Boy, Interrupted

Meet Jeremy, a 36-year-old man who weighs 88 pounds. "Manorexia" isn't just a Hollywood illness.

"The actual act of purging relieves anxiety—physiologically, it's one of the things it does," Jeremy says.

By January 1, 2007, Jeremy was deep in the throes of his eating disorder. "So far, 2007 has been much like 2006 ended," he wrote on his blog. "I woke up twice during the night and binged and purged. Later this morning, I will be going to circuit training class at 8:30. I might also go to spin class immediately following if I feel up to it."

Jeremy started a blog in the hopes of meeting other males with eating disorders, but he soon fell in with an online sisterhood of anorexics. They offered sympathy and comfort, especially when one of their own succumbed. "I was just reading Feisty Frida's Blog and found out the horrible news that Leah just died from her eating disorder," Jeremy wrote on January 10. "It makes me very angry at this awful disease."

Nick Vlcek
Nick Vlcek

Jeremy wasn't much better off. Just five days later, he found himself short of breath after his spin class, his fingers turning blue even though he wasn't cold. Jeremy called a doctor friend and briefly considered going to the hospital, but drank some juice and felt better. Later that night, he binged and purged.

He was withering away; you'd have to be blind not to see it. Finally, the manager of his gym politely asked him to stop coming until he got healthier. It was a liability issue, she explained.

Though no longer exercising, Jeremy continued to shed pounds. On March 16, he weighed 109. Just a month later, he was down to 102 pounds. "Two more pounds..." he wrote on his blog. "And then what? I'll be happy all of the sudden?"

Two weeks later he hit 99, and he wasn't anywhere near happy.

Guess Who?

My hair is falling out and growing on my keep me warm.

My gums are receding.

My reproductive system is dormant...or dead.

I am hunchbacked because my muscles cannot support my neck.

I am extremely constipated.

I have a bedsore on my tailbone from the friction.

An 80-year-old lady, you ask? No, a 35-year-old man.

—Posted on Jeremy's blog on June 15, 2007

If there's one thing Jeremy won't abide, it's questions about whether he's going to enter treatment. As far as he's concerned, that's nobody's business but his own. If you'd experienced what he's been through at hospitals, he says, you'd understand.

Just a few weeks ago, he seemed resigned to death.

"If I'm supposed to be here in a year, I'll be here," he said. "I figure it can't be worse than the amount I've suffered to date, so I'm not afraid of that part of it. The only thing I'm really afraid of is if there was something big I was supposed to do and I wasn't able to do it. That's my only fear."

Since then, his mood seems to have brightened. He is considering getting treatment at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, the best local facility for people with eating disorders. He talks about writing a memoir and offering his services as a public speaker. Maybe that's the "something big" he's supposed to do, he says.

Sachs, now a 37-year-old mother of two young boys, hopes her childhood friend will begin the journey to recovery. "I've never seen him this bad," she says. "To me, you always see him the way he should be, and so now when I look at him, I think it's horrible. When I look at him I want to cry."

To hear Jeremy's story in his own words, click on our audio slide show

For more photos of Jeremy, scroll through this photo gallery

For links to Eating Disorder resources or to comment on the story, please visit our blog.

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