Deirdre's Story Family & Friends Carlow, Ireland

I do not suffer from an eating disorder, but my friend does. I feel I should explain what the Gaeltach is, so you understand the situation more. The Gaeltacht is an area in Ireland where Irish is the only language spoken. Teenagers from other parts of Ireland go to colleges in these places during the summer to improve their Irish. Each course is about one month long, and you stay in the homes of people who live there.

In the house I stayed in there were 13. I met Susan last summer in the Gaeltacht. She was staying in the same house as me, and we immediately got on like a house on fire. I noticed straight away how thin Sue was, but, because her friend from home who was with her didn't seem worried, I didn't take any heed and just assumed it was her normal.

But, as the days went on, I noticed the length of time she spent in the bathroom after meals. One night after the ceili, I heard her go into the bathroom and heard her throwing up. I went out to see if she was feeling ill, but when she came out, she said she was fine and was just brushing her teeth. She ate little and exercised plenty. In the college, you do at least 3 hours of relaxed games a day. I say relaxed in meaning no one pushed you to take part, but Susan always did and was constantly running round the pitch, or whatever. When we walked to the beach, she would walk sooo fast, I was the only who would walk with her. Then, when we got to the beach, while everyone else sat down and talked, Sue went for a walk, or a run. As the course went on, everyone in the house started to notice how little she ate. There was a weighing scales in the bathroom, and I knew she was weighing herself every time she got the chance. So one day I went up to the bean an ti went up to the women who was minding us, and asked her to remove the scales from the bathroom. She understood why, and did. That was the first step I took in trying to help Sue.

After the ceilis each night, we had a small snack. Susan would have one biscuit-maximum- then go to the bathroom for 10 minutes trying to get the biscuit back up. I thought she was bulimic, but now I realize she is anorexic, I didn't know anorexics also vomited. I used to wait in the kitchen, me and Paula, in the silence, listening to her in the bathroom trying to throw up despite the fact she had nothing in her stomach to throw up.

I already knew my friends sister was anorexic, and is 'cured,' and I never understood how her friends could let her get so thin. Now I understand how hard it is to stop them. I was so frustrated, I felt I was the only one who understood the seriousness of what she was doing. So I went up to the bean an ti and told her, if she didn't say something to Susan's parents when they came to visit at the weekend, I would. Even though I had never met her parents, I was prepared to tell them to get help for their daughter. When her parents came, the bean an ti said it to them. Her father agreed, but, her mother was in denial. Susan asked me if I had said anything to the bean an ti. I told her I hadn't but we both knew it was me. She kept saying' Dee I'm don't have a problem, there's nothing wrong with me' she kept on denying it, but she later said to Paula, her friend from home, that she was on a diet but was stopping. She knew as well as we did that she had no intention of stopping, as long as their were people telling her how great she looked.

But I know she wants to stop. She wears pedal pushers and small tops which just show she is crying out for help. I never told her, but I feel she knows I'm there for her, I just need her to admit it to herself, then I can help her with the next step. We are living at opposite ends of the country, so I don't really see her anymore, but if she phones me and tells me ' Dee, I have a problem...' I'll be over to her as fast as lightening to do all I can.

When I think back to the course, I cant believe how the others reacted. There were thirteen students in the house, and despite the fact she had all the symptoms of an eating disorder, like the hairs, not eating, throwing up, and so thin, which they all saw, none of them cared enough to try help her. They all just said it made them sick and sad looking at her, I felt that way too, but I knew she needed friends , and that's why I stuck by her.

Susan is the funniest, outgoing, and fun person you'll ever meet. I want her to still be around next year. But, I don't know if that's gonna happen. I wrote her a letter explaining to her how I feel and that she needs help and I'm there for her. I'm gonna post it tomorrow. I hope I get a response starting ' Hey Dee, Just got back from treatment and I'm cooking myself a burger...' Deirdre, 15, Carlow, Ireland.