips of his eating disorder that it would take over 2 hours of pull ups and press ups before he could relax and attempt to eat something. At this point he had eliminated all carbs except oats for breakfast, all fats except nuts, would only really eat lean turkey for meat, and praised himself on his healthy and pure diet (TB had orthorexia-an obsession with eating what you believe is ‘healthy’) During this year i had gone to our gp’s for help and he was seeing a nurse at the surgery. In this year TB got injured which mean’t he could no longer climb.

Over this past year we have moved in together just the two of us (three if you count the eating disorder!) it is so hard to summarise in this post but TB’s injury and eating are so interlinked, but we now know that he has some sort of orthorexia and compulsive exercise disorder. I haven’t gone into much detail about this year because these are the bits that i mainly want to share in this blog, my experiences of living and recovering with TB, everything up until this year has really been the story of how we got to now and so much has happened this year i couldn’t share it in one post.

Last week we had an assessment at a private treatment clinic to work out what therapies he will need-he starts in 3 weeks!!

Thank you to anyone who’s reading, i’ll try next time t0 give a bit of a summary of this year so far, or maybe i’ll need a rant on something else before then.

Advertisements

15 thoughts on “lets begin at the beginning!

  1. I just started reading this blog and I love it! It’s so hard to find any information out there for males and partners of males with eating disorders.

    I started a blog back in January to document and talk about recovery. Although I am a female recovering.

    But this is wonderful and I was wondering could I include it in my website to help others like yours self and TB?

    Chloe

    • Hi Chloe,

      Thank you for your comment, it’s great to know that this is reaching people who find it helpful, the more who do the better, of course you can share it on your blog. I hadn’t considered before that those suffering with disordered eating may also find it interesting/helpful.
      What is the name of your site? (sorry if its actually really clear, i am new to all of this!)

      Anne x

  2. Hi! My boyfriend of three years is exhibiting the signs of orthorexia. We’ve lived together for two years, but I haven’t noticed the signs of orthorexia until less than a year ago. It’s been impacting our relationship and it seems to be progressing. If I make dinner with something he deems too carby or fatty (i.e. using regular cheese instead of low fat or regular ground turkey instead of low fat ground turkey breast), he gets upset and refuses to eat more than a few bites. If we’re having wine with dinner, he measures out eight ounces of wine for his glass. He used to have one “cheat day” a week where he could eat whatever foods he wanted for the day…but that has turned into just one “cheat meal” instead of an entire day. He eats “healthy” food at home before we go out to a restaurant with friends, and refuses to eat there. Or if we go to a barbecue, he’ll bring his own food and won’t eat anything others brought. Whenever he eats, he immediately enters caloric information into a phone app, no matter what. It’s embarrassing.

    He’s also an athlete and has become consumed with working out. It’s taking over our relationship. I’ve tried to talk to him about it, but he gets defensive, saying that I’m not supportive of his “healthy” lifestyle. I try to explain that it isn’t mentally healthy to worry about every single calorie he consumes, but he won’t hear it.

    I suppose I’m writing because I’m not really sure what to do to get him to realize it’s a real problem. My question is: how did you get “TB” to realize his issue and get proper help for it?

    Thank you,
    Concerned & Frustrated Girlfriend

    • Hello 🙂
      I am so sorry for not replying sooner, i have been away on holiday in Spain for the past week. I will reply properly this evening, but i just wanted to let you know that i have recieved your comment, and that i am planning on replying!! I am so sorry that things are tough, i’ll get a cup of tea when im home from work tonight and sit and write you a proper reply, and have a chat with TB about which point he became aware that i was being serious about him having a problem, if any of the things i did or said were more helpful than others.

      Thank you for your comment, speak later

      Anne x

      • Thank you so much! Hope you enjoyed your time in Spain. Sounds like a blast! 🙂

        Things are looking better, for now. I’m a student, so I left my “Psychology class notes” open on the coffee table. They weren’t really from class, but I’d written out all the symptoms of eating disorders, highlighting orthorexia. Seems he took a peek at them, because he brought up the idea that his diet has been a little on the extreme side. This is progress…I never thought he would even entertain that idea in the slightest.

        Thanks again. I anticipate your response. 🙂

      • Hey,

        Thats fantastic that he took notice of your ‘notes’! Even if you just sew the seed for now, its something to build on.

        I’ve been having a think and had a chat with TB about it, and i think were both pretty well agreed that it was a slow acceptance process, its hard to remember entirely, but we thought up a couple of points which helped for us.

        -Avoid speaking in anger about it as much as you can, if you want to bring it up when angry take a few minutes/hours to collect your thoughts and then when you’ve calmed down try and talk it through. (I’m not saying we didn’t have angry conversations-we did. They just weren’t ever productive)
        -Don’t talk things through just before/during/just after meal times, these can be the most stressful times for someone with an eating disorder and it will only add to their stress plus they will become ultra defensive!
        -Neutral territory is a great place to bring it up-we spent a lot of time on long walks, sitting in parks, sat on beaches-its also away from all the stresses of food.
        -When you do have a talk be clear that you think that it is a ‘problem’, you support a healthy lifestyle but there becomes a point where its too far and you think he’s reached it.
        -I went to see our Gp by myself at first, yes it was a little like sneaking behind his back, but it did mean’t that i was clued up and prepared, I knew what help was available and had a few answers to give him. (warning, going to my GP was a super risky thing to do, i would more advise doing some general research as that would be really helpful)
        -It can take a very long time for acceptance, sewing the seed is really hard and it can feel like forever (around 2 years for us) but always when you talk about it let them know that you will support him in this and you love him.
        -Be prepared for a whole host of horrid emotions coming from him, but remember that it is not him they are coming from, it is the eating disorder and the fact that you stay around and are still supportive will show him that you really care and also mean business.
        -Don’t be afraid to let him know how it is affecting you and your relationship, i used to let TB know how much i missed our wine nights, and it wasn’t normal that he couldn’t have a night off.

        I hope that helps, we can pin point the moment when TB decided it was time to get help (we were on a beach in devon) but that moment only came after all of the above. It just seemed that discussion was the one that hit home, but i can’t say that i did or said anything particularly different from all the chats before.

        My main advice is keep at it, be honest, try very hard not to take any anger to heart, and always let him know you love and support him. TB’s advice is accepting he has a problem and going to seek help for it will be the hardest thing he has ever done and he’ll need your support.

        Good luck! if you have any more questions/want to rant/you guys make some progress please do get back to me, the reason i started writing this was to let someone else in my position know that they are not alone (and to kind of know that i’m not) so if i can help in any other way please let me know

        Anne 🙂 x

      • You are an angel. A cyberspace angel.

        Your advice is great. Though I’ve tried a few of those things, I thought it was a particularly fantastic point you made not to talk about food during meal times. I hadn’t really given it thought, but our arguments over all of this naturally tend to happen around just because that’s when it’s particularly noticeable. I’d never considered what a sensitive time that is for him. Talking on neutral territory is a great idea as well.

        I cannot thank you enough for your thoughtful response and for creating this page in general. It makes me feel so much better about this situation and gives me hope that there’s light at the end of the tunnel! There’s so much stigma around the idea of males having eating disorders, so as you know, it’s difficult to find information or the stories of others who’ve dealt with them. Wish I could hug you through the screen! Lol

      • You are too kind, i am glad that some of our advice has been useful 🙂

        Sorry for the late reply, i was away at a conference with work!

        It has been wonderful to see that this page is reaching out to people who have found it useful. I started it at a point where i was terrified for TB and our relationship, i had almost walked out and left because i couldn’t take it anymore, and its been amazing for myself to see that it is reaching people.
        I agree, the stigma that surrounds men with eating disorders is a massive barrier, and you hear so little from people like us-thank you for getting in contact.

        You may have already heard of these but there a good place for info if you haven’t come across them yet:
        http://mengetedstoo.co.uk/

        Take care and stay in touch,

        Anne x

  3. P.S. It’s so comforting to know that I’m not the only one who having to face this situation with their boyfriend. Thank you for posting all of this.

  4. I’m also a 23 year old living with a boyfriend with an eating disorder. I’ve been doing non stop research for months and I’ve just come across this! This is so inspiring and I can relate to a lot from your posts. My boyfriend is still in denial so I’ve still got a long road ahead but reading your blog has given me hope 🙂

    • Hey,

      I’m glad to hear that you’ve stumbled across this blog and thank you for your kind words, it is so good to know that this is reaching those who need it.
      I hope that things start to look up soon, its a really hard place to be when your the partner- but the fact he has you supporting him is going to help so much when he does realise.
      If you have any questions or just want to rant, get upset or angry then always feel free to contact me 🙂

      take care of yourself and good luck

      Anne x

      • How did you get TB to realise there was a problem and that he was ill? I’ve spoken to my boyfriend and I told him that he has symptoms of an eating disorder but refuses to go to the doctors, do I just carry on with what I’ve been saying and wait and hope? X

      • Hey,

        I’m so sorry to hear that he’s not getting any help yet. TB and I wrote some advice to someone else on here a while ago which i’ll paste below-it may help. Unfortunately i think that it is just a case of persistance and waiting, letting him know that you love him and when he does realise that he needs help you will support him 100%. It’s a pretty rubbish waiting game, and it took us almost 3 years, but we got there in the end, stay strong, and keep in touch, if it all gets too much and you want to chat then do.

        Heres the advice that we wrote for someone else:

        I’ve been having a think and had a chat with TB about it, and i think were both pretty well agreed that it was a slow acceptance process, its hard to remember entirely, but we thought up a couple of points which helped for us.

        -Avoid speaking in anger about it as much as you can, if you want to bring it up when angry take a few minutes/hours to collect your thoughts and then when you’ve calmed down try and talk it through. (I’m not saying we didn’t have angry conversations-we did. They just weren’t ever productive)
        -Don’t talk things through just before/during/just after meal times, these can be the most stressful times for someone with an eating disorder and it will only add to their stress plus they will become ultra defensive!
        -Neutral territory is a great place to bring it up-we spent a lot of time on long walks, sitting in parks, sat on beaches-its also away from all the stresses of food.
        -When you do have a talk be clear that you think that it is a ‘problem’, you support a healthy lifestyle but there becomes a point where its too far and you think he’s reached it.
        -I went to see our Gp by myself at first, yes it was a little like sneaking behind his back, but it did mean’t that i was clued up and prepared, I knew what help was available and had a few answers to give him. (warning, going to my GP was a super risky thing to do, i would more advise doing some general research as that would be really helpful)
        -It can take a very long time for acceptance, sewing the seed is really hard and it can feel like forever (around 2 years for us) but always when you talk about it let them know that you will support him in this and you love him.
        -Be prepared for a whole host of horrid emotions coming from him, but remember that it is not him they are coming from, it is the eating disorder and the fact that you stay around and are still supportive will show him that you really care and also mean business.
        -Don’t be afraid to let him know how it is affecting you and your relationship, i used to let TB know how much i missed our wine nights, and it wasn’t normal that he couldn’t have a night off.

        I hope that helps, we can pin point the moment when TB decided it was time to get help (we were on a beach in devon) but that moment only came after all of the above. It just seemed that discussion was the one that hit home, but i can’t say that i did or said anything particularly different from all the chats before.

        My main advice is keep at it, be honest, try very hard not to take any anger to heart, and always let him know you love and support him. TB’s advice is accepting he has a problem and going to seek help for it will be the hardest thing he has ever done and he’ll need your support.

        I hope that helps, Miss worried

        Anne x

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s