Raw, deep, heartbreaking and eye opening. Freddie Flintoff opened up about his battle with bulimia in BBC documentary- Freddie Flintoff: Living with Bulimia.
I was in two minds about watching it as I’d seen so many pre TW about it from BETA, NHS & NEDA. But I wanted to see how my experience with bulimia would compare to a mans.
During the programme, the former international cricketer met with Pam. Pam’s youngest son Laurence developed bulimia in his late teens and he tragically passed away due to internal failures brought on by the vomiting.
At this point I started absaloutley balling. My heart broke for them. It brought it all back, the reality of how deep an illness like this can become. If I had a pound for every time I heard that I was so close to dying, high risk of a heart attack, my kidneys are failing, I’m killing myself etc. from a professional then I’d be rich. And although I was crying, for a split second there I thought “god I miss being that sick and close to death”…. because if I’m that ill then the bulimia is “successful” but I quickly shook myself back to recovery reality.
Pam warned Freddie : “It is okay having a mental health issue, it’s just making sure that it won’t become a fatality.
Like I said, I watched it so I could compare bulimia from a male and females perspective. I’m not sure what I was expecting but I was shocked at how many similarities there were!
For example he mentions
- Feeling guilting after consuming food, no matter how big or small.
- Worrying about food and about putting weight on
- Being in denial and telling yourself “you’ve got this”
- Checking out the toilets and knowing which ones are ‘good’ & which are ‘bad’
- Thinking that you’re okay when you compare yourself to other sick people
Another thing that hit me hard was in the show he goes to talk to a specialist at The Maudsley Psychiatric hospital in London. This was the first rehab I was admitted to.
I was instantly taken back, my heart skipped a beat. I haven’t seen that building since I discharged myself and walked out 3 years ago. A few tears rolled down my cheek watching their shots of the clinical corridors there. Reminding me of how fatal my bulimia once was. I suddenly realised I was crying uncontrollably, upset for the old 7 stone version of me, wishing I could help her!
It took a lot of courage for Freddie to speak out tonight. It’s not easy to tell one person, let alone the whole nation. And it’s all anyone’s talking about which is what needed to happen! Even if it means that it helps just one man to feel more comfortable asking to help!
If you or a loved one is struggling and need help, or more information please contact B-eat (Beat Eating Disorders)
Helpline: 0808 801 0677
Youthline: 0808 801 0711
Studentline: 0808 801 0811
Beat provides advice and support and information for anyone with an eating disorder including anorexia and bulimia nervosa. Beat has increased its service provision to respond to this huge demand, including coronavirus support group The Sanctuary, and is now further expanding with a new range of free, UK-wide support services. b-eat.co.uk