From the Land Down Under to Up Along: Renewed Passion for the HOPE Eating Disorders Program

Have you ever had a time in your life where you felt flat, like something was missing?

I felt that a number of years ago in my previous job. It wasn’t that it was a bad job; it just wasn’t igniting my passion. I could feel myself heading towards burnout in a career for which I had studied so long and worked so hard, yet was still so early into.

It was during that time of feeling like something was missing that I looked online for other jobs, just to see what was out there. And there it was – an Eastern Health posting for a position for a registered psychologist on the opposite side of the world with the HOPE program, a provincial day patient program for eating disorders in Newfoundland and Labrador!

The Renata Elizabeth Withers Centre for HOPERun by Eastern Health, the HOPE Program helps individuals affected by eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

Depending on the needs of the client, goals of the program can include the following:

  • Improve relationship with food.
  • Restore weight where applicable.
  • Interrupt the binge/purge cycle where applicable.
  • Create/improve healthy interpersonal relationships.
  • Normalize eating.
  • Improve sense of self-worth.
  • Improve body image.
  • Support families.

As an Australian, it is not unusual to have a liking for travel and adventure, and I definitely have that. I had been to Canada before, but I had never been to Newfoundland and Labrador. My initial thought was, why not? Worst case scenario I hate it, and come back with international experience on my CV (curriculum vitae) and stories to tell.

While I waited for the red tape of moving to a new country to play out, I will admit that I did get cold feet!

I was enjoying a lovely summer with friends and family and I had started to develop a list of “I can’t, because…” My supervisor at the time raised the question of, do I want to let that list get in the way of a job and experience that fit with what I am passionate about. That was the turning point. The stubborn side of me kicked in and I stopped entertaining the barriers I was creating and committed to coming to work for Eastern Health in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I have never looked back since then, and consider it one of the best things I have done in my life.

I work in an amazing program with passionate staff, and incredible clients. I feel fortunate to be a part of people’s transformation from being lost in their eating disorder, to findings themselves and living their lives.

Outside of work, I have made connections with and been taken in by many people, and as a result, I feel more at home here than what I did after 20 plus years in Australia. If the worst I have to worry about is the weather, then I am doing well!

I take that turning point in my journey into my work with eating disorders, and into my life. So many people get caught in the trap of “I can’t, because…” Weight, appearance and confidence are often identified as things that stop people from doing what they really want, whether it is big things like moving across the world, or day to day things like going out with friends.

But it doesn’t have to be that way; life doesn’t have to be put on hold until you reach your perfect weight, look just right, or are confident enough. People can experience life and be the person they want to be regardless of their weight.

Why wait for weight?

Learn more about the Hope Program and Eating Disorders Awareness Month.

This story was written by Dr. Sarah Pegrum, a registered psychologist with the HOPE Program.

One response to “From the Land Down Under to Up Along: Renewed Passion for the HOPE Eating Disorders Program

  1. Sarah, what a positive story. It is nice to see you have settled in so well. in view of some of the comments in the media this week- perhaps you could share your story with your colleagues in your professional association.

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