Anorexia is more than a state of mind #NoNormal

True Stories

no normal jack

Jack experienced anorexia as a teenager and is now an entrepreneur

My name is Jack Jacobs and I’m 22 years old. I recently left my corporate job in London to dive into the world of entrepreneurship, and dedicate more time to mental health campaigning. If I’m not setting up a business or thinking of ways to change the world, I’m running, reading, writing or spending time with family.

Everyone will have a different definition of normal

…just like success! We all have different backgrounds, upbringings and experiences that shape how we view the world. Everything changes all of the time – there is no such thing as normal. Instead, ask yourself…Am I happy? If I carry on the path I’m currently on, will I end up where I want to be? If YES, then keep pushing and ignore the noise.

Anorexia is a shadow you can never run away from

I felt trapped, weak and stuck. My relationship with two fundamental things in life – food and exercise – was in ruins. I isolated myself from everyone, even myself. Numbers on the back of food packets, and on my scales consumed me. I was crippled by guilt and compulsion; did I eat too much? I’m not good enough, I need to lose more weight, run more, push myself further….

Do I grow or do I crumble?

My life changed when I asked a nurse if I was going to die, and she said, “Let’s go and speak to your Dad.” I was scared and shocked. At that moment, on that day, I felt a sudden urge to fight. The months that followed were tough. I was on a formal meal plan, being weighed at least once a week. One day I remember going to the hospital and in the waiting room I turned ice cold and had sharp shooting pains going to my heart. Even after weeks of fuelling my body appropriately, I started to realise the detrimental impacts of what I was doing. It was scary. But, anorexia is more than a state of mind, it’s deeper, and it can so easily creep its way back into your life.

The road to recovery

I insisted that I should maintain a healthy diet whilst gaining weight, instead of scoffing Starbucks’ muffins to pile on the pounds. In November 2012, I ran a 10KM, in February 2013 I was on ITV Morning News for BEAT, and in March 2013, I ran my first half marathon.

Being male and opening up

I think men find it harder to open up about their mental health because they fear it might show signs of weakness. I can tell you first hand, the only way you can move forward is by opening up, and sharing your emotions and feelings. This could be to a complete stranger, your family, a trusted friend or someone else, but open up, because it will change your life.

Technology is a tool

The way we use it determines its impact. It seems that a lot of people blame technology, but I believe it’s not the tech we need to blame, it’s ourselves. If we use social media as an example, it’s become excessive. I don’t use social media on a frequent basis and if I do, it’s purely for my business, not to show off the (not so) perfect life I have.

United but Unique

We should fight poor mental health together but remember that everyone has different experiences and is on their own path. Teamwork creates the best work, together we are stronger and if we were all the same, the world would be a very boring place!

Self-awareness is key to everything

I’m still developing and growing as an individual; as I unraveled anorexia, I learnt more about myself and my own mental health. Mental health is just as important as physical health – they work together. You should spend just as much time training your mind as you would do training to improve your physical health.

Jack’s Top Tips

For anyone experiencing a mental health problem, or feeling stuck:

  1. Ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing – this will give you perspective.
  2. Find a focus – this will kick you into another gear
  3. Never stop believing in yourself – self-belief will get you through every single challenge you’re confronted with

Remember, the only limit is the one you set yourself #NoLimits #NoNormal

Next Steps

  • Beat help people overcome eating disorders through helplines, online support and self-help groups. Call 0808 801 0677 or, if you're under 18, call their Youthline on 0808 801 0711.
  • Men get eating disorders too (MGEDT) run discussion boards for men with eating disorders where you can get peer support.
  • Eating Disorders Support has a telephone helpline with 24/7 answer message service and email support for people with eating disorders and anyone concerned about them. Call on 01494 793223.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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Updated on 09-Oct-2018