Trigger Warning: This article will discuss a specific person’s experiences with sexual assault, child abuse, and eating disorders. This may be triggering to readers with similar experiences.
One of the greatest things about the work we do at Fempire is that we get to work with inspiring and talented female business owners all across the country.
Marnie recently had the opportunity to chat with one of our Fempreneur graduates, and founder of JLKeez Anorexia Unlocked, JL Keez.
JLKeez Anorexia Unlocked is an online platform offering programs, zoom classes and comprehensive solutions to help guide people with eating disorders through their recovery period. Although primarily centred around eating disorders, the knowledge and understanding provided could also be utilised by those experiencing a range of mental health issues.
She started her business with the aim of designing programs to provide quality information with a twist, where the line of enquiry may be one not previously considered by would-be clients.
With the central purpose of using her past experiences to help others, she weaves her story into her programs so clients may use this to heal from their pasts and their eating disorders.
It’s an amazing business with such an important purpose, but what inspired JL to take that step and make her business a reality?
Marnie sat down with her to find out.
I’m from Adelaide, and I started my business a couple of years ago when, as a secondary Home Economics teacher, I decided that there was a new direction I wanted to move in where I could utilise all the understanding and knowledge gained during my healing years.
I felt I probably had a lot to offer people in recovery from eating disorders as I had suffered from anorexia nervosa from the ages of 15 to 24, followed by many more years enduring associated illnesses stemming from the damage that I did to my body throughout those years.
I actually went to a Fempire seminar in April a couple of years ago, where Marnie and her team presented their ideas about coaching and women in business. I was intrigued, so afterwards I spoke to Marnie and pitched the direction I thought my business might go in.
Later that year I completed the 3-day Fempreneur course – and my business JLKeez Anorexia Unlocked was born.
Last year, I developed programs to offer to my clientele. Embedded within these programs are excerpts from my own story, alongside a range of comprehensive guides and solutions that they can use to navigate their recovery period.
While creating those programs, I was also encouraged to write my story. My book, Anorexia Unlocked: Understanding Your Story Through Mine, launched last November. It’s a story about who I am, why I developed anorexia nervosa at 15 and a collection of all of the harrowing experiences associated with the development of that life.
The pages then outline how I moved forward to meeting the person that would finally help me recover. Even though I had restored the weight and was no longer suffering from the eating disorder, the associated illnesses, chronic fatigue, migraines, depersonalization, OCD, and suicidal depression were persisting.
I had sought many different pathways in an attempt to heal my body but had not been successful. Meeting Joan, who practised Reality Therapy, finally helped me shine a light on everything that had led to my eating disorder and the associated illnesses.
When you have an eating disorder you’re not living your truth. It is my strong belief that unless you explore your thinking patterns, behavioural patterns, emotional indicators and physical symptoms, the reasons for the eating disorder will not be identified. Without this information, healing has little possibility of eventuating.
Your body and mind hold the clues; and time taken to discover each is essential – time taken to resolve each, imperative.
I carried a lot of fear and I have come to understand this is behind the development of mental illnesses, especially eating disorders.
It wasn’t until I was 38 that I found the real cause of what was underneath all I had, and was still, suffering, and why I was never strong enough to stand up and just say, “Enough, I’m going to be me”.
I discovered that I had been sexually abused as a child.
I was born on a farm and at the age of six, my father thought it was a good idea to join the religious ministry. From that point on we moved around a lot leading a very nomadic lifestyle. Being the minister’s daughter, tall and blonde, a straight-A student, and a top athlete, I was always a very unpopular person – or at least that’s what I thought. During my school years, I was bullied, isolated, and rejected.
It wasn’t until I was much older that I realised that I had entered the schools I attended with the preconceived notion that I was not going to be liked, was going to be rejected and blamed for everything that went wrong; even if I was not involved with the so-called wrong-doing.
I carried the weight of other people’s opinions and actions and was constantly on guard. This mindset was added to through bullying. During my final recovery period I identified the underlying reasons that saw these experiences occur.
They were the result of what had happened to me up until I was five years old. The actions and words of the men, both within and outside of my family, had force-fed me thoughts such as, “I wasn’t good enough”,“It was my fault”, and “I would be blamed”, whilst abusing me.
It wasn’t until I was 38 that these memories came back, and I was finally able to understand how life really works. I was able to reframe the damaging events, creating a new dialogue to replace the dominating thoughts that had been planted.
I also believe that pieces of information for recovery come to you when you are ready to hear them. You cannot heal all at once. When I first started working with the female psychologist I think I was a bit naive. I just wanted to get it over with. I would identify a contributing piece and think we were done, but then there would be another, and another!
What you don’t see, nor understand at the time, is that there are many threads that piece together within events from your life that contribute to mental illness unfolding; and there is a lot to actually unlock.
I can now appreciate the importance of unlocking pieces slowly. Each piece prepares you for the next one, and so on.
The decision to finally open up to my family was a huge step. I decided to share it all with my mother first. I went into the conversation thinking I’d have to console her, but instead, I found out that she knew all along and hadn’t wanted to deal with it.
It was at that moment I realised that over the past 17 years of searching for answers so many family members had supported the coverup. I was shocked. It took me a long time to recognise that you should be able to expect support from your family. That theme of blame prevailed and I felt responsible for the pain I created; go figure!
I was the victim of a character assassination within my family. My brother and sisters turned away from me when I told them the truth. They didn’t believe me resulting in the decision to walk away from my family. I did not see any for seven years. Attempts to close the gap were futile. Unfortunately, the gap remains.
It has taken a long time to find the peace I now enjoy. Being believed is not important, and I do not expect for this to ever occur.
Writing her Story
I wrote the book at the encouragement of the people who have seen me live through this. They felt it would inspire, educate and create understanding for many.
One woman, in particular, said to me “I haven’t the courage to do it, but please write your story. So many people will gain so much from it.”
And that stuck with me.
The book is an inspiration demonstrating the importance of believing in yourself, trusting the process, and understanding how to navigate your background in spite of how life is currently being played out for you.
It’s my hope that people will relate to my story, connect with common threads and patterns, see the depths of suffering endured, and realise that recovery is possible. I hope readers will learn and arrive at a place of truly understanding where they are at, and how they can turn their own story into their own triumph.
I also want to create awareness. I want people to understand that how we relate, how we treat each other, how we speak to each other, has a huge impact on a person’s growth and development, especially your mental health status. Ignoring warning signs will certainly see this catch up with you down the track – as it did for me at 15.
Sexual abuse has a grave impact on a developing person. The need to explore and unlock the impact is absolutely necessary – there is no getting out of this, unfortunately.
I am currently looking into public speaking. My media presence is growing, as you can see here. I feel I have an enormous amount to offer the healing and recovery world, not only regarding eating disorders but also with sexual abuse, especially in coming to terms with betrayal, secrets and lies.
Mental health issues are also on my list – to learn more with the view of sharing this knowledge. Moving forward in peace is achievable – through exploring the ‘why’, the ‘how’ and the ‘out’ of illness this can be the outcome.
If you want to learn more about JLKeez Anorexia Unlocked and the work she undertakes, check out JL’s website. And if you’d like to read JL’s book, go to her web page to learn more about it and where to source it on Amazon, or send her an email at hello.jlkeez.com.au and she’ll send you a copy at a discounted price ($25 AUD + postage).
Did JL’s story resonate with you? Make sure you show her some support and appreciation for bravely sharing her story in the comments below.
And if you want to learn more about our 6-week Fempreneur course, click here!
This was written by one of our talented team members. Head to our About Fempire page to learn more about what Fempire does and how you can join the sisterhood. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Youtube, or Pinterest by clicking the buttons below.