Interview with Wendy Preskow on Eating Disorder Hope

SEPTEMBER 26, 2016

International Interview Series Contributor: Wendy Preskow of Canada, Founder & President of National Initiative for Eating Disorders (NIED)

1. What inspired you to become involved in the Eating Disorder community throughout Canada?

Our daughter, 31, has been suffering from Anorexia and Bulimia for more than half her life. As parents, my husband and I have done everything possible – emotionally, physically and financially to provide and help her and it is never enough.

Our experiences of helplessness, frustration and ultimately anger fuelled me to want to create awareness and take action regarding the bizarre and unforgiving world of Eating Disorders. The pain, for sufferers and their families, is insurmountable. The stresses and strains on families ares extreme, horrendous and devastating. And there is a serious lack of awareness, treatment, funding and research in Canada.

For over 16 years we have lived with fear, stress, heartache, broken relationships, broken hearts, attempted suicides, self harm, shoplifting, worry, panic, helplessness and sometimes hope. We have been through every negative and positive emotion possible. We never ever have peace of mind.

We created the National Initiative for Eating Disorders – NIED – less than five years ago. It has been an incredible journey for us.

2. What keeps you in this work, day after day?

Our daughter continues to struggle day after day….as parents watching her getting more and more sick and waiting and waiting for her to get help keeps the fuel in me ignited. The sicker she gets the more pumped I am to make changes.

Knowing there are hundreds and thousands of families like ours across the country, I honestly believe it is my mission on earth to take this on. Our daughter is so proud of all I have done with our team, yet her pain and suffering lingers and lingers and lingers and so does ours.

3. What type of support does NIED provide the Eating Disorder community?

NIED has hosted 53 FREE symposia reaching out to over 2,000 in attendance. These events are for caregivers, sufferers, professionals, family, friends – anyone who wants to attend to get support, education and to hear from others that recovery is possible.

We have been honoured and privileged to have established close relationships with many experts in the country who willingly give of their time, share their expertise, do presentations at our events, attend meetings with us and on NIED’s behalf. These include researchers, psychologists, psychiatrists social workers, PhD students, lived experience parents and those who are on their road of recovery and beyond.

Since its inception, NIED has emerged as a progressive, dynamic and growing national collective voice for those Canadians and their families affected by Eating Disorders. We have taken a proactive leadership role actively collaborating with community groups, doctors, nutritionists, psychologists, schools, social workers, the courts, agencies, and like-minded organizations to increase awareness, understanding and education about Eating Disorders.

NIED has made connections with over 500 agencies/professionals who deal with Eating Disorders across Canada, uniting efforts to provide a collective voice for those struggling and their families. They continue to collaborate with like-minded organizations such as:

EDAC – Eating Disorders Association of Canada
NEDIC -National Eating Disorder Information Center
BANA – Bulimia Anorexia Nervosa Association
F.E.A.S.T – Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders
EDOYR – Eating Disorders of York Region, Ontario
Looking Glass Foundation – British Columbia
Sheena’s Place – Toronto, Ontario
Danielle’s Place – Burlington, Ontario
New Life Girls’ Home, Prince Edward County, Ontario
Hopewell – Ottawa, Ontario

NIED has also fostered ongoing networking and communication with mental health organizations in Canada. After all, Eating Disorders are a brain-based mental health illnesses that have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. These organisations include:

CMHA – Canadian Mental Health Association
MHCC – Mental Health Commission of Canada
CDRIN – Canadian Depression Research Intervention Network
MDSC – Mood Disorder Society of Canada
PHAC – Public Health Agency of Canada
CAMIMH – Canadian Alliance for Mental Illness and Mental Health

NIED team members have meet with over 70 Federal Members of Parliament
(MPs) and Senators in Ottawa. The team has visited Parliament Hill 10 times
over the course of 4 and a half years.

4. What encouragement do you have for someone actively struggling with an Eating Disorder?

I am a Mom, and this is not something I can advise on. My best advice is for parents, loved-ones or caregivers of sufferers. And that is to get help and support for themselves so they do not go through this journey alone.

Learn more about eating disorder resources throughout Canada.

About the Author: Wendy is the passionate voice and driving force behind the National Initiative for Eating Disorders (NIED). Having lived with a sufferer and experienced the devastating effect Eating Disorders have on families and extended family and friends, Wendy reached the point of no return in late 2011. She could no longer sit back knowing her daughter was falling through the cracks of health care system that had failed her family and so many others in the same predicament. 

Together with a core team of passionate advocates and the encouragement of her former MP, Wendy formed NIED in February 2012 to drive Eating Disorders awareness, understanding and action.

Trained as an Early Childhood Educator, Wendy taught pre-school in South Africa and Toronto .A serious, energetic, get-it-done-now “do-er”, Wendy, currently divides her time between her family and grandkids, NIED, and walking her golden doodle Dazy!

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that Eating Disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on September 21, 2016