Artist's sketches convey struggles of eating disorder

Story highlights

  • Jenna Simon used her art to describe how she felt while in therapy
  • She also hopes to tell others struggling with eating disorders that someone understands

(CNN)When a feeling that her life was out of control developed into a severe eating disorder, Jenna Simon found solace in art.

Simon started 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 would draw sketches of celebrities and landscapes. But when she became frustrated with her therapy sessions, Simon struggled to find a way to describe what she was feeling -- so she drew it.
"I showed it to my therapist, and she was like, 'This is amazing. ... People would relate to this,'" said Simon, now 29.
    Jenna Simon's art helped her convey her struggle with an eating disorder.
    Simon continued to draw, mostly for herself, until two years later, when the images she shared on Facebook started to go viral. Vivid sketches of herself trying to cover her tears with a smiling mask captured the attention of many.
    Combining her experiences, talent and educational background in art therapy, Simon continued to share drawings in hopes of telling those struggling with an eating disorder that someone understood what they were experiencing. That catharsis of artistic expression guides her as her own recovery continues.

    Evolution of an eating disorder

    Growing up in the suburbs of Princeton, New Jersey, Simon said she was exposed to a variety of abusive situations.
    "As a child, I suffered trauma, physically and 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." And for years, she gave everything she had to perfect the art, practicing 40 hours a week and sometimes coming home to practice even more.