Articles

Hours From Death: Anorexia Sufferer’s Incredible Recovery

August 17, 2019


00:00
ELLEN: They all were like stunned that I was still even here. They were like you should
be in a coma, you should be dead. 00:07
ELLEN: I was on my deathbed. I just had nothing left in me. And it was just my body giving
me warning signs that what you are doing to yourself is killing you. You need to stop. 00:17
COMM: Age 17, Ellen Lietzow was just hours from death after having no food or water for
a week. The Australian teenager had set a goal to lose weight but it turned into an
obsession that almost cost her her life and pushed her family to breaking point. 00:3 4
LAUREN: Just didn’t want to live with the fact that she was sick. It was just trying
to get her better but she didn’t want to get better. So it was kind of going around
in circles. And I kind of wanted to leave. 00:46
ELLEN: When I was younger I got quite severely bullied in primary school. I was kicked and
pushed because of my weight. I was only a little bit chubbier than the average person
and it was just baby fat but it was something that stuck with me. I remember always been
chanted and being called a fat whale. And those words never left my head. 01:05
COMM: Competitive swimming had caused Ellen to lose weight naturally but when she stopped
the sport at age 15 she was worried about the consequences. 01:13
ELLEN: Everyone would compliment me and always say how good you looked. And then I always
thought well, if I quit swimming, I am gonna have to keep that low weight so that people
would still want to be my friends because if I gained weight no one would want to be
my friend anymore. 01:25
COMM: Ellen began to restrict her diet, eating only fish and steamed vegetables, obsessively
exercising and counting calories. Soon her meals consisted of just steamed cabbage and
the skin of an apple. And it wasn’t long before she was hospitalized at the age of
16. Medical advice to gain weight led to a new problem. 01:44
ELLEN: I just wanted to gain weight to make everyone around me happy. I started binging
and it was like a self punishment. I just binged on all these foods like loafs of bread,
croissants, donuts, whole packets of cookies, whole jars of peanut butter just to gain all
this weight rapidly and I was overweight for a year so I decided to lose weight the healthy
way as like a new year’s resolution. 02:06
COMM: But her good intentions quickly evaporated. 02:09
ELLEN: I took it to extremes and just cut my intake dramatically and I was just lost
over 40 kilos in less than six months. 02:18
BRIDGET: I remember I’d seen her one time where she was so skinny. She was blue and
that’s when I was like something is really wrong. 02:27
COMM: Her parents would beg her to eat but Ellen wouldn’t listen. 02:30
MADONNA: It was watching a train wreck and there was nothing I could do to stop this
onslaught. 02:36
ELLEN: So I was constantly collapsing, always had no energy, was always bed ridden. I couldn’t
even walk to school anymore. But also on top of that I had my toes and my fingers lose
their blood circulation and they were going black. And I almost lost my toes because of
all the damage I caused my body. My hair fell out like crazy. I was constantly cold. I would
just look startled and I had no idea where I was. 03:05
COMM: But it wasn’t just Ellen’s body that was suffering. 03:08
MADONNA: When Elle had anorexia, family life was horrific. There was a lot of screaming,
a lot of door slamming, a lot of tears from me personally, as a mother total anxiety every
single day. 03:24
KEN: I went through a period of not so much denial but just anger not directed at her
but just within myself that how could she actually lie to me because we had such a good
relationship. 03:36
LAUREN: I wanted to move out and I was just, I didn’t want to be here anymore because
I didn’t want to be around the way that she was and the way that she was hurting me
and she was hurting the family. 03:47
ELLEN: I couldn’t see what I was doing was killing me, but it not only was hurting me.
It was hurting others around me. 03:53
COMM: Ellen’s condition continued to worsen and after a week of not eating or even drinking
water, she hit rock bottom. 04:01
ELEEN: I had a seizure, quite a severe seizure. The very next day I told mom, I had hit breaking
point, I couldn’t keep this a secret anymore. I just started convulsing and I said I had
been having them for a while. 04:12
MADONNA: And I just looked at her and something in me just snapped and I knew. I thought she
is going to die tonight if I do not get her to a hospital, she will die. 04:20
COMM: Once she was in the hospital doctors were amazed by how low her vital signs were. 04:25
ELEEN: They all were like stunned that I was still even here. They were like you should
be in a coma, you should be dead. 04:31
MADONNA: It was heartbreaking because she was really, that night every medical person
we spoke to they said they’d never seen someone with these levels so low that was
still alive, that was still breathing. So we were just very, very fortunate. 04:50
COMM: Finally, Ellen had the wakeup call she needed and vowed to put on weight but healthily.
Now age 19 she is a vegan and has converted her entire family to the lifestyle. 05:01
ELLEN: I didn’t want to live in that disorder anymore. That is not life. Didn’t want to
live in a world full of isolation, lying, self-hate, destruction. I wanted to actually
live and thrive and be the happy person I am today. Like I now go out with my friends
again, go out for food. And no longer lying and just living life to the fullest. Only
you can save yourself. You have to make the change to choose life.

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