Sabrina Whyatt is a Jackie of all trades and, evidently, master of all. Native to St. Carol’s, on the Great Northern Peninsula, she has left her distinctive mark in ventures as varied as crab fishing, real estate, TV broadcasting, music production and songwriting.
Burton K. Janes
Did I mention she has also scaled Mount Kilimanjaro?
According to Jim Wellman, himself a former broadcaster, Sabrina the Trailblazer "has made a habit of taking the road least traveled." Now, she has added to her curriculum vitae with the publication of her autobiography, "The Woman I Am." Not bad for a 30-something. She is intent on rising to her full potential and pursuing self-discovery and inner sanctuary.
Readers will be drawn to different parts of her story. I am personally impacted by her courageous and unflinching, not to mention painful, transparency.
"I have many fun stories from my teen years," she says. "But it was also a time in my life when I struggled daily with something many people, even those close to me, knew nothing about ... I was lost at times and I started falling into bouts of depression, and somewhere along the way I began a ritual that eventually controlled my every waking moment."
She is referring to an eating disorder.
"The worse it grew," she recalls. "The more depressed I became. It was a never-ending cycle of self-destruction and self-loathing that started with a simple weight-loss goal." She bottom out in 2001.
The candidness with which she writes about her addiction and obsession is both sobering and refreshing. Which is why, she explains, writing her life story has "been very challenging, yet equally rewarding." Pain and joy intersect in her book.
I asked Sabrina for any encouragement she would give readers who themselves suffer from depression and bulimia and, perhaps, other challenges.
"To anyone suffering from depression or bulimia or any mental illness, I say please know you are not alone and you have no reason to be embarrassed or ashamed. Use your voice; it’s very powerful."
In her experience, "silence fuels these things and, as scary and uncomfortable as it may be to reach out and ask for help or to share your struggles with someone, it helps. Just to say the words can start to lift that dark cloud.
"For me, talking about my struggles with depression and an eating disorder and hearing that other people struggle with similar things has helped me start to let go of the shame I felt for years. Sharing my story has been extremely healing for me."
As intense as parts of her story are, she complements them with flashes of humour which, undoubtedly, help her deal with her own situation.
As I read "The Woman I Am," I was struck by what I consider to be an oversight. There are photographs of her pet as a baby, receiving his first bath, playing peekaboo, being sooky, and wearing a crown emblazoned with "Birthday Prince." His name is Willy Nelson; he’s a pig.
"This may seem like a strange comment," I said to Sabrina in an email, "but I feel that something’s missing from your book ... something about your pet pig! I, as an animal lover, am intrigued by Willy Nelson’s own story."
Sabrina responded to my question with alacrity.
"I’m allergic to cats and dogs," she says, "but I’ve wanted a pet for a few years now. I read somewhere that it’s rare to be allergic to pigs because their hair is so similar to human hair. I did some research, found a breeder in Texas who was selling ‘micro-mini’ pigs.
"Willy Nelson came with a full money-back guarantee that he’d be no more than 20 pounds. Ha! He’s about 150 or more now. And I wouldn’t trade him for the world.
"He’s extremely smart, clean and cuddly. He goes outside to go to the bathroom. He washes his face in a bowl of warm water after every meal. And he refuses to go to sleep until I tuck him in and cover him up with his favourite blanket. Yup, Willy Nelson is a diva!"
Sabrina says she is "most at peace when I’m on the ocean. In raging seas there’s a calm within me that feels almost spiritual." Today, she is "healthy and happy and content with myself: body, mind and spirit. I’ll see how I am tomorrow once tomorrow comes."
"The Woman I Am" is published by Flanker Press of St. John’s.
— Burton K. Janes lives in Bay Roberts. His column appears in The Compass every week. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org