Believe in yourself! Know your strength is stronger than your pain, and live the beautiful life you were meant to live.
Please find below a wonderful post on one of the most courageous recovery warrior ever, Fatima Kojima. Please do watch her video on her battle with the Demon of Eating Disorder. Fatima opens up about the most painful period in her life and her battle with Eating Disorder. But thanks to the love and support and her spiritual quest — Fatima is now in a much happier place
Thank you Alicia from UK for this wonderful blog post.
Fatima Kojima and Her Eating Disorder
Sometimes our lives are at full speed, and it seems that nothing can stop us, that we are invincible. But then, the reality hits us rock hard, and we are taken by surprise by how fragile we really are. These kinds of things happen out of the blue when we least expect it.
This is what happened to Fatima Kojima, back in 2011. But who is Fatima Kojima and why should you care?
Fatima and her career
Fatima Kojima is a former dancer and figure skater and nowadays a model, from Detroit, Michigan. Her life took a drastic turn after she suffered a series of falls and broke her las vertebrae of the spine, the coccyx, more precisely on the last bone of it.
After this, she had to undertake treatment to heal her body injuries, but the mental injuries caused by the traumatic experience started to appear.
It did not take long for Fatima’s health to start deteriorating. She started to have Major Depressive Disorder symptoms, as she lost sight of her future.
Before the accident, Fatima, as told by her own words, usually ate three to four meals a day, as her mother is an amazing cooker. After the accident though, Fatima lost her appetite due to the depression and started to eat once a day, sometimes not at all.
By her words and I quote, “it was not because I did not want to, it was because I was depressed. It was because I was lonely and I was lost. It wasn’t because I was looking myself in the mirror and I wanna be skinny. I just literally couldn’t eat because I was so emotional and eating all the time just made me feel sick, so I was so angry. I was thinking ‘why is this happening to me and what is going on?’”.
What was going on was that Fatima had a Major Depressive Disorder that set up other disorders in conjunction. The Eating Disorder that Fatima was being afflicted lurked unnoticed for a while, as often it stays, as people think it may be just a temporary thing due to the emotional stress that the accident and the rehab imposed on her.
But as it progresses and the weight starts to drop, its symptoms start to become clearer. For instance, Fatima started to hide the food that her mother would leave her and even when she ate it; sometimes she would throw up, but not on purpose, but because of the stress imposed by both disorders.
At this point, Fatima was so stressed that she tried to commit suicide, cutting her wrists, but luckily she did not succeed. But even though the symptoms were all crystal clear, she was still in denial. When she came back to school, her friends there asked how was her summer, and she lied, saying it was ok.
This state of denial is more dangerous than the disorder themselves, as refusing to believe and acknowledge that something is wrong with your body and you need help will do you no good. You need to put yourself together and face it in order to succeed.
How she overcame it
After a year of treatment and rehab, Fatima was ready to once again, skate.
She was radiating with the idea. “I’m back! This is going to be amazing; this is going to be great!”, She thought. But it was not. On her own words, and I quote again, “I sucked. There were kids five, eight years younger than me doing things that I was doing, so I had to face the fact that it was over. I had to face the truth, and that was probably one of the hardest things.”. After that, Fatima decided to leave the competitive figure skating scene, but one day, when she was taking a photo shoot for her ice show, her mother saw the scars on her arms, resulted from the suicide attempt. This was it, she was exposed. Besides that, she has exposed to the truth again when a colleague of her noticed how skinny she was and how her skating dress, even though had been resized to her, was still loose on her due to the weight loss. Then the fatidic question was asked. “You look anorexic.”. This was the final trigger to Fatima realize that she had a serious problem.
Regarding to her career, Fatima decided to start modelling, but even then, her weight was a problem, as she was lighter than the girls on her age and height should be and the photographers would need to add some pounds to her with photoshop, when usually they take some, for her to look more natural.
Other models have faced similar situations, as this is not an isolated case, but rather a common case in the modeling industry and some other models have spoken about this issue in the past, like Victoire Dauxerre and even the former Vogue editor, Kirstie Clements.
After being diagnosed with an ulcer, she had to undergo treatment for it and eventually healed it and got an improvement on her health, but it did not last long. But when all seemed lost again, she met her soon-to-be husband.
With the aid of her partner, her supportive mother and a friend, who was a fitness trainer, she was able to overcome the major depressive disorder by practicing exercises every day. She started to become stronger and healthier, regaining weight and confidence. This was a must for her full recovery, and it all seemed to be finally over.
Although that can be considered true, as her depression was gone by this point, not completely, but still, and her eating disorder had improved as well, at one day she fainted due to a prescription of a medication and had a brain injury. She almost once again fell in despair and wondered why this was happening to her. But instead of that, she kept going; she kept trying. With the support of her mother, partner and friend and her newfound religion, she was able to move on.
Spirituality, her last step towards her recovery
Though not necessarily had to be Islam, that was what Fatima choose to help her to recover from the traumatic 5 years of her life, between the accident that started it all and the brain injury. On her words, “I redefined my faith. Islam saved me.”.
When you start to believe in something greater than you, that is more powerful than you are and that even though bad things can still happen to you, but you have someone to protect you, to look after you, you begin to have hope.
This is what happened to Fatima. She found a way to look into the future and see a path. For her, the Islamic one, for you, reading this article, maybe another.
From her story, we can conclude the following tips.
- Face your problems
Facing your problems with your head straight is important to overcome them.
- Don’t let them conquer you
Don’t let your problems conquer you. If you have a broken bone, heal it. If you have a disease, cure it. Life has several things you can do while under treatment.
- Pay attention to the subtle symptoms
Don’t overlook things. Always pay attention to your habits and look for help if something is amiss.
- Keep on going
After you have uncovered the truth, you need to start treating and keep on going.
- The reality hurts
Sometimes life isn’t fair, and you may not be able to go back to your previous routine. Look for other things that please you.
- Treat it
The treatment is mandatory. Do not think that you can just take it on the chin and suffer alone.
- Have someone to support you
Remember, you are not alone. Whether your family or friends will be there to help you and support you.
- Recovery is a hard way
Recovery is not an easy process. It takes time, patience and sometimes a lot of effort. But it will be worth it in the end.
- Don’t give up when things go bad
If things do not get better for a while or even if they regress, this only means you have to fight harder.
- Find new ways to motivate yourself
Look for other ways to keep you motivated. Learn new things, make friends, practice a religion. You will be surprised at how much this is effective.
That Fatima had a terrible time while she experienced it, no one doubts. But that this could happen to anyone of us at any time, some still disbelief. You must understand from her story that this kind or problems could affect anyone and they start small, unnoticed and will keep on growing until you face them for good.
To overcome them, not only the help of those near you is needed, but the courage to look at yourself and to admit that you need help is also mandatory. Look at yourself and think about it. If you have the slightest doubt about whether you have a disorder, go look for help anyway.
Fatima has become a change-maker, a ray of hope for many. Today she’s a successful model. She also spreads awareness about chronic pain and invisible illnesses via instagram @butyoulookfinetho and her youtube channel. She has been also engaged into animal caretaking.