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Limerick’s Barry Hennessy shares advice on how to overcome eating disorder

Barry Hennessy

Limerick goalkeeper Barry Hennessy has called on people to talk to someone they love if they are suffering from an eating disorder.

Hennessy was first involved in the Limerick senior hurling set-up in 2010, although he has dropped in and out of favour at inter-county level as he has struggled with personal issues.

Having got close to 17 stone in weight at one stage, Hennessy then got down to under 11 stone, although that drastic drop in weight came as a result of an eating disorder which plagued him for over 10 years.

Barry Hennessy on suffering from an eating disorder.

Speaking on Virgin Media’s Ireland AM, Hennessy explained that he convinced himself that fitting into size small t-shirts was a sign of good health.

“Down at 70 kilos I was thinking this was a great thing. Clothes dictated everything; buying small t-shirts and you were getting into that small t-shirt,” Hennessy explained.

“Puma t-shirts at that time were the big thing for me, the size small. If it ever went where the t-shirt was a little bit tight, that dictated everything again that you we’re just making sure that fit.”

‘My experience was prolonged because I was too stubborn.’

In reality, Hennessy was suffering in order to get down to such a weight, and explained that he hid the issue from those close to him as he was afraid of judgement.

Speaking to loved ones ultimately helped him face his eating disorder head on, and he has advised anyone in a similar situation to do the same.

“It’s something that’s quite common but it’s so hard to speak about… I definitely think speak to someone first that you know loves you and you trust them completely,” Hennessy said.

“I’ve said it before, my experience was definitely prolonged because I was too stubborn to speak to someone. I was nearly embarrassed to speak to someone in a way too because you were afraid of being branded as a problem.

“That old Irish mentality of, ‘You’ll be fine, don’t worry about it. Have a sandwich there you’ll be grand.’ I do think until you’ve experienced something similar, it is very hard to speak to someone that hasn’t.

“You don’t know until you’re standing over a toilet crying what that experience feels like and you’re trying to convey that to someone else that doesn’t have that experience. It’s very hard.”

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