Michael Mitchell's Story
A couple of years ago I was on a path of self-destruction. I was in my final year of University and I was studying day and night. This account is a part of a recovery process, which has finally started to speed up. It is an account of events that have made me a stronger person, a deeper person, and a person that knows the real meaning of life.
In the beginning of my final year at University I was ready and keen to face a year I would enjoy and live to the fullest. Little was I to know that right at the beginning, everything would change. Personal problems seemed to be blown to proportions beyond my wildest imagination. It was was way out of control.
The complexity of the problems that started to take place and the truths that were revealed made me retreat to my studies. I stopped going out, I stopped socializing, I alienated most of my friends and all I did was work. The only positive thing to come out of this was that I went from just ‘getting through varsity’ to becoming an obsessive compulsive case who actually landed up coming first in my year, one of my greatest achievements in life so far.
I mean, the best Industrial Engineering student of 2007? Me? Ok then! The work became my life and everyone could see a difference in me. They were proud, but the Michael they knew was different, and not many people knew that behind the scenes, he was falling apart, piece by piece! The Michael that was at his prime around the time of his 21st birthday, as was evident in his (too-long) speech at the party, was dead, and he was replaced by a presence, covered in a bulletproof vest that seemed to be useless.
I would go home every weekend to ensure the situation did not get worse. I had to endure having to sit and listen to stories, and I was stuck in the middle, trying to find out the truth of what was going on. Each person was for his own, and did not think of what the consequences of anything else would be. CONSEQUENCE is a big word! I had always been ‘100%’ fine with what had happened in my earlier years, but it is human nature to doubt and to want to find out certain things, when things are insinuated. It was like we had read in 'Twelfth Night' at school. I was like the modern day Iago! I became a little cranky, finding people from the past, hiring investigators, fighting with my closest family members, and again – going back to varsity at the end of the weekend, just to retreat to my work.
While this was all going on, I didn’t realise that I was becoming weaker and weaker in body and mind alike. I had lost all control and I had to control something. This something happened to be food. I did not realize it at the time but it was happening, and by the end of my University year, after slaving away at my work 24/7, I had lost 16kg. I had gone from 84kg to 69kg, which was still healthy, but my mindset was literally messed. I will not go into details of the ‘diets’ I tried because they can’t be too healthy, and I don’t want to give sufferers any ideas, as I know that that is what we looked for – any possible way to drop weight, however unhealthy it may have been.
Then it stopped! I was not studying anymore and I had moved back home. (My mother was living in a small townhouse). I was still trying to dig up stories from the past and confusion made life spin out of control. I was sleeping on the couch, while living out of the garage (my mom’s place was too small). My health started to deteriorate. I controlled food even more, in my attempt to control something. I lost another 8kg, landing myself at 61kg. I looked horrendous, although I liked it at the time, but my confidence levels had dropped.
I made sure I was there the person people could rely on for as long as necessary, but I was now very sick. I thought I was crazy, and I literally think I was. Then came the breakdown, I was diagnosed! I was diagnosed with an eating disorder! This was something I did not know males could get, but apparently it is more common than we think, and it is just a case of males not coming out with their problems relating to such things as much as females do, out of fear of being seen as weak and 'not mucho'.
Yes, I will use the word now...I had/have ANOREXIA! An anorexic will always have anorexia, but if they recover, it is just a case of them dealing with the problem. There I was, at 23 years old, with the world at my feet, but I could not have a life due to this deadly disease. I was admitted into a rehabilitation centre – the lowest point of my life. Hey, at least I can say that 99% of anorexics are geniuses, as they have the power to control every last detail). Haha.
Everyone thinks Anorexia Nervosa is a disease to do with food, when the truth is that food has nothing to do with it. Food is a side effect of Anorexia, a disease that has got to do with more serious mental issues brought about by events in a person’s life. So to everyone who looks at skinny people with the disease and who keep saying things like,”Goodness, you could do with a burger!; “Pull yourself together” or “Just Eat”, please understand that it is not that we do not want to, but it is pretty much physically impossible at the time.
It's hard to explain but it's the truth. Only someone who has been in this position will understand what I mean by this. I apologize to the people I left out of the loop and to my friends I have neglected. I have turned over a new leaf and I want people to understand me and not judge me. I also want to help people in similar situations. I know I am not the only one with such problems, and I am here to help realize is what I am going to get out of my story...the satisfaction that I have the power to make a difference in people who are suffering.
This is what the Almighty God has planned for me. I know it is Him who has put me in a position to help others. God is the ultimate healer, and without him, I wouldn't be back on the right path. In fact, I would be six feet underground, dead and buried! Who needs to pay thousands in doctor's fees when God is the best psychologist there is, and guess what? - He is on call 24/7...for free! In fact, He paid the price for all of us!
I now live in my own place, and I am doing well and can live a rather normal life again. I am in a relationship with an amazing girl who understands me, and who supports me, and I am just getting to the juicy bit of my story.
Michael Transforms Into A Bodybuilder
My mother did find comfort in a very special person, a person I have the ultimate respect for. This man, Mr. Michael Maritz, happens to be the chairman of the IFBB and Fitness North West Province committee, of which I am now a part of myself. I started off on the committee a skinny man, and I went through some of the post effects of anorexia, like binge eating, purging etc. I was training but I was doing it all wrong.
Putting on weight is such a scary prospect...It still is...but as it starts coming, you realize it's not so bad, but you have your moments. I have a program which explains how it is the subconscious that contains illogical thoughts that need to be changed, which is tough to do, because an anorexic doesn’t know what these thoughts are at first. Some anorexics even believe that if they give up the 'control', they will cease to exist. I am still getting to my subconscious. Bits and pieces are starting to fit together.
As I write this, I am just remembering how I used to feel the cold so badly! I used to literally turn blue! I couldn’t even go swimming in the middle of summer because my body didn't regulate to the temperature of the water. I still have a bit of a fear of swimming now, and it was the only sport I actually used to love! It was then that to work toward something positive and I set the date as the 10 April 2010...the IFBB Platinum Novice show, or ‘ED’s burial’ as I called it.
I was told by some people that I could never pull it off, and this made me more determined. I got onto a proper eating plan, and ate, even if I didn’t want to. I trained with Michael as he is a personal trainer at Virgin Active Rustenburg, and I also learned how to train on my own in a correct manner if I needed it. The road had begun, and I started seeing results.
I am also a person with absolutely no rhythm and Michael’s son, Morné had to assist me with posing, which started off with many laughs, but ended up quite serious, after I had mastered the motions. I guess I had to connect with the muscle. Looking in the mirror while posing (I could not look in the mirror in the past), and seeing improvements week by week made me smile, and my family realized I was actually serious this time. I made my meals every night and went to work with my lunch boxes of meals, and I started to get excited for the show. I was also extremely nervous, and wanted to pull out many times, but I stuck to it.
The morning of 10 April, I woke up (I hardly slept) like a bag of nerves, and I was ready to pull out, but I realized I had to do this, for myself...not to win in my division, but to win something within me. So I went to the show, with my support system by my side.
Thanks Biance (my angel), Mom, Dad, Mike, Marco, Nico, Mike Jnr and Morné. I got my tan on backstage, and my ultimate fear of people looking at my body had to be faced. I had to stand in my posing trunks (bloody hell they are tiny) throughout the show (backstage).
I did the prejudging and of the Classic bodybuilding division. This is more a fitness look which is more my type of look. I then went on to the night show and did my awesome routine (thanks to a little OBS in my system). I only placed 3rd, but I felt great. A speech was given about where I had come from and I got a special award for my achievement.
After the show and backstage, some people came to find me and tell me I am an inspiration. The feeling of such a comment is awesome. I could now use this as a platform to set myself as an example to others and help people with eating disorders, as well as promote the sport of bodybuilding, of which I have become a big part of and truly love. It was after the addictive feeling of becoming a different person on stage, that I decided I want to do it again, bigger, better, harder, stronger.
I have set a date for the next show, the M+M Classics to be held on July 10 at Bafokeng Civic Centre (Phokeng-Rustenburg). Please check out show details on our website www.ifbbnw.mobi and please join our Facebook group at http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=66677429738&ref=ts ...and RSVP to the show there if you plan to make it. I would also like to mention that the IFBB is a non-profitable organization, and we as a committee organize our shows because it is our passion, and we enjoy doing so. If you would like to help us develop the sport, any sponsorship would be really great. Please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I urge anyone who needs help and advice regarding eating disorders to email me at email@example.com, add me on Facebook (Michael Nicholas Mitchell), or call me. You could also call me regarding training and nutrition or better still, contact the best trainer ever, Michael Maritz. Any parents who are suffering thorough this with their children and need advice, could contact Maria Englezakis (My mother - email Michaekl for details).