Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper Archives May 9 2015, Page 38

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Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - May 9, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba C M Y K PAGE B1 © 2015 Pandora Jewelry, LLC • All rights reserved • PANDORA. NET YOUR RINGS AREN’T JUST RINGS ST. VITAL CENTRE POLO PARK MALL ( UPPER LEVEL) AVAILABLE AT RACE DAYS IN MAY POST TIME 7 PM Except 1: 30 on 10 th & 18 th 204- 885- 3330 RACING & VLTs ASDowns. com Book a race night buffet! What worksfor works for you? MOTHER’S DAY SUNDAY 1: 30 PM Exciting racing plus Family Fun & 1 40 VLTs 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 SUN MON TUES WED THUR FRI SAT They’re off! Ebola expert goes viral / B6 CITY & BUSINESS CITY EDITOR: SHANE MINKIN 204- 697- 7292 I CITY. DESK@ FREEPRESS. MB. CA I WINNIPEGFREEPRESS. COM SATURDAY, MAY 9, 2015 B 1 H ER name is Kendra Fifi. She is 27. For almost half her life, she has kept a secret about a stalker who is trying to kill her. Actually, it’s a something rather than someone, but she’s personified it as a way of fighting back. She calls him “ ED.” As in eating disorder. As in bulimia nervosa and the binging and purging that characterize the mental- health disorder. So it was that a few months ago Kendra finally shared her secret in a YouTube video, where she interviewed herself about her constant, unwelcome companion. “ It’s all about staying positive and opening up to everybody,” she says near the end of her video. But it’s about more than that, of course. As I learned when she reached out and invited me to do a Q& A. . . . Kendra earns little more than minimum wage at a call centre, taking complaints from people across North America about restaurant service. And food. The irony is obvious. But she needs a steady job and the benefits the employer offers. It was after work at the call centre early last month when I first met Kendra. “ Do you want to get something to eat?” I asked when she got into the car. “ I could eat a little,” she said. “ I haven’t really eaten anything today. But it’s getting better,” she added, assuming I knew she was talking about her struggle. “ Slowly.” No, it’s not. That’s another reason Kendra made the video. In the spring of 2012, at the urging of her then- boyfriend, Kendra voluntarily admitted herself into the eating disorders program at Health Sciences Centre, which has three dedicated beds in the general psychiatric ward for others like her who are trying to fight off ED. Two months after she was discharged, Kendra relapsed and tried to get back in. It was just stress, she recalled being told. Three years later, after six months on the wait list, she is scheduled next month to go into the outpatient day program at HSC. Why did she try again? “ I need to get healthy,” she recalled thinking about why she reapplied, “ or else I’m going to die.” But attending the day program means Kendra has to take a leave from work and worry about how she is going to pay for rent and other expenses on meagre employment insurance payments. Her parents and maybe a few friends will help as much as they can. But her concern is the anxiety and depression that underlies her binging, purging and restricting will spike with the financial uncertainty. It already has. My concern is if there’s not enough money coming in, and no one there when she gets home at night, she could relapse, even as she’s struggling to recover. The promised Q& A with Kendra had already revealed much of that on the drive to Stella’s Café on Sherbrook Street. That and how she began going steady with ED. Kendra grew up in Elm Creek with her mother and stepfather. It was at school there that boys began picking on her. “ I never really fit in.” She loved metal and rock music, which might explain the tiny music notes tattooed on her right wrist. Most of the other people at her school were into country music. Some of the boys began calling her names. “ I used to be bullied, called ‘ fat- ass’ ‘ ugly,’ the ‘ b- word’ and told to throw my food out at school, that I shouldn’t be eating it because I was too fat.” She was 14. And the bullying only added to the chronic depression she was already experiencing and now treats with medication. By 17, she had left for Winnipeg in an attempt to leave the bullies behind. But ED followed her. At Stella’s, Kendra was enjoying a glass of white wine and her favourite menu item — an egg- salad sandwich — when she offered a glimpse into her relationship with her eating disorder. “ ED, for a lot of people, is a control thing,” she said, “ something they can control when they can’t control anything in their life.” Yes, but from the way Kendra describes him, ED is the controlling one. “ So when you’re looking in the mirror,” she explained, “ ED will be telling you things like, ‘ You’re not skinny enough.’ Or, ‘ You’re not good enough.’ Self- worth things like that. I consider it a male figure, and it sort of helps with the course of recovery when you’re seeing it as someone separate. Other than who you are as a person, because that’s not who you are. If you separate ED from being something different from you, it’s easier to fight.” ED, I suggest, is like the school boys who bullied her in Elm Creek. “ Yeah,” Kendra said, “ that’s almost exactly what it is.” It was late in our conversation, as she’s preparing to take the other half of the sandwich home, when Kendra added this. “ It’s not fun waking up every day, making breakfast and having to tell yourself that you’re not going to get sick. But then it ends up happening anyways. I just want to wake up in the morning and smile and go for a bike ride and enjoy life.” To me, those last words sounded hopeful, like a prayer to herself that one day she will stop eating her heart out over ED. And see only her bright, beautiful self in the mirror. gordon. sinclair@ freepress. mb. ca Do you have an eating disorder? WARNING signs of an eating disorder include: . cycles of gaining or losing large amounts of weight . preoccupation with food, dieting, weight and shape . avoiding food even when hungry . feeling guilty and ashamed of eating . being secretive about eating . feeling out of control when eating . feeling better when restricting eating . feeling fat even though others disagree . feeling worthless when thinking about body and weight . feeling happiness will not be achieved without reaching ‘ ideal’ weight . not liking to eat with other people . irregular menstrual periods, cessation of menstruation or notable changes . “ getting rid” of food by using laxatives, exercising vigorously or self- induced vomiting . abrasions on knuckles from selfinduced vomiting — source: Manitoba Health Getting rid of ED Battling eating disorder a financial and emotional strain JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Kendra Fifi has battled an eating disorder for years. She now has to take a leave of absence from her work to attend a day program at Health Sciences Centre. GORDON SINCLAIR JR. View Kendra’s video at: y2u. be/- opmflbfbqE B_ 01_ May- 09- 15_ FP_ 01. indd B1 5/ 8/ 15 10: 01: 10 PM

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