Jenna Rose Simon is an artist who's channeled what she has battled internally and found a therapeutic outlet by drawing sketches that are raw and vulnerable. Many relating to it and others being more aware of what it is to struggle with an eating disorder. We got the pleasure with interviewing Jenna and this is what we talked about.
1. When did drawing/art become something that gave you peace during your most difficult days? And when did you realize what you drew out of struggle and pain could be turned into something bigger than a drawing that helped you and became therapeutic? When did you or what moment occurred when you decided to show your sketches publicly to show others they're not alone?
The whole thing was kind of one big accident. I started drawing concept pieces one weekend when I felt really alone. I was already pretty involved in therapy, but there were moments where I was frustrated and couldn't convey what I needed to say. I believe I drew a couple of pieces in just one weekend, and when I brought them in to therapy the following Monday, my therapist said she thought they were great and that people would relate to them. I didn't really believe her. I thought who could care about this? But when my parenting sketch went viral on Facebook, I kind of decided she could be right. People were sharing it left and right and so many were relating to it that I wondered if drawing could help both convey my own messages and help other people through their struggles. I decided to create an Instagram and Facebook account for my art so that there would be a place for me to post things, and a place where people could share them from.
2. When you hear the word recovery, what comes to mind?
Recovery is such a big concept. With some of the successes that have happened recently in my life, people sometimes ask me if I'm "all better" or if I still have bad days. Recovery to me means that you're in a place where you are free of eating disorder behaviors. I think my therapist calls that being symptom free. But being recovered is a whole different thing to me. Being recovered means you've fought off all the demons that created the eating disorder in the first place and are less likely to relapse. For me, that's the challenge to continue to work on, and the "recovered" word is what I see myself trying to look forward to during the difficult moments now.
3. May we ask, how are you as of right now? How are things with you?
Things are better than they were before in some ways, and worse in others. When you're spending so much energy being self destructive, you're in physical danger, but I feel like the emotions get numb. I really wasn't feeling as much as I am now that I don't have those behaviors as a clutch. Physically I am much healthier than I think I've ever been in my entire life. My heart is still very fragile, however. While trying to put it back together in a new way, I try to remember that in this moment, being able to feel pain means that I'm still in recovery... and being in recovery means that I'm doing something right.
4. Our organization is called Free And Above as you know. In your words what does freedom look like to you? And for anyone diagnosed with an eating disorder do you have any advice on how to reach freedom or how to begin the healing process?
To me, freedom looks like a person who FEELS free... someone who in their own mind and body is at peace... whatever being at peace means to them. My therapist once had my draw what freedom looks like, and I drew a girl with wings, looking up to the sky while her hair blew all around her in the wind. She hadn't a care in the world for anything except for the beautiful feeling of flying up through the wind.
5. Who inspires you or has helped you through your recovery?
I started the process of recovery feeling like I had no one. I was actually abandoned by one of my closest friends right before I entered my hospital treatment, and when I got there, I wasn't so keen to open up to anybody. As time went on, I was able to stay close with a friend named Dexter and I took comfort from being inspired by people who are successful and doing good in the world like Sophia Bush and Amanda Schull (both actors who give a lot back to society.) I eventually developed a connection with my therapist, and even though the sessions are rough sometimes, there is so very much I owe to her. I'd seen so many before her and nothing worked. It's such a difficult relationship. You're there for treatment, but to talk about all the difficult things you really have to trust someone and feel close to them... it can't just be about it being a job to them. I don't think Allison has ever seen therapy as just a job, and it definitely shows. In a heart where I didn't think I'd ever open up again or be willing to feel anything, she somehow helped me make room... both for her and for my feelings, and I continue to try to make more and more room the best I can. I also watch a baby most days of the week who really inspires happiness in me. Just watching her innocence and love of life grow with every passing day gives me hope when I feel there isn't any.