My name is Matt Wetsel. I’m a late 20-something, regular old boring guy who happened to have an eating disorder in college. I am not a doctor. Though I may discuss or reference things that helped me in my own recovery, this is not a self-help site or intended to be a source of any kind of medical advice.
Eating disorders are an often ignored and trivialized mental health epidemic that claim more lives than any other mental health condition. After suffering from anorexia for two years, I’m a committed activist and advocate for all things ED-related. I’m currently writing a book about recovery and gender, and this blog serves as a companion piece to air ideas and keep me on my toes.
I’m a regular participant in Lobby Day work with the Eating Disorders Coalition, an organization devoted to working on the federal recognition of eating disorders as a public health priority. I’ve been attending twice a year since 2007, and can easily say it’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. Eating disorders are such an increasingly widespread and deadly problem that without intervention on the federal level, the stigma, ignorance, and discrimination against persons with eating disorders will persist.
Over the years since I have recovered, I’ve had the opportunity to share my story and insights from recovery in various capacities within the community, from sociology and health psychology classes to community-organized talks during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week to interviews with various news sources. In April 2011, I was given the honor of presenting my story at the Eating Disorders Coalition Congressional Briefing following the Spring 2011 Lobby Day (which you can watch here!). Aside from legislation, I believe direct conversations and presentations are the most important way to decrease stigma and increase understanding/awareness of eating disorders. Fear of judgment and feelings of shame often stand in the way of people seeking help for eating disorders. I decided a long time ago that having an eating disorder was nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s my goal to spread that message as far as I can.
I don’t fit the profile of the “kind of person” you’d expect to have an eating disorder, so I feel my involvement as an activist is important because I’m living proof that eating disorders do not discriminate. As a late 20-something male who doesn’t fit any of the stereotypes, people are often surprised to hear that I suffered from anorexia for two years. If you think about it, though, there isn’t a “type” of person you’d expect to have almost any other health condition, from alcoholism to cancer to diabetes to schizophrenia – no one sizes you up and says, “You don’t look like a diabetic!” Eating disorders, however, have been written off by much of society as a trivial matter. Meanwhile, families go bankrupt to get their loved ones the treatment they need.
Men face additional layers of stigma when seeking support because of the common misperception that eating disorders are a “woman’s disease” or that it somehow calls into question one’s masculinity because of other inaccurate stereotypes. The only thing you can tell about a person with an eating disorder, whether male or female, is that they are suffering from a life-threatening illness.
In the meantime, I’ll be writing, speaking, blogging, advocating, and educating about eating disorders …until they are no more.
Awards & Honors
2013 Henry Abraham Best Graduate Student Paper Award, The Virginia Social Science Association, for “Eating Disorders, Mental Health, and Medical Necessity”
Media and Other Appearances
2013 – Striving For Perfection: Boys & Body Image,The Stream
2013 – Anorexia in Men on the Rise, Huffington Post Live
2012 – The Public Perception of Eating Disorders, Huffington Post Live
2011 – Men with Anorexia, WRIC Channel 8
2011 – Eating Disorders Coalition Congressional Briefing: “No More Gender Bias” Public speech, Capitol Hill
2009 – Guys Have Eating Disorders, Too (podcast, Regence Radio)
Questions, comments? Just want to say hi? Email me at EDsNoMore@gmail.com or just leave a comment below!