Freddie Flintoff has been praised for his "courage" and "honesty" after opening up about his longtime struggle with an eating disorder in new BBC documentary Freddie Flintoff: Living with Bulimia.
In the one-off special, the former cricket player – who's perhaps best known for presenting Top Gear nowadays – looked back on the early days of his sports career, and how the press scrutinising his weight played a part in him developing the condition.
"Shape is something I'm just heavily aware of," he explained in the film. "Having been big before, I never want to experience it again."
"I'll always be overweight," Flintoff added, as the cameraman questioned whether he believes that outlook is based in truth or just in his mind. Later, he met with other individuals who are trying to seek help for their bulimia, as well as reflecting on those who have tragically lost their life due to complications surrounding it.
"I got to the point where I was throwing up after every meal," he admitted during one sit-down chat. "And I'm like you, I'm not gonna lie, I enjoyed the results.
"Speaking to [them] has made me question how I deal with my own eating disorder. I don't want to be a statistic. I don't want to be read about in years to come when something has happened to me."
"I've had periods when I've not done it for a long time, and I've had periods when I've... I've done it," he said. "I've done it this year. It's not right, is it? I know it's not right, but I can't say for certain that this is going to stop, or when it will happen again. I don't know."
"Wow! Freddie Flintoff: Living with Bulimia is open, honest & incredibly brave. I balled my eyes out the whole way through. Well done, Freddie. You're incredible, Freddie," one viewer wrote on social media after the show aired.
"I think #FreddieFlintoff is going to help a lot of people with the documentary about bulimia," another tweeted. "It is clearly hard for him to be so brutally honest and vulnerable but I hope it has a big impact."
Check out some more reactions below...
#LivingWithBulimia .. in 20 years time do you think you’ll still have an eating disorder? FF replied “Yes” without skipping a beat. It’s frightening how eating disorders take such a firm grip. Really important documentary, well done for speaking up #FreddieFlintoff #mentalhealth— ACK_📺❤️📺 (@WellWatched) September 28, 2020
Hugely impressed by @freddieflintoff documentary tonight. Brilliant that he has taken the courageous decision to talk about his bulimia. Gives others permission. Well done and thanks Freddie— Dr Alison Oldam (@AlisonOldam) September 28, 2020
Andrew Flintoff, thank you, so, so much, lost for words to be honest, my heart was suspended as I listened to your words, words that forever scream in my consulting room, words that shout at my clients and bully them relentlessly, literally no words, thankyou for your bravery. pic.twitter.com/MuV8NQEcu4— Bernie Wright (@HealingMindsTW) September 28, 2020
Give him a knighthood. Mental health is such an important issue right now, especially for younger people who have had a turbulent last few months. Freddie has probably done a lot tonight to reduce the stigma #FreddieFlintoff— Tom Purvis (@TomEPurvis) September 28, 2020
Huge respect for #FreddieFlintoff tonight. Very brave to come clean on the #eatingdisorder when you’re persona flies in the face of the very notion vulnerability. ED is hugely complex and the road is long, so good luck and stay strong. #Bulimia— Jeremy Cuthbert (@jeremycuthbert) September 28, 2020
Freddie Flintoff: Living with Bulimia is available on BBC iPlayer now.
Beat (www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk) promotes awareness and understanding of eating disorders, also challenging inaccurate stereotypes and stigma. Beat now has a one-to-one secure messaging service. Its phone helpline for those aged 18 and over is 0808 801 0677, and there's also a dedicated Youthline for those under 18 – 0808 801 0711.
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