WYL: Tell us a bit about yourself!
My name is Mark. I am a lover of all creatures, and a vegetarian. I’m outgoing, adventurous and sometimes I pretend that I have my own T.V show. In my spare time I enjoy exercising, playing sports, watching movies, reading, cuddling my dog, Simba and most importantly entertaining. My ambition in life is to make people smile and laugh; nothing warms my heart more than knowing that for a brief second I made someone happy.
WYL: What kind of stigma have you faced as a male with an eating disorder?
MN: That it’s a ‘feminine’ disorder. That only women are allowed to worry/ care about their weight, and only women are concerned about their figures. The way in which men are ‘supposed’ to look doesn’t help either. Men ‘should’ be strong and have ripped muscles and not worry about what they eat or what they should resemble. I've also gotten people telling me that ‘it’s easy, just eat’ if it only was that easy… when your mind is telling you one thing, but you know you should be doing another, it really isn’t that easy. The standards that men are expected to meet does not affect just one kind of person, but all of us.
WYL: When did you know that you needed help?
MN: It wasn’t until after I was hospitalized for my eating disorder that it truly sunk in. Seeing how worried and scared for my health everyone around me was really opened my eyes. Especially when I personally thought nothing of it at the time.
WYL: What does “recovery” look like to you?
MN: Recovery for me takes many forms. Fighting with ones own mind might be one of the hardest things anyone has to endure. Recovery is when someone is wanting to better themselves, and truly wants to change. At some points throughout my journey when I was ‘recovering’ in a sense I wasn’t; I didn’t want to change or listen to how dangerous it was. It wasn’t until I truly wanted to change that I felt I was in the "recovery" mode.
WYL: If you could describe your mental health journey in one word, what would it be and why?
MN: "Unique" because even though other people might be going through similar situations as you, their situation will never be your situation. I would also describe it as a "metamorphosis" as it has changed me in numerous ways. It has made me realize more about life in general. It has helped with my confidence, and motivation both for the better and worse. It has made me appreciate things with more depth, but most importantly it has taught me about time. I have learned that time is a precious gift, and that I should not try to dwell on specifics for so long. Spend more time doing activities that make me happy; rather than the ones that don’t bring me joy.
WYL: What advice would you give your younger self?
MN: To not worry as much, and relax. Don’t let other's judgments affect you too much. Do more of the things you want, and don’t be so scared to try, but especially to fail. If you do fail get up learn from the failures and try again. Everyone has their challenges.
WYL: What is the most difficult thing about having an eating disorder?
MN: All of your loved ones constantly being worried about you. Feeling as if you’re not fully living, because you’re obsessed with a look or ideology of a perfect image. Fighting with yourself, and if you’re stubborn like I am it was not fun, and still isn't. Having the ‘little voice’ in the back of your head asking if you really need that food, and debating whether or not you look ‘perfect’
WYL: Do you have a quote that gave you comfort when you were going through a difficult time?
MN: One of my favourite quotes is from the book Old Yeller. “What I mean is, things like that happen. They may seem cruel and unfair, but that's how life is a part of the time. But that isn't the only way life is. A part of the time, it's mighty good. And a man can't afford to waste all the good part, worrying about the bad parts. That makes it all bad” ― Fred Gipson, Old Yeller