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Faces of Recovery panel demonstrates recovery from eating disorder is possible

Panel - Six panelists, from left: Elizabeth, Shaina, Shai Deluca-Tamsi, Jillian, Kendra and Katie, spoke about their experience with eating disorders at the Waterloo Wellington Eating Disorders Coalititon Faces of Recovery event on Sept. 23 in Guelph.  Photo by Olivia Rutt

Faces of Recovery panel demonstrates recovery from eating disorder is possible

by Olivia Rutt

GUELPH - The Waterloo-Wellington Eating Disorders Coalition held its annual Faces of Recovery event at the Guelph Youth Music Centre on Sept. 23.

Six individuals spoke about the road to recovery from the perspective of one suffering from an eating disorder, as well as children and a sister of someone with an eating disorder.

Over 100 people attended the event, held to raise awareness of eating disorders.

“There’s so much stigma about eating disorders but also to bring hope,” said Karen McGratten, co-chair of the coalition.

“Every story is different. It’s really nice to hear kind of a mix of people’s lived experience,” added Andrea LaMarre, co-chair and PhD student researching eating disorders.

The panel was moderated by counselor and social worker Samantha Durfy, who said it takes a lot of courage for the speakers to talk about their experiences.

The first speaker was Kendra, who relayed how she tried too hard to be perfect and to control every aspect of her life. In university, she said she spiraled out of control.

“I wasn’t thinking clearly and food and exercise was controlling my every move,” she said.

Kendra found support in family, friends, therapy and in-patient treatment.

“Recovery is possible,” she added.

Kendra’s sister, Jillian,  was the next speaker. She offered a new perspective, that of a sibling, to the panel.

Jillian was only 11 when Kendra began dealing with her eating disorder.

She recalled how cold Kendra was all the time, the “embarrassing” meals her family had in restaurants and a strict meal schedule the family followed after Kendra’s in-patient treatment. She said the family learned how to manage schedules while supporting Kendra’s recovery.

“As a younger sister it was difficult, sometimes frustrating, but I now realize how big of a role my family plays in supporting my sister,” Jillian said.

The audience also heard from Shai Deluca-Tamsi, a designer expert on CityLine. Almost one year ago, Deluca-Tamsi shared with the CityLine audience the story of his struggle with anorexia as a child.

He said anorexia was a way of controlling his life and he was able to hide it very well.

“It had nothing to do with eating and everything to do with control,” said Deluca-Tamsi. His recovery started when his parents took him to the doctor and he saw his physical deterioration.

He also talked about how eating disorders are still a taboo subject for men.

Next were Katie and Elizabeth, the daughters of someone suffering from anorexia.

“When my mom was away it was hard because I didn’t have a female to look up to,” said Katie, 12.

She said it was hard to be a daughter of someone with an eating disorder because she never knows when her mom will have to leave her again. But, she added that she thinks her mom is working very hard to be in recovery.

Elizabeth, 15, was a little older when her mom went to the hospital.

“It was very hard to let her go and think my mom was leaving us,” she said.

Elizabeth explained she had built-up anger and sadness.

“She will always be my mom, I can’t change that, so I just have to forgive her,” she said, adding her mom never gave up because of her family.

Lastly, Shaina spoke about her battle with an eating disorder and the constant relapse from recovery. She spoke of seven “ah-ha” moments that led her to recover.

“After hitting what I thought was rock-bottom at the age of 18, I had two options; I was going to be a girl who died from an eating disorder or I was going to fight like hell to bring myself back, refuel my passions and make sure I do everything in my power to reduce the pain and suffering in my life,” Shaina said.

Many of the speakers spoke of the importance of in-patient care they or their relative received. The coalition however, says there aren’t enough resources for those with eating disorders.

“There’s not as much support as there should be, and that’s not the fault of the amazing caring clinicians … but there’s simply not as much services,” said LaMarre.

“And funding,” added McGratten.

The coalition’s mission is to raise awareness about eating disorders to help develop more resources for those that need them.

To learn more about the coalition visit eatingdisorderscoalition.ca.

September 30, 2016

 
 

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