Out In The Open

When putting a face to your 'invisible illness' hides it even more

For people who suffer from eating disorders, the stereotype that it’s a white, Western, young women’s issue can make it even harder to get help.
(Danielle Helm)
Listen6:31

The face of eating disorders is often characterized as a young, thin, white woman.

But what happens when you don't fit that stereotype?

For Tyson Busby and Sonia Seguin, it made it really hard to get better.

Tyson purged for seven years, while Sonia dealt with several eating disorders for eight years.

"There's not a lot of opportunity and help out there that's just focused on males with eating disorders...I kept falling deeper and deeper into my eating disorder because there was no help," said Tyson.

For Sonia, she identifies as bicultural, "half-Indian and half-Canadian." She says that stereotype added an extra layer of invisibility to her eating disorder.

"It definitely played a role in doctors not diagnosing me earlier. I saw many doctors early on and none of them thought it was an eating disorder. They all thought it was just tiredness or moodiness or me being just 18."

Tyson says one of the biggest challenges of living with an eating disorder - as someone who was mainly a 'normal' weight - is trying to get through each day, while no one else knows what you're going through.

"When I finally took the step to get help was when I actually tried to commit suicide and I woke up in the hospital," said Tyson.

Sonia says it's not just the invisible suffering but that the victories are often invisible too and won alone.

She recalls a moment during her recovery when she bought her lunch.

"I thought, you know what, all I have to worry about in this moment is to have one bite. And, that's it….So that moment I was able to take that bite of my lunch and keep on taking a bite until I'd finished my lunch, that was just incredible. And, I felt like, you know what, this disorder doesn't have to win."