I had drafted a letter last month discussing how I had come late to learn of Leah’s struggles. Leah’s struggles began in high school, although I was unaware until she was in university. Leah was a strong academic student, very popular and socially engaged. I did not pick up on the warning signs that might have been present.
Once Leah confided in me, we sought treatment in New York. While this was helpful she continued to wage a back and forth war for several years with this terrible illness until last spring. She made the difficult decision to go to a residential care facility in Arizona and then Boston. Leah spent 12 weeks committed to the serious work and learning required to manage her urges and deal with the underlying trauma.
It was during this time that I met with Deb Berlin. I can still recall the first meeting where I dissolved into tears, not something I am normally prone to do. During those dark few weeks her guidance, understanding and clear message that this was a winnable war saved me and helped me save Leah.
I am happy to report she is currently doing very well. She continues to rely on Sheena’s Place and works hard on meal plans and triggers. She has also learned to deal with occasional and minor set backs in stride. Our mantra is and remains – “Onward”.
That is our story reduced to a nutshell. However, over the past few weeks locked in quarantine, I’ve found myself afraid of what might happen, fighting the urge to catastrophize events unfolding around me for which I have no control. This has brought me back to last year and the challenes my family and I faced with Leah’s terrible illness – my feelings of hopelessness and fright for the health and well-being of my daughter; my depression, worry, and fear as I felt there was no way forward. I am reminded of my conversations with Deb Berlin and I can’t help but draw the same analogy to today. These are dark days, but I know by listening to experts, making good decisions, and keeping our focus on better days ahead we will come out the other side intact and maybe better.
The importance of Sheena’s Place has never been more highlighted to me than during this difficult time. When fear, hopelessness, and a need for concrete and helpful information is the difference between illness and health, it is critical that the place providing all those things is financially healthy and robust.
To me, Sheena’s Place is community, understanding, and a refuge. Ontario’s very limited resources for this very prevalent illness makes the seriousness of growing Sheena’s Place so important. My commitment to continue supporting them is steadfast and I hope you join me in doing so. I had hoped to host a fundraiser in support of Mother’s Day this spring. While we cannot do this at this time, I do encourage everyone to donate, with a promised event to follow.