Ella (she/her) came to Sheena’s Place at a time where she felt she had hit rock bottom. She had stopped socializing and felt obsessed with food and eating. At the same time, she felt that no one understood what she was going through. She looked for help but was unsure where to go and she was still partially in denial about her condition. When her mother, who works in health care, recommended Sheena’s Place, she was unsure about attending. This is her story.
She imagined a sterile group therapy session, maybe in a gym or a clinic, where everyone would sit in a circle and stare at their feet. Her first experience at Sheena’s provided a sharp contrast to the image she’d held. “It was a beautiful home and I felt welcome immediately. I was pleasantly surprised that everyone smiled when I came in, even though I didn’t know anyone.”
Ella speaks to the incredible impact Sheena’s Place has had on her journey towards recovery. Having an accepting place to talk to others, whether she was feeling high or low was a welcome change from the medical environment, where she felt less understood. No longer isolated, she enjoyed interacting with group members and learning from the experiences of others. Here, she felt “normal”. She realized what she was dealing with was an illness and other people were dealing with it as well.
She attended Young Adult Support and Introduction to Meal Planning and Grocery Shopping. Before developing an eating disorder, she loved to cook and bake. Having facilitator support with shopping for ingredients, measuring out portions and cooking a meal, has helped her rediscover her love for the kitchen.
Ella feels that society can help break stigma by providing more education and accurate information about eating disorders to the public. She says there is a need for more funding for organizations like Sheena’s Place.
“There are gaps in the system that Sheena’s Place fills, whether you’re waiting for treatment, receiving it, have been discharged, or you do not have an official diagnosis.”
She adds, “I think the most important message for me is that eating disorders are not a choice and they look different for everyone. My eating disorder isn’t a choice, isn’t about food and it’s not about ‘wanting to be thin’. For me it is about my anxiety and having a way to have control. From my experience, people often view anorexia as a desire to look thin or you are obsessive about how you look, but for me (and I know many others), this isn’t our experience.”
“I want to give a sincere thank you to Sheena’s Place, the group members and facilitators. I leave every group feelingbetter, grateful, and always come away with something I can use in my daily life.”