Jeffrey (he/him) was working full-time as a marketing coordinator at the age of 27 when he realized he was losing his battle with eating issues. This is his story.
He recalls, “I couldn’t stop dieting.” When he decided to leave his job to complete his BA, he became even more restrictive with his diet and further preoccupied with weight and exercise.
In 2011, Jeffery was battling bulimia and anorexia. He was encouraged to complete an assessment at CAMH and was then referred to an inpatient program at Women’s College Hospital. No time line was provided for him to receive the support he needed. His self-esteem had plummeted and he was still not receiving the appropriate support he needed.
Jeffrey was also directed to Sheena’s Place by his medical team but felt very skeptical about walking through the door. He can reflect now on the tremendous experience of shame around his disorder. He was skeptical about how helpful groups could be. “I expected to be given cliché mantras that we just needed to love ourselves and that would cure our ED.” He expected to sit with others commiserating and “feeling sorry for ourselves.” He was quite surprised to find a path towards an “active approach to recovery that involved CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy)”.
The facilitator demonstrated “genuine caring” and “made efforts to empathize with what we were experiencing.” Jeffrey recalls. “She would help me to step outside myself and see things from a different perspective. This slowly changed the way I was thinking.” Things began to improve.
“When I first entered Sheena’s place, people were initially shy but eventually we started chatting and making friends. It was interesting to see how they looked at their situations and to hear their perspectives. By the end of the group everyone was close, we acted as cheerleaders for each other.”
Today, Jeffrey still draws on the lessons he learned at Sheena’s Place and continues to do the worksheets daily. Although he no longer attends group sessions, he says he still feels supported.
More recently, Jeffrey is proud to be outspoken and contribute to the fight against the stigma faced by the many people with disordered eating. “On the internet, everyone pretends to have picture-perfect lives. Real life isn’t like that – often people just need someone to talk to, who they know will understand what they are going through.” He has written a book called Cloud Cover about his experiences, hoping it may be helpful to others.
About Sheena’s Place, Jeffrey says, “This is a place where you are greeted with open arms. Sheena’s Place makes you feel safe and welcome, where everyone is part of a team who genuinely cares for each other. Sheena’s Place helped me get my life back.”