Jenni-Lee's Story

To Anorexia Nervosa, with love


At 15 life took a turn that would define my path ahead for many years to come. Unknown in its form at the time, the diagnosis would take 9 years to find its way to me. My athletic ability found its demise when running became an exhaustion no longer enjoyed. The thought of eating consumed every thought. Planning my days turned into planning my weeks – precise, no room for movement. Isolation, loneliness, exclusion, being misunderstood, AND misunderstanding myself, saw a once healthy competent young woman dwindle into darkness.

At twenty-four, the words anorexia nervosa finally explained how I was living – but, sadly, not why. ‘Why’ would take another fourteen years to show itself.

With the aid of a psychiatrist, weight was restored. No real reason was explained. “Put on weight, and all will be forgiven”, was the therapy of the day. Associated illnesses took hold – cruel in their delivery and a mystery in their content. Desperate for answers, NO, SOLUTIONS, pregnancy was offered as a ‘healer’.

Two pregnancies saw my life turn into an existence, where the suffering was only known by me. In an attempt to fully recover, I explored every modality of healing that came my way. I committed with tenacity. I took one step forward and another back.
Fourteen years of searching culminated in the collapse of my marriage. The upside – I consulted a therapist to learn how to best support my two children during this changing time. Intuitive in her calling to this work, she wanted to work with me. I baulked! A few weeks later I returned to her counseling room. Full recovery walked through my door – at last.

Unlike any other modality to date, she wanted to discuss my story – relationships, thoughts, behaviours, emotions, and physical symptoms. We explored beliefs and values, needs, and wants. Tears flowed. Anger exploded. Threads and patterns from my life emerged as the greatest find.

‘Why’s’ showed themselves. These wonderful pearls of wisdom gave reasons; purpose to the eating disorder and those ‘others’. Eventually, I discovered ’empowerment’, turning anorexia nervosa and all those associated hangers-on into a triumph.

Discovering the ‘why’s’ allowed me to decide just how I was going to rearrange my life to become one reflective of me, and a joy! As information regarding why an eating disorder had shown up at 15, I grew in strength. Any threads still linked to how I ate were broken. The patterns held within my thinking were pulled apart and resewn. The associated illnesses demonstrated clearly that events in life have the ability to shape us – character and health, particularly mental health. My lived events determined how I connected to, related to, and perceived life. Twisting up inside and bowing to the pressures life had placed upon my shoulders from birth, found my body doing the only thing it could to communicate my inevitable demise – anorexia nervosa had been born.

Years of recovery told a story worth exploring. From the depth of despair came the greatest gift – understanding as to why our bodies hurt. In understanding, in gaining knowledge, in grasping the impact of threads and patterns, relationship connections, thought, behaviours, emotions, and physical symptoms, anorexia nervosa and its companions enlightened me.
Anorexia nervosa had all the answers, I just needed to find the right person to help me work with the illnesses to find my truths.

Recovered, triumphant, with a depth of knowledge acquired, although I nearly did not make it to the other end, in gratitude, I thank the illness for showing me the way.