Brush with Death: The bravest thing I ever did was continuing my life when I wanted to die.”“No calamity befalls a Muslim but that Allah expiates some of his sins because of it, even though it were the prick he receives from a thorn.”
– Muslim Quotes
Please find below a real life story from a beautiful soul who battled Eating Disorder most of her teen and adult life. She had a near death experience. Miracles happen and Alhamdulilah she managed to defeat the demon of Eating Disorder and now lives a life of gratitude. In order to seal the anonymity no names have been used.
Brush with Death
“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.”
There are days and there are days. Special days to remember. Some days are special with either the good or evil they had packaged for mankind. These are altogether summed up into days of experiences, good or bad. Days when you are pitied and look forward to admonishments and days you stand out to give out the dishes of admonishment. Days you cheat death and days you recover from your ailments.
In my own case, and particularly one I will share with you in this post, you will soon find out the trends of these days that were in for me.
One day in January 2016, I held my 3 months old in my arms. My son was sitting by my side. Hmm! ‘We’ve come this far. Very Far… so far’ was all I could say to myself.
How can I forget those days, months and years?
I can’t learn to forget November 2012, I was drifting in and out of consciousness.
It was such an effort to keep my eyes opened. I opened my eyes at last, all I could glimpse at were Pale lights, faded walls and faint sniffing; my ears were rented with echoes and weeping vibrations. The sound from recitation of Quran grew louder by seconds. My heart fainted… It hurts. ED had brought me here -Dear God, it hurts. I looked around the room, my eyes frantically searched for someone and then I saw him, my 2 years old son, sucking his thumb. My husband was holding him tight.
I was willing to give up the ghost for my ED. Despite having a 2-year-old son; it was too much for me, I had no motivation to go on. My mind was numb, empty like a frog in a deep waterless well. For the past eight exhausting years, I had switched between bulimia and anorexia in the time line.
Like the downward slope or trend on a graph or an indicator, beeping red alerts, year 2012 was the lowest point of my life. I was deep into my eating disorder. I come from an Afghan family. I grew up in an English yet Bangladeshi-influenced community. I was brought up there ‘cos we lived there. I was so free, I was allowed to wear what I want. I didn’t have to wear a head scarf, and I had a pretty liberal upbringing. My friends envied me.
By being liberal, I mean one can wear western outfits, have your western friends around for sleep over and once a month go shopping, bowling and cinemas with friends.
That was how other families saw us. In reality, our family life was tough. I don’t even remember how my three sisters got married and moved out. All I know is it was all organized by my father. We never dare question him.
Growing up among 6 siblings, I was pretty much side-lined, ignored. I started dieting when I was 14. I wanted to look as good as my other sisters. At college, dieting started to get out of hands.
After college, weight loss was apparent. All of a sudden, people started to notice me at weddings, outside and at gatherings. Proposals came pouring in. I don’t know how but I walked right into an arranged marriage in 2008.
It was an elaborate event. My family was overwhelmed and overjoyed with the merging of the two families coming together. It was meant to strengthen the ties and make us stronger.
My husband had a colourful past. I came in with my own baggage. My mind was too occupied with thoughts. Well, so many kinds…you should know what I mean. I couldn’t seem to fit in, and I couldn’t seem to share my personal space with him and his family. It was a choking experience as Alarm bells rose like I was meant to face a heavy duty panel. I was questioned over every small thing.
Married life is different. All of a sudden you feel there’s an invasion of privacy. You become three. Everything you did before is now questioned. You retaliate. Once a shy kid now becomes a fierce lioness.
I hated questions and everything annoyed me. We had clashes. I felt like I was being arranged for a life imprisonment with not just hard labour but psychological dysfunctions.
The more they pushed for me to change to be a wife to my husband, the more rebellious I became. I couldn’t do it. The pressure became too much, and for the first time, I made a full switch to anorexia. I refused to eat.
For the first time, my family was quiet. They had no idea how to deal with me. I could not be shaken by my grandfather whom everyone feared like the judge of crimes and scolds.
If we were not fighting, then I was spending my time crying. He walked out on me twice, and I couldn’t have cared less. And somehow I was OK. I was OK that the whole world was falling apart. And it was then that I became pregnant. I wasn’t ready, I told my mother in-law. They were shocked.
Everything that was normal before was no longer normal. The more people thought I was not eating on purpose, the more frustrated I became. No one understood my plight.
They made sure I went ahead with the pregnancy. And that was the most difficult time ever for all involved. For the first time, two families were being controlled by an illness. No level of threat would work on me. Physical violence was out of question. I was too fragile.
And the time of labour and childbirth is was time that I never want to recall or remember. How I made it through is something I don’t like to discuss. The methods used were administered forcefully by the families to keep the child and mother alive and are best not discussed; was hell on earth. I felt like was playing my roles in the Tess of the D’Urberville in my heart.
The baby came, a child I didn’t want. Cruel, disappointing to womanhood it may sound, but, I refused to look at him. I remained disillusioned for months after. I didn’t hold him, and I didn’t feed him. I simply pushed him and everyone away. He was in my mother care. At times, she would come and beg me to hold him, but I would obstinately refuse.
At night, I would hear him cry, but wouldn’t hold him. In 2012, I nearly died. My organs were all failing. I didn’t release my body to Post-pregnancy healing or recovery. I punished it and pushed it to extremes.
How My Cracking Bones Reframed For Life
My body started to come back to life not because of my family or my husband or for myself, anyone or anybody, but, because of …MY SON. Yes, for my ‘unwanted’ son
I can recall all those moments in ER. They were nearly crying. The Afghan family would have all be in tears. People often say my family is strong, but my ED bought my father, grandfather, uncles and mother to their knees. I never thought I would see my father cry. He’s known for his furious temper and pride. I saw my son, I saw his eyes and I couldn’t explain how I felt, but I felt I was looking into my own eyes, I was staring into my own soul. His skin looked so soft. He was looking at me, and I felt his eyes pierce through my heart and soul. The thought went through my slow brain that he’s mine. I was a neglected child. I found comfort in dieting, cosmetics and in appearances. I thought about him for the first time and asked myself who was going to love him heart and soul. ‘No one!’ the answer crept through my fallen continence and pierced soul. As he watched the tears came. He was brought closer to me. I inhaled his body scent.
‘’Let me live Dear God’’, I prayed. No one can love him as I will. Only I can love him. Let me live so I can be a mother to him. I want him and only him’’.
When I woke up in a ward, they called it a miracle. Indeed, it was one – a miracle.
To this day people call it a miracle, I pulled out. I fought very hard. I didn’t remember how many bottles of Ensure I consumed. I went to Day Unit and worked with a nutritionist and my psychiatrist. In a way, it was the NHS and their team that helped me to really rebuild my life and got me back on track.
From my experience, I will dish out this;
When you take one step towards living, faith will take 10 steps towards you and hope will be kept alive to sustain you.
Blessed be Almighty Allah…
“Allah’s Apostle took hold of my shoulder and said, ‘Be in this world as if you were a stranger or a traveler. If you survive till the evening, do not expect to be alive in the morning, and if you survive till the morning, do not expect to be alive in the evening, and take from your health for your sickness, and (take) from your life for your death.”
– Abdullah ibn Umar