Penn State Nittany Lions kicker Joey Julius, in his first TV interview since going public with an eating disorder, said Friday that he “might not be here right now” had he not gotten treatment.
Julius — who handles kickoffs for the Nittany Lions and whose two big tackles have gone viral this season — opened up about his binge eating disorder in a public Facebook post on Oct. 3. He entered treatment at a St. Louis center from May 9 to July 26 and missed spring and summer workouts with the football team.
“That’s when I was like, ‘You know what? If I would’ve continued down this path, I might not be here right now,'” the 258-pound Julius told ABC’s Good Morning America on Friday during his first sit-down interview since last season.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) October 14, 2016
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, binge eating disorder impacts 2 percent of men and remains the most common eating disorder in the U.S.
Julius, who said he’s struggled with the disorder for 11 years, said he’d often eat a salad in front of teammates, then head back to his room and order Chinese food or cheesesteaks.
He’d eat well past the point of being full.
“I would have to lay down to the point where I was so sick I couldn’t move and just lay there,” Julius said. “There were some times I would cry.”
Julius completely discredits the perception that eating disorders don’t affect men, and he thinks men struggle with acknowledging they have a problem “because I was one of those guys.”
“I just think it’s completely false,” Julius said of the notion that it only affects women. “I mean, we all eat.”
In his Facebook post, Julius extended help to anyone else experiencing similar problems. The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive so far, with hundreds of people thanking Julius for his openness on Twitter and Facebook.
“I’m very, very proud of Joey,” Penn State coach James Franklin said, shortly after Julius went public. “I really am, in so many ways. I know this is something that probably affects and helps others — to see athletes or someone in Joey’s position like this to make himself vulnerable and put himself out there like that.
“I think a lot of people can relate with that, and I think a lot of people can connect with that.”