Sunday, 29 April 2018

Day by Day By Kate

This week, Kate writes about what it is like to face recovery one day at a time. 

Take good care of yourself, and remember to nourish your body, mind, and spirit.

Your blog moderator,



You lose your life to gain a new one.

Working and beating this manipulative disease we get up, day after day.

Working to lose the voice that has been following you around for your entire life feels like trying to outrun a shadow in a thunderstorm.

Yet, we run.

Taking off in a sprint screaming we won’t, we can’t, live like this anymore.

Because one thing we know is that there is nothing romantic about this life. There is nothing to be envious of, no secret tricks about how we got here, no crowd wanted when our limbs go raw and eyes run dry. I didn’t ask for this.

But we get up day after day.

Running after the voice that says the message we crave to hear. That message is the one we’ve tried telling ourselves for years, through treatment centers, doctors appointments and ECG’s. It’s the one that’s never been fully transposed; right now all we can hear is the voice that says this is the only way to live.

But we get up day after day.

We want perpetual control. We want certainty. We want a way to deal with our emotions, the ones that make you want to run into the storm and give up. It’s easier to pretend to have control through this toxicity than to face those dark places.

And as we run, day after day, we’ve found that all those safety behaviours, all that control – was just a fabrication of our fears. All the rules we made, all the things we thought we had to do to stay safe were built off our fears. They were built off the lies that we told ourselves. They were built to protect us from life’s chaos.

But look back, look at the isolating chaos we’ve created, that is the real storm, worse than the one we sought to avoid initially. And now we realize that those fears were false, that there was no need for that control. Because life is going to hurt. And it’s going to rain, and when it does it may pour. But protecting yourself from that by living in a hole doesn’t keep the water out.

Yet once we figured this out we’re already so deep in and the storm was coming quickly. Leaving that shelter we’ve built means giving up all we know. It means that the world is completely different from what we originally thought. It means being vulnerable to the fact that you can get hurt, but living with the confidence that you can and will be able to get through those tough times. 

Recovery is not and has never been about the object of our symptoms. That is a symptom of our control, it’s not the whole picture.

Because, day by day, as we lose our coping mechanisms we need to learn how to create the life that we thought we had. We realize that those fears tore our friends from us, led us to corrupt jobs and bad relationships – and now we have to learn to live in uncertainty.

It feels like floating in limbo. Never really knowing which way to go but hoping that one day you’ll end up on that side where the message is. You’re trying to build a completely new style of living, you’re switching everything you know, doing things that make you feel like you’re digging yourself into your own misery. Imagine having to go against every single instinct you have, every single moment of every single day. Because that is how you get the message. It’s by building your own. There is no way to live but one thing we can be certain about? The way we were living, the way that lead to the middle of storm? Was never the message that you intended to hear.

So day by day, we are jumping into the terrifying uncertainty that the new one we are chasing, is the one that will let us truly live.

And so we will get up, day by day.

Work published on this blog is property of the writer/artist. Content is edited and approved by the moderator. This blog is not a substitute for medical advice. Please see your health practitioner if you have concerns about yourself or your recovery. 
If you would like to share your stories, writings, and art, please email
If you or someone in your life is struggling with an Eating Disorder, you can contact the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) at
For information or to register for groups at Sheena's Place, please visit

Monday, 2 April 2018

Welcome to Sheena's Shared Stories

Welcome to the new Sheena’s Place Blog where clients and visitors can interact in an on-line community. My name is Kira McCarthy and I will be your moderator on this amazing journey. I will do everything I can to keep this space safe, and free of any obvious triggers.

Taking the first step towards recovery is scary. I hope that reading this blog will inspire, resonate, motivate, energize, and move you.

Eating Disorders (EDs) have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder. They also have the biggest stigma. This illness is misunderstood, not talked about, and extremely dangerous. What makes EDs so dangerous is the silence. Too many people, including medical professionals, have a serious lack of understanding about the causes, symptoms, behaviours, and internal struggles when it comes to this illness. There is a myth that having an ED is about taking a diet too far. As if it is entirely about beauty, sexuality, and something you choose. No one chooses to be sick.

It took me 17 years to discover that I am a lesbian. It took me 30 years to discover that I have an Eating Disorder. There is less stigma associated with being LGBTQ+, than there is associated with EDs. “Coming Out” as lesbian was easy. “Coming Out” with ED is terrifying.

4 years ago, I walked into an incredible agency called Sheena’s Place (SP). The thing that makes SP so unique is that the services are free, and you do not require a diagnosis or referral from a doctor for access.  SP is welcoming for people of all genders and abilities and provides support, skills building groups, workshops, and education. I did not really want to be at that first group. I wasn’t ready to accept that my disordered eating was problematic or dangerous. My friends and partner encouraged me to go, and I wanted to appease them. That’s when Deborah Berlin-Romalis, Executive Director of Sheena’s Place, changed my life. So when she and I discussed creating a whole new kind of blog space on the SP website, I couldn’t wait to get started!

In my first Skills Building Group at SP, Deborah taught me about the cycle of shame, my need to give myself “juicy love”, my need to live on more than “crumbs”, and about the need to trust my own thoughts and feelings. This eye-opening experience left me with more questions than answers and I began attending at least one group every seasonal session. It took time for me to settle in at the SP house. I was embarrassed to be there. Embarrassed that other clients would know why I was there, despite understanding that they may have had similar experiences to mine. I felt uncomfortable simply going into the kitchen to make myself a cup of tea. I felt like I wasn’t even deserving of that one little act of self-care.

Through my skills building groups at SP and my own work on my personal growth, SP has become one of my safe spaces. I don’t only make myself a big mug of tea now, I also take my shoes off and get cozy the couch. More importantly, SP changed the way I think about what I deserve in life, what it is my right to demand, and how I can work to take my life back from this illness.

In 2015, I started an Art Business that raises money for SP. It began with a colouring book and has grown to canvas prints, greeting cards, magnets, posters, framed paintings, and calendars. Sheena’s Place relies entirely on generous donors and has no government funding. Keeping their doors open is a huge undertaking. I love that I can give back to a place that has given me so much.

Recently, I was encouraged to share my story for reasons of self-disclosure, to put an end to toxic secrets, to speak my truth, and to advocate for those who are unable to speak for themselves. My choice to go through this vulnerability was not so much about myself, however. My hope is that people begin to read and engage in this blog, and potentially step through the front door. I hope that people begin to talk about EDs as the psychiatric illness that they are and how they can affect anyone at any stage of life.

What I want for this blog is to create an online community that recreates the safe physical space that is SP. People outside of Toronto have difficulty getting into the city to attend groups or workshops. For the people living in this city, even taking that first step to attend a group can be terrifying. By engaging with this blog, perhaps someone will feel like they are already part of a community and will have an easier time registering for, and attending their first support or skills building group.

We are inviting you to submit to your stories of hope, struggles, successes, and skillful coping. Feel free to send an email asking for ideas or input if you are unsure where to start. Submissions can be published under your name, initials, a pseudonym, or anonymously.

Some format possibilities are:

  • Prose
  • Essay
  • Poetry
  • Interview
  • Fiction
  • Short Story
  • Narrative
  • Art

Some ideas to spark your creativity:
  • Skills Spotlight: an example of a time I used a skill in the real world
  • How I found Sheena’s Place
  • How I get myself to go to Sheena’s Place, even when I am convinced that I don’t want to
  • Things I learned in treatment that I want to share
  • How I am learning to love my body
  • What recovery means to me
  • My life without an eating disorder
  • An “ah ha” moment
  • I am grateful because …
  • An interview

My dream is that one person finds this blog and learns that Sheena’s Place exists. My hope is that, however they identify, they make that first phone call to SP, or browse the website, or send an email. If only one person receives support because I used my voice, then the fear and rawness I have experienced by opening myself up like this is absolutely worth it.

Take good care of yourself, and remember to nourish your body, mind, and spirit.

Your blog moderator,



Work published on this blog is property of the writer/artist. Content on this blog is edited and approved by the moderator. Sheena’s Place does not specifically endorse any advice or content. This blog is not a substitute for medical advice. Please see your family doctor if you have concerns about yourself or your recovery. No one can recover alone.

If you would like to share your story, or other writings or art, please email your submission to

If you or someone in your life is struggling with an Eating Disorder, you can contact the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) at 

If you would like more information or to register for groups, visit Sheena's Place website at

If you are in a country other than Canada, please google your local or National Eating Disorders Centre.

*An original version of this post was published on the website The Mighty.