We speak very frank and honest about our mental health when it comes to body image and how we perceive ourselves. I know I have battled with it many, many times.
It struck me one day however....Where are the men who feel the same way? I know women aren't the only ones who feel like this, but they are the ones who seem to have the voice.
While the suicide rates in young men continue to rise and rise, we all need to do our part to show men that they CAN and SHOULD speak about their self-confidence, body issues and hangups (amongst other things).
I have a follower on Instagram. His name is Christopher. I approached him and asked him to tell me his story, and what you are about to read is true, from the heart and something we ALL can relate to.
Hi there, my name is Chris. I was asked to write a piece about myself for the girls at Celtic
Curves, so here goes.
I guess I’ve always been “big”, or what people would characterise as “plus sized”. I also
believe that I have always been depressed since I was about 10 or 11 years old. That doesn’t
mean I blame one for the other, but I’m sure there is some correlation there.
As a child, my depression manifested itself with me eating more than I should and eventually
in self-harming, including cutting and deliberately injuring myself; all of which seemed to go
unnoticed, along with severe self-destructive behaviour, including drink and drug use. That
all spiralled out of control several times on the road to where the next chapter begins, and is
maybe a story for another time.
Fast forward to 2011 when I moved to Ireland. I didn’t have a plan - I was a bit of a mess, but
in good shape considering all that went before and that led to the move. I would say I was
roughly 16/17 stone, which isn’t really heavy for me. I tried living with family in Galway, but
that didn’t work out. So in a town where I knew no one, and had no family I could rely on, I
quickly turned to the pubs to meet people. This is fine, except I was doing it every day and to
my detriment, doing zero activity.
A year later, I had ballooned to likely over 25 stone without seeming to realise, until I saw the photos from my mum’s wedding in 2012. I was a mess, and those who saw me thought I was on the road to a heart attack, or similar, soon.
This didn’t change me at all.
A year later, I turned 30 and this was my turning point. I was sick of being the fat guy, out of breath, always drunk, etc. So I joined Planet Fitness in Galway and started my fitness journey, as it’s now called.
I don’t recall weighing myself at the start. I was ashamed I guess, but I remember after six months or so weighing about 29 stone, which is really big and unhealthy. So I kept plugging away, made a few friends along the way, and slowly but surely I made progress from obese to not-so-much obese, and gradually things changed for me. The depression never goes away through it all; it just takes a back seat and waits to rear its ugly head when you think things are going well.
In 2015 with things going well and fresh off the back of a six week trip around Europe with a good friend, I undertook a fitness instruction and personal training course here in Galway; mainly for my own benefit to help with my own training, but always thinking that maybe if I lost more weight etc. I could maybe fit into that “perfect body” idea that people have of PT’s. Well that didn’t happen, but a good friend of mine with a small gym wanted to travel and suggested I take over while he was away.
Now it was around this time that one of the best and the worst things ever happened in my life.
First I met Michelle, my girlfriend, and then about a month later my brother passed away unexpectedly. I knew I’d be a mess and told Michelle to leave me which she didn’t. Fair play to her; she stuck out all the tears, the drinking, and the temper tantrums related to grief. I didn’t deal with my brothers passing, and just a year later my grandmother passed away, which was another big hit. All through this time, I was running this small gym, training myself to the bone whilst trying to keep my depression at bay. The one big thing I found that got me through, besides the emotional support of my girlfriend, was the gym. Being able to switch off and train and put all my aggression in to training has seen me drop more weight and gain muscle and strength I didn’t think I could.
But I have also come to another conclusion - the gym is just another manifestation of the self-harm, albeit a positive one, that benefits me mostly. I enjoy the pain, the aches and recovery, and eagerly anticipate the next session.
What this means, I don’t know - I’m really not a shrink. What I am is a normal guy with a story; some serious ups and downs who seems to be nearly out the other side, until something else comes along and knocks me down again. But I keep getting up and fighting back and that’s what counts.
To end for now, I want to say its possible to be happy and have depression - it sounds silly, like a juxtaposition, but my life is good. I’m 21 stone, and fit and really strong. I’m as happy as I could hope to be with my body right now. I’m getting married this year to a lovely woman with a lovely daughter. I have a roof over my head, a car, two beautiful dogs and a full time job. Yet I’m on antidepressants again. Why? Because right now I feel I need them, and my doctor does too, and they seem to help me. The point I seem to find in this is - if you need help ask for it. My depression isn’t linked to being overweight, or relationship issues, or having nothing in life - all things that would have been triggers before. It has evolved over time so it’s different for me. I’m just doing my best with what I have, and I think that’s okay.
Thanks for reading. If you got to the end, well done! I feel I rambled and maybe got off topic, but there you go - I never claimed to be a writer!!
(Find me on Instagram)
So I was asked to do a little piece for the lovely ladies at Celtic Curves - positive role models in every sense of the word. I wasn’t sure what to write about that would be of interest to everyone. I was a little scared because it’s one thing writing for myself, but to write for others is a little harder.
Then I remembered the quote below, fear doesn’t open doors.
So a little about me from way back when, before the world turned upside down.
I’m an only child, but not the spoiled type that people go on about. My dad was a lot older than my mum, and unfortunately when I was 9, he passed away. Life got tough and I moved from Sligo to Donegal at age 11 to live with my aunt.
I was such a shy awkward child who was bigger than the average child, and boy did I pay for it. From the age of 11 till 13, I was badly bullied. I had two nicknames courtesy of the bullies - R.A.T (Russian army tank) or for anyone of a certain age you will remember the advert for Domestos that went (sing it it makes more sense!)...."Big Big Dom". Well I was big Anne. I was often kicked and punched, had rotten eggs pelted at me etc. One night, I finally had enough after being punched in the stomach. I got up, pulled my fist behind my head and hit that boy with all the force of the big girl I was, and left him on his ass. From that day on, I was never bullied again, I realised bullies are cowards and once you stand up to them, they cower.
I think that was the start of my journey fighting with myself to be like everyone else so I wouldn’t stand out. God or the heavens had other plans. At 17 I got Alopecia. It was just patches to start with, but by 22 it was all gone & I’d lost all my hair on my head and body.
So why now am I putting myself out there? Two reasons - a broken heart, and I’m tired hiding. So many people hide for various reasons but not me; not anymore. I want people to see me. I want to make a bald woman the norm. Hell, I want to make the type of person I am the norm. I won’t let the lack of hair or the size of my clothes define me and neither should you!
Be you. There’s no one else like you in the world, and that should be celebrated. I love this quote “I am me there is no one else I’d rather be”. Be you, be brave and most of all be authentic to yourself.
Ms Amazebald xx