Mary is a Registered Nurse and a client at Sheena’s Place. Here is her story.
For over six years, I kept my eating disorder private. I was terrified of what others would think if I was honest about my illness. When I finally gathered the courage to seek help, I was devastated to discover that our health care system has many barriers: endless wait lists, costly therapy options and very few practitioners with specialized eating disorder knowledge. I felt ashamed, discouraged and lost… I felt as though I would never get better. I’ll always remember the feeling of relief when I discovered Sheena’s Place.
Stepping into Sheena’s Place for the first time, I was comforted by the warm, home-like environment. While I felt anxious to share my experience with complete strangers, the compassion, understanding and empathy extended to me during my first session eliminated those fears. I learned that eating disorders thrive in isolation. As I began to bear witness to the stories of other members and opened up about my own struggles, I realized the power of group therapy. We could all “come as we are” without fear of judgment.
This turned out to be the personal connection that I needed to recover. The staff was approachable and friendly. The program facilitators were caring and professional. I built relationships with peers who were going through similar experiences and we continue to support each other. Maybe most powerful of all, Sheena’s Place helped me to see that I have an active role to play in my recovery.
My partner, Jonathan, joined a support group for caregivers and partners. He received guidance on how to assist in my recovery and increased his knowledge of caring for a loved one with an eating disorder. As Jonathan and I would ride the subway back home after our respective Tuesday night sessions, we would talk about what we learned during group and how to put those lessons into practice. Our weekly sessions quickly became a safe space for both of us: we could be open about our challenges and triumphs.
The psychoeducational programs at Sheena’s also taught me practical skills, such as what to do when I want to engage in eating disorder behaviours or how to cope with difficult emotions. They helped me understand the connection between past trauma and my illness. I learned how to replace destructive behaviours with healthy and sustainable coping mechanisms. For the first time in six years, I stopped counting calories. I no longer felt the need to binge, purge or restrict. I began to love the person I was becoming.
Sheena’s Place helped me find hope at a time where I felt there was no help available. No wait lists, no cost, no assessment required. I’m grateful for their holistic, client-centred approach and their commitment to seeing the individual rather than the illness.
As a community non-profit with no government funding, Sheena’s Place is 100% funded by donations.
Please help me and others like me by donating to Sheena’s Place. Your gift is especially important for those who cannot afford private therapy, and who are often the most vulnerable. Your contribution today will provide professional support and interventions that save lives.
Thanks to caring friends like you, countless others like Mary have found hope and support at Sheena’s Place. THIS is the impact of your investment and the life-changing difference you can help make possible for people and families affected by eating disorders. Make a gift to Sheena’s Place today and help provide free mental health care to people who need us.