Paul grew up in the town of Ipswich about 100 miles northeast of London with his parents and two sisters. He started putting on weight in his 20's after he began to use food as a way of avoiding dealing with emotional issues that began in his childhood. Paul had suffered with emotional and physical abuse from his father as well as sexual abuse from an aunt when he was just 6 years old. He was unable to speak to anyone about these issues but rather turned to food to bury his emotions.
After his father passed away, Paul moved in with his aging mother to care for her as she suffered from severe arthritis and and other health issues. Caring for his mother was a struggle, but he refused to ask anyone for help and as time when on, Paul continued to overeat and gain weight. In 1991 after suffering from pain in one of his legs for years, Paul finally went to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a blood clot. Once treated, he returned home, but due to his weight and leg pain, walked very little and continued to overeat, packing on more weight.
More health issues followed as a result of his obesity and lack of mobility including severe cellulitis in both legs and a hernia which required surgery. The only way to get him out of his flat at that point was for firefighters to knock out a wall to get him onto a truck.
During these years of binge eating, Paul knew there were reasons for his emotional addiction to food, but did not know how to come to grips with his desire to constantly eat, until one day he asked his doctor if he could speak to someone about all the thoughts going around in his mind, memories of his past traumas that he decided he was ready to talk about.
It took Paul several years to connect with a counselor he felt he could trust, and once he did he began the road to understanding why he consumed so much food. Being able to open up to someone about what he had been through as a child, the bullying at school for being abnormally tall for his age, the lack of love from his parents and verbal abuse from his father, and the sexual abuse from his aunt, was like having a weight lifted off him. He realized that bottling up his feelings about these events was killing him and if he was going to have a future, he had to change his relationship with food by unpacking all the feelings he kept bottled up in his past.
Several years earlier he had applied to the NHS (National Health Service) for gastric bypass surgery, to help him get his weight down. Paul applied several times and in the end waited 10 years before he was approved for surgery. In 2010, two years after beginning counseling, Paul finally had the surgery he desperately needed and wanted.
From the time of his gastric bypass surgery in 2010 until 2013, Paul lost approximately 600 pounds. In 2013 Paul was contacted by Dr Jennifer Capla, a plastic surgeon in NYC, with an offer to help him get the excess skin removal surgery he needed to regain his mobility. In 2014 he was able to fly to the U.S. where he met with Dr. Capla for a pre-surgery consultation. In May of 2014 Paul underwent excess skin removal surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. About 100 pounds of excess skin was successfully removed allowing Paul to mobilize much better, sit in a movie theater seat and travel in a car with much more ease.
In 2015 it was discovered that due to years of being immobile and having a family history of severe arthritis, Paul no longer has any cartilage in his knees, which causes chronic pain and makes walking difficult. After consulting with several doctors, and trying several treatment options, it has been determined that the only effective course of action will be a total knee replacement.
Despite the pain from his knees, Paul is determined to move forward to achieve his goals. He hopes to ride a bicycle again someday and would like to participate in a 3k walk to raise awareness about the struggle many people deal with in overcoming their emotional addiction to food.
Paul is reaching out to those who are struggling with obesity and eating disorders. He wants to spread awareness that for some people, being overweight is not a simple issue with a simple solution. Overcoming the psychological desire to eat is a bigger hurtle than many can overcome, but with the proper understanding and with a desire to change, anyone can turn their life around.