1 July 2016

One Research Study at a Time...

The ongoing development of treatment options for eating disorders is something that I have always been curious about. At the start of my own treatment, I was under the impression that the only way you can recover was to have self-motivation. I tried multiple different options to get better from mindfulness and CBT, to educational and self esteem groups. I guess that is the major positive of inpatient treatment, is that you have the time and resources to be able to find a method that works for you. I have found that for me, there is not a specific method that works just perfectly for me, but a combination of a few. Patience is not a strong point for me when it comes to my recovery; hence I still find myself searching that ‘miracle cure’- even though I know it doesn’t exist.

So how did I feel about the receipt of an email inviting me to take part in a research study, with the potential of informing new treatment methods for eating disorder sufferers? I think curious would be the word- with a hint of scepticism. I read the email a few times and pursued my curiosity by replying inquisitively about the nature of the study. Obviously, the question at the forefront of my mind was if participating would impact on my own recovery. However, I could not help but become fascinated by the possibilities of the study, in terms of learning more about the way my brain functions or the future of eating disorder treatment.

Following my reply, I received a detailed explanation of the study and its aims. 

The research is being conducted by Sarah Trufhitt- a psychology student at the University of Hull. The title of the study is 'The Effect of tDCS (transcranial direct current stimulation) on Body Image Perception in Eating Disorders'. The task is focused on exploring the activity of an eating disorder sufferer’s brain, to investigate how they perceive their bodies. Using prior knowledge about both sides of the brain, the study aims to examine the possibility of balancing out the activity levels to improve body image. 

As I have previously mentioned, I have struggled a lot with my body image, even more so in my recovery. It was inevitable that my body was going to change as I became healthier, yet I did not expect the turbulent relationship I would have with my emotions regarding my shape, size and weight. Particularly after the difficulties that I experienced on holiday, with regards to my conflicting observations about my body in different situations, my interest in this study heightened. I am becoming increasingly frustrated with the way I perceive my body and feel that improving this aspect of my illness would have a significant impact on my recovery. Plus, I thought that even if the study didn’t have a positive impression on me, it might inspire the creation of a new treatment method that could positively change the lives of others. Therefore, it may come as no surprise that I agreed to take part.

From what I can gather so far, the study involves the application of small pads that conduct a non-invasive current to the front of my brain, to look at the perception areas of how we decide our body image. I will then take part in a computer task, which involves me judging where I think my body image matches the one on the screen. Following the first session, I will then take part in another 2, around 3-5 days apart.

I am not going to lie and say that I was euphoric about the idea of an electrical current pulsating through my brain, but my curiosity and optimism about the study seemed to overrule my fear. An important aspect of my recovery has always been to find reasoning behind why my eating disorder makes me experience things in the way that it does. Therefore, the possibility of finding a logical explanation for my difficulties surrounding body image may help me to firstly accept it, and then work on it with the help of the support around me.

Monday evening will be my first session taking part in the study, so fortunately I have not had time to question my decision! After plenty of supportive reassurance, I can say that I am looking forward to simply taking part in the experience and more importantly, feeling as though I have contributed to the future of eating disorder research.  

Sarah is looking for female participants aged 18 and over who have previously, or are still suffering from an eating disorder, or who have high body concerns which affects their daily life. If you would like to get in contact with Sarah to discuss the study or feel you would be a suitable candidate for involvement, please email her at sarahtruf@gmail.com


  1. She emailed me too... It's really scary to think about but could change things in the long run :/

    1. I think that it is important not to do something that you do not feel comfortable with Emma. It is a great opportunity, but I am sure that Sarah would appreciate that this could impact those struggling both positively or negatively.