Meet The Westwind Staff - Jennifer Lagimodiere
In this edition of "Meet The Westwind Staff", we are asking five questions of Westwind's Senior Support Staff, Jennifer Lagimodiere.
1) WHAT LED YOU TO WESTWIND?
A) After having gone through treatment for an eating disorder myself, I was looking to enhance some of the areas in my life that had been neglected before I chose recovery. One of those areas was finding purpose and fulfillment in the work I wanted to do. Having gone through all the difficulties and challenges I had endured with an eating disorder and throughout the recovery process, I felt I had a good understanding of what this mental illness entailed. Most importantly, I knew how imperative the support and encouragement I received from my care team contributed to my successes in my recovery. I admired these people, how they inspired me with hope and how they never gave up on me. And that’s what led me to do the same. I enrolled in the Applied Counselling Program at the Assiniboine Community College and was fortunate enough to do my practicum at Westwind. I graduated from that program in 2012 and have thoroughly enjoyed working with Westwind as a Support Worker ever since.
2. WHAT HAS INSPIRED YOU ABOUT WORKING IN MENTAL HEALTH?
A) A huge inspiration I have for working in mental health would definitely be my own journey, more specifically, my recovery! For most people dealing with a mental illness, recovery seems impossible. I once believed this, too. But my life now is living proof that recovery is very possible! This truth has motivated me to help others see their potential and all the incredible opportunities that comes with their own recovery. As my journey continues to unfold, I find further inspiration in the professionals I’m fortunate to work alongside of and in the clients I’m privileged to work with, too. Each and every person that has come through Westwind’s doors has impacted my life in some way or another. Their courage and resiliency never seizes to amaze me and to help them see that in themselves is also what inspires me to continue doing this work.
3. WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR WORK AT WESTWIND?
A) I love watching the recovery process unfold. Clients are constantly challenging themselves as they begin to shed the layers of their eating disorder. They hit stumbling blocks along the way, but they relentlessly pick themselves back up again and set their sights on the next challenge. Then, and this is what I love the most, they begin to embrace their true selves. All of the changes and insights that occur throughout this process are profoundly rewarding to witness and be a part of.
I also really like how Westwind gets clients to see that the eating disorder is a separate identity from their own. The eating disorder, or ED, is like someone who you are in an abusive relationship with. Recovery is taking steps to ending that relationship. Separating yourself from the eating disorder is important because it helps to reduce the shame, blame and guilt that comes with the eating disorder. It also helps clients realize that they still have a voice and can be heard.
4. IF YOU COULD SAY ONE THING TO SOMEONE SEEKING TREATMENT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
A) Sometimes we have to do the things we don’t want to do, in order to get to a point where we can do the things we really want to do. Recovery is a lot of hard work and some days you won’t want to do it. But if you accept help and choose to push through it you will get to that point where you can do more than you ever imagined with your life. The staff at Westwind is very supportive and caring and want to work with you to reach all your goals. Recovery is possible and everyone, including you, deserves that kind of freedom and acceptance. You’re worth it! If you’re ready to accept help from others, then you’re ready for treatment, and more importantly, you’re ready to recover. The strength you have to endure for a day, an hour, or even a minute with an eating disorder is beyond imaginable. Think of all the things you could do with that strength if you didn’t have an eating disorder….
5. WHAT'S ONE THING YOU PRACTICE TO MAINTAIN POSITIVE MENTAL HEALTH?
A) I don’t think I could go a day without running my hand through some animal’s fur! I am probably best at ease when I have a loving fur-body around me, especially my cat Bensen and all the dogs I doggie-sit for.
I also love connecting with nature and going for walks in town and outside in the country. That time is just for me and it helps bring me into the present and enjoy and appreciate the moment for what it is.
When I first began my recovery, I was told to look for the color gray in amongst my predominant black and white thinking. Nowadays, I look for color! Whether it’s a kind word, a smile, a laugh, a song, a flower, the sky, a cherished memory, there is just so much beauty in this world to appreciate, be grateful for, enjoy, to be a part of and to create. It can be so easy to lose sight of all the good and get wrapped up in all the stresses of our days, so to combat the negativity I make a conscious effort every day to look for color. Spending time with my family and friends also helps to brighten and add color to my days.