The Center for Eating Disorders Blog

Life Beyond Your Eating Disorder: Q&A with Johanna S. Kandel ~ Part 2

Today we feature a continuation of  a two-part interview with Johanna Kandel, author of Life Beyond Your Eating Disorder and upcoming keynote speaker for The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt’s NEDAWeek kick-off event. Check out Part 1 to read Johanna’s thoughts on the role of control, humor and fear in the process of recovery.  In part 2, below, Johanna discusses her top 3 recovery tools and what she hopes people will learn from attending her presentation in Baltimore on February 20th, 2011.  You can find out more about this free event here.

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Q&A with Johanna S. Kandel ~ Part 2

Q: In your book you talk about not knowing who you were during the height of your illness and that you felt like you had become your eating disorder.  How did you re-discover yourself and did you encounter any surprises along the way?

JK: One of the biggest fears I had when approaching recovery was not knowing who I was or what I liked.  I truly believed that recovery meant knowing everything about me at that moment.  My therapist assured me that no one was expecting me to know all the answers to the all important questions right away.  No one was expecting me to write an epic-autobiography about all of my likes and dislikes the moment I began the recovery process.  Life, like recovery, is a journey and you may find that what you like today may not be what like you two weeks or two months from now. The biggest surprise that I encountered was that I actually started having a good time exploring all the things I gave myself permission to try.  Nothing is written in stone, so give yourself permission to explore and try something new.  You never know, you might just like it!

Q: What would you say were the top 3 most important things in your recovery toolbox?

JK: Filling my tool box with as many tools as I could was integral to my recovery.  Some of my most favorite that I used on my journey were:

~ Ignorant Stamp to help me to ‘stamp out the ignorance’ and not let people’s comments fuel my negative voice.

~ The Dresser with Seven Drawers which allows me to take a look at the ultimate best outcome (top drawer), the ultimate worst (bottom drawer) and then come up with a middle ‘okay’ drawer/outcome.

~ The Box of Crayons – Just as in a box of crayons there are so many colors other than just black and white.  As someone who lived in only the black or white (all or nothing), learning to embrace all the colors in the crayon box of life was so important.

Q: What do you hope people take away from your presentation in Baltimore on February 20th?  Who could benefit from attending?

JK: My biggest wish is that people take away the message that there truly is life beyond eating disorders.  People can and do recover.  There is help, there is hope, and there is healing.  I battled for so many years alone and afraid.  I didn’t believe that I would/could get better.  I didn’t think it was an option.  Turns out, it absolutely was and can be for anyone that is struggling too.  If you or someone you know is battling and/or recovering, I hope you will be able to join me on Sunday, February 20 at the Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt.  I am so incredibly honored to be part of their Eating Disorders Awareness Week events and really look forward to seeing you there!

In good health,


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We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to Johanna Kandel for taking the time to provide such hopeful and insightful responses for this blog.  We are very much looking forward to her Life Beyond Your Eating Disorder presentation in Baltimore on February 20th, and we hope you can join us.  Download the event flyer (pdf) and remember to pre-register as space is limited, and seats are filling up quickly!

More Upcoming NEDAWeek Events at The Center for Eating Disorders:

  • Love Your Tree‘ Community Art Exhibit and Reception on February 22, 2011 at 6:30pm
  • Free Eating Disorder Screenings ~ February 21-25, 2011

Visit our Events page or call (410) 427-3886 for more info on any of the upcoming events.

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