Janice’s story

Executive Director of the Eating Disorders Resource Center (EDRC)  who has battled anorexia & bulimia nervosa for almost 50 years, CALIFORNIA


After graduating from high school as Valedictorian, and on the verge of commencing college, Janice, then aged 17 years, chose to go on a diet, following a comment made regarding her maturing body shape. After weighing herself, Janice began to restrict her food intake, in a bid to lose weight.

After battling disordered eating, unhealthy thoughts, rituals and anxieties for the ensuing three years, Janice’s weight gradually declined, and she was subsequently diagnosed with anorexia nervosa.

Janice, now aged 65, has since waged an ongoing, arduous battle with anorexia nervosa. She also succumbed to bulimia nervosa for a short period of time in the early eighties.

Applying her first-hand knowledge of eating disorders for good, Janice is the Founding Member and Executive Director of the Eating Disorders Resource Center (EDRC) in San Jose, California. At EDRC, she works with volunteers to help raise awareness, promote recovery, and advocate for mental health parity, particularly in relation to insurance coverage for those with eating disorders.

Mindful of the additional COVID-19-oriented anxiety encountered by those living with eating disorders, Janice is striving to raise community awareness that eating disorders are not a choice, but rather, a combination of genes, personality, and the environment. 

This is Janice’s story.

Throughout her final year of high school, Janice worked at a local Mexican fast food restaurant, during which she gained a few pounds. It wasn’t until a comment was made that she was “finally developing a figure”, that Janice decided to weigh herself, something which she hadn’t done in the past.

“The scale showed a number that scared me, so that summers day in 1973 I told my mum I was going on a diet. I started by eliminating carbohydrates and sweets and overtime the foods I chose to eat became more and more limited,” said Janice.

Over the ensuing three years, Janice’s disordered eating escalated, and in 1975, she was admitted to hospital, too weak to walk, let alone keep herself upright.

“At that point, I was too weak to even walk. But in my mind, I still felt too heavy, and thought I needed to lose a few more pounds,” Janice said.

Extremely concerned about her daughter’s deteriorating health, Janice’s mother took her to a plethora of specialists including a gynecologist, gastroenterologist, endocrinologist, and cardiologists. When Janice was 20 years of age she finally received a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa by a psychiatrist who specialized in eating disorders.

 Janice describes living with an eating disorder as “horrible and traumatic.”

Thoughts of restricting my food intake, coupled with exercising as much as possible, consumed most of my day. This made it extremely difficult to concentrate, perform at work, and carry out general everyday activities.”

“I became emotionally unstable, lost many friends, and destroyed important family relationships,” said Janice.

Straight after her anorexia nervosa diagnosis, Janice underwent months of care and treatment. She was also admitted to a psychiatric hospital for a short period of time. She has since waged an ongoing battle with anorexia nervosa, peppered by intermittent periods of recovery, and many setbacks.

In the early eighties, Janice also succumbed to bulimia nervosa for a couple of years. After receiving both medication and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) she was able to overcome the purging associated with this illness.

Today, Janice continues to take medication to aid her recovery from anorexia nervosa, and receives regular support from psychiatrists at Stanford Health Care.

“Most recently, due to COVID-19, my eating disorder voice has grown much louder in my head, and I’ve lost weight as result,” Janice said.

Janice is a strong believer that genes play a significant role in the development of eating disorders, given there is a history of disordered eating in her family.

“I believe eating disorders are not a choice, but rather, a combination of genes, personality, and the environment,” said Janice.

Janice is therefore urging Americans aged 18 and over with first-hand experience of an eating disorder, to volunteer for the Eating Disorders Genetics Initiative (EDGI) – the world’s largest genetic research study of eating disorders ever performed. The study aims to identify the hundreds of genes that influence a person’s risk of developing anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder, to improve treatment, and ultimately, save lives.

“The EDGI research study is so important because it offers the potential to find a cure for eating disorders, and the discovery of effective, evidence-based treatment options.”

“I hope the EDGI study will raise much-needed awareness of eating disorders, and eliminate the stigma and shame weighing heavily on these illnesses,” Janice said.

Importantly, Janice urges anyone who may be experiencing symptoms of an eating disorder, to seek early intervention and help from a knowledgeable team of healthcare professionals.