Jessica has often described herself as a “good church girl” going to church anytime the doors were open. But like all people, Jessica had her struggles and one of the biggest ones, was anorexia, an eating disorder that began when she was twelve years.
“As a young girl, I felt the need to be control things in my life and that’s how the anorexia began. I now realize I was not controlling it, it was controlling me.”
As with many eating disorders, deniale plays a huge role in the addiction. Jessica tried to mask the disorder by claiming that her lifestyle was about health and self control. She joined online support groups for “pro-anorexic” and gained tips and ideas from them on how to become more rooted in her destructive lifestyle.
As she continued to physically waste away, very few people had the boldness to call out her unhealthy lifestyle but plenty of women would tell her they were jealous of her size or they wished they were skinny like her. Those comments fueled the fire as she continued starving herself, while declining physically and mentally.
She continued to battle the eating disorder through middle school, high school and well into adulthood. When she was nineteen, Jessica met an incredible family that gave her love in guidance , so when they told her she needed help, she admitted that indeed she did have a problem. But admitting you have a problem and seeking help are two different things.
“The real moment of truth came when a doctor I had seen for endometriosis, slammed her notes shut after we were done talking and said ‘ now , let’s talk about the eating disorder’ I tried to deny it but she wasn’t having it. She made sure the birth control she put me on to help with my pain would make me violently ill if I didn’t eat. She wanted to make sure I was at least eating enough so I wouldn’t die”
Jessica continued to battle anorexia; the struggle with eating disorders is real and the cycle is incredibly hard to break. Usually there is a “rock bottom” moment that causes the addict to seek help, for Jessica that moment came when she realized she didn’t want her sisters, to ever see ‘sissy’ so skinny and to think that was a healthy lifestyle, or worse yet, dying and leaving her loved ones to live with that trauma. The hold that anorexia had over her was strong, and even though she was a leader in church, speaking and praying for people’s deliverance, she still remained bound.
“I sought freedom in the altars of churches, I had ministers laying hands on me and pouring so much oil on me, you could have fried a chicken on my head”
She wanted so badly to be free, that she just kept on praying and believing that it would happen. Like the woman with the issue of blood that fought her way through the crowds in order to just touch the hem of Jesus’s garment, she pressed through the crowds and through the depression.
Her deliverance came during a Friday night church service. In a moment of quiet, free of hype and emotions. She heard the Lord say “Daughter, rejoice and praise me because on Sunday you will wake up you will be hungry and this will be over.” She grasped that word and held onto it knowing that anorexia trains your body to not be hungry anymore.
“You think you’re in control of your hunger but you’re out of control of it because you are just dying.”
Saturday dawned and she still battled with the eating disorder, but on SUNDAY just like He said, she woke up and heard a sound that she hadn’t heard in a very long time, deep from the depths of her physical stomach came a rumble followed with the feelings of physical hunger. From that moment forward the supernatural power of God broke the chains of anorexia from her life.
The freedom came from the Lord, but Jessica is also doing her part to continue the healing process. She has therapy every single week on Zoom. Her therapy is to treat clinical depression, anxiety, OCD and PTSD, all things she never dealt with while battling the eating disorder.
“We don’t really discuss the eating disorder because when God delivered me it was a full work. My psychologist who is not a believer says I’m a miracle because people don’t ever get over eating disorders they learn to manage them but I truly am fully over it. I starved all of those feelings away, and when I was over it, I had to face them head first. It’s been a journey but between therapy, community and the Lord I’m seeing such healing and victory in my life.”
As women and for those of us who are mothers we know how dangerously deceptive all media can be in regards to how a woman or girl should look. We are exposed daily to diet planes, workout programs, pills, shakes, and packaged foods that promise to give us the “perfect” body, whatever that may look like. There are apps designed to make us look skinnier, give us a bigger booty, enhance our boobs and flatten our stomachs all in an effort to make us look “better” in our pictures. So many diets are really just eating disorders in disguise and at some point many, if not all of us have tried a fad diet and have realized that proper nutrition, exercise and making sure our hormones are balanced is the only way to achieve health. However, there are those who do not realize this and they too fall into the trap of eating disorders. How do we reach them, especially if they are our daughters? Jessica offers advice on how to help.
“Don’t give up on them. Be present. Encourage therapy – I could’ve been free so much sooner if I had it sooner. Pray and pray some more, even if you don’t presently see it, God is moving on their behalf as you pray. The greatest thing you can do is be there to listen, to love and to assure you aren’t walking away and that they aren’t alone, that you will fight for freedom with them. Eating disorders are very isolating so fighting that with love is SO important. Stay in church becasue that is exactly where we need to be with our issues because in community and accountabilty is where we find freedom.”
“Know this: You are enough. You are worthy. You are valued. You are strong. You matter and the world would be less without you. You don’t have to be in control, it’s okay to hurt and cry – our tears in His hands are healing waters. Go to Jesus He is everything, and go to therapy – there’s no shame in it. You don’t have less faith because you need it. “