Anorexic reveals how she was just hours from death after not eating or drinking for a WEEK in order to be 'thin and popular' An anorexic teenager ended up just hours from death after consuming no food and water for a week in a desperate bid to become popular at school. Elle Lietzow, then 17, refused to let even a drop of water touch her lips at the height of her struggle with anorexia, when her weight plummeted to under five-and-a-half stone. After a week of fasting she collapsed with a seizure and was rushed to hospital, where horrified doctors and nurses were astonished she was still alive. Her toes and fingers had lost their circulation and her nails became brittle, black and snapped easily. Her long blonde hair was falling out in clumps, her periods had stopped and she became so emaciated her hips and ribs jutted out from under her skin. +11 +11 Elle Lietzow, pictured aged 17, refused to let even a drop of water touch her lips at the height of her struggle with anorexia, when her weight plummeted to under five-and-a-half stone +11 Now 19, she has recovered and gained weight after hospital treatment - and now eats a strict vegan diet Miss Lietzow later admitted to losing weight because she thought that being skinny would make her popular amongst her peers. She said: 'I wanted to stay skinny just to be accepted by everyone. I had gained so many friends when I lost weight accidentally during my swimming and everyone would compliment me. 'I thought, if I quit swimming I am going to have to keep that low weight so that people would still want to be my friends, because if I gain weight no one would want to be my friend anymore.' Miss Lietzow, now 19, from Melbourne, Australia, was cruelly taunted by her peers as a young girl. Although she was just a few pounds overweight, school kids would kick and push her and chant 'fat whale' as she walked through the playground. After joining the swimming team her strenuous training schedule of six hours a day meant she lost her extra weight and gained lots of friends. But the punishing regime took a toll on her burgeoning social life. Although she reached the Olympic swimming trails at the age of 15, Elle decided to give up on the sport and focus on school and her friends. +11 By the time she was hospitalised, her long blonde hair was falling out in clumps, her periods had stopped and had became so emaciated her hips and ribs jutted out from under her skin +11 +11 Her toes and fingers had lost their circulation and her nails became brittle, black and snapped easily She overcompensated for the loss of her swimming by working out for two hours before school and going on long hikes near her home. She started to eat just fish and vegetables but as her disorder she ate significantly less. In just two months, she lost over two stone from her slight frame and was hospitalised for the first time. Her family and friends nagged her to gain weight, leading Miss Lietzow to binge on tubs of icing, slabs of chocolate, boxes of doughnuts and huge wedges of cake. She said: 'I was punishing my body, I didn't want to put on weight but my family and friends were so angry and frustrated. 'I hated how I felt. I felt disgusting, gluttonous. It was just gross. I hated the way I looked and I wouldn't leave the house. 'I ballooned to 174lbs (12st 4lbs) and felt so sick with myself I decided last year to lose it all again. +11 Miss Lietzow finally confessed to her mother, Madonna, how she had been starving herself - and was rushed to hospital. Doctors layer told she she had been 'hours from death' 'Healthy eating turned into only eating a salad or steamed cabbage at dinner, loaded in salt. Then I cut out food completely.' In just a few months she lost almost seven stone (40 kilos). As a result, getting out of bed became a huge effort and Miss Lietzow was forced to stay home from school. My body was giving me warning signs that what I was doing was killing me. I needed to stop She didn't realise it then, but she was close to death. 'My body was giving me warning signs that what I was doing was killing me. I needed to stop,' she said. But it wasn't just her body that was shutting down, her relationships with her parents and friends were in jeopardy too. She said: 'I constantly lied to my family and friends with what I ate and when I exercised.' In one last attempt to lose weight she stopped eating and drinking water altogether. After a week of starvation, where not even a drop of water had touched her lips, Miss Lietzow had an insatiable thirst. She made her way to the bathroom and filled a glass of water. After just one sip her body started to convulse and she suffered her worst seizure. She awoke lying on the bathroom tiles with shards of glass and water around her - and it was then she realised she needed help. She said: 'I just had no energy anymore. I knew I was dying.' +11 +11 In hospital, Miss Lietzow was told her liver and kidneys had gone into failure and her body mass index - BMI - was extremely low. The healthy range is between 18.5 and 24.9 just hers was just 12 +11 +11 Now a healthy weight (right), Miss Lietzow said: 'A message I have for those suffering with anorexia at the moment is that only you can save yourself. You have to make the change to choose life' Miss Lietzow finally confessed to her mother Madonna how she had been starving herself - and was rushed to hospital. She was immediately admitted and doctors found her liver and kidneys had gone into failure. Weighing just 35 kilos and with a BMI of 12 (the healthy range is between 18.5 and 24.9), medical staff were astonished she was still alive. It was then she realised she needed to make a permanent change. Miss Lietzow became a vegan and in a show of support her sister and mother joined her. Now her typical day includes two papayas, four apples, four kiwis and five bananas for breakfast, two sweet potatoes with avocado salsa for lunch and Thai curry soup and at least one baked potato for dinner. She said: 'My life has changed since my recovery. I'm now social, I go out with friends and I don't isolate myself. 'I try inspire others through my Instagram and YouTube with my vegan lifestyle. 'A message I have for those suffering with anorexia at the moment is that only you can save yourself. You have to make the change to choose life.'