Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a
matter of opportunity.
Hippocrates (460 BC – 370 BC)
the last time I wrote an article about CENTRE, my finding in Lahore telling people travelling anywhere with the bid to finding solutions to Eating Disorders to come Home to Pakistan.
After Lahore story, I travelled through Jhelum to interview a father who’s daughter suffers from ED and to visit my extended families in nearby village. My travel allowed me the opportunity to see real Pakistan, to meet people who form large part of Pakistani population. I forever will remember this journey.
There, I came across an astonishing case of anorexia. This proves Eating Disorders don’t discriminate. They have no boundaries and attack or affect people no matter the status or the location.I was told about this case months ago, but I wasn’t sure if it was an Eating Disorder or just after affects of recovering from a fever.
I’ve concealed the names of my contacts in this family and some personal details about them are well respected and left out in this article. Aim here is to create the awareness of a case which has not received a proper treatment and I am not a specialist in any way.
ESCAPE FROM ANOREXIA IN JHELUM VILLAGE
Lady M, 24 year old single and a principal of a local school. A very great achiever who stopped eating after her father suddenly passed away from a sudden cardiac arrest.
M has 5 siblings and she is the second eldest. Her eldest sister is married with a child. She has always been known for her brilliant mind and high intellect. Her family was very proud of her. She loves studying at all times and studies for hours. Her two sisters take care of chores with their mother. M has always had a temper and at times is very persistent on what she wants. The father was so proud of her achievements and had always made sure she lacked nothing. It was gathered that educationally, when it came to grades, no one in village was her match. She was always head of her mates.
M was always conscious about her appearance. She’s a perfectionist and vey advanced, straight thinking for small minded people like me and my sister. We studied only till college level and now we are both home.
M’s sister who is the sixth born said her sister, M stopped eating after their father’s demise. She then had a typhoid fever. It got the worst out of her as it took 4 weeks for her to recover from fever. M was always light, thin and pine and had always worried about gaining weight.
“My mother always had to use force to get her to eat her breakfast and dinner. She always skipped lunch; we discovered that through her colleagues and friends that M never ate lunch.”
The family soon noted M was becoming weak and weak by the day. Her weight was reducing. She looked horrifically thin and pale. They didn’t understand. M refused to eat anything. Because of her health, she was given leave of absence from work. The family noted that some days she would stand in front of mirror and speak to her reflection on how fat she was. It was after M was taken to doctor that doctor diagnosed her with depression and told the family to feed her well at all cost and keep her happy at all times. She was given drug xxx to help her sleep.
According to the sister, they had tried everything. “We made sure nothing upsets her, not even our actions but, she refused to let go of the harming thought that she was fat.”
She expressed further; “We started discovering food in animal yard. She would hide the food and go and feed the animals. We also found days-old food in other places around the house. As M lost more weight she became more aggressive, more withdrawn and more depressed. We didn’t know what to do. People told us that she was possessed by a demon. We took her to many shrines and prayed for her recovery sincerely.”
Months passed and our worry increased. We were still in mourning and in the first forty days of mourning Lady M was side-lined. We had so many people coming to pay their respects. There was so much house work we had to do.
It was last year after Ramadan, M was hospitalised for blurred vision and dehydration. The summer here is very hot and the heat was scorching. M had three months off from her job. In those three months her health had further deteriorated. She stopped talking and ate very little. She would only speak about one thing and that was her body and how she was gaining weight.
It was at a hospital a doctor told us that if we could just get M to eat after every two hours, our battle will be won.
In college I had studied food. I was given the responsibility of feeding M.
I am the fifth child in the family. Being the second youngest, M always had a soft spot for me.
The first day of feeding her was a battle. M threw the plate on floor. I simply went back to kitchen and made her another plate of porridge. She only managed 4 table spoons after hours of arguments. Then, I started using a very gentle approach on her. I would come, sit with her, talk to her and would encourage her to eat. It was small portions of food split throughout the day. I refused to leave the room till she ate.
It took me five months to see M back on path to health and recovery. Once she started gaining weight, she changed. We had to get rid of weight scale. And we also moved the full length mirror from our room.
We never left her alone, someone was always with her. We divided up care responsibilities. We took her to see some relatives and some friends and we took her for small walks to the graveyard.
Today, she’s back to her school, working as a principal and running the school by herself. We are proud of her. I am scared and I still have a responsibility of feeding her. I get up in the morning and make her breakfast and I never allowed her leave house without breakfast. I also make her pack lunch and once she’s home I give her a snack.
However, some days were still very hard. She still feels uncomfortable about her body. Sometimes she’s so critical; it’s unbelievable. Some days she would gather all her clothes and tell us to get rid of them because she’s fat. We always tell her how thin she is but she doesn’t believe us. I guess that’s a reason why I have to keep up with feeding her.
I ‘m just glad, she’s back on her feet and she’s well. It makes us happy.
One thing which really helped us in this battle of getting my sister to gain weight was attention and love we gave her. Food was very important. We are lucky; everything in our village is pure and fresh. We used many fruits. Though costly, they got my sister well and better.”
I was able to deduce a tip of recovery from what Lady R, M’s sister said:
“One thing which really helped us in this battle of getting my sister to gain weight was attention and love we gave her. Food was very important”.
Top Foods in Recovery: Apple, Fresh Full Cream Milk, Almonds, Bananas, Rice, Ghee Butter , Chicken and Eggs.
Top Tip: Lots of attention and Care. Keep them company and talk about good happy things and always reflect on good days.
Thank you so much for your collaboration and for welcoming me into your home. I am truly grateful.