Eating disorders are no match for memoirist Betsy Brenner

It's never too late to be 'a work in progress' - join Betsy's pro-recovery book club conversations. Mind Blossom is the host!

Eating disorders are no match for memoirist Betsy Brenner

Eating disorders are no match for memoirist Betsy Brenner

A silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020-2021, was the gift of time to embark on the incredible journey of writing my memoir The Longest Match: Rallying to Defeat an Eating Disorder in Midlife.

A project of this magnitude always seemed daunting but as soon as I began pouring through my old diaries, I thought that writing my memoir might help me to heal on a deeper level from the significant challenges I had faced.

Once I made the decision to write my memoir, another purpose was to instil hope in women who have faced similar challenges, especially women in their mid-life who are struggling with eating disorders.

My inspiring message is that it’s never too late to be a work in progress. I want my readers to know that it is possible to heal from childhood trauma and gain a deeper understanding of complicated and painful relationships and events. My diaries gave me a lens into my past through which I could look back to the time when the trauma and other difficult events unfolded. I felt as if I were putting together a jigsaw puzzle of my life, trying to figure out how the pieces fit together.

In addition to reading through my diaries before beginning to write, my amazing mentor, June Alexander, had me outline the different chapters in my life, the important people in each chapter and the significant events along with the challenges, lessons, and positive experiences.

The writing process

The actual writing, over a period of 10 months, was a time of introspection, reflection, smiles, tears, emotions, and ultimately a deeper understanding of myself. Throughout the process, I was able to talk through the difficult emotions with my therapist. Reading my diaries and writing about painful events and experiences was the key to my healing, but not easy to revisit in such a profound way.

I was thrilled to have June Alexander as not only my writing mentor, but also my editor. She was with me every step of the way. During the writing process, I focused on one chapter at a time, not starting a new chapter until the previous one was completely edited. I loved the feeling of starting a new, fresh topic. The words generally flowed freely, though there were certainly times when I needed to take a break and refocus.

My life story encompasses my childhood, the aftermath of my parents’ divorce, my parents’ early cancer deaths, and my own complicated grief, anxiety and depression, asthma and ultimately, a full-blown eating disorder in mid-life. My eating disorder was the culmination of these many challenges, but also the catalyst to healing. Recovery required vulnerability, connection, and professional support, specifically getting in touch with decades of suppressed emotions.

The Longest Match: Rallying to Defeat an Eating Disorder in Midlife

Recovery allows me to be fully present in my life, savor the special relationships in my life, and feel comfortable as my authentic self. There is nothing more vulnerable and authentic than sharing my entire life story. My memoir, The Longest Match: Rallying to Defeat an Eating Disorder in Midlife, evokes the message that one can emerge from life’s challenges and become healthier in body, mind, and spirit.

Since the completion of my memoir, I have felt a sense of tremendous accomplishment, almost disbelief that I actually have written a book about my life. What’s more, I believe I have healed on a deeper level through the process of self-examination, deeper understanding and putting my life into words.

When I announced the release of my memoir on social media in 2021, the feeling was surreal. I was overwhelmed by the positive response from people from all chapters of my life. As someone who has always been a private person and has suffered from the shame often associated with eating disorders, I became literally an open book.

Since the release of my memoir, I have led several book groups for non-profit organisations in the eating disorder field. My book provides the framework for discussing eating disorders, including how and why they develop, recovery, what is necessary to move forward along our own journeys and what life can be like beyond the eating disorder, including freedom, inner peace and authenticity.

I also travel and speak at conferences and treatment centres, sharing my story and hopefully giving those who are struggling hope that recovery is possible. My message is, “It’s never too late to be a work in progress.”

I also share my lived experience through peer mentorship and peer support groups. Everything I do is a gift of my own recovery. Thus, my business is called Gifts of Recovery, LLC. See my website for more information.

Mind Blossom to host Betsy’s book club

Pernille Bülow started Mind Blossom with one simple goal: to strengthen communities by giving them the tools and know-how based on solid evidence about mental health.

Pernille writes:

For me, a book club is a perfect example of how we make that happen.

Here’s what a mental health-focused book club offers:

  1. Mentorship and Guidance: Experienced individuals lead discussions, offering valuable insights and guidance to those at earlier stages in their recovery or learning journey.
  2. Knowledge: Engaging in conversations driven by book chapters naturally leads to the acquisition of new knowledge. These discussions, coupled with reflection, are pivotal in the learning process.
  3. Community: In a book club, everyone is on equal footing when discussing book topics. Each member brings unique perspectives that foster learning and discussion, creating a supportive and inclusive community—a culture of honesty and safety.
  4. Inspiration: Inspiration is a vital component of both recovery and learning. Whether it stems from acquired knowledge, mentorship, or interactions with fellow book club members, inspiration fuels one’s journey through life.

I’m thrilled that Mind Blossom has the opportunity to host Betsy’s book club on our platform. Working closely with Betsy over the past few months, I’ve witnessed her unwavering dedication to supporting others, and re-launching this book club perfectly exemplifies her commitment.

The book club begins on April 9 and will meet every Tuesday at 5:30pm EST (which corresponds to 8:30am in Australia and 9:30 pm in the UK). Each session will offer an hour of virtual connection with individuals from around the world who are on their recovery journey. Whether you’re just starting out or further along the path, everyone is welcome. It’s a space for anyone seeking to explore deeper insights and acquire new skills for recovery.

You can register here: 4-0603-4f08-bec4-52a6088a43ba

While it’s not mandatory to purchase or read Betsy’s book, we highly encourage it (after all, who wouldn’t want to delve into an incredible book by such an inspirational individual!):

You can learn more about Mind Blossom here:


Betsy Brenner is an author, recovery speaker, and peer support mentor. A Brown University and American University Law School graduate, Betsy was a nationally ranked tennis player, hospital attorney, hospice volunteer, and high school tennis coach. She and her husband, Jeff, reside in Barrington, Rhode Island and are the parents of three grown children.

Leave a Reply