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Daily journalist reveals 12-year eating disorder battle in bid to help others

Callum ParkeA regional daily journalist has opened up on his 12-year battle with an eating disorder.

The Derby Telegraph’s Callum Parke has spoken out about his condition in a bid to encourage others to seek the help they need.

Callum was diagnosed last summer with body dysmorphic disorder, a condition where people worry intensely about aspects or all of their body.

And in a first-person peice for the Telegraph, he revealed he had previously been dealing with the issue alone since he was just 13.

Callum, pictured, wrote: “My earliest memory of my ED stems from a remark made to me in high school about my size. I remember it vividly, 12 years on, not knowing how to react. I’d never thought about my size before – what 13-year-old would or should?

“I brushed it under the carpet to family and teachers, despite their questions, but an obsession with image has followed me since.

“I was by no means obese as a teenager, and when I was 18, I went to university and slimmed out without really trying – a diet of vodka and Cokes and Heinz soup in my first year probably saw to that.

“But still, I attended Loughborough University, the sports university of the UK. I loved it, but every boy I saw seemed to be a rugby player who was twice my size and built of pure muscle. Whatever stage of my life I was at, I always seemed to be inferior or sub-par, one way or another, in my mind.

“That led to odd and often drastic changes to my diet, for little benefit. I had to cut carbs, cut bread, cut milk, cut chocolate, cut everything. I had to wear the smallest clothes I could find to look skinny when instead it just made me look like I had no money to buy clothes that fitted.

“I look back and find those behaviours silly, now, but the problem still affects me, just in other ways.”

Callum went on to explain he still experiences guilt if he doesn’t exercise for a day or two, or doesn’t eat what he believes to be healthy.

He added: “For those who have never had body dysmorphia, or an eating disorder of any kind, this will likely sound ridiculous. Objectively, I know it is, but stopping it is another matter entirely.”

“Speaking to a GP was a huge first step, immediately relieving some of the pressure before I was referred to the Derby-based charity First Steps ED – formerly First Steps Derbyshire – which runs a range of services from workshops to one-to-one counselling.

“I am still going through counselling with them, and I am lucky to have the full support of my family, my partner and my friends. But most important of all is the people I have met from across the country through First Steps who have the same problem – it is liberating to know that you are not alone, and they provide great support.

“If it took me 12 years to recognise that my behaviours were not a healthy part of my life before seeking help, doubtless others will have struggled for longer.

“You may well recognise some of the behaviours I have outlined in your friends and loved ones. And particularly as we approach Christmas – where food is omnipresent – it may be worth asking how they are doing. Even if it only gets the ball rolling, it is a ‘first step’ in the right direction.”