The title I chose for the review is actually from the first chapter of the book, which struck me when I first read it. I have never heard that phrase used before, which kind of spells out what a lot of people feel about recovery.
Before I get to the book itself I think it is really important to look at the amount of literature out there and while there are a lot of self-help books and personal stories sitting on the shelves it is primarily aimed at women, leaving Men with not much to go on. Therefore I wanted to start by congratulation John on this massive achievement and achieving a milestone when it comes to opening up the conversation on men and eating disorders.
So on to the book itself……
Becoming John is an account of one man’s eating disorder and his journey through recovery. Using the diary he kept as an inpatient on an eating disorders unit as a base he tells a frank, honest and moving account of recovery.
The diary follows him throughout his second admission to an eating disorders unit and week on week you can see the highs, low’s and challenges faced by John through his recovery and at the end of each week there is an explanation of a significant factor, as he pulls apart the reasons and triggers behind his anorexia.
As the book progresses you start to piece together John’s story. From his childhood, university all the way to his working life, moving around and the effect anorexia had on every part of it. Looking bluntly at the root of all these issues and describing very well the mindset he felt he had while in the grip of an eating disorder.
The way he describes anorexia as a ‘voice’ within is certainly not an alien concept, but I must admit it as strange to hear this voice described as male, which really brought home the fact that eating disorders are just as diverse as any other illness.
There was one thing that I really wasn’t so sure of when I first started to read the book, something which I am usually known to scream about and protest against and that is the use of BMI and weight references. These kinds of references are frequent throughout the book, especially the use of the BMI and particularly in the diary of his inpatient treatment.
The reason I am not screaming about it? Well it got me thinking!
Reference of BMI and weight in an inpatient diary doesn’t surprise me, as treatment for anorexia in inpatient settings are so often focused on weight and BMI ‘targets’. The way they are spoken about in the book really show the emphasis placed on physical targets of recovery and really highlights the need for all rounded treatment, psychological as well as physical, based around the whole situation a sufferer may be facing, not just about their relationship with food.
My final point I am going to make about the book is the interesting description of what is to be considered “recovered”. Many sufferers and ex-sufferers see recovery as different things, some will see it as a complete move away from thoughts and behaviours, while others will see it as being able to maintain a healthy state and steer clear of thoughts and behaviour, even if they may still be nagging away.
John I thought described the whole situation quite well, as a “divorce”, meaning it is out your life, but never completely. Of course this is not true of everyone, which brings me back to the title, the one phrase in the book that really rang true to me, it will always be there in your memory, but it need not always be the one in control.
So I shall end with this……
Becoming John I would say is a must read for parents, carers’, men, sufferers and indeed professionals to get a true insight into the male anorexic mind. John’s book is long awaited and much needed to fill the gap in provision available to men and I am confident that his book will reach many a person, helping them understand the ruthless nature of the condition but most importantly, that recovery is completely achievable.
You can buy a copy of this groundbreaking book from Xlibris publishing here.
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