For 30 years, thousands of patients have gone to the Douglas Institute to get help with their eating disorders.

Now, with more and more people seeking help, the program is looking to expand and one grateful former patient is doing what she can to help.

Pauline Belliveau remembers the despair she felt as she battled her own eating disorder.

“I was having a hard time eating just about anything and I was over-exercising and my doctors were worried,” she said.

She attended the eating disorders program at the Douglas twice before she found herself recovering.

The program’s director, Howard Steiger, said the number of people suffering from anorexia in recent years has stabilized, but the battle against disordered eating isn’t over.

“If there’s any disorder that’s increasing in terms of incidence, it’s bulimia,” he said. “It’s something that’s growing in numbers, probably affecting more broadly males and different age groups.”

Steiger said researchers are finding new information that has led to better understanding of how the disorders develop.

“Real genetic susceptibilities that may be related in the family to an uncle who had depression, somebody else who had an anxiety disorder, maybe an eating disorder that was switched on by certain experiences in the environment,” he said.

The Douglas’s eating disorder program has different components: an outpatient program, a day program, a day hospital and an inpatient unit. As more people have sought treatment, Adult Service’s chief Miriam Yaffe said they’ve run out of room.

“Our hope with this renovation is that we’ll be able to have more spots, be able to welcome more people into the program,” she said.

The Quebec government is partially funding the project but $150,000 is needed. To that end, Belliveau is organizing a fundraiser for the people who helped her.

“One Night for the EDU” will be held at Cinema Guzzo in Marche Central on Oct. 14. A special screening of the film “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” will be held. Tickets are $20 and includes an entry, a popcorn and a drink. They can be purchased by emailing

“I think it’s absolutely fantastic and I think it’s best hearing from the people who have profited from and used these services,” said Yaffe.


For her part, Belliveau said she is just glad to help.

“I hope that anybody can have the opportunity to get better,” she said. “The more people they can help, the better.”