April 22, 2016
This week has been a busy one for staff and patients of LHSC’s Adult Eating Disorders Service (AEDS) as they moved into their new home at 54 Riverview Avenue. The new facility will allow patients of the program to receive their treatment under one roof, and increases the capacity of the residential treatment program, for those requiring intensive support, from four beds to eight.
“LHSC is proud to be the first hospital in Ontario working in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association Middlesex to offer a community-based residential eating disorders program,” said Murray Glendining, LHSC President & CEO. “We look forward to being part of the Riverforks community, and appreciate the warm welcome we have received from them.”
“Moving into this new space in the community will allow us to significantly increase the number of clients we are able to see and expand the care we are able to provide,” said Dr. Philip Masson, program psychologist. “We will now be able to work with clients in our new teaching kitchen and provide treatment in brand new group rooms. The eight bed residence will allow us to provide short-term residential treatment stays to help clients interrupt their symptoms, a much needed treatment option. I also believe that the home-like environment will help clients feel comfortable throughout their treatment.”
Former patient Courtney Cadieux from Point Edward, Ontario is thrilled to know that this vital program will continue and grow in the new location. “The support I received from LHSC while I was at the lowest point in my eating disorder was amazing. Everyone was so caring and helped me work through issues I had been dealing with for a long time prior to seeking help.”
As long as Cadieux can remember, she has had self-esteem issues. As early as elementary school, Courtney held herself to an extremely high standard, and worried deeply about what others thought of her. Taunts from classmates about her developing female body, and her consistently high grades added to the pressure she had already put on herself. High school accelerated those self-esteem challenges, leading Cadieux to pour much of her time and energy into an exhaustive exercise regimen that left her even more anxious about her body. Extreme calorie restriction came next which was later followed by bingeing and purging. On top of all this, she was spending hours on ‘pro-eating disorder’ websites, interacting with a community of women who supported the thoughts and behaviours that were keeping her trapped. These actions resulted in dangerous weight loss, and ironically, compliments from people on her new physique. It also, however, began to cause concern for those closest to her.
“My eating disorder allowed me to numb my feelings and distract myself from reality. This felt good – and eventually my self-worth was entirely based on my weight and body shape,” said Cadieux. “People started to realize something was wrong when I was in grade 11 or 12, but my angry outbursts when confronted about concerns led most people to back off, including my family. I think they were all afraid of making things worse.”
These anxiety provoking and self-perpetuating behaviors followed Cadieux to university in another city, where the stress of a full course load and the autonomy of living alone were too much of an adjustment.
Her disordered eating began to spiral until it became impossible to continue her classes, forcing her to move home and finally seek support.
Cadieux entered LHSC’s AEDS outpatient treatment program, and remained a participant until an inpatient bed could be secured at another facility, as LHSC did not yet have a residential treatment program. Upon completing treatment at that centre, she returned to the AEDS day treatment program which supported her transition back to independent living, and finally into the after-care program which assists individuals in solidifying treatment gains and reducing the risk of relapse.
“Without the AEDS program, I don’t know where I would be. I’m so thankful to the entire team who helped me find myself again. I’m in a better place than I’ve ever been.”
LHSC would like to thank the many individuals, organizations and companies who contributed donations toward the opening of 54 Riverview Ave. including: Jan Pryde, Eating Disorders Foundation of Canada, London St. Thomas Association of Realtors (LSTAR) and Farm Boy.