On the Road to Recovered: Jenks's Story

At the age of 17 at an all-male boarding school in Virginia, Jenks developed what would grow into a life-threatening eating disorder. It began with over-exercising, and quickly spiraled into bulimia, stimulant abuse, and drug and alcohol addiction.

Over the following ten years, the eating disorder ruled Jenks’s life and took uncountable things away from him. He hid his disorder for years, ashamed to tell friends and family that he was struggling with what was considered by many to be a “women’s disease.” It did not help that he did not know any males with eating issues to whom he could turn for advice.

Eventually, Jenks opened up to his family about his co-occurring issues with alcohol, drugs, and food. Hospitalizations and treatment programs helped him address his substance addiction first, but in the absence of those behaviors the eating disorder surged. He realized his pattern of trying to fill the void he felt inside with whatever was at hand: drugs, alcohol, relationships, exercise, or food.

Now 31 and in solid recovery, Jenks discusses the mixed feelings he had for years about letting go of his eating disorder: part of him wanted freedom, but another part was unwilling to give up the rituals. When Jenks began his journey towards recovery in earnest, at a treatment center called A New Journey in Santa Monica, California, it was not without stumbles.

From these experiences, Jenks realized his passion for service. He describes how his recovery is based in giving back to others who are themselves recovering from alcohol and drug addiction and eating disorders. One of Jenks’s primary missions is to encourage men to engage in open conversations about their struggles with food, which he believes is the essential first step to healing.

Originally from Rock Hill, South Carolina, Jenks currently resides in Venice, California where he works as a House Manager in a sober living house for men.