This year, Beat are focusing on eating disorders in men. At least 1 in 4 people affected by eating disorders are men. We want to bust the toxic stereotypes that prevent men from speaking up. Cassius Hackforth is sharing his story in support of Eating Disorders Awareness Week.
When I initially began to process and come to terms with the fact I might have an eating disorder, I was scared, and in all honesty, ashamed. A lot of the stigmas that came with being a male made me feel alone, and embarrassed about the fact that this was happening to me.
Little did I know that seeking help would make me a stronger, braver and happier person, and recovery has made me feel satisfyingly free from something that held me back for so long.
The hardest challenge in itself for me was telling my friends, family, and teachers about it, having kept it completely to myself for so long. I didn’t know whether I’d be taken seriously being a male- and I was worried it would just make things worse. Instead I was surrounded by a circle of love and support that was with me every step of the way. My head of year set up a counselling session, and my college supported me weekly whilst I was referred to the Maudsley.
Once I had my diagnosis of Anorexia, I knew I was going to have to work hard to make the changes to take back control. And it was tough, but every week was a step forward in the right direction. I began to make some small changes with the help of my therapist, and they began to grow into quite significant changes. One of the hardest changes that I had to make was reducing the amount of exercise I did each week.
My ED had forced me to believe that I needed to exercise every day to earn meals, and so reducing this to only 3 times a week was incredibly difficult. With various methods from therapy, I could remind myself of the reasons why I was doing this, and the positive reasons to recover were so much greater than the reasons not to that I channeled this into my mindset.
Once I had got over that specific hurdle, recovery seemed to fly much more smoothly and these massive challenges became much easier than I thought they would be.
Having my final session was an overwhelming and proud moment. I still had some anxiety about relapsing, but the prevention plan that me and my therapist devised meant that I knew exactly what to do when triggered and struggling. And recovery isn’t linear.
There are days when old thoughts and worries come forward, but recovery made me understand why I don’t need to act on these thoughts, and that looking after my body and giving it the love and care it deserves is the only thing that matters. It sounds odd but, I’m proud to be a male and to have had an ED, and to have asked for help.
There were moments when I thought it would be almost impossible, but recovery is more than possible. It happened, and it’s made me who I am today.