‘I Am Jazz’: Jazz Says She Feels Like a ‘Monster Is Consuming Her’

Jazz Jennings, a 19-year-old trans rights activist, has been struggling to balance it all on TLC’s I Am Jazz Season 6.

From preparing for college to recovering from her third gender confirmation surgery and hosting a drag show fundraiser for her friend Noelle’s bottom surgery, Jazz has felt overwhelmed by everything going on in her life. And because Jazz has a history of depression and a binge eating disorder, both of which are triggered by stress, her family was concerned she’d develop symptoms again.

On the Feb. 25 episode of I Am Jazz, “Communication Breakdown,” Jazz’s bad news about the upcoming benefit show led her to a breakdown. Stressed and overwhelmed, she turned to binges as a coping mechanism for her “chaotic thoughts.”

Jazz Jennings
Jazz Jennings | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Unilever/Dove

Jazz began to unravel admit all the pressure in her life

After Jazz told her parents and grandparents she’d chosen to attend Harvard University over her other top choice, Pomona College, she admitted she was starting to feel intimidated by the pressure. The young LGBT rights advocate said she had an intense “fear of failure” that made her wonder if the Ivy League was really right for her.

“I just feel like what I’m gonna tackle at Harvard will be huge, and I want to succeed,” the I Am Jazz star told her mom.

Jazz explained that the changes in her life were starting to overwhelm here. “I am definitely at an emotional and personal crossroads,” she told TLC producers. “I just made the biggest decision of my life.”

What’s more, the South Florida teen had just gotten her third gender confirmation surgery to correct a number of complications with her previous two procedures. On top of her ongoing physical recovery, Jazz struggled with the pressure of planning a drag show fundraiser to raise $15,000 for Noelle’s top surgery.

The ‘I Am Jazz’ star’s mom was worried that Jazz’s binge eating disorder symptoms would crop up again

Jazz’s mom, Jeanette Jennings, admitted she was starting to get concerned that her daughter’s binge eating symptoms might worsen due to the stress she was under. In particular, she worried that being off at college alone wouldn’t be a good fit for Jazz.

“I honestly think that Jazz will never fully get rid of the binge eating,” the I Am Jazz star’s mom confessed. “She’s gonna be going off to college, and I’ve always been around to help her through those tough times. And we’re not going to be there anymore.”

Jeanette told I Am Jazz producers she never knew when Jazz’s mental health symptoms might be triggered by academic, social, or personal pressure. “I’m a little worried about Jazz,” she said. “Depression’s over here, and binge eating is over there, and they’re back there, and at any time, they can come to the surface.”

The young advocate began binge eating again in response to bad news

The trans rights advocate’s stress levels seemed to boil over after she received bad news about the upcoming fundraiser for Noelle. Peppermint, a well-known trans drag queen from RuPaul’s Drag Race, told Jazz she wouldn’t be able to headline the event after all.

The news sent the I Am Jazz star into a panic. “Now that Peppermint can’t headline the event, I really just don’t have a backup plan,” she lamented. “I am truly just feeling defeated and doubtful of everything.”

At the end of the episode, Jazz drove to a local grocery store and had a food binge. She opened up about her binge eating disorder to producers, explaining, “Right now, I am just feeling hopeless. It really does feel like a monster is just consuming me. I feel like there is a 50-pound weight weighing on my shoulder.”

The young activist revealed that the constant pressure in her life was “triggering” her depression and binge eating disorder symptoms. “It’s just causing me to have even more chaotic thoughts, and it’s triggering my binge eating,” Jazz shared. “I use food as a way to escape reality and just not be concerned about the things I have to be concerned about.”

“I know better,” Jazz said sadly. “I’ve been in this place before. I shouldn’t be making these mistakes again.”