Men Tell Their Stories

The Thin End of the Edge

My eating disorder (anorexia / bulimia / anorexia athletic - sometimes called hypergymnasia) started in late 1997. It started with the loss of my Mum and Grandfather. At that time I was a semi-pro footballer with Scotland U-16s and, due to grief, my weight began to plummet over next year.

I over-exercised with 10 mile runs daily, weight training and my football, which culminated in me collapsing at 5 stones after I went to holiday to Australia. I lost my football career due to sciatic nerve damage to my left leg due to the weight loss.

I was admitted to Gartnavel General Hospital as soon as I landed back in Glasgow. I spent 9 months in there, feeding via a Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy (PEG) tube and gradually starting a re-feeding diet. Eventually I reached a target weight of 7 stone and I was released.

I spent next few years struggling, but I maintained my weight and slowly got up to 9 stone via medication. I soon got back into working, in a wine warehouse as an Assistant Storeman, and then met the woman who would go on become my wife, Laura, during a night out in Kilmarnock. We married in 2006.

It wasn't too long after before my wife took ill. She had 4 miscarriages, which were mis-diagnosed as P.C.O.S, (Poly-Cystic Ovary Syndrome) but actually turned out to be ovarian cancer. This resulted in her having a full hysterectomy and a lengthy battle with chemotherapy. All this resulted in me relapsing, and my weight fell back down to 4 stone. I collapsed in bathroom of my house and split my head open on bathroom sink. On top of that, I had a major heart attack.

I was clinically dead for 11 minutes, but was revived via inserting a tube into my lung to restart my heart. I spent 4 months in I.C.U (Intensive Care Unit) and another 4 months on a general ward before I was released weighing 7 stone 6 lbs. 

I maintained that weight until my father had a huge stroke in 2012. This resulted in him being wheelchair bound and paralysed down his entire right side. My wife and I cared for him daily, alongside private carers.

He went into hospital in late 2014 for another amputation on his left foot, due to his severe diabetic illness, On way to theatre he had another huge stroke, a major heart attack after which Doctors gave him just days to live. He spent 4 weeks in hospital before he passed away.

All this over years of worry about his condition and the ultimate grief of losing my dad, who was my world along with my mum caused me to go down to 34kg. I was re-admitted to Cross House Hospital in Kilmarnock. My liver and kidneys had began to shut down and was put on re-feeding diet as my body had gone into shock, due to refeeding syndrome.

I was released in February 2015 at target weight of 52kg (5st 3lbs) and a B.M.I (Body Mass Index) of just 18.

Fast forward to now and I'm in firm recovery. I'm gaining weight weekly and fighting for memory of my parents, for my wife and MYSELF to make them proud. Doesn't everyone want that? That's something that, most importantly, helps to fulfill the life I should have.

I have great team of Eating Disorder specialists, especially my nurse Gina who has been there for me at the darkest times and is a diamond of a lady. I owe my life to her and my psychiatrist Dr. McCrae who, at times, helped me realise all the laxative abuse, purging, over-exercise were all to cope with the grief, even the hospitalisation was to save my life. I thank them from bottom of my heart.

I'm here today improving and will always have dark days, but I know the triggers and how to cope and be the pilot, rather than the passenger. I keep that wee voice locked at back of my head.

I'm here to show others that there is hope and light at end of the tunnel and want to help others find recovery and never give in. You are worth so much and you may think you are in control, but as long as you are slave to your disorder, you will never have the life you deserve.

Take today to begin your recovery and learn to love yourself. I became vegan in January 2016 and always say "people should really make sure they are doing so for ethical reasons, as it can really be a mask for your illness:" It's opened doors my illness closed. I love food and life again and I'm now an ambassador for b-eat in UK and See Me Scotland. I have been in all major newspapers and on radio and I've even spoken at Scottish Parliament. I also share my journey and Vegan lifestyle on my YouTube channel (linked below).

I'm here to help even just one person beat this illness, end the stigma of mental illness and show recovery is possible.

BINGE ON LIFE. PURGE NEGATIVITY. STARVE GUILTY FEELINGS.


Wow. All credit to Tommy for coming through everything life threw at him. It might have knocked him down at times, but we're so proud to say it didn't keep him down. A true fighter. Have you battled your own eating disorder? What got you through? Let us know in the comments below.

You can find out more about the most common Eating Disorders in our 'What Is...' section.

You can keep up-to-date with Tommy across social media, including on his YouTube channel, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook.