How can group therapy lead to transformation? What happens when people shed light on the shame behind an eating disorder? Can group therapy offer you the safe space you need? In this podcast episode, Dr. Cristina Castagnini speaks about Group with Bestselling Author Christie Tate.


Christie Tate is a writer and author who writes about addiction, eating disorders, recovery, connection, isolation, achievement, and loneliness. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, McSweeney's, The Los Angeles Review (forthcoming). Her debut memoir Group: How One Therapist and a Group of Strangers Saved My Life was published in Fall 2020 by Avid Reader Press. Visit Christie's website. Connect with her on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. FREEBIE: Christie is giving away two free copies of her book! Listeners can enter to win a copy by reaching out to her at


  • The power of other examples
  • Unearthing the secrets
  • Let things out

The power of other examples

Group therapy can lead to profound changes in people. It is a space wherein other people’s vulnerability and openness can encourage those around them to reciprocate their sensitivity. This creates an environment where honesty and self-awareness are pursued.
Immediately, other people were walking ahead of me and they were crying about their family or feeling rage … they came to play, and that made me want to do what they were doing. (Christie Tate)
Seeing other people be brave can spark your own bravery, and this can happen in group therapy.

Unearthing the secrets

As Dr. Castagnini says, “we’re only as sick as our secrets”. Eating disorders thrive on inducing shame in people, making them feel that they cannot speak to anyone and that they should keep everything they do inconspicuous.
My experience was [that] once I began to tell the truth about what I put in my mouth, without the expectation of “change it”, “make it better”, “fix it”, Dr. Rosen said “you just tell a witness what you ate after you’ve eaten it every day” … that’s the first moment I thought, “I might just get well here”. (Christie Tate)
Releasing the secrets is a part of releasing the mental sickness of eating disorders. By throwing them out and letting space in, people can release tension from having to hide them for so long and can focus on healing. Group therapy, and therapy in general, is an investment in yourself, your life, and your well-being.

Let things out

Therapy and recovery are long-term processes, so no matter which stage of recovery you are in there may be days when the struggles flair up again. In those moments, remember what you have learned thus far, and reach out to someone for support. Stay connected to yourself, stay connected to the people that support you, and do not force yourself to walk through it alone.
Pricking the silence and the isolation helps me be a little bit freer. (Christie Tate)

Books mentioned in this episode:

BOOK | Christie Tate – Group: How One Therapist and a Group of Strangers Saved My Life



I am a licensed Psychologist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. While I may have over 20 years of clinical experience, what I also have is the experience of having been a patient who had an eating disorder as well. One thing that I never had during all of my treatment was someone who could look me in the eye and honestly say to me "hey, I've been there. I understand". Going through treatment for an eating disorder is one of the hardest and scariest things to do. I remember being asked to do things that scared me. Things I now know ultimately helped me to get better. But, at the time, I had serious doubts and fears about it. If even one of my providers had been able to tell me "I know it's scary, but I had to go through that part too. Here's what will probably happen...." then perhaps I would not have gone in and out of treatment so many times. My own experience ultimately led me to specialize in treating eating disorders. I wanted to be the therapist I never had; the one who "got it". I will be giving you my perspective and information as an expert and clinician who has been treating patients for over 2 decades. But don't just take my word for it...keep listening to hear the truly informative insights and knowledge guest experts have to share. I am so happy you are here!


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Podcast Transcription

[CHRISTINA CASTAGNINI] Behind The Bite podcast is part of a network of podcasts that are good for the world. Check out podcasts like the Full of Shift podcast, After the First Marriage podcast and Eating Recovery Academy over at Welcome to Behind The Bite podcast. This podcast is about the real life struggles women face with food, body image and weight. We're here to help you inspire and create better healthier lives. Welcome. . Well, hello everyone. I am so excited to jump into our show today. So I'll tell you why. For those of you who don't know, I don't just host this podcast. I also have a practice where I see patients individually and in groups and I absolutely love running groups. No, don't get me wrong. I also love providing individual therapy, but there really is something quite amazing about group therapy, something that is just very different than individual. So I will tell you is one thing as a therapist to say something to one of my patients, but when someone comes to a group and hears someone else, another normal person who is not a doctor like me or a professional hear another person openly talking about the very things that they've been feeling or too embarrassed to even admit to themselves or anyone else, it is a completely different experience. They feel less alone, more normal, shocked even, and in a good way. The power of group therapy is something I wish we discussed more. I know most of the time when I initially bring it up to people as an option or to add to their individual treatment, they're hesitant. They don't know what to expect. They don't want to share with other people. And most times they're anxious. But what I wish people knew is that it can be so transformative. Over the years, I've seen group members form connections that are life altering, and it is through one of my most long-run groups that I became aware of a book about group therapy, a book that was written by someone who had suffered from an eating disorder and entered group therapy herself. I admit I was intrigued. So I went out and read it myself and I can see why the group brought it to my attention. It was honest. It was real. And as anyone who has listened to my podcast before knows, I truly believe that the more honest and real we can all be the better and the easier it will be for all of us to open up and free of what is hurting us, including all of those eating disorder thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that so many of us are ashamed of and embarrassed of. I know when I was suffering with mine, I was really afraid to open up about everything I was thinking, everything I was doing, everything I was feeling. So after I was done reading this book, I decided, let me email the author and ask if she would be a guest on the podcast. I honestly thought to myself that doing that was pointless because I thought this is a complete long shot, and there's no way I'm ever going to hear back from her. So can you imagine my surprise when that very same day I received a response from her saying she'd be a guest? The same day, shocking, really. I was in shock. So, I really meant it when I said I'm very excited to jump into our show today because the author of the book is actually here with us today. [CHRISTINA] Christie Tate is a writer and author who writes about addiction, eating disorders, recovery, connection, isolation, achievement, and loneliness. Her essays have appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Post, McSweeney's, The Los Angeles Review, just forthcoming. Her debut memoir, Group: How One Therapist and a Group of Strangers Saved My Life was published fall 2020 by Avid Reader Press. So Christie, welcome to the show. [CHRISTIE TATE] Thank you so much for having me. I'm glad to be here. [CHRISTINA] So this is exciting. I have not had anyone on the podcast test yet to talk about group or group therapy or their experience with it. So I'm really excited to have you hear you have written this amazing book with your own experience and just excited to hear more about your experience with not only group and your transition. But just, I guess now that you've written the book, I'm wondering, do you feel like you have any, like writing it, did you have any different perspective on all of what you went through or did you feel like that's a whole nother process? [CHRISTIE] I do think that writing the book was one way of making sense to myself. What worked, like how did my life transform? I knew that I believed my life had been transformed and I really do give the credit to the process of group therapy. What has been fascinating since the book came out, I've talked to so many readers, including therapists, people who suffered in some of ways that I did, or someone whose daughter or mother. And what I realize now is many, many people are really hungry for stories of transformation, ones that are authentic and offer a sense of hope. So what I was all always frustrated with when I was really struggling, I had been in one-on-one therapy and it didn't move the needle. Now, the reason why it didn't move the needles, because I was lying. I was not bringing, I mean, I did not give forth my full effort. I was too scared for me, for my set of issues I consider my eating disorder and addiction. The modality that seemed to unlock me and help me tell the truth for the first time in my whole life was group therapy. And I'm really grateful to be able to talk to people of about that because a lot of people don't know it as a tool. [CHRISTINA] So curious because I also went through my treatment with eating disorders and recovery and I often say this, like I was the worst patient. I lied to my therapist for so long and I think that also stopped me from really getting better as well. That's why as a therapist now I run groups because I found the power myself. So when my group actually introduced me to your books, I was like, this is great. This is like being in another group reading it. So I'm wondering for you, what do you think it was that allowed you to be more open and honest in a group versus with a one-on-one therapist? [CHRISTIE] I think that what was really the most powerful for me was having other examples. I sat in that group the first day and I watched people, I didn't know them, they were strangers, but they seemed to be doing what looked to me like deep work. And what I meant by that was telling the truth, being in their feelings, telling hard stories. I mean this is day one and I'm sort of thinking we're going to skate on the surface, but immediately other people were walking ahead of me and they were crying about their family or feeling rage about an argument with the credit card company. And they were just, they came to play. That made me want to do what they were doing. And I feel lucky. I believe I landed in a place that was unorthodox in many ways, but the group kept me feeling safe and I was willing to go to darker places because they did it every session too. So I really think that was the key for me, the chemistry of the group. I was a newbie, but everybody else was sort of doing this thing and I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to see if I could hack it. [CHRISTINA] So you said something interesting, like your group was very different than I think most people would think of as group. And even me as a therapist of I'm going, oh my gosh, this is very different and unconventional. But it worked for you. So I don't know if you've gotten any feedback from people of, wow, that is not my experience with group at all. [CHRISTIE] Yes. Even before the book came out, the idea of writing about group therapy and "breaking confidence" is I was getting side eyes from therapists, just telling them I have a book deal and I wrote a book about group therapy. There was a lot of Pearl clutching like, oh, like very, very, understood. I understood people are concerned that I have violated my group mates boundaries. And that is, we should be concerned about boundaries, me included. And I had a whole process with my group, my group mates before, I mean my current ones, I still go my current ones and former one and they are deeply hidden. I took out their information and I focused the story on me and the pieces they gave me. The book used to be much longer because originally I had included in their information about them and then I took it out because it doesn't belong to me. But to your point therapists and people who are used to their way of which is traditional, which is the majority of group therapy are very nervous about a lot of the things that Dr. Rosen did. From page like 12 I'm talking about there's no confidentiality among the group mates. Many traditional group therapies, you sign a contract or you promise not to talk about what happens in the group or outside of the group. And here I come and I've written a book about what I've been doing in the past 10 years. So there is a lot, I get a lot of feedback. What I have noticed this is totally anecdotal, but many younger therapists are feeling energized by sort of maybe reinvigorating some of these traditional models, maybe this strict confidentiality. Maybe it just needs to be interrogated. Like who is that for? Who does it serve? Who does it protect? And Dr. Rosen and his practice. As I understand it from my vantage point, we're all addicts and our diseases really thrived with secrecy. And we were all protecting uncles, grandparents babysitters, and we just had lost ourselves in this process of secrecy and addiction. So that's not a tool that he's brought in. Now he has to keep secrecy and confidentiality because he's the doctor and that's his ethics. But I can tell you things about my treatment and what happens in that room and then it's up to me and my own ethics, like how much do I reveal about other people? And that's something, that's part of the risk of joining a group and it's not sealed. It's not a sealed container that most people are used to. [CHRISTINA] And I that's so bi because I have to talk about that with the eating disorders, is you're only sick as you're secrets. So here you go into this group and it's not an eating disorder group for anyone listening. Like if maybe that I should have said that like the book is not about you going into a group to treat eating disorders, even though that's something you were struggling with. It wasn't the topic. But that is a huge part of recovering from one, is nursing your secrets and not being held down by them. And I don't know if you felt like being in the group or the groups you were in but Dr. Rosen also helped you through some of your eating disorder symptoms or [CHRISTIE] Oh, a hundred percent. And I wonder too. So I had started out in a 12 step program for eating disorders and it really, really arrested some really, really lethal behavior I was engaged in around binging and purging. And I got to, I guess, applied to, or like a good enough recovery. But I had a ton of food secrets still. So I'm going to meetings. I'm considering myself an old timer. I give leads. I sponsor women. Meanwhile, I'm terrified of anyone finding out what I actually eat. That didn't strike me as a problem because I was in such denial. I was so worried they were going to kick me out or tell me I was not in recovery. Dr. Rosen could tell, I don't know how, but maybe it was obvious now that I think about it, but one day he said to me, why don't you tell the group what you ate yesterday? It's the first time in group I threw a fit because I would've rather done anything than say. The behavior wasn't going to kill me. I was in a maintenance secret relationship with apples. At night I was binging on like 6, 10, 12 apples a night and that's probably not going to kill me. It was not good for me. And the lethal part of that process was the secret. I had to look at these people and think I'm going to tell them that's my deepest, darkest secret that came before anything I did with sex, with money, anything that. Was my top secret. My experience was once I began to tell the truth about what I put in my mouth, without the expectation of change it, make it better, fix it, Dr. Rosen said, you just tell a witness what you ate after you've eaten it every day. I was like, I didn't think I could do it, but I committed and that's the first moment I thought I might just get well here. I might just get well [CHRISTINA] And that's the word you put hope. Sounds like it instilled some hope in you and it sounds like that was this huge turning point for you. [CHRISTIE] Absolutely. It was a turning point. I wanted a cure. I wanted, oh great, I'll call up a group mate and say, "Hey, here's what I ate today and I wanted it to cure, but I continued to eat more than three apples a night for at least another six months. There's no cure for the behavior in the sense of snap. It's gone. I had been doing secret food, eating for many, many years and it took a while to straighten myself out. And there was so much shame that first we had to treat the shame and the way to treat the shame was to turn it over to someone and once the shame was no longer the centerpiece of my life, that's where hope and light and dreams came in. I was like, oh, I might not be the biggest piece of you know what on the earth, because I don't know how to eat. I don't know how to eat. I was 28 years old and I did not know how to eat. I had years of recovery under my belt and was still like newborn baby. I needed a lot of help. [CHRISTINA] So interesting because I do think people go into treatment, therapy, whatever it is thinking they're going to get answers, they're going to be told what to do and you weren't. [CHRISTIE] I know. It's so upsetting. Even today, I do sometimes got desire for an answer and maybe, sometimes it's described to me as, because I'm an addict I want to shortcut my feelings. And I think I have the idea that an answer will make the pain stop. Tell me how to make the pain stop. And pain is not really necessarily, always meant to be stopped. It's oftentimes walked through, learned from, and it's not, when I'm in a sane moment, I recognize Dr. Rosen or my group mates can't tell me what to do. It's got to come from inside, but they'll hold my hands while I'm super uncomfortable looking for the next right step for me to pay. [CHRISTINA] I think that's the beauty of it, is you were being held there. We call it distress tolerance. It's tolerating the distress of being in this uncomfortable emotion. And I don't think a lot of people are able to do that much what you were doing with the apples or your eating disorder is just numbing it out. You know what, I don't want to tolerate this. I'm going to go eat all these apples or I'm going to engage in this eating disorder behavior. That was your solution when you were by yourself. This is the way to do it, but you weren't allowed to do that. Like you had to be accountable for it, right? [CHRISTIE] Yes. I didn't know, looking back now, I mean, I think eating disorders are very complex. I had a whole history of trauma and that played a role, but there's also a simple thing that was going on for me, which is, I was just really, really lonely and terrified of people. And it was just easier to sit and eat, watch scrubs and eat 10 apples than to feel lonely and take steps to change my life. It was like, well, I'll just eat more apples and it was taking more and more. It started out four then we bumped up to six then once you hit an amount, once you hit 10, well then around the corner's 12 and I hit that corner. And I was like, this is just not going to end. I didn't know how to stop it until other people intervened. [CHRISTINA] Was there a fear there in being judged, like you divulging this and people just saying the things to you that you were saying to yourself about how you were eating these apples and all the things you thought, the end thoughts and all that? Were you afraid they were just going to say all those things back to you? [CHRISTIE] Oh, I thought that they were going to literally recoil, like push their chairs back away from me. The way that I talk to myself in my worst moments is what I thought would come back at me and that sounds like you're disgusting. No one's ever going to sleep with you. No one wants to be your friend. It's very mean and it's very wholesale and it covers every area on my life. And at the time that very first time that Dr. Rosen said, why don't you tell the group what you ate and once I calm him down and became willing, I couldn't look at them. I'm like, I've jammed my fists and my eye socket because I don't want to see them be like, Ugh, you're gross. So I said it and then Dr. Rosen is like open your eyes. I'm like, I don't want to. No, thank you. Then when I did what I saw back from these, I think there were five other people there that day was just, there was love. There was amusement. I mean, it's kind of funny. They didn't hate me. They were just like, what are you still worked up about? So there was some amusement and curiosity. It wasn't just pure love. And then there was also relatability. Everyone there, like everybody has a secret, everybody has degrees of secrets. There were other people in the circle who had shame around food too and we were able to connect and walk forward together. I just hadn't experienced that before. It felt like a miracle and is like kind of simple, connect with another person who suffers and together you walk into the solution. I mean, that's probably, that's what I was supposed to be doing in my 12-step program, but I was hiding and it wasn't working. [CHRISTINA] I think you just hit the nail in the head right there. That is the beauty of a group, is you get reflected back to you something so different than you experience in your own body and that's where the healing starts. It's like, oh wait, I can experience something different. And yet, you mentioned the end credits and it's like you discussed how to do the group process. He talked about it as a microcosm of the outside world and relating to people and healing. You experienced just as you described that. You experienced something so different being in this group than maybe you had experienced, even in your relationship with yourself or people in the outside world. As you said, you got a history of trauma and maybe negative experiences, but to be in this group and have a safe place where you could be yourself and open up and get such different feedback and even people that, yes, I got it. I'm there too. Or I've experienced that emotion and be able to contain it, work through it. That is so powerful and I think that's the important part about group that maybe people don't understand, is it's a safe place to work through things that are very scary. [CHRISTIE] Yes. Oh, a hundred percent. I think the work that I was able to do, I just, people ask me all the time, for example, "Well, could you have gotten well in one-on-one? At some point I would've stopped lying and performing for my individual therapist, presumably, and I would've gotten down to this, and I certainly think that's possible. I kind of will never know because I chose the group route, but what I do know is that watching other people gave me, it's like jumping off the high dive. I'd watched other people touch their own darkness and bring it to light and it made me want to try. It made me brave. And they never, my group, even to this day, I'm 20 years and one month in to group therapy with Dr. Rosen and still to this day, they never say what I think they're going to say. I mean, every now and then it's like, if I did something awesome with affirming myself or whatever, they'll say yes, good job. But many, many, anything where there's any mark in my own psyche they never hate me the way I think they're going to. They also challenge me. It's not all, they hold me in this very quiet way. Sometimes they're like, "Hey you're neglecting yourself here. Or why did you make that decision? Or do you think this job is working for you?" Those are confrontations that are scarier because they come, they feel sharper than, "We love you." But they're just as vital and they've moved my life forward just the same. [CHRISTINA] So as you say those number of years, I wonder anyone listening might be like, oh my gosh, I have to do this for decades and keep going. I don't know if people have asked you that like, oh my gosh, doesn't that feel like it's too long? Or do you feel you can never get out? What, don't know if people have asked you that and what do you say? [CHRISTIE] Every conversation keep will say who gets to leave. Do you ever get to leave? My experience is I know I can leave anytime I want. I don't have the idea that my life will fall apart. If I leave Dr. Rosen, I've gotten incredible amount of skills. I have been able to build a life full of love inside and outside of group. So I choose to keep going because I like having the support. I still do hard things all the time and I want support and it's already built in. I'm not going to have to put it together if there's a crisis in my family or during, like when the pandemic hit, I already had a group that was online. I didn't have to scramble. So I sort of like that. And I recognize it is a huge luxury and a privilege that I am able to spend 180 weeks in group exploring my mental health, meeting with other people, being part of their stories. So yes, I do believe you can leave. I can leave the group. I don't think you have to do therapy forever. It so happens that Dr. Rosen's model is, how I sort of hear it is you still want support? There's always a chair for you. If you want to keep doing this and if you want to go, let us bless you and send you on your way. And I'm sort of a creature of habit. Actually, last night I was doing a conversation about the book and somebody said to me, this was an awesome question and super fair. She said, do you think it's a feature of your addictive personality that you just keep going to group? I was like, that is very insightful and I think, how can I say no? I'm totally an addict. I've done 20 years of therapy with the same therapist. It does smell a little like addiction to me. And what I believe for myself is that it's the proper use of that addictive side of me. It has a good, I have a good outcome from going to group and I want to keep having that good outcome and I hope, and I trust that if the outcome is no longer good that I'll bid them fare well and go on my way. But I think that's a funny and a fair question. I'm sure listeners are thinking doesn't this woman have anything else to do with her time and money? It's a fair question. [CHRISTINA] Has it ever come up in your family or personal life where you've been like, oh my gosh group is getting in the way of us doing things or it's becoming expensive or time consuming or gosh, mom, we want you home or your husband or anybody's been like, all right, when's it going to stop? [CHRISTIE] That's a very good question too. So the people that I live with, they seem to have the idea that I do better when I go to groups. They're like if we're going on a trip, oh, why don't we go after mommy comes back from Dr. Rosen on that session or whatever? So I can appreciate they see something in me that I assume is there. And at the same time as I've gotten, I worked so hard to have this family, my children and my husband. It would never be my expectation, that group, that I get to like staff them for group. So I used to like organize, before when I was single. I would organize trips and all my everything so I could be at every session. I was like really into it. Now I'm like, we're going on vacation. I'll see you guys later. And I don't sweat it the way I used to because I'm not a desperate on the edge woman anymore. It plays a different role in my life. So my husband hasn't asked how long, but I am aware of the costs. It is not a cheap hobby. I'm always, it's kind of like a rounded golf twice a week, every week. It's been important to me to be self supporting. So I have a fund for my mental health and I also want to model for my children this is a priority. It is important to me. This is what my money is for. It's not the only thing it's for, but this is an important resource that I want to have time and money to do. [CHRISTINA] Thank you for saying that. Actually I think mental health does not get enough of a praise or it's not talked about how. It's an investment in yourself and we need it. People look at it like, oh, you go to therapy. If you go to therapy, it's like right when you're in crisis. It's not like you keep your mental health I guess in check or you maintain it. So you've done such a great job, I think of saying this is important and this is so something necessary for me. And like you said, just hearing your story, it's to instill hope in people that wow, you can't, reading your blog was like, obviously you made so many changes and transitioned your life through group and therapy. I wish there was more stories out there. I think if people told their stories and they were honest and open and vulnerable, you were so vulnerable. Thank you. I think that's the power of your book. Who does that? Who is that vulnerable? Because, I think you said like, oh my gosh, my kids ever read this. [CHRISTIE] Yes. I really think that to the extent that my vulnerability comes through in the book, I learned that in group and from the beginning of writing this whole project, in order to honor the work that I did there, I was going to have to just go there. Or why write the book? I could pick anything to write about. It could write a novel, I could do something else, but when I settled on this, it just became very clear to me. And I'm also an all or nothing person. There was either going to be notebook or there was going to be like, we're going to go there, Bulimia, pin worms, trauma, all these men. And I love books like that. I love art like that. I love comedians who were like that. Some of the, I was hugely impressed, standup comedian, like Hannah Gatsby talking about her sexual assault in detail. I want to be, I want to create work like that because that reaches people. That reaches people who have suffered, who are suffering and that to me seems the point of making something to put in the world. [CHRISTINA] That's another reason I'm glad to have you on the podcast. Because my whole thing here is to have real people talking about their real life experiences. I mean your book is very real., I'm actually curious the people that you wrote about, did you have to get permission from them to write about your experiences with them or did you not even think about that? [CHRISTIE] Oh no, I thought about it from day one because once the story is taking shape, and I think everybody who writes a memoir has to confront, wait, am I going to write about my ex-husband? Wait, what about my kids? You have to ask all those questions if you are going to put this "true story" out into the world. Also I was going to stay in group and so I had to let them know from the jump, "Hey, I think I'm writing about us guys." At first they just sort of humored me. We didn't do anything where they signed anything, but I definitely, I sent them graphs all through the process saying, if you want to change your name, I mean, I changed everybody's name, but like, if you don't like that I gave you the name, Brad, hit me with some. You want to be Clint, you want to be Jack? I wanted them in that part of the process. So that's a little bit unorthodox as a writer, but I did let them all in. Then once the book was done, I also had people I was no longer in group with and I tracked a bunch of them down to let them know, because I just didn't want to go out into the world with something that hurt somebody else. I didn't want to surprise anybody. Some people I lost touch with than couldn't find, some people I was counseled, just leave them alone. As for the, a lot of people are curious about, I wrote about a lot of ex-boyfriends and people ask me all the time about Jeremy and all along I was going to show him the book because he's a tender hearted person that I wanted to honor. He actually passed away before, like two years before the book even came out. Marty passed away as well. I was no longer in group with him. So that was really, I was like, oh, it felt like a missed opportunity I believe we would've connected around some of the stories that I told in the book and as for the other people, some of the ex-boyfriends, I have not heard from them. I don't imagine that I will. [CHRISTINA] Okay. I mean, how brave are you honestly? [CHRISTIE] Very. [CHRISTINA] Yes, but I do just applaud you for that because I do think anyone listening today, I think it is going to instill some hope if anyone does want to read your book or after listening to you or if anyone has. I know my group was so thrilled to have you on because they got a lot out of reading your book. They felt it was, I think I told you beforehand, they felt like reading. It was being in another group. They got some healing from it, just reading it. Because it does have this flavor of just like, wow, I can get better if I work on things, I stick with things, go to therapy, go to group. Wow, look how much your life, I mean, such a transition. Your whole life changed. [CHRISTIE] Yes, I can't even believe it sometimes myself. And when I was thinking about, I didn't set out to write the book to help people. I would love to say that because it makes me sound like a better person than I am. I was more motivated, like I think this is a good story. I think I can pull this off and now I see the potential. But what I would want anybody to know is even if group is not the tool that you use, there, there are ways to transform your life. It can get messy. It can get a little uncomfortable. That doesn't mean it's not working because at any point, there's so many points in the book where I could have pulled the plug, like the pain got too high, I was watching other people come into group after me and get the things I wanted. I went to tons of weddings for people who came into group after me and it was like devastating. I felt like I'm behind, it doesn't work, I'm untreatable. And I stuck around long enough to get the things I wanted and was working towards. When you're in the middle of the story, you don't know the end. You don't know if it's your, your nots are ever going to come loose. And I just want people to know that there are solutions and you're worth looking for them. Even if you don't choose group, choose something because you don't have to stay mired in misery and awful isolation. There are better ways. [CHRISTINA] Well said. And I think that's a great point too. I hear so often from people like, well, when am I going to get better? Or, well, they got better before me. So maybe I'm hopeless. Or well, come on, doc, when is it going to change? It's like this need to know or like, well give me the timeline. I get DMs from people saying, "Well, I've never gotten better, so it's not going to happen for me." [CHRISTIE] Yes. I totally live there. And I remember, I can remember, I mean, months and weeks and years of going into group and say, what's your proof. I'd be screaming at Dr. Rosen, "What's your proof this works for me? You believe in group. Maybe I'm the one person for whom your almighty tool does not work." He would always say the same thing to me. He was like, "Ask your group mates if they think you're getting better." He was probably right that I wouldn't have taken it from him and someone would yell out, well, now you live with a roommate. Oh, you have this great job. You paid off your credit card debt. You have had a couple of relationships and they didn't last, but you've at least done some of the growing up you didn't do when you were in your adolescence, because you were busy binging and purging. It was kind of hard with all these voices coming at me, pointing out. I had my eyes on this ultimate prize. I wanted to be a certain size of my body. I wanted to be married and I wanted to feel like I was a real person and there was a lot I had to do, to remember where I started to there and I didn't count anything. I had the habit of not wanting to count the incremental gains I was making. I just was like, well, where's my husband? Where are my babies? And everyone was like, well you just bought a condo. I don't care by myself. So learning how to celebrate and experience incremental mental health gains was like one of the hardest lessons I had to learn. [CHRISTINA] And great to get the feedback from multiple people. [CHRISTIE] Yes, because different people could see different things in me. And I think if Dr. Rosen had reverted to some kind of pep talk, like, look how far you come, it would've been so self-serving right. He did it. He's the great doctor. So I think that's another benefit of group. Those people don't have to love me or see me, and they did and that part felt pretty transformative along the way. [CHRISTINA] I'm wondering too, for anyone who's in the throes of eating disorder treatment and maybe they feel like, oh gosh, they're getting better and even in a group and getting feedback, like, gosh, you've made all this change, but then maybe they get back into a space where all of their eating disorder symptoms come back with a vengeance and they're going, "See, it doesn't work. This is not working. You suck. Therapy doesn't work." What would you say to them? [CHRISTIE] I would say I hear you. The jagged process of mental health, specifically around my eating disorder I have days when I wake up and think maybe I'll just not eat today and I'll run a lot. I have those thoughts. I don't act on them, but my symptoms flare up. Absolutely. I just went on a trip. I went to Alaska with my family and I mean, I hadn't been anywhere in forever because of the pandemic and I forgot how vulnerable I am when I travel. The hatred of my body sores. I have less control over my food, we're traveling, everything seems like it's all fried. It's all full of. But I get crazy and it feels like I'm 17 years old again. I felt so vulnerable and I had to just get back to basics, like what are the tools, reaching out to someone else, telling, my husband's not a person who suffers from an eating disorder, but I can't hold all that in. I just had to turn him one day and say, "I hate my body so much. I can't even focus on these glaciers or these whales. I don't care. I'm thinking about my body." And even just like pricking the silence and the isolation helps me be a little bit freer, but the truth is next time I go on a trip, I'm going to be very humbled and do a little more prep work because the disease, I consider a disease, I don't know what if that's helpful language to other people, but my symptoms can come back at any time and I can be very vulnerable. I just take that vulnerability as a signal to stay connected to myself and to stay connected to the people who hold me and not try to do it by myself. It is tempting to think, well, I guess I just stuck as a recovering person. It's very tempting to go there, but that's just another symbol. That's just another symptom. The negative destructive thinking, I have it and I pray for a daily reprieve and sticking close to others and not holding it secretly has helped me tremendously. [CHRISTINA] Thank you for sharing that. Again, your vulnerability's fantastic because I think people wonder for themselves if they have these thoughts or something comes up like, oh I failed at therapy. [CHRISTIE] Yes. I have really struggled too, recently around eating issues, thinking to myself I'm 48. I feel like I'm way beyond the demographic that should be struggling with body image. I'm supposed to be thinking about voter suppression and Kaul and my children. I'm surprised I still have a lot of the same thoughts, not all the time, but I have struggles with some of the exact same thoughts I had when I was 12, when I was 17, when I was 20. I'm like, am I ever going to age out of body dysmorphia or eating disorder? And I think maybe the answer is no. I'm 48. I still have to be aware of who I am and my vulnerabilities around food and eating and body. Some days it feels like a superpower because I can connect to other women and men too. But really for me it's only even women, but I can connect with people around that. Some days it feels like that superpower and some days it just feels like a heavy cross to bear. And I think anybody that has an eating disorder like mine knows exactly what I'm talking about. [CHRISTINA] Well, and if I can impart any words, like I had years of eating disorder struggles and one thing is I want to break that myth that like it never goes away. So even at 48, I'm hoping for you to instill that hope and you like, yes, it does go away. Because I always envisioned my head like in prison walls and going, I'm never going to get out of this. I'm going to be stuck here forever. And if someone would've told me I would never have an eating disorder thought again in my life, I'd say you're so stupid. You're lying to me. Get away from me. I would, I told them to shut up. It's never going to happen. [CHRISTIE] And you've had the experience of like a total freedom? [CHRISTINA] Which is bizarre because I said, there's no way that's ever going to happen. It was my entire life. I was just, ugh. Everything is just like 99% of my daily life and thoughts. And I didn't even want to treat eating disorders to be honest with you because [crosstalk] [CHRISTIE] You have an incredible story. [CHRISTINA] You know, I was like, I don't want to have that thought of, oh, all therapists go into me to treat their own stuff. I was like, I'm not going to be that therapist. But I got to this point where I was like, oh it's not even in there. I don't get triggered. This is fantastic. But I want to instill that hope in people like, oh my gosh, you can get there. Because getting there is a very interesting place like whoa. Because I know that myth is out there, oh it never goes away. Come on doc, you must have something. And it's like, it's a great place to be. So I do hope you get there truly. [CHRISTIE] Thank you. I'll take your hope all the way. I appreciate you sharing that because that is, I've had some flare ups and I'm like, oh, come on. I wanted to go away forever. So it's nice to hear from someone who has had that experience. That's awesome. [CHRISTINA] I just look at, when you have flare-ups, your body's communicating to you. Something feels out of control or something feels painful and it's all it really is. And just looking at it like, well thank you for communicating, but I don't need to have edit going on. [CHRISTIE] Yes, totally. That explains why it's flared up during travel. [CHRISTINA] Yes, I think people just fall into this spiral of, oh see, I'm failing and end just gets in there and like, see? You're not better. You're still a failure. You're not good enough, and you just spiral down. [CHRISTIE] Yes, exactly. [CHRISTINA] Well, thank you so much for being here. I think you're very inspiring and anyone who hasn't read your book, just want to encourage you. It's really a great book. It's an easy read. It's fun and it does instill a lot of hope. So any last parting words for anyone who's listening? [CHRISTIE] I really just want to encourage people. If you could just find one person you're willing to share a little bit of your secret that you're holding like a stash, it doesn't have to be a therapist. It doesn't have to be a psychotherapy group. It could be a friend, a colleague, a priest, a rabbi. Any amount of sharing a secret helps the light come in. That's what I really, really believe and that's what I hope readers will take. I want to say thank you to you for all the work you do. I'm so happy people are talking about eating disorders and bringing hope into the conversation. It's really, really what we all need. [CHRISTINA] Thank you so much. And if anyone wants to find you or connect with you, is there a way to do that or? [CHRISTIE] Yes, I'm on Instagram at Christie O Tate. That's probably the best place. I have a writing website, but it's just sort of like, it's not interactive. It's just like a list of my writing. That's, but come visit me on Instagram. I love to talk about any of these issues or anything in the book. [CHRISTINA] Fantastic. Well, thank you again so much and we'll have all that information on the show notes on the website so anyone who wants to find that I will have all that information there. All right. Thank you for such a great show. [CHRISTIE] Thank you so much. Take care. [CHRISTINA] This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regards to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or any other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.