Dubliner Keith Russell is determined to resume his role as a mental health advocate, with a particular focus on male eating disorders. Russell, who suffers from body dysmorphia, has been spreading awareness about the condition since his diagnosis in 2020. Body dysmorphia, or body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), is a mental health disorder that causes distress over one’s appearance. Those with BDD often perceive certain parts of their bodies as defects, even if others cannot see them as flaws. Additionally, BDD is closely related to anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Finding Therapeutic Release through Blogging and Podcasting

After years of silently suffering, Russell was diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) in 2018, followed by BDD in 2020. He found solace in blogging and decided to start a podcast called The Endless Spiral. The podcast serves as a platform for Russell to discuss mental health struggles with people from various backgrounds, including mental health professionals. Through his own experiences, he has learned various coping mechanisms for BDD and aims to help others who may be suffering.

A Sabbatical and the Motivation to Make a Difference

During a difficult period, Russell took a “sabbatical” from his podcast. However, after receiving numerous messages from people inquiring about its absence, he decided to continue. He emphasized the importance of not only sharing his good days but also his bad days with his audience. Russell believes that by being transparent and open, individuals can connect and relate to his experiences. For him, the podcast and blogging provide a newfound purpose and allow him to make a positive impact in the lives of others.

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The Ongoing Battle and the Need for Dialogue

Keith Russell, now 42, regrets losing a significant portion of his life to his struggles with body dysmorphia. This regret serves as his motivation to raise awareness, ensuring that others don’t go through the same prolonged suffering. While he acknowledges the significant improvements in the conversation surrounding mental health, he notices that men often remain reluctant to seek help. Russell feels a sense of responsibility to share his journey and express that there is hope for improvement and a better quality of life.

The Importance of Sharing Stories and Seeking Professional Help

Russell encourages individuals to share their stories, not necessarily through blogs or podcasts, but by opening up to someone they trust. He emphasizes that professional help is crucial in understanding one’s own experiences and finding personalized coping strategies. Russell highlights the prevalence of negative thoughts and how he had to retrain his thinking patterns. Moreover, he emphasizes that men tend to avoid discussing body issues and self-confidence problems, which is why he is passionate about raising awareness in this area.

Involvement with Bodywhys and Spurring Conversations

Keith Russell collaborates with Bodywhys, the Eating Disorders Association of Ireland, which confirms that men are often hesitant to address their eating disorder issues. The influence of social media and societal expectations contribute to body positivity issues, particularly among young men and adolescents. Russell believes that cultural norms of masculinity and the stigma surrounding mental health prevent men from opening up about their struggles. He continues to have conversations, appear on media platforms, and speak at charity events to raise awareness.

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A Path Forward and Advocacy for Change

Overcoming his lowest points, Russell asserts that anyone can navigate through challenging times. He plans to continue advocating for mental health, particularly body dysmorphia and other related issues. Despite potential weariness from his audience, Russell remains committed to spreading awareness and preventing others’ lives from being plagued by the same condition. He acknowledges the lack of discussion surrounding body dysmorphia, especially among men, and expresses his willingness to be the one to speak up if necessary.

Seeking Support and Emergency Contact Information

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, remember that there is support available. You can contact the Samaritans at 116 123 for confidential assistance or email [email protected]. Additionally, mentalhealthireland.ie/get-support provides contact information for various mental health supports. In the case of an emergency or if you or someone you know is at risk of suicide or self-harm, dial 999/112.