Tom Pollock is a rising author who has two published books under his belt. He has recently taken up an ambassador role with TheseGuys TalkLife which is a safe online platform for people to discuss their own mental health issues, particularly men.
With this, he published an expose on himself where in which he discussed his own mental health struggles in great and often graphic depth. He says that he would say that he had an eating disorder as such but rather it is a side effect of his depression which he has been dealing with since he was fourteen years old. In weekly therapy, Pollock has been on and off antidepressants for over 19 years.
He about his triggers and the fact that his binge eating can come from a disagreement with a loved one or even an invitation to finish up the leftovers from someone plate. He says that at the point that he is “crouched in the light of the fridge” only his jaw and his hands are involved in the experience. He doesn’t even taste the food, the rest of him is numb as a “mental health dam” bursts open and he will continue to eat until it “every mouthful hurts” he continues “but then that was the point or at least part of it”. He writes that in these moments, the thing that drives him deeper into the fridge draws is “the fear that I lack the power over myself to make a binding decision to stop eating. On bad days, I feel I cant trust myself”. He describes his binges as a coping mechanism for the pressures he has in his life, and the purging as a coping mechanism for the binging.
Pollock says that “however you characterise it, my relationship with my food, my body and the power I feel I need to exercise over it is dysfunctional”. It took a long time for Pollock to be diagnosed with bulimia as he wasn’t routinely making himself sick. Instead, exercise took over this element of the illness. He would eat until he disgusted himself and then get up and go for an eight-mile run before spending hours in the gym, it was this that would occassionally make him sick.
The reasons that Pollock has begun to openly and publically discuss this is because he feels that it is mental health is still very much a taboo subject in today’s culture. He uses his online presence as a sense of freedom as he is able to voice whatever he wants to. He says its “much harder than it ought to be to talk to friends and family about this stuff” which I completely agree with and feel that this idea of mental health being a taboo subject holds many people back. This can be highly dangerous as many people, seemingly especially men, appear to suffer in silence. Men have a much higher suicide rate, and men who suffer from bulimia make up most of this figure. Those are scary numbers when we think about the fact that in many cases, all it can take is one conversation to not feel so alone.
Pollock also notes the way in which the media and celebrity stories often add to the dark shadow of shame that is cast over mental health and can be, to may people, the reason for staying silent. Their stories are always depicted as harrowing dark times that they muddle through and come out the other side of living a better life, which is inspirational for sure but not completely representational. the severity of mental health issues can differ from day to day, for many people they are almost ghost-like, not gone but always there showing themselves at different periods throughout their lives. Because there s not much of this in the media, perhaps this is a reason that o many people still do not talk about their mental health.
This is why I feel that my project is so important. I want to open up the conversation on mental health and unite people through it. I struggle to believe that some people are completely unaffected by mental health, we all know someone who is struggling with life, or has done at some point. This makes us human and being human is okay.