Touching testimonial of a 16-year-old

I'm in Sec 5 and I can't wait to see what the future holds for me. I never would've said that a year ago though, when I was feeling suicidal.

I used to hate myself so much. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I thought I looked big. I felt so ugly in my skin that I thought if I walked out in the street, people would look at me and be disgusted by what they'd see. I especially hated my curves. Some men made me feel bad about my body. So I decided to stop eating.

I limited myself to a maximum of 500 calories per day. Every time I saw I had gone above, I would purge myself. It gave me such a sore throat and I felt each time as though my heart would stop. But I didn't ask for help. I preferred not eating and dying, than eating and be the way I was, with my curves.

My family knew I wasn't eating properly, but they didn't know how to help. After I had lost 17 pounds in six weeks, my mom got me to see a doctor. I felt so tired and had no energy so I agreed to it. That's when my doctor, Suzanne MacDonald from the Montreal Children's Hospital, explained to me that people can die when they lose too much weight. I was finally diagnosed with an eating disorder called "EDNOS" with symptoms of both bulimia and anorexia and told that my heart and blood pressure were very weak; I was admitted in a hospital for two months and then spent seven months in a group home with a bunch of teenagers who had their own issues. I came back home last month.

When I was at my worst, I often felt isolated. I noticed that most people didn't care, even my friends. People don't really understand. But through therapy and my mom's support (she's the greatest!), I learned to accept myself. I learned that this eating disorder is a real waste of my time; it's not getting me anywhere. I also realized that I didn't want to die.

I'm sharing my story to let other teens in that same situation know that they can get through this. Today, I'm being followed at the Children's as an outpatient. I don't have an eating disorder anymore. And, looking to the future, I see big things for myself. I want to work as a rehab worker or a nurse, and one day become a motivational speaker. I want to help people the way some people helped me to help myself. I want to thank from the bottom of my heart everyone who supports medical help for adolescents.

- Irini, 16