My name is Vittoria and I have an eating disorder and it took a while to come to that conclusion. How does one face an eating disorder? That’s a question I think we all face day to day. I’ve started my journey in a very weird and wild way.
Going back a few years ago when I was just hitting my twenties, I had a very real mental break down. This led to many awkward and uncomfortable talks with my boss, and the fact of the matter was I couldn’t work because my mental health had taken its worst decline in years. Though my boss tried to be supportive, they didn’t want to lose me as an employee and tried to figure out ways to help. First, they tried by giving me a new role with new work and a fun co-worker to help bounce my ideas off of, next they pushed me to look into a doctor and if really needed, my job offered a helpline for those really bad days. I put that in my pocket, tried to face my new work with a different mindset and looked into getting a doctor.
At first, it was not easy due to having issues with already technically having a doctor but I had moved and hadn’t been to that doctor in years so finally, I was able to look myself and after many searches, I found the perfect place. They took me in without any judgement and with a new clean slate. When it came to the big question “What can I do for you?” My answer was quite simple. “I just want help in finding out what’s going on with me.” My doctor immediately got to work and booked me an appointment with CAMH to see if they could help break down what I’m going through.
Now this is where the first big wait came in. It was a bit of a wait to get an appointment with CAMH, so what my doctor also helped me do was to locate a therapist. Though I didn’t immediately go with my doctor’s choices, I actually got my idea of going to Planned Parenthood for therapy by a friend. Asking friends for help isn’t always easy but I guarantee they will always have some advice and a warm weighted blanket waiting for you. So, to get through my waiting, I started with my councillor. Each week, we discussed and went through things I had never told anyone. In fact, they helped prep me for the big day at CAMH. When it finally came, we took our time going through my life, piece by piece, and discussing things I did on a day-to-day basis. After what felt like hours of just me rambling my life away, they finally came to the conclusion that not only was I severely depressed and filled with anxiety, but I had an eating disorder.
The first two felt like I had known all along. But the fact they somehow dug up that I had an eating disorder seemed mad. It seemed ridiculous and I wasn’t sure how to handle it or if I even believed it. After being diagnosed, I went back to my therapist and sat there just discussing what was said but when we got to the topic of the eating disorder, it hit hard. Like realizing I had a ton of bricks on my back, waiting to be noticed. I didn’t know how to cope or what to do. So, I pushed the eating disorder to the back of my mind and focused on the first two big matters. Depression and good old anxiety. Now this leads down a path of me getting better and also getting worse to the point where work just wasn’t working. I ended up taking a year off of work, medical leave or long-term disability. I was able to solely focus on my mental health, paying attention to my needs and lastly, the eating disorder. My therapist one day pulled out a document and said, “I think you’ll get a kick out of this place.” And that place was Sheena’s Place. Of course, being told to go to a group session was one of the harder things I have ever done. My anxiety built up and made me think of the worst case. “It’ll be weird, I’ll be weird, no one’s going through what I am, it’s a waste of time.” But my therapist convinced me to sign up for sessions and thus, it worked out perfectly after work. I went, and was I ever wrong. Of course, there were people going through similar, if not the same situation I was going through. It wasn’t weird at all, in fact, it was fun, peaceful, helpful and most of all, it was real. It was people coming together to help other people. It was all of us discussing our lives and how hard it is dealing with an eating disorder. It was people coming together to support one another in getting through and tackling the mean old eating disorder.
By my third session at Sheena’s Place, I finally felt comfortable enough to share my thoughts, discuss and cry. It was honestly so liberating and freeing to talk about how much I was struggling with an eating disorder. And thus, people came up with various ways to help and new tactics to try. To this day, I’m still using some of those helpful tips and tricks. Now comes the big part, actually getting treatment for my eating disorder. In ways, I have been getting help through Sheena’s Place of tackling the eating disorder and how to get through day to day, especially when symptomatic or when relapsing. Someone actually brought up a certain place here in Toronto that helps treatment in eating disorders. I brought this up to my doctor and she was supportive and willing to help me give it a try.
Here we are again in the waiting game. Though I do not have therapy anymore, I do continue to go to Sheena’s Place for support. I know my story may not be like yours or nowhere near what you are going through, but I want you to know that there is help out there. Sheena’s Place being one of the best choices I’ve made in my life. There are friends, family, your doctor and more people that you can talk to. What I wish and want healthcare/support field to know is that you need to be patient with your patient. We are all human, going through various things, especially now during this pandemic. Please hear and allow your patient to talk and be heard. Please support them and help them get the help they need just like my doctor and therapist did. This will make a world of a difference.
Lastly, I want to leave with a quote from one of the workers at Sheena’s Place. To paraphrase, you always hear people say “Oh, it gets better,” or “Things will get better.” But in fact, you can’t promise that to anyone. It’s not really what we want to hear or that it’s even realistic. But what I can tell you is that things get different. Things get freaking different. Compare how you used to be to now. It’s crazy how much you’ve gone through to be here. We are freaking surviving. It doesn’t get better; you make it better. It’s a lot of freaking work. It gets different.
I hope you all stay safe out there, keep your head up and break through this pandemic. Remember, it does get different.
Thank you again for listening and reading my rambles. Hope you enjoyed this little look into my world and I hope you’re able to grab something meaningful out of it!
Have a great night, day, afternoon, whatever it may.
Lots of love and joy,