MLB star opens up about his eating disorder struggles and overcoming his 'demons'

PHOTO: Mike Marjama, a catcher for the Seattle Mariners, opened up about his struggles with an eating disorder in an interview with ABC News Paula Faris.PlayABC News
WATCH MLB star breaks silence on his eating disorder struggle

A Major League Baseball star is breaking his silence about his struggles with an eating disorder, saying he hopes that sharing his story will help other men who may be struggling to overcome the disease.

"I don't like to think of myself as a Major League Baseball player that had an eating disorder," Mike Marjama, a catcher for the Seattle Mariners, told ABC News' Paula Faris. "I'm a dude just like everybody else, and I've suffered from some demons, and I have demons, and I was able to kind of overcome those."

Marjama, 28, said that playing Major League Baseball has been his dream since he was a child.

PHOTO: Mike Marjama of the Seattle Mariners runs to first base after putting the ball in play during an at-bat in a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Safeco Field on Sept. 9, 2017 in Seattle.Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
Mike Marjama of the Seattle Mariners runs to first base after putting the ball in play during an at-bat in a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Safeco Field on Sept. 9, 2017 in Seattle.

"I always wanted to play professional baseball," Marjama said, adding that it has been "a goal I’ve always looked forward to ever since I was a little kid."

He added that he played baseball starting in Little League and throughout middle school.

"I kind of had baseball taken away from me my junior year of high school," he said. "I wasn’t able to play, unfortunately, because of my eating disorder and hospitalization."

PHOTO: Seattle Mariners catcher Mike Marjama, left, tags out Los Angeles Angels left fielder Justin Upton trying to score in the first inning at Tempe Diablo Stadium.Rick Scuteri/USA TODAY Sports
Seattle Mariners catcher Mike Marjama, left, tags out Los Angeles Angels left fielder Justin Upton trying to score in the first inning at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

Marjama said that looking back, he thinks his eating disorder originally started when he was around eighth grade, saying, "it progressed all the way through my junior year of high school."

"I was definitely getting into an attraction to girls," he said of that time. "So my way was thinking about it was ... if I’m going to get a girlfriend, I’ve got to get a six pack, and so I thought it I didn’t eat anything, well I wouldn’t get any fat, and then if I worked out a ton I would get big and muscular."

Soon, he said, his obsession with his body image began to spiral out of control and consume him.

"I started just restricting my diet, just overworking," he said. "I put a stationary bike in the shower, and [would] ride until I would pass out."

Marjama said he "progressively got into anorexia" and "ultimately into binging and purging and bulimia."

He hit "rock bottom" during 11th grade, when he said he was admitted into an in-patient program, where he stayed for five days.

"That’s when I kind of knew, like, I was a threat to myself," he added. "That’s when it really hit home that maybe I really do have a problem."

While eating disorders are often mischaracterized as a women's issue, approximately one in three people struggling with an eating disorder is male, according to the nonprofit National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).

PHOTO: Catcher Mike Marjama of the Seattle Mariners walks to home plate during a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Safeco Field on Sept. 9, 2017 in Seattle.Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
Catcher Mike Marjama of the Seattle Mariners walks to home plate during a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Safeco Field on Sept. 9, 2017 in Seattle.

In addition, eating disorders will affect approximately 10 million males in the U.S. at some point in their lives, according to NEDA.

A little over 10 years after his darkest days in high school, Marjama said he is now in recovery, and he isn't taking his success or his platform for granted.

He is opening up about his battle with an eating disorder in a new documentary short film for Uninterrupted, NBA star LeBron James' multimedia platform for athletes. Marjama hopes to shed light on the topic, especially for fellow men who may be struggling.

"If I can maybe affect one person that doesn’t have to have their hopes and dreams taken away from them because they’re suffering from an eating disorder," he said. "And they’re able to follow their hopes and dreams, that’s all I really want."

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