September 29, 2015
Bigorexia is real … and it kills. The men who are obsessed with pumping iron
GOING to the gym is supposed to be good for you – but sufferers of a new addiction are risking their lives when they work out. Known as bigorexia, it makes people obsess over beefing up their bodies, and no amount of muscle is ever enough. The condition can also lead sufferers, who are mainly men, to abuse supplements and steroids in their bid for bulk.
This week a report revealed ten per cent of gym-goers could suffer from the condition, which can lead to depression and even suicide.It comes as actress Helen Mirren hit out at the pressure on men to be “gym bunnies” to get roles, saying: “It’s very hard to find a male actor with a real body. They all have to be in the gym for three or four hours a day. Awful.” Bigorexia, also known as body dysmorphic disorder, can cause anxiety, depression, heart disorders and even heart failure. Rob Willson, chairman of the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation warns: “Bigorexia creates the same behavioural patterns as anorexia, and can be just as destructive. “Men feel ashamed and humiliated about their bodies and it dominates their lives. “They will pump iron to the point of exhaustion, lift impossible weights and, no matter how much training they do, it is never enough.” A survey this year found there may be as many as ONE MILLION steroid abusers in the UK, some as young as 13. This figure does not surprise bigorexia sufferer Calvin Davidson, who turned to steroids after becoming obsessed with body sculpting. The joiner, 28, of Montrose, Angus, says: “As a child I was bullied for being chubby. “I was so depressed about how I looked I wanted to do something about my body. “A year and a half ago I began training. I started going to the gym every day and saw a change in my ugly body. “I got a six-pack and my muscles were getting really big, but not big enough for me. My girlfriend told me to slow down, but I was hooked.” But his obsession took its toll. He said: “I was so tired, I could fall asleep at the drop of a hat. “Everything in my life suffered, my relationship, my work, but all I thought about was training.” Calvin then started taking steroids and suffering their side effects. He says: “I bought anabolic steroid tablets on the internet and took them for four months. They made me so angry, I was a danger to myself. “I stopped taking them to calm my moods down, but I couldn’t cut down the training and I still train as hard today. “My mum is really worried about me and I know I need help with bigorexia, but I can’t control it.” Tina and Chris Dear from Southend, Essex, know just how devastating bigorexia can be. The couple lost their son Matthew, 17, from what they believe was anabolic steroid use. The teen became hooked on the idea of being muscled, and resorted to steroid drugs. He was dead within weeks. His mum believes the drug led to his brain swelling. She has set up the Matthew Dear Foundation to warn other young people about the dangers of bigorexia. Heartbroken Tina says: “The message needs to be that this disorder is dangerous. A lot of youngsters who take steroids don’t see them as drugs — they think they’re a supplement. “It’s so important to raise awareness and show people they can achieve the body they want the healthy, natural way, without steroids.” The couple believe the desire to emulate the muscular stars that Dame Helen talks of is a major factor in bigorexia’s increase. Tina says: “Society is very aware of girls wanting to be like models, wanting to be stick thin and taking diet pills. “But we are not aware of the pressures put on young men to be like their role models, look a certain way, to have a certain image.” Dad Adam Trice was one of those young men. He struggled so much with his body image, he attempted suicide to end the suffering. The charity worker, 31, of Shipley, West Yorkshire, then went on to suffer heart failure at the age of 28 because of steroid abuse. He says: “All I cared about was being in the gym and lifting weights for hours every day. I was obsessed with getting as big as possible but I never reached my goals.” Adam, who has two daughters — Macey, seven, and Emilia, two — believes his problems with body image began at a young age. He says: “When I was 14 I started lifting weights because I hated my body. “I was diabetic and felt I was weedy. At 16 I became a bodybuilder and the size of my muscles were everything to me, it proved I was a man and I could take anyone on. “At 19 I started taking steroids and working out five or six times a week for three hours a time. “The steroids made me very aggressive. Over seven years I got 15 criminal convictions for violence and drink-driving.” By the age of 26, Adam had exhausted himself. He says: “I’d mentally had enough and tried to kill myself. I was rushed to hospital after overdosing and they saved my life. “Seeing my family around my bed was the turning point for me. I started therapy, which enabled me to see what I was doing to myself. “At 28 I had heart failure because of the steroid abuse. I’d ruined my body. “Now I am very strict with limiting any gym time — I’ve learned to like myself and my body and realise that we all have imperfections.” http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/real_life/6666954/Bigorexics-risking-their-lives-to-achieve-perfect-body.html