Hi, my name's David Samuel, I'm 23 now
and I suffered from anorexia between the ages of 17 and 21.
I was always rather a large child
and having been born with a disability as well
I had quite a pronounced limp as a young boy in particular.
At the age of probably 15, 16, I was the odd one out.
I was the disabled boy, I was the fat boy.
By then I was probably 13 and a half, 14 stone.
So I decided to go on a diet.
Gradually I lost some weight, I was exercising regularly
and I felt a lot better in myself.
And yes, I was probably seen as a more popular guy because of that.
But then gradually that became an obsession
and became the sole focus of my life
and it went downhill from there, really.
I lost too much weight.
I became obsessed with exercise, obsessed with counting the calories
and the obsession of work and eating overtook my life.
People talk about voices or things like that with mental illness.
I didn't have a voice in that sense, but there were two sides to me.
Obviously, studying medicine, I was learning about this disorder.
I knew the physical and mental effects that this disorder carries with it.
I was experiencing the physical effects
and I was ticking them off my checklist and my textbooks
because I was experiencing the cold hands, the lack of sleep,
the lack of concentration,
the inability to basically almost function as a human being,
the slowed heart rates, the feeling dizzy all the time,
and it was very frightening.
If you're good at anorexia then you kill yourself.
And fortunately I failed.
I don't fail in many things because I'm so hard-minded and driven,
but I failed at anorexia because I did get help,
I did seek assistance, I did admit I had a problem.
And I slowly recovered
and probably through medical school it hopefully made me a better doctor
because I now understand what the patient's going through,
I can empathise with the patient.
Treatment-wise I was probably one of the fortunate ones.
I basically attended local sessions with a community psychiatric nurse
who had a specialist interest in eating disorders,
and basically talking through the process of why I became anorexic,
why I was anorexic
and what I was going to do to stop being anorexic.
So it was the before, now and after process.
Understanding the underlying causes of it,
the rationales I was holding,
the irrational thoughts I was having and ways of counteracting those.
So dealing with the uncomfortable thoughts about weight,
about exercise etcetera,
and finding ways to challenge those behaviours,
challenge those thoughts and get through it.
Since recovering I've become heavily involved
with trying to help other sufferers and people,
and not just the sufferers themselves, carers.
One of the main sources is BEAT.
The website is absolutely fantastic
as a resource of information, support and guidance
for parents, friends and the sufferers themselves.
And certainly the website now has a lot of tales of people like myself,
so there's always someone who's in a similar situation to you.
And their advice lines are very helpful indeed
and they'll get you in touch with people.
Whatever you need, they'll try their best to help.
I'd advise anyone out there, especially males,
because I was fobbed off by the first doctor saying, "You're just a bit lean,"
because it's not seen amongst males.
So I'd encourage any teenager, especially boys, to seek help
because there is help out there
and the biggest step is admitting that you have a problem,
like any illness but especially with a mental illness like anorexia,
is admitting that you need help.
After that it does become easier.
Hopefully your family will be as loving as mine
and will support you through it.
There are also support services.
There are psychiatric nurses, there are psychiatrists there,
there are more and more specialist facilities being created now.
Hopefully we can create more in the future closer to people's homes.
I would urge anyone, do not suffer alone, get help
and get back on the path to health.