By Jessica Mason
Key Themes: anorexia, autobiography, family, relationships, empowerment
This heartbreaking memoir tells the powerful true story of the author's struggle with anorexia and the affects of suffering with the illness. By sharing her story, Jessica Mason writes in order to show the reader what it's like to be controlled by this horrible illness, what can be done to prevent others living with anorexia and most of all to show that there is hope for people who are out there suffering.
About the Author
Jessica Mason is 18 years old. She was born in 1992 and was close to dying as soon as her life started. She was born at 26 weeks. Jessica now lives in Burgess Hill with her mum, twin sister and stepdad. Jessica doesnít see her dad anymore but is still in contact with him. He was very controlling as she grew up and didnít like her not doing what he wanted. He made Jessica feel guilty about the things she didnít do that he wanted her to do and blackmailed her into doing the things he wanted. Jessica wrote the book ďA life with Anorexia, My experienceĒ because she wanted her story to be heard so it could help out other anorexicís and to show others what Anorexia can do to people. Jessica is now working as a Nursery Practitioner at a local childrenís day Nursery. She got the job in 2009 and trained towards a NVQ level 2. Jessica is still controlled in some ways by her anorexia but is not classified as ďillĒ. She was discharged from the mental health unit CAMHS in 2010 after nearly 2 whole years of going and receiving help. She was diagnosed with Anorexia back in 2008 but feels she was showing signs of anorexia way before this year. She used to count calories in her head and enjoyed doing exercise until one day something changed. Anorexia had a grip over her and told her what she should and shouldnít be doing and punished her for disobeying what it said. She lost loads of weight and suddenly had an intense fear of gaining weight and eating. She did everything she could to get out of eating . All the secrecy lead her and her mum having arguments nearly every night and left Jessica feeling very depressed and suicidal . Once Jessica was prescribed with anti depressants in 2009 her life turned around and she started to get better.
Chapter 2 Ė Old days
When I was little I never ever even thought about food and what I ate or how much I should have to eat. I was just a normal girl that did normal things. I have never really been a fan of food from what I remember but still, I was all right with eating food. I used to love going out to eat, especially at night time because I used to love coming home in the dark. I never used to think about what I could eat and what I couldnít eat, I used to get to the pub and eat whatever I wanted, and a lot of the time I would have pudding too.
In my opinion i was quite chubby when I was nine, ten and eleven years old but everyone just said it was puppy fat so I thought it would disappear when i got older. I do remember it disappearing but I donít know whether that was because I got older or whether it was from what I ate. In year 7 (aged eleven) I carried on eating the same things for lunch as I had been eating from when I was younger. This used to include a sandwich (two slices of bread) with a filling (such as turkey slices, tuna, cheese), a piece of fruit, a yoghurt, a cheese string and a cake. When I got to around 11 Ĺ years I changed my lunch completely and used to just eat a salad and a piece of fruit. The salad contained some lettuce (probably 30g), a tomato, a chunk of cucumber, some packet turkey (10 slices roughly), and some cheese (about 35g). I didnít change this for any reason to help me lose weight, I changed to something smaller because it used to take me most of my lunch break to eat it and I didnít want to always be the last one eating. This meant that by the time I was twelve/thirteen years I was slimmer. I liked it, obviously, because everyone likes to lose weight, but I wasnít trying to lose weight. I used to eat sweets when we were given them at school and I used to just eat what I wanted. I sometimes bought food at the end of school in the town. I never did any additional exercise either, all the exercise I did was walking to and from school and to and from the train station, and twice a week when I would do a PE lesson which would only last Ĺ hour by the time everyone was changed and ready. By year 10 I didnít do any PE lessons because I didnít choose to do PE as one of my options.
When I was fourteen (year 9) I did go through a phase of watching what I ate more than before and I did like to count calories. I didnít count them properly though, (like I didnít look on each thing I ate and add it up) I just guessed roughly how much I was eating in a day. It was working out that I was eating around 1500 a day which I liked because it meant I wouldnít gain weight. I think I went through this stage because I was watching quite a few programmes on slimming and how much people should eat in a day. I was also watching programmes with overweight people trying to lose weight so I was trying to follow in some of their footsteps. I didnít actually take it too seriously though, luckily. The funny thing was though, I stayed the same weight right from when I was thirteen all the way till I was sixteen, when I first got ill.
I remember our family holiday to the peak district when I was fourteen years old in August 2006. I had lost all my puppy fat and I really liked my looks. I think I looked really slim and my skin looked tight around my face. I couldnít actually pinch much skin so I knew I wasnít fat and I liked it. I knew I didnít want to put on weight and did watch what I ate, but never to the extreme. We went swimming whilst on holiday and I actually wore a bikini which I would never do now and never did like to do when I was younger. We went out for dinner twice in a week and I didnít think anything of it and enjoyed the holiday. I had a proper meal and a pudding with both the meals out.
For breakfast I had croissants and chocolate spread and for lunch I had a sandwich, fruit and two cakes, so this was a proper amount of food. While on the holiday I did faint when we went swimming (but this was most probably because we had lunch at 2.30 and had had breakfast early in the morning ready for swimming so it was too long without food). We then came back to our cottage and I had a chocolate bar. I wouldnít have had that when I was ill. We also hired some bikes and went on a thirteen mile bike ride around all the downs and parks which I really did enjoy. This was only because I enjoyed exercising, not because I felt I had to do it.
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