Aspen's Story



date published

Oct. 4, 2021, 7:54 p.m.



Aspen* is a fourteen-year-old nonbinary youth from a small town in Saskatchewan. They have a restrictive eating disorder, from which they are attempting to recover on their own. Their sole source of support is their older sister, who has lived with an eating disorder herself. Aspen’s sister is using her own experience to help guide her sibling through recovery. Aspen and their sister have found that their options are limited because their town is small and remote, far from any specialized eating disorder resources, and they cannot afford to access private care.

Aspen chatted with our helpline for the first time a few months ago, wanting to talk to someone about their struggles with body image and eating – they were fighting against powerful compulsions to restrict, and feeling intense urges to purge when they did manage to eat. They were overwhelmed trying to manage this on their own, and wanted support. On the other end of their chat, Aspen found a support worker who was compassionate, and listened without judgment in order to understand their unique situation and work with them on figuring out a few recovery-oriented steps that they felt they could take. NEDIC also shared some clinician-created resources that are freely available online. By the end of the chat, Aspen was feeling better about the meal they had just eaten, and had some new ideas for coping strategies for the next time the overwhelming feelings struck.

Thanks to the Telus Friendly Future Foundation, we will be there for Aspen and the thousands of other youth like them who reach out needing support, information, resources, and referrals for their eating disorders. With the support of the Telus Friendly Future Foundation, we have been able to extend our helpline hours and to expand our outreach work – both in the community and in virtual spaces, like social media. For eating disorders, early intervention is critical and leads to better recovery outcomes. With this crucial support, we can keep meeting clients where they are and helping them get a little closer to their recovery.

For youth like Aspen, a chat with a NEDIC support worker might be the first time they have disclosed their struggles with eating or body image to anyone. Reaching out to find someone who will listen and connect them to reputable resources that best fit their unique situation can be a turning point in their recovery. The work ahead is still hard, but with some new tools and resources, or a referral to an appropriate program, clients like Aspen often feel a new sense of hope. One chat session won’t fix everything, but it can equip clients like Aspen to take the next best step for their situation.

* Name and certain details changed to protect client privacy. 

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