Meet the Staff - Tiffany Le
In this edition of "Meet The Westwind Staff", we are asking five questions of Tiffany Le. She is a Psychiatric Nurse and one of our newest team members, located at the Brandon, MB location.
What led you to Westwind?
I originally came across Westwind while I was a psychiatric nursing student at Brandon University. I was fairly new to Brandon at the time and wanted to get involved in the community in some way, shape, or form. Although the program I was in for school focused heavily on mental health, I noticed we didn’t touch much on eating disorders. My curiosity led me to applying and eventually working as a support worker at Westwind. I was honoured to have had the opportunity to go on fun, little adventures with clients and partake in some open and honest conversations along the way. Lo and behold, after graduating university, I ended up back at Westwind, but as a counsellor this time! I have always gravitated towards the unique and warm nature of Westwind, which often is referred to as a “second home” by clients. I am grateful to be surrounded by such a supportive team and insightful clients.
What has inspired you about working in mental health?
I believe that mental health helps remind us of our common humanity and therefore encourages us to practice self-compassion. I am also a firm believer that there is no physical healthy without mental health. In other words, poor mental health can take a huge toll on every domain of our lives. Working in the field of mental health has been nothing less than fulfilling and has inspired me to remain curious and constantly come from a place of unknowing. There are so many compounding factors that can lead to poor mental health and unfortunately, not all these factors are explored when we see someone who is suffering. Getting the chance to be a part of something larger than myself has opened my eyes and allowed me to see the potential in every person I interact with, both within and outside the walls of Westwind. Lastly, working in mental health has taught me to see people for who they truly are and be able to sit with them in their discomfort without the desire to fix, change, or question.
What do you love about your work at Westwind?
The thing I love most about my work at Westwind is getting the chance to listen to and engage with clients with lived experience. Clients at Westwind have come from various provinces, countries, lifestyles, and backgrounds, yet are still able to connect with one another through their shared commitment to recovery. Vulnerability is contagious and it is a beautiful sight to watch when clients break out of their shells and find their recovery voice. I appreciate the fact that Westwind prioritizes creating a safe space for clients to explore their identities outside of their eating disorders. It is a rewarding feeling to have witnessed clients voice self-realizations, discoveries, and insights aloud to me. These moments are profound and offer clients a new sense of hope in their recovery journeys and to have witnessed these moments is always an honour.
I also love how the Westwind team promotes creativity and adaptability, which is reflected by the clients. Our clients never fail to rise to the occasion when things don’t go as planned. Whether it’s coming up with last minute meal ideas or brainstorming in group sessions, our clients show up and embrace challenges with a high level of willingness and determination.
If you could say one thing to someone seeking treatment, what would it be?
The one thing I would say to someone seeking treatment is that having an eating disorder is not a choice, but recovery is. Intrinsic motivation, or internal motivation, is the internal force that drives you to do things because they feel good or right. Meanwhile, extrinsic motivation or external motivation, derives from external pressures and demands, such as societal and family expectations. Intrinsic motivation tends to result in more long-term recovery actions and encourages you to develop a greater understanding of your reasons for recovery. This type of motivation elicits a sense of personal satisfaction, as your decisions and behaviours are based on what you want and not on the advice of others. You become actively engaged because it is YOUR recovery. In instances where your intrinsic motivation may be low, take a few moments to remind yourself that your eating disorder is the “bad guy.” Think about all the experiences in that past that you missed out on because of your eating disorder. Use these memories to fuel your motivation to recover from your eating disorder and redefine your future!
I would also remind those who are seeking treatment to be patient with themselves. There are no rules to recovery as it is not a linear process whatsoever. Everyone’s recovery journey will look different, but it doesn’t make one better than the other. It is critical in recovery to focus on progress, not perfection. We live in a world where nothing is static, including our personal growth. Thus, feeling like you are at a standstill in your recovery does not necessarily mean you are stuck. This feeling may simply indicate that you are in the process of preparing for change which is equally important to the change itself.
What’s one thing you practice to maintain positive mental health?
One thing I regularly practice to maintain positive mental health is dedicating time in my schedule to spend in nature. I find that it is easiest to ground myself and be mindful when I am encircled by nature. I tend to go on leisurely walks around my neighbourhood while listening to calm, soothing music. I especially enjoy going for walks in the rain, whether it’s by myself or with friends. Something about the rain just makes me feel extra alive and in-touch with my senses.
Something else I like to practice as a form of self-care is reflecting on my daily gratitudes. Sometimes life can become so busy and complex that the simple joys in life get overlooked. Purposefully reflecting on the “good” in my everyday routine has led me to feeling more content and at peace with aspects of life that are out of my control. Recently, I have come to be grateful for my alarm clock, air conditioning, the rain, and coffee!