Going through her teenage years, Jayme Metzger was a self-described loner. She didn’t fit in with the popular crowd at school and thought maybe it was something about herself that had her on the outside looking in at the more popular kids.
She was 14 when she first started to struggle with an eating disorder, a mixture of bulimia and anorexia that had her trying to restrict the food that she ate and purge it from her system when she did indulge.
“A lot of it was definitely body image and not necessarily being happy with the way I looked,” Metzger said this week, now a 28-year-old woman in recovery for about four years. “It’s vulnerable time for a lot of people. You’re at an awkward age when a lot of people are into image and beauty and fashion. I didn’t feel like I fit in with certain crowds so part of it was trying to change a little bit of who I was, trying to fit in, trying to feel normal.”
She also suffered from anxiety and along with the eating disorders came guilt and shame that made it hard to talk to anyone about it. The result was a childhood that saw her navigate through some tough years on her own.
“I suffered in silence for many years not really knowing who to talk to and feeling a lot of shame and guilt,” she said. “I also lived with anxiety and I think that’s been a big part of it. Having the feeling of being nervous or fearful and with that, feeling out of control. I was never overweight growing up but I always felt and thought that I was and those thoughts continued to get more harmful as I got older and had had troubles fitting in and identifying with my peers. I never saw myself the same way that others did, and never believed people when they would give a compliment.”
Attending college in Edmonton, Metzger finally had the courage to speak to a counsellor about it after one of her teachers noticed she was struggling. But it wasn’t until she moved to Kelowna at the age of 22 and started working at Crossroads when she was finally able to talk to a counsellor who specialized in eating disorders. Finally opening up about it to someone who understood, the grip of the disorders started to loosen.
“Being able to really talk about it for the first time…there was no judgement,” she said. “I was able to get some more understanding around it. One of the things that I got the chance to realize was it wasn’t about the food. There was so much underneath the disorder and it was those emotions that she was able to help me with.”
Now Metzger has truly come full circle with the disease. Her career has taken her to a post with Canadian Mental Health and part of her job has her facilitating an eating disorder support group that meets on the first and third Thursday of each month.
She is now the one who is able to listen and provide help without judgement. And the fact she struggled herself is helping others in the support group share their feelings.
“I think it does help just having someone on the other side that you can share your story with,” she said. “It can be a very lonely feeling. But to share your story and look around and see people nodding, you can tell you’re not alone. It might not be the same story but some of the feelings are the same. I’ve been in recovery for about four years now but even with recovery, it’s never something that fully goes away. The thoughts and emotions can still be there but I can deal with them a lot better now. I don’t go back into the destructive patterns. I’m more aware of it and because I’m comfortable talking about it, the shame and guilt and fear isn’t there as much. If I do get triggered or have a bad day, I’m more limey to talk about it and that’s going to stop it more quickly.”
If your interested in the Canadian Mental Health eating disorder support group, e-mail Jayme Metzger at email@example.com
Central Okanagan residents are being urged to wear purple to support the Provincial Eating Disorders Awareness campaign in early February and two Kelowna landmarks will be lit up in purple to support people battling with eating disorders.
The third annual #Purple4PEDAW event, hosted by the Provincial Eating Disorders Awareness (PEDAW) campaign and designed to bring awareness to eating disorders, will take place Feb. 5 with Kelowna General Hospital and the Kelowna Community Theatre joining the campaign.
On February 5th, members of the public are invited to wear purple, take photos of themselves and of any BC landmarks and share on the campaign’s Facebook bit.ly/Purple4PEDAW2016 and Twitter (@loveourbodies) pages. The Skywalk at Kelowna General Hospital and the Kelowna Community Theatre will be lit up in purple for the duration of Eating Disorder Awareness Week (Feb. 1-7).
The campaign has other awareness opportunities accessible to the public across the province including The Hunt to Love our Bodies, Love Ourselves, an online photo-based scavenger hunt using a free app called GooseChase. The winner for the contest will win an iPad Mini donated by Family Services of the North Shore.
Random draw prizes include a $100.00 Gift Certificate towards The Source courtesy of Bell Let’s Talk, a $50.00 Gift Certificate towards Best Buy and an Inspirational Necklace from Wonderkath Etsy Shop.
Details about the contest can be found at http://bit.ly/PEDAW2016Hunt.
BC residents are also encouraged to order a free Love Our Bodies, Love Ourselves wristband. The wristbands not only are a symbol of acceptance for oneself, but are also a symbol of support for those that struggle with an eating disorder and can be ordered here http://bit.ly/PEDAW_Wristband
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.jessieslegacy.com.