Ron and Catherine became involved with Sheena’s Place in a somewhat unique way. Their daughter, who was dealing with eating disorders was searching online for help. She read about the workshops and the groups at Sheena’s Place but wasn’t ready to accept help at that time. She suggested her parents might go instead of her. This is their story.
When asked if there was any hesitation on their part, the couple said they weren’t really hesitant to try a group session but they were curious as to what kind of environment it would be. Once they registered for the Family, Friends and Partners support group, they felt they were committed.
There were a lot of people in the group that had been involved a long time with Sheena’s Place so in the beginning they made it a point to listen and observe. After a few sessions, they realized that this was a close-knit community, people who would even check in with each other before and after sessions.
The facilitator, Margaret was a terrific provider of support and expertise. “She was always on the cutting edge of research and constantly kept her research up”, they explained.
In addition to the support they received at the group at Sheena’s Place, Margaret and other group members would provide reading lists with supplemental research on eating disorders. Ron and Catherine were diligent in taking notes of these available resources which also included information on the NEDIT webpage.
In dealing with their own fears around the situation and concern for their daughter, Ron and Catherine recognized the need to care for themselves as well. They took up the practice of QiGong both in a class and at home. They did online meditation and incorporated that practice into their lives. They have a few close friends they can trust to talk to about the matter and they found psychotherapy beneficial as well.
Speaking to the services provided at Sheena’s Place, the group they attend in particular, they said, “It’s the only place we can go that’s so inclusive. You have a wide variety of people who are all facing the same issues, they understand that the mortality rate is not widely recognized and more education should be done. Even most doctors are not well educated in helping those with eating disorders.”
It is a challenge for parents and caregivers to show their support, while at the same time, not pushing their child away and keeping lines of communication open. Ron and Catherine try to communicate in a way that will not foster resentment but bring their daughter closer. They routinely communicate that she is not to blame and this illness does not have to be her identity. They tell her she has many gifts to offer and try to plan activities that celebrate her life without bring eating disorders into the equation.
As far as any additional programming Sheena’s Place could offer if given a “wish list” for parents and caregivers, they would like to see more groups that may focus on remaining calm, include comedy, perhaps implement a “buddy system, someone you can talk to who will listen and understand and of course, more “Margarets”.
Eating disorders are a serious issue. When asked what we can do as a society to keep working to erase the stigma, they mentioned the media has a role to play, even in highlighting Sheena’s Place more in the media and highlighting the resources available to those who may not know where to go.
Doctors could do more outreach in understanding the brain biology to get to the real root of the problem. Bringing attention to eating disorders specifically during Bell’s “Let’s Talk” campaign and putting more of a spotlight to National Eating Disorder week would help. Even having Canadian celebrities like Sophie Trudeau bring more attention to the issue would raise awareness.
In conclusion, Ron and Catherine are so grateful for Sheena’s Place and the available expert mental health professionals there who make time to help, are so knowledgeable and “cutting edge” that they have and will continue to recommend Sheena’s Place to others who may be suffering.