Artist's sketches convey struggles of eating disorder

Simon started off drawing as a child, doodling on napkins during dinner. After extreme dieting developed into bulimia at age 18, she ended up seeking professional treatment. In her spare time, she might draw sketches of celebrities along with landscapes. nevertheless when she became frustrated with her therapy sessions, Simon struggled to find a way to describe what she was feeling — so she drew the item.

“I showed the item to my therapist, along with she was like, ‘This specific is usually amazing. … People might relate to This specific,'” said Simon, currently 29.

Simon continued to draw, mostly for herself, until two years later, when the images she shared on Facebook started off to go viral. Vivid sketches of herself trying to cover her tears that has a smiling mask captured the attention of many.

Combining her experiences, talent along with educational background in art therapy, Simon continued to share drawings in hopes of telling those struggling with an eating disorder that will someone understood what they were experiencing. that will catharsis of artistic expression guides her as her own recovery continues.

Evolution of an eating disorder

Growing up inside the suburbs of Princeton, brand new Jersey, Simon said she was exposed to a variety of abusive situations.

“As a child, I suffered trauma, physically along with sexually by people I shouldn’t have had any reason to fear,” she said.

To escape, she turned to dance. Ballet was her “first love.” along with for years, she gave everything she had to perfect the art, practicing 40 hours a week along with sometimes coming home to practice even more.

"I'm definitely still in progress," Jenna Simon says.

“I needed something that will was mine. I needed something that will I could just have for me, along with I wanted the item to be dance,” she said.

Dance companies’ height along with weight preferences can vary, nevertheless traditionally, dancers have tall along with slender frames. Unfortunately for Simon, her height proved an obstacle into the entire world of professional dance.

“I was definitely short; I’m still short. I’m 5’1″, so even at 15, you’re aware that will’s not something you have control over,” Simon said.

While in high school, she continued to pursue performance art, doing her best to compensate for her height that has a slim frame. Inspired by older dancers who ate nothing nevertheless salads for lunch, Simon began to watch what she ate along with count calories more closely.

As Simon continued down This specific path, her behaviors evolved to include vomiting along with abusing laxatives. “By the time I was a junior or senior in high school, I started off eating whatever along with throwing the item up.”

She began therapy, nevertheless when she moved to Philadelphia for college, things just got worse. along with because she was an hour’s drive coming from home, her parents were not fully aware of the situation.

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“I think the item took my parents at least four or 5 years to figure out what I was doing, especially because a lot of the item, I did in college,” the brand new Jersey resident said.

the item wasn’t until after she had graduated along with was working as an actress in North Carolina that will a concerned roommate alerted her parents.

“She called my parents along with was like, ‘You need to come along with get your child.’ So my parents showed up, brought me home,” she said. “Two days later, they admitted me to Princeton University Hospital’s eating disorder unit.”

What are eating disorders?

An eating disorder is usually a mental illness that will can affect people across every demographic. Although the cause is usually unknown, experts have identified several potential biological, psychological along with sociocultural factors. Once someone begins to display serious symptoms, professional intervention is usually usually required for recovery.

Anorexia nervosa, lack of appetite or desire to eat, is usually an emotional disorder characterized by an obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat. Bulimia, another common eating disorder, involves instances of overeating followed by depression along with self-induced vomiting, purging or fasting.

Girls fight eating disorders together

Dr. Evelyn Attia, director of the Columbia Center for Eating Disorders at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, says that will having a weight below normal can mean different things for different people.

“For example, in a growing teenager, the item might mean no weight loss at all nevertheless failure to gain, as is usually expected when one is usually growing. So the item’s a significant nutritional problem.”

Untreated, eating disorders can evolve into more serious problems. Researchers have found that will eating disorders hold the highest mortality rate of any mental illness inside the United States.

About half of anorexia-related deaths are “due to complications coming from the low weight state that will’s typical of anorexia nervosa,” Attia said. The different half, she says, are associated with suicide.

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A national survey estimate that will 20 million women along with 10 million men in America will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives.

The same survey found that will 0.9% of women along with 0.3% of men had anorexia at some point during their lives, along with 1.5% of women along with 0.5% of men showed signs of bulimia.

Although many eating disorders begin in adolescence, medical providers along with therapists are finding an increasing number of young children along with older adults with these illnesses. Early diagnosis along with treatment, experts say, increases the chances of recovery.


Eating disorders are unique to each individual, which can make them difficult to treat.

“These are psychiatric illnesses that will affect one’s emotional as well as physical states. that will means we have to worry about two things at the same time,” Attia said.

along with unlike different mental illnesses, she said, “The very thing that will will be needed to help someone feel better, restoration of healthy weight along with normalization of nutrient intake, those are things that will are core fears for anyone who’s affected with one of these illnesses.” She said that will asking a patient to do what they fear the most can be a real challenge.

As medicine along with the understanding of mental illness evolve, so do treatment options. Often, plans are tailored to the patient along with may include individual, group or family therapy, nutritional counseling, monitoring in an inpatient or outpatient setting along with alternative therapies — such as art.

“We are always trying to find what’s going to work for a particular individual,” Attia said, “nevertheless having opportunities for people to draw about the problem, maybe a part of some program as they’re trying to engage folks who definitely are struggling with the very best ways to communicate.”

Art therapy worked remarkably well for Simon, along with she hopes that will she can share her success with others through her brand new book, “Unbroken: An Art Book: My Journey So Far, Plus 20 Feel-not bad Drawing Activities.” She shares her own work along with includes drawing activities at the end of each chapter.

Today, Simon is usually in recovery along with no longer abuses laxatives or skips meals. The actress continues to see a therapist — whom she credits with saving her life — along with is usually working through issues through her art.

“I’m definitely still in progress. I don’t always feel great in my own skin, along with I do pay some attention to what I eat,” Simon said. “We just have to fix along with heal what caused This specific inside the first place creating sure that will the item doesn’t happen again.”

Artist's sketches convey struggles of eating disorder

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