Kamloops woman advocating to change perceptions of eating disorders

A Kamloops woman living with an eating disorder is making waves spreading awareness about the disease.

Marlene Hibbs went to City Hall last week, Dec. 4, to seek a council proclamation recognizing Feb. 1 to 7 as National Eating Disorder Awareness week. Council approved unanimously.

Hibbs, a fitness trainer at F3FIT, says she has struggled with her eating disorder since she was a 12-year-old girl growing up in the Lower Mainland. She started coming to terms with her eating disorder in her 20s. It wasn't until she and her husband divorced and dissolved their business that she moved into advocacy.

"When my initial business was done, about seven years ago now, that was a cascade from middle class sliding into poverty," Hibbs recalls. "And navigating that system and trying to access resources that weren't there, pushed me."

At one point Hibbs changed her entire life around to be able to make it to support services like group therapy, quitting her job at the YMCA to make it to meetings.

"If I was able to access better services quickly, especially around the therapy piece, I may not be struggling as much as I have been," she says.

Higgs hopes that after the city council proclamation that it will help people feel comfortable to come forward and get help.

"Awareness is the first step but action comes next to it," Hibbs says. "It opens room for dialogue and conversation so people can identify with what they're experiencing and not have this stigma around them that they're 'just doing it for attention' or whatever."

You can access information about referrals to Interior Health’s Community Eating Disorders services by calling 250-377-6500 or go to Kamloops Mental Health & Substance Use at 200-235 Lansdowne Street.

See the Interior Health toolkit for primary care practicioners for stats and facts on eating disorders.

Watch highlight video of Monica's story here: