I Am Not Hungry - Part One
I recall first becoming aware of my ‘pudgy stature’ when I was about 11 or 12 years old and my older brothers started calling me “Little Piggy”. I used to think to myself, “What’s wrong with you loser? Why can’t you just be like all the other guys?” Many people will say “Well that’s just how boys are…”. To me, however, it was utterly devastating. It would reshape my brain, my body and my entire life for more than a decade to come. Now I’m not seeking pity or to slander my brothers whatsoever – it was what it was, and I believe if they’d known then what they know now things would have been much different. After many years of soul searching, I came to understand they loved me and had their own issues at the time as well. The key moment came when I realized you cannot change the past, you can only learn from it and move forward – and break the cycle with future generations.
Heading into high school in 1990 I started to become even more aware of my physicality and my sexuality. Hormones teeming inside my body, I moved into a very dark and destructive cycle of self-abuse and self-hatred. It sounds cliché, but becoming an anorexic came to me naturally as it was the one thing I felt I could truly have 100% control over in my life. Little did I understand at the time, what I saw as ‘control’ was complete and utter chaos. I would mostly starve myself, though I did have up’s and down’s in dabbling with the old binge-and-purge pattern. It’s amazing how crafty and deceiving a person can become once they delve into such a lifestyle. Many people who would come to find out years later would be shocked to understand the depth of hell I was living during those years.
I think one of the biggest issues is that for the longest time Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia have been known as “a girl’s problem”. True enough the young females throughout the generations have tended to be the most obvious victims to these devastating diseases, but many more young men (I daresay in equal numbers) could be counted amongst them if truths were unleashed. Speaking for myself, I recall talking to a teacher back in high school who simply said to me “stop being so stubborn and just eat something… people are going to think you are a girlie boy, do you want kids to call you a faggot?” And so I would bottle up even more and push down the feelings even deeper.
By the time I had entered my 3rd year of post-secondary education, I’d become rather comfortable with the level of torture I lived everyday (some 8 years into it by now). That year I suffered what is called a ‘spontaneous pneumothorax’ (a collapsed lung) and ended up being in the hospital for about 10 days with chest drainage tubes and IVs, surgery and the worst pain I’d ever experienced. When I entered the hospital I was the same height I am now (5’10”) and weighing approximately 118 lbs. By the time I left, I was down to about 107. I was gaunt & frail, skeletal really. It took me almost 7 months to get back up to my pre-hospital visit weight. And then I was mad. Oh was I mad at myself! I couldn’t believe how fat I had become – it was beyond disturbing to me. A few of my closest classmates finally had what I guess could be termed a “mini intervention”. This was the first time I came to meet people who would open my eyes to what I was truly dealing with. I never thought of it as a ‘disease’ or an illness that could be treated. I didn’t think I needed help at all in fact.
I would continue in denial for a couple more years.
Stay tuned next week for part two of Greggory's story.
Greggory Poitras is a 35 year old Metis Canadian living in Calgary, AB. Greggory is a freelance photographer, respiratory therapy student, medic, foodie, and Jeopardy geek wannabe.