Delia’s courage: sharing her experience to help others

When Delia came to Fundatia Innocenti, we were struck by her kindness, courage and unwavering dedication to helping people who struggle with difficulties similar to her own. An adolescent with lived experience with eating disorders, Delia took part in the project, “Improving the wellbeing of children and adolescents,” supported by Fondation d’Harcourt at the Pediatric Psychiatric and Drug Addiction Clinic in Cluj, during which she received psychological support and participated in discussions about emotions and emotion regulation, self-compassion, personal strengths, gratitude and values.

Young people like Delia can contribute such an intimate and empathetic perspective of their lived experience with other youth, but it takes courage. That’s why we were so proud of her when she agreed to write a personal message for the informational handouts on body image and eating disorders we designed with the support of the Clinic and the Department of Psychology of Cluj University. The handouts aim to reduce the stigma surrounding mental disorders and provide information on the prevention and treatment of mental disorders. Delia’s willingness to let her voice be heard and provide encouragement to other adolescents is truly inspirational.

In her words:

Dear You,
If I could help you in any way, I would tell you this: Please be patient with yourself through this painful experience in your life! I can’t just tell you to eat because I know it’s more painful than that. The need to eat is innate and physiological – you need it to feel like you’re not only surviving, but really living. If I had to define an eating disorder based on my own experience, I would say it’s like a mental prison that you see no escape from; it’s a way to gain control when you don’t have power.

 My advice is to surround yourself with people who influence you in a positive way, who don’t judge you, and who support you. The most difficult thing to do is to ask for help, because the main characteristic of this disorder is that it leaves us all alone in a labyrinth of destructive thoughts.

 I know you are strong and that you will make it with the support of loved ones and professional help!

 I believe in you!

 Delia