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Hello!

I am so excited to welcome you to my blog.

Here I hope to provide words of encouragement and support to women struggling with and recovering from substance use disorders and eating disorders. I wish to shed light on mental health and addiction to families, friends and loved ones who are supporting someone going through a dark time in their life. I want to educate our community on the relationship between women and alcohol, drugs, eating disorders, and mental health issues.

This is a huge undertaking I know – but if I can help just one woman by doing so I will consider it a job well done. I strongly believe one by one we can make a difference in how our families, communities, and society address addictions and mental health. I believe this because it is how I have recovered and continue to heal today.

In my next blog post “Father’s Day” I talk about how my dad asked me to see an addictions doctor at the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH) when I was in the midst of my alcoholism, addiction and eating disorder. The woman I saw at CAMH recommended me to an outpatient treatment center in Toronto called Edgewood. There I saw a counselor who taught me about this world of addiction and recovery that I knew nothing about, and ended up saving my life. After a few months of entering the outpatient program I relapsed badly, and she came to see me in detox at St. Josephs Hospital, and would not leave until I finally agreed to go to inpatient treatment on Vancouver Island.

When I got to Edgewood in Nanaimo I was paired with a counselor who made me confront my eating disorder and the shame I had around it. In treatment I was told to go to a 12 step program and find a sponsor, and I have relied on that woman daily for the last three years. Today she is not only my sponsor but she is one of my dearest friends. The counselor I have been seeing for the last year introduced me to Somatic Experiencing® therapy, and is largely responsible for my eating disorder recovery. Not only has she been my Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner, she is now supporting me to become one myself.

These are only a few examples of one person, one woman at a time, who has guided me on my road to recovery. This is why I say that if I can be that for a woman struggling to make a change I will feel I have been successful.

If I didn’t mention my family who from the depths of my addiction lifted me up, supported me and pushed me to see all of those doctors and counselors I wouldn’t even be here to begin with. They have loved me unconditionally despite almost breaking our family apart– as addiction does to so many families.

About a year ago my husband DJ showed me a video of a recovery coach who started her own binge eating disorder recovery coaching company. He said “you need to do this”, and has helped me build How She Heals from the ground up. I am blessed every day with a life partner who believes in me when my self-confidence and self-esteem is below zero. He continues to open my eyes to my potential, and to the love, grace and beauty of this world.

When I was at my bottom I barely had my mom and dad left holding on to me. Today I have all of the people’s support I mentioned above and more. The point I am trying to make is that you can have that too. Despite your challenges you too can have a community of women supporting you and loving you until you can learn to love yourself.

It has been a long, hard journey filled with aching pain and suffering to get where I am today. I have done a lot of work to move from a life of addiction to one of recovery. I have seen countless counselors and doctors, tried many different types of therapies and medications, read hundreds of books and papers – you name it and I have probably done it. I have taken bits and pieces from these resources to put together a program of action that works for me and other women with substance use disorders and eating disorders.

I believe that together we can raise awareness about mental health, addictions and eating disorders for women and their families. Together we can change the staggering statistics of female alcoholics, addicts and those living with eating disorders. Together we can lift each other up and live a fulfilled life of healing and recovery.

Welcome to How She Heals, I hope to meet you soon.

Love,

Vanessa