Jessica was just 13 years old when she was admitted to the Eating Disorders Unit (EDU) at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores). Grappling with lingering symptoms of a concussion, a naturopath had advised Jessica to change her diet. Shortly thereafter, Jessica’s mindset switched from ‘being healthy’ to ‘being skinny’; she started to fully restrict her diet and caloric intake. Concern was growing among those in Jessica’s circle, including her parents, her dance studio, and her extended family. Her mother began to suspect an eating disorder and took Jessica to a paediatrician. There it was discovered that Jessica had lost 30 pounds, and she was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa.
Throughout the next several months Jessica continued to refuse to eat, stopped going to school and was in and out of Toronto hospitals. She was, however, deemed ‘not sick enough’ to be kept for any length of time. Finally, with her blood sugar at a dangerously low level of two and her heart rate at a mere 30 beats per minute, Jessica was referred to the EDU at Ontario Shores. Upon admission, Jessica had completely stopped eating again and was entirely reliant on tube feeding. For the first couple months she was scared, angry, and depressed, and struggled with bouts of self harm and suicidal thoughts. Eventually, thanks to “the people at Ontario Shores who truly made a difference and really helped Jessica get through this illness and realize her potential”, Jessica began eating and getting used to the schedule and routine. With help from the staff, she made a plan to transition back into her home life.
After seven months at Ontario Shores, Jessica was discharged and has never looked back. She started high school, joined the rugby team, and started dancing again. And she continues to see an EDU coach. While she does sometimes feel down, she reflects on her strength and resilience that led to her recovery. As for Jessica’s parents, they “hate to think what would have happened it there hadn’t been this program for a 13-year-old. Ontario Shores saved our daughter.”
No one can deny it, the need for mental health care is greater than ever. Please give today and help change the face of mental health at Ontario Shores and beyond.