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Recovery Dad and Recovery Girl

Eating disorder recovery can be a difficult process, both for the individual affected, as well as that person's friends and family. Parents often feel like they're on the outside, helpless and in the dark. That's why Recovery Dad and Recovery Girl started an incredible podcast project. They wanted to find a way to share their recovery story and the tips they picked up along the way. We were so lucky to interview this incredible father-daughter duo in honor of NEDAwareness Week.

How did this project begin?

Recovery Girl: Well, we were talking one day about there are not many resources out there and I guess we just thought, we may as well be a resource.

Recovery Dad: I did a search for podcasts about anorexia and recovery and nothing came up really quickly. The approach we’ve taken is we’re trying to cover stuff we wish we had known. We talked about the idea, decided we wanted to do it and the rest was history. The other thing that bothers us about this and pretty much any other mental illness is the stigma associated with it. Sadly, that’s why we’re still doing this anonymously.  We wanted to try to make it more “normal” and let people know that other people are dealing with it and you can get through it.

I think what happened was we were sitting with our nutritionist one day and we were sharing recipes and here she had her anorexic and anorexic’s dad sitting in the room talking enthusiastically about food, about recipes and stuff and she looked at me and said, “You should probably be a coach.” Later, when the podcast idea hit, I thought, ‘Maybe I can be a coach this way.’

Why the model of using superheroes for the project vs. just “This is me and my dad”?

RD: I think that just came from us thinking, ‘Who else does stuff anonymously?’

RG: We wanted to have an alter ego thing going on where we didn’t have to put our names on it.  

RD: In our brainstorm, we came up with Recovery Dad and Recovery Girl and I had access to an artist who could do really great superhero artwork. I think that decision only took us a minute. We didn’t spend a lot of time on that.

What is the process like for developing one of your episodes?

RG: We like to come up with topics that we think we should discuss and we also solicit requests on our website for episode ideas. Then we split them up as who has the most info on that topic and then we just peer edit and go over each other’s script.

RD: Basically, we decide who is the principal writer on it and create a draft and bounce ideas off each other. The recording isn’t too tough and I do the post-production on them.

What kind of response has there been?

RD: Response has been small so far but a lot of our followers on twitter, for example, are therapists or recovery centers and several of them have mentioned that they’ve played our podcast for their groups so we have no idea what kind of multiplier there is there. It may have more reach than we think.

What are your hopes for the project?

RG: I personally just want to do what I can to ease the burden on people. It’s a hard thing to go through. There’s a lot of stigma and a lot of misconceptions. Getting the information out there, even if it’s just to one person, to me, that is enough.

RD: From the parent’s point of view (in the podcast referred to as “Tips for Distraught Parents”), so much of this is counterintuitive and so topsy-turvy. Like not being able to tell your daughter she’s pretty? That’s really hard! And I think dads get left out of this process a lot. So much of it is talk therapy and that’s a female-dominated realm. I hope from my standpoint, I can let parents know that it’s ok for this to seem really weird for a while and also to let dads know that they can have a real part in this. I try to make it practical because if you give me a job to do, I can do that. My job was to make food, make it yummy and fun. During most of her recovery, my job was to make a great breakfast.

RG: And to listen to my ranting.

RD: Yes, and listening. Her doctor and I noticed that when I made breakfast, she was eating. So I kept doing it. Making breakfast gave me something to do so I wouldn’t feel entirely helpless.

How has this changed or enriched your relationship with each other and your understanding of EDs in general?

RG: We’ve always been pretty close but we definitely got a whole lot closer during the process of my recovery because I really started to use him as a rock.

RD: I think the podcast is more a symptom of a relationship than the thing that built it. There’s nothing like having a project with somebody to get closer in a certain way. So the fact that we mutually respect each other as writers really helps. In terms of learning about eating disorders, I’ve learned more statistics and facts. I’ve been more exposed to more people dealing with these issues.

What are your hopes for the project in the future?  

RG: I would like to be able to help as many people as possible with this. I’m not expecting it to get huge but I would like it to be a good resource.

RD: I think we’d both like to see it catch on. We’re trying to leave a resource behind us. If some mom or dad or kid out there is realizing they’re dealing with an eating disorder and they start googling for it, I would love it if we showed up and were able to help them.

What advice do y’all have for young people or loved ones experiencing an ED?

RG: I think the main thing to keep in mind is that recovery is not a constantly forward moving thing. It’s a challenge and it has a lot of mini-challenges in it. Even if it feels like a ridiculous uphill battle and you’re not going anywhere or you’re sliding back down, it’s ok and you just have to keep pushing through. It really does get better. It just takes a lot of weird twists and turns and different directions to get there.

RD: It’s kind of like looking at the stock market. If you look closely, it’s going up and down and up and down and up and down. But over time, it’s going up. That’s why we say, “One bite at a time.” Just take it in bite-sized chunks, metaphorically and literally. Our big message is that you can get through it, it does get better, and you’re not alone.  

Artwork by Jeff Pidgeon

For more real advice from another dad, check out this piece, Real Experience, Real Advice: A Dad Shares His Tips for Parents

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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

This site was developed in partnership with Riverduinen and made possible by generous contributions from JPMorgan Chase, Globant, the University of Delaware, and The Hilda & Preston Davis Foundation.

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