Episode 64: Healing Has No Age Limit with Betsy Brenner
Betsy is a long-time tennis coach, retired hospital attorney, and the author of a memoir titled The Longest Match: Rallying to Defeat an Eating Disorder in Midlife. Her inspiring message is that it is never too late to be a work in progress. Betsy is also an eating disorder recovery speaker, advocate, and peer support mentor who shows that it is possible to heal from past trauma and become healthier in body, mind, and spirit.
In this episode of Peace Meal, Betsy discusses how she was taught to suppress her emotions growing up, how dealing with her trauma was the only way to recover from her eating disorder, and how you’re never too old to start healing. She tells us how the food she consumed as a child was completely controlled by her mother, and how that prevented her from learning how to eat intuitively. She also covers the combination of events that led to her developing an eating disorder in midlife. Betsy shares that telling her story in her memoir lifted the weight of her trauma and made her feel empowered and free. She emphasizes that you can recover, as long as you’re willing to put in the hard work and deal with the trauma you’ve experienced.
- Why positive comments about someone’s body can be damaging, even when they are said with good intentions
- How eating disorders can affect everyone, no matter their age
- How shame and stigma can prevent people with eating disorders from sharing their experience with the people around them
- How freeing and empowering it can be to tell your story
- How to cope with the difficulties the holidays can bring
In Betsy’s words:
- On the shame and stigma surrounding eating disorders: “Like with most mental illnesses, there is so much shame and secrecy, and I think especially when you’re older, there’s probably even more shame and more secrecy. So, I didn’t share it with anybody… I was still trying to understand what this meant for me.”
- On writing her book: “I decided to write it for two purposes: one was to heal on the deepest possible level from the trauma I had been through and the other was to give hope and inspiration to others because, if I could do this, anybody could do this.”
- On making her recovery story public: “It has been so freeing having my story out there… It’s almost like I was carrying this heavy weight of trauma and emotions and experiences and by writing my memoir, that weight has been lifted.”
- On how to cope with the holidays during recovery: “The focus needs to be on recognizing how important self-care is… It’s okay to protect your mental health, even if the people you have to say ‘no’ to don’t understand.”
You can purchase Betsy’s book, The Longest Match: Rallying to Defeat an Eating Disorder in Midlife, on Amazon, through her website, and more! You can also follow Betsy on Instagram (@betsybrennerauthor).
Our eating disorder treatment centers can be a place to heal and form new associations with food and your body.
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