If a podcast can accomplish anything, it can drop you into someone else’s shoes and possibly even save someone’s life in the process.
Amy Goeckel, 30, an East Lansing native, aims for her podcast, “The Eating Disorder Diaries,” to help those struggling with eating disorders by taking them along on her journey of recovering from a 16-year battle with bulimia nervosa. The podcast is a labor of love that feels like a memoir told to you by a friend, with some episodes featuring interviews with her family, mental health professionals and other eating disorder survivors in recovery.
“I felt called to share my story in some way or another,” Goeckel said. “There’s so much that I want to convey regarding tools that I’ve learned.”
Growing up, Goeckel lived with her parents, Chris and Cindy Goeckel, and younger sister, Alyssa. Goeckel’s parents doted on her natural leadership abilities and creativity. After two years at Lansing Community College, she completed her bachelor’s degree in statistics at Michigan State University.
She moved to Denver in 2019, embracing the landscape change. She maintains a mindful routine, including working on her podcast. She began developing the podcast in December 2022, almost unknowingly, while journaling.
“I was nervous about it. I was nervous to tell my therapist!” she said. “I was like, ‘This is kind of cringey,’ but I also love podcasts. It’s what I listen to all the time.”
Goeckel released the first three episodes back-to-back over three days in March. Now, there are seven episodes available. Listeners can download new episodes biweekly on Spotify.
The podcast has been downloaded in 63 countries, affirming the global need for discussions surrounding eating disorders. Goeckel finds it “unbelievably rewarding.”
Discussing eating disorders isn’t a walk in the park. Struggling with one can be an isolating and shameful experience, but one of Goeckel’s goals is to break the taboo surrounding the topic.
The first episode chronicles Goeckel’s youth, when her eating disorder began. Her experiences of low self-esteem and comparing herself to peers at school may be considered typical by teenage girls, but, coupled with trauma from a sexual assault in her childhood, Goeckel sought ways to cope, which led to her bulimia diagnosis in eighth grade. After being untruthful to her childhood therapist and nutritionist, she convinced her family that she was “cured,” though many difficult years were ahead. It took a lot of internal work and acceptance of therapy to come out on the other side.
Goeckel doesn’t shy away from asking her parents hard questions, and she highlights their honest recollection of getting her help for the first time after discovering her disorder. In the third episode, you can hear her parents’ perspective of these memories firsthand. Goeckel wants people to tell their stories on their terms and extends that courtesy to all of her guests.
“It’s all about boundaries and wanting to protect others in your life,” she said. “I think that eating disorders, while they impact the person suffering significantly, they also impact anyone who loves that person, and it can wreak havoc on an entire family.”
According to a 2020 report by Deloitte Access Economics, “The Social and Economic Cost of Eating Disorders in the United States of America,” eating disorders are considered among the deadliest mental illnesses, resulting in 10,200 deaths per year. The same report states that 28.8 million Americans will struggle with an eating disorder in their lifetime.
The 2002 study “Characteristics and Treatment of Patients with Chronic Eating Disorders” reports that out of the total population of adolescent girls in the U.S., 35 to 57% will engage in disordered eating, abuse diet pills and laxatives or self-induce vomiting.
“You can walk into a room of 10 people and, statistically, one person is going to suffer,” Goeckel said. “That’s a massive number, and we shouldn’t feel alone and isolated. I wish I had known that.”
To promote audience growth for “The Eating Disorder Diaries,” Goeckel began to advertise the podcast on social media. She found overwhelming support — even from her employer.
“I work a corporate job, and to come forward and tell my boss that this is something that I was passionate about, I was very nervous,” she said. “It was hard to say it out loud.”
Through promoting her podcast, she found more tools and support for herself.
“Popping on a podcast or following a social media account that’s recovery-focused can help you out,” she said.
Goeckel religiously attends therapy and support groups, which she credits a lot to her recovery. She also meditates and journals, the latter being the catalyst for her podcasting journey.
“Whether you’re someone suffering from an eating disorder, love someone suffering from an eating disorder or just interested in learning about them, I want my podcast to be another tool in your toolbelt,” Goeckel said. “Had I known half of what I know now when I was in the depths of my eating disorder, I could have healed faster. I’m hoping I reach someone who’s struggling right now, and that they can relate to me, and they can take what I learned and heal in their life.”
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