Photo credit: Mimi Hudson
An art submission by Vancouver resident Jessica Terezakis took first place in a Province-wide mural contest held by the by the Provincial Eating Disorders Awareness (PEDAW) campaign and the Vancouver Graffiti Management Team last year.
As the winner of the contest, Jessica facilitated the design and production of her winning mural design with support from community volunteers which can now be seen in the parking lot on the north side of 2690 Larch Street at the Kitsilano Community Centre. The lead artist for the mural was Emily Gray.
The contest explored the question, What does love our bodies, love ourselves mean to you?
In a description submitted with her artwork, Terezakis said: “The cage bars represent the confines of our histories, cultures, and lies that the eating disorder has created to keep our authentic selves imprisoned. Only when we willingly open the cage door will we really learn to love our bodies and love ourselves.”
BC's Eating Disorders Awareness Week is coming up on February 1-7, 2016 and Jessica opens up to share her personal struggles with an eating disorder and how art helped her journey towards recovery.
It took 14 years for me to come face to face with my eating disorder.
For years I had believed that I was never sick enough or thin enough to deserve treatment. In September of 2013, I admitted myself into the VCH Eating Disorders Program in Vancouver. Through my work with VCH, I began to recognize what the eating disorder represented, why it functioned, and even how it had helped me at times.
For the first time in my life, I began to see inherent value and worth in myself. After a year at VCH, I admitted myself into In Patient treatment with the Saint Pauls Discovery/Vista Program.
While in treatment at VCH, I entered the Pedaw Love our Bodies, Love Ourselves Mural Contest. I had been in Support Group and a topic was brought up that really struck a chord for myself and many of the other group members. The facilitator, an amazing and inspiring nurse at VCH, reminded us that anger was one of the most powerful agents of positive change and creativity.
As I left the group, the poster for the contest caught my eye and I decided to go home and start drawing.
I felt that struggling with an eating disorder was like having a cage around my body. I have felt isolated, alone, and very trapped at different periods of my life. Through my work with VCH and the Vista Discovery Program I have been slowly but surely taking down those bars, and I have discovered that inside that cage, all along, there has been someone waiting to be freed.
My journey towards recovery has been hard and steep, and I feel incredibly blessed to have had so much support along the way. I found that in my recovery, expressing my self through art has been pivotal in developing a sense of self-esteem outside of the illness. It has allowed me to explore and discover a creative coping mechanism and has encouraged personal growth in all aspects of my life.
From my own experience, I know that stigma is always paired with silence. I really hope that by sharing my art and lifting off the mask of shame and guilt surrounding eating disorders and other mental health issues, I can help others see beauty and strength in vulnerability.
I think that in my own journey this has been and will be the key to recovery.
The Provincial Eating Disorders Awareness (PEDAW) campaign is a BC Province wide effort to raise awareness around prevention and early intervention of eating disorders as well as media literacy, resiliency, building healthy body image and self-esteem. The initiative is led by Jessie’s Legacy Eating Disorders Prevention Program at Family Services of the North Shore in collaboration with Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre, Looking Glass Foundation, St. Paul ’s Specialized Adult Eating Disorder Program, BC Children’s Hospital Eating Disorders Program, Healthy Minds, Healthy Campuses and Project True. PEDAW is launched annually in February with activities and events taking place throughout the year.