After seven years spent in a psychiatric ward, struggling with an eating disorder that first manifested at 13 years old, Adria Brochu was told she was a hopeless case.
The former military nurse had endured 38 electroshock treatments and at one time was on 12 different psychiatric medications during her inpatient and outpatient treatments.
The approach was one of treating only the disorder's physical symptoms, instead of exploring its underlying causes, said Brochu - and that approach wasn't helpful.
"There was no exploration as to why I was doing this to myself," she said, "They don't want to talk to you, they don't want to deal with you, they just want to medicate you and turn you into a vegetable."
The perception was that if they could just get her weight back to normal she would be fine, which she said is misleading.
"For a lot of people there's underlying things as to why they're doing it, be it severe anxiety ... trauma's a big one. I was physically, sexually and emotionally abused as a child, and my eating disorder was a way to cope," she said.
Now living in Nanaimo, she said it was at a treatment centre last year that she began to feel "a tiny seed of hope" that recovery was possible.
With an integrated way of viewing and managing the problem, the centre - Cedars at Cobble Hill - is currently in the midst of launching a new component of their eating disorderrelated programs.
With the latest government statistics showing that more than 113,000 Canadians are currently diagnosed with eating disorders with many more thousands still undiagnosed,
Brochu's problem is not uncommon.
It was only when her underlying trauma began to be addressed, and when the focus was moved from being exclusively fixated on food and weight gain, that Brochu started to show signs of getting better.
"I think that looking at Adria's experience, she's not lacking insight into what she should be eating, it's just being able to get there, and I think that's what we're doing differently," said Bryn Meadows, director of Cedars' eating disorder program.
"Instead of working from the outside in we work from the inside out," she added.
An essential part of that recovery is family involvement, which forms the basis of Cedars' Discovery program.
It is about learning how to create new dynamics and a "new normal" that encourages recovery, said program director Joe Petriccione.
"Whether it's consciously or not. .. they have a tendency to foster or promote that addiction because of their own fears and their own insecurities," he said.
Next month, Cedars launches their new Discovery program aimed at the families and partners of people with eating disorders.
Designed to allow participants to understand more about addiction and its impact on them personally, the program has been used in the context of substance abuse since the treatment centre's beginnings.
However this new intake in November marks the first time it will be used for families of those with eating disorders.
The program starts Nov. 10. For more information, call Cedars at 250-733-2006.
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