I was honored to star Brittany Burgunder as a guest back in September 2014 as she was preparing to get her book Safety in Numbers published. The book is here at last, published this past January. After I read the book, I wanted to connect with Brittany again to hear more about the impact this book has made on her life as well as on the lives of so many others.
1) How did you feel when you first got a publisher for your book?
I was extremely excited and nervous. It was a dream come true that I was actually going to embark on the journey of turning my story into a published book. On the other hand, it was terrifying knowing that my most vulnerable thoughts would be on display. I think a part of me believed I’d never publish my story, or that I would never go through with it. Once I got a publisher, reality suddenly struck me in the face–I was really going to do this.
2) What kind of process did you go through to get this book published? What did you learn most about yourself or your story through it?
It was definitely somewhat of a full time job turning my book from an edited manuscript to a polished print-ready book. I worked closely everyday with my editor and publishing company. Once we had the book outlined exactly as we wanted we moved to the next phase where the publishing company turned my manuscript into designed pages for me to review.
As far as the front cover design, I had a vision of what I wanted the cover to look like. I worked with a graphic designer who transformed my idea into a few beautiful works of art before I fell in love with the one I have. There were quite a few more rounds of final exchanges polishing up the book with minor changes, but all in all it was an incredibly enjoyable process thanks to the team of people I worked with.
The thing I learned most through this process was how strong I am. Having to really read my book so thoroughly provided a healing of its own. It was one of the most difficult and liberating exercises I’ve ever done and in a way it strengthened my recovery more than anything I believe could have. By the time I sent my book off to the printer, I felt a sense of self-confidence, compassion, acceptance and wholeness that I had been missing. By releasing my book to the world, I felt in a way it also symbolized releasing my past and a lot of negativity that no longer served me. My past and story will always be a part of me. But I feel I can now own it, rather than it owning me.
3) How are you feeling now that the book is out and available?
At first I was incredibly nervous about the type of feedback I would receive. I was at complete peace with publishing my story the way I did and had no regrets. In my mind though, I also could not have provided a more vulnerable story to the public. It now feels surreal that my book is available for all to read. I never dreamt I would write a book. It’s an incredible feeling and I am only now just beginning to comprehend that I am an author.
4) Have you received greater success than you had initially imagined?
My book hasn’t been available that long, but yes, I’ve actually been shocked at the support I’ve received. Initially when my book first became available on Amazon, they sold out their supply. I really had no idea so many people were interested in my life. It was a wonderful feeling, but it also made me a little nervous knowing a lot of people would be reading the uncensored, brutally personal diaries of my life that make up the majority of my book.
5) What are you most proud of with your book?
For me, I’m most proud of the fact that I published a story that completely shattered the “perfect” image I spent so many years silently trying to portray. It makes me feel good that by exposing the darkest parts of my life, I could help others learn from my experiences. This book has helped me love who I am and embrace my life as a gift rather than silently push it away as a failure.
6) What has been the greatest compliment after publication?
I have received so many long, heartfelt messages from people who have read my book and told me they can’t put it down. They have thanked me for showing them they aren’t alone; for giving them a story that realistically portrays eating disorders without glamorizing them; for expressing thoughts that so closely mirror their own; for helping them understand their own behaviors; for giving them a reason not to give up; for helping them understand eating disorders and mental illnesses better; and for being brave enough to publish such a story because now they have hope that they can get better and recover. The messages I receive literally leave me speechless and in tears. The kindness of people who have contacted me after reading my book … it makes everything – absolutely everything I went through – worth it.
7) What has this experience meant to you?
It’s given me such clarity into what I truly feel my passion and purpose is in life. My dream is to help others and raise awareness about eating disorders and mental health on a global level. I am truly thankful for everything that I have and for all of the positive people and experiences that continue to come into my life.
8) You mentioned writing a sequel. How is that going at this point? What will be the focus?
Yes! I do intend to write a sequel to this first memoir and it will read much like Safety in Numbers. I continued to journal after my first memoir ended, so my sequel will again be composed of mostly diary entries. However, it will have a much different tone and feel to it. The sequel will focus more on my recovery process and will offer a first-hand look into life after an eating disorder. The two books could be read separately, but I feel together they will be that much more powerful.
9) How are you in this stage of your life in recovery?
I am at a wonderful new transition in my life right now where I feel clear about what I want to be doing. I still have my ups and downs, but I think it’s important to remember that it’s not always how you are feeling, but how you choose to act on your feelings. I work on loving myself more each day and I use positive coping skills to take the place of what were once destructive ones. I also don’t hide my feelings or go through life without support. Everyone has their own definition of recovery. Personally, I believe full recovery is possible.