As it’s Eating Disorders Awareness Week, I wanted to mark the occasion by doing something a little different. So, instead of editing excerpts from my research journal I’m going to begin a process of documenting the third key phase of my recovery. Essentially, I’m going to use myself as my own research subject by documenting my engagement with a self-recovery programme. I’m going to write up my findings here so that these exist in the public domain for myself (and others, should they wish) to use as data in investigating male disordered eating. In an older post, I discussed the amount of emotional labour involved in researching something that one is experiencing. Here, I briefly return to my own story rather than focussing on the story of my research.
I was originally diagnosed with bulimia nervosa when I was 28. I was lucky to receive therapy almost immediately, which lasted for 6 years until I was 34-35 years old. The second phase of my recovery, after having given up my dependence on exercise and laxatives, involved a decision to not seek further recovery, as I undertook PhD studies and was struggling to keep the momentum going in my personal life. This can be best described as having made a conscious decision (with my doctor) to take a hiatus from further active recovery work whilst I studied. Instead, I used maintenance behaviours, employing my disorder to help me cope while trying to not let it get out of hand. This included continuing some of my earlier therapy work to make peace with my own fat body as I continued to binge (these behaviours having been lessened in the first phase of recovery, but not eliminated). This I termed the second phase of a longer term recovery I wanted.
I am now, in my third phase of recovery, awaiting behavioural therapy to help me tackle my extreme overeating habits and taking some medication which is to facilitate better daily functioning, as I was beginning to lose entire weekends and weeks to eating, depression and loneliness. I have made the decision, whilst waiting, to take more action – something that I feel to be positive – by pro-actively engaging with some of the self-help resources I have collected from reputable clinicians over my time studying. I’m beginning with Overcoming Binge Eating by Dr Christopher Fairburn, someone whose work I greatly respect.
I begin today. Tomorrow I will report on what I work on this evening and I’ll post up any logs of things I have had to begin, in the interests of complete transparency. If you should follow this, do let me know if you’ve tried Fairburn’s text and how you found it.
I’m aware of how much this is exposing myself, and I’m not usually given to uses of social media to document intimate details but as I say, I’m hoping that at the end of this there is a broader, deeper aspect of understanding that can emerge from my ‘experiment’.