I don’t remember the first time I purged. I remember it being a habit, a nightly ritual. I remember the pattern of the bathroom tiles in my parents’ house. White, diamond-shaped tiles, grout, the smell of toilet water – I spent a lot of time in there.
The anorexia and bulimia set in during my junior year of high school. But I didn’t have a name for it back then. Back then, it was the primal urge to be thin, to run as many miles as I could, to skip meals, to punish my body for eating.
In high school, I wasn’t anorexic. I was “manorexic”. The joke was that I was a man suffering from a woman’s condition. In college I didn’t seek help because I didn’t want to admit that I had a problem. I was also closeted at the time, and I feared that telling anyone I had an eating disorder would “out” me.
I, like so many other men, was trapped. I felt compelled to maintain my masculinity, and that meant I couldn’t be weak. At the time, preserving this sense of masculinity took precedence over my own health.