So I can cross one more thing off my bucket list: driving to and from New York City. I had a last-minute invite for a panel with the National Eating Disorders Association, and thankfully was able to make the trip.
Always happy to have an excuse to go to NYC, it was too late to get good bus or train fare. So I recruited a friend, and we drove up the day before the panel. At only 330 miles from my beloved Richmond, it’s a drive that should only take about 5 1/2 hours, but can take much longer due to traffic in and around Washington, DC. Still, we kept to our schedule so well that I was almost surprised that it all worked out. Just goes to show you, if you really want to do something, you’ll make it happen.
It’s an interesting thing, approaching NY at night. You see it all lit up in the distance, but it still feels far away. We finally passed through the Lincoln Tunnel around 10pm, and suddenly we were there.
We stayed with a friend I knew from high school but hadn’t seen in years (thanks again, Courtney!) and managed to get a short visit with my good friend Jenn Friedman. She has an awesome project that has been in the works for awhile now, but will finally be released on March 15. She’s written a book and an album about recovery with a song to accompany each chapter. Her main site has all the info on the project, and NYC folks can check out the release party happening on 3/15 (buy tickets here).
I hit up a few more favorite spots in Manhattan, and soon it was time for the panel at NEDA’s office in Times Square. It occurred to me that in less than a month, I’ve done two panels (and a research presentation) on opposite coasts, and both times I’ve had the same experience being welcomed by an organization. There’s something about the eating disorder advocacy community that cuts through the small talk and I find myself having really genuine interactions with people. Maybe it’s because we’re there to talk about really personal things? I’m not sure, but I like it. It doesn’t matter which organization you put your time into or which state (or country!) you’re in, we’re all in it for the same fight.
Also, it’s the second time in a month I’ve been really honored to share a stage with some amazing people with some powerful testimonies about how eating disorders have affected their lives, but also how they’ve worked to overcome them. The other panelists were:
Susan Maccia,who spoke about her daughter’s struggles with and recovery from an eating disorder. You can read more about Susan here.
Adam Radwan, the brother of a woman with an eating disorder. He shared a touching story about how family and sibling relationships are disrupted by an eating disorder. You can read his story here.
Stacey Sargeant, an actress and dancer who received mixed messages all her life about how her body should look. As a ballerina, she was told she was too curvy, despite being an accomplished dancer. You can see Stacey’s official site here, and here’s a segment she did on Katie.
Corazon Tierra, who developed an eating disorder at the age of 8 after immigrating from Puerto Rico. Corazon’s story sheds light on how different cultural values coincide with American beauty standards. She is now an accomplished author, speaker, and dancer, all of which she incorporates into workshops to work within women around the world to promote healthy body image. Check out her website here (and in English here!)
Temimah Zucker, who developed an eating disorder after starting college. Her experience both with anorexia and with recovery was shaped in large part by growing up an Orthodox Jew, and her faith contributed greatly to her recovery. You can read her story on NEDA’s site.
The panel was introduced and moderated by Dr. Brad E. R. Smith of the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Smith went over some of the changes to eating disorder diagnoses in the DSM-V, including Binge Eating Disorder (BED) which is finally and officially recognized as it’s own eating disorder diagnosis.
The panel was taped, so if any video makes it online, I’ll update this post with clips. Thanks again to NEDA for the invitation to participate and do something awesome for Eating Disorder Awareness Week! As we exited the Lincoln Tunnel and saw Manhattan get smaller and smaller as we drove, I could still make out the Empire State Building lit up with NEDA’s blue and green colors in recognition of awareness week:
(picture via NEDA’s Twitter)
Driving to NYC and back in such a short amount of time can be a little disorienting, but it was also a lot of fun. By the way, New Jersey’s frequent gas stops and 24 hour Starbucks might be the only reason we made it back Tuesday night. Thanks, NJ.
That’s all for now. Check the front page for upcoming events, including an interview via Mental Fitness’ Facebook page (details under events) and I’m coming back to New York April 12 for a discussion/reading event at Bluestockings. Til then.