Actor Christopher Eccleston, who played the Ninth Doctor in the long-running British sci-fi series Doctor Who, struggled with anorexia, body dysmorphia, and depression for much of his life, according to his forthcoming autobiography, I Love the Bones of You: My Father and the Making of Me. In it, Eccleston describes himself as a “lifelong body hater.”
“I always thought of it as a filthy secret, because I’m northern, because I’m male and because I’m working class,” wrote 55-year-old Eccleston. He was also severely anorexic during the filming of Doctor Who, he wrote: “The illness is still there raging within me as the Doctor.”
“People love the way I look in that series, but I was very ill,” wrote Eccleston, whose leather jacket-wearing Doctor with bad boy flare is still a favorite of many Doctor Who fans. “The reward for that illness was the part. And therein lies the perpetuation of the whole sorry situation.”
Eating disorders are stigmatized across the board, but boys and men are especially unlikely to come forward about their struggles. The Guardian reports that according to the NHS, the number of adult men admitted to hospitals for eating disorders has increased by 70 percent in the United Kingdom since 2011. Still, experts believe that many men are being overlooked and are suffering in silence, still—like Eccleston—bogged down with the stigma of eating disorders being thought of as a woman’s issue.
That’s a misconception, of course, and it has a real human toll. Talking about it helps.
If you or someone you know needs help, contact the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) online or at (800) 931-2237. If you have an emergency, text NEDA at 741741.