Since 2009, when the weight-restoration phase of my recovery from anorexia was complete, but psychologically there was a lot left to do, I have written a blog about eating disorders—also called A Hunger Artist—for the US website Psychology Today. In the beginning, writing the blog was a personally therapeutic thing for me to do: it gave me a structure for thinking about all that was still changing so fast, and an excuse to clarify to myself what was going well and what was still painful or frightening. I barely even considered the fact that I might actually have readers.
Gradually, over these eight years, my blog readers have become central to what it means to me. They ask difficult questions, they suggest topics for new posts, they teach me how much our experiences of disordered eating have in common—and the ways in which they differ. The blog has become a forum for real learning, and I’m proud of that, for myself and for every reader who has contributed to the evolving project that it is.
The idea was always that the blog should find ways of bringing together the personal experience and the scientific evidence. Latterly, the personal experience is much less centre-stage than it used to be, though of course it still informs everything about how and what I choose to write. And I have much less sense, now, of a stark divide between ‘me’ and ‘science’: I have a richer appreciation of the relevance to mental health of other kinds of research we wouldn’t necessarily call scientific, and a much more fleshed-out appreciation of where ‘I’ fit into the wide swathe of people with experiences of disordered eating. I keep learning, and so I hope the blog keeps improving.
I’m currently writing a book based on the blog, which will try to do justice to these three perspectives—the first, the second, and the third person, if you like—through a structure that is definitely not an anorexia memoir (the world doesn’t need any more of those), but has a narrative thread to sustain the tapestry of the rest. It’s proving tricky to write, but interesting!
A YouTube channel with video adaptations of my posts and other video material is in the pipeline too; I’ll post more details here when it’s up and running.