Susan Burton is an editor at the public radio program This American Life and a former editor of Harper’s. Her radio documentaries have won numerous awards, and her writing has appeared in Slate, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and others. Susan’s debut book, Empty: A Memoir, is out now from Random House.
In this episode of Peace Meal, Susan tells us about Empty, a personal story of her eating disorders long kept hidden. In describing her experience with binge eating disorder (BED) and anorexia, she poignantly recounts how the illnesses felt both destructive and protective, both safe and stifling. They functioned in part, she says, as ways to cope with longing and a deep desire for human connection. Understanding now that BED and anorexia were equally harmful and isolating, Susan shares myriad lessons from the perspective of someone still recovering. In this liminal space of recovery, she continues to learn how to sit with discomfort, balance emotional highs and lows, and practice self-compassion with the help of therapy and family support.