NORMAN — At 71 years old, Janice Blakely doesn’t feel the shame or the guilt that she once felt. Now, this vibrant redhead feels the power behind her recovery.
At the tender age of 9, Blakely started hiding her secret. It wasn’t until she was in her 40s that she revealed to anyone that she suffered from an eating disorder.
“It was only through sheer will that I’m blessed to be alive,” Blakely said.
Now, especially during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, Blakely wants to tell her story.
“I need to help people like me. Because it’s an overwhelming and debilitating, destructive illness. Oftentimes, it’s not conceived as an illness. It is not a choice. People do not choose to have this infliction. I want to forgive myself. And thirdly, I don’t want to hide it anymore.
Keeping it a secret won’t help anybody,” Blakely said.
During her lifetime, Blakely has battled anorexia, bulimia and binge eating.
“I’ve done everything and anything that eating disorders develop. If you can imagine it, I’ve done it. And there are things that you can’t probably even imagine,” Blakely said.
It all started when Blakely would sneak food out of the family’s kitchen pantry. She would eat until her stomach was so full that it hurt.
“I discovered you can eat and throw up. It became a way of life,” Blakely said. “Food was so important to me that I sneaked it, I hid it, stole it. I stole money to buy it. I’d consume it and then I purge. Then I learned about not eating at all. I lost so much weight that at a certain point your body can no longer operate.”
Blakely thinks that her illness came from a self-imposed image of her own body.