The experiment

When I started this blog I planned to just share my fitness fads, treadmill tears and general rants about life in London. Nearly eight months later the blog has become so much more than this and I have been totally taken aback by the response I’ve received. In light of this, I wanted to share my most recent adventure.

Three weeks ago I was asked by the Psychology department at the University of Essex to take part in a study about Eating Disorders and Body Dysmorphia. I immediately said yes, wanting to help aid research into the crippling disorder that consumed me for so long. Perhaps more worryingly, one in ten women in the UK is said to suffer from Body Dysmorphia, a condition founded on a distorted perception of your body and how you look.  As a result, a week later I found myself wired up to an EEG machine that would monitor my brain’s activity as I looked at a series of body images.

Deciding whether two body shapes were the same or different, for forty minutes I was subjected to a series of overweight, healthy and seriously thin images. Half way through the task I was overwhelmed by how stressful I found the whole process. Asking the researcher for a break she showed me how my brain waves reflected this anxiety.

After the wires were removed, I was asked to make a similar decision looking at images of houses, the human face and the human body, deciding which of the second series of images matched the first I had seen. Show me pictures of houses, I get a score of 100% correctly matched images; ask me to distinguish between body types and I am only able to pair 13%. Without even asking the evidence was black and white – despite being medically recognised as fully recovered, my past has scarred my ability to perceive bodies in a normal way.

The final part of the experiment involved a personal questionnaire about my own diagnosis. Opening up a can of worms and repressed memories, I cried all of the way back to London. A part of my life that has very much made me who I am today, it is never something I would undo, but five years later I shocked myself at how much is still hidden in the depths of my mind.

My heart goes out to all those still suffering and their loved ones helplessly watching. Mine is just one story in millions, but with the support of amazing charities such as beat try to have faith – storms don’t last forever.

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