MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26TH – SUNDAY, MARCH 4TH
Let’s Get Real- Highlighting stories we don’t often hear.
A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.
In honour of Nedawareness Week, we bring to you a real life story from Morocco, a very touching account of brother and his family’s struggle with Anorexia. This year #Nedawareness theme is Let’s Get Real: Highlighting the stories we often don’t hear. We hope you’ll be touched by this story, My Sister’s Struggle with Anorexia. Thank you to this brave hero for sharing his sister’s struggle with anorexia and for starting a ground breaking task of raising awareness of Eating Disorders in Morocco.
A hero is somebody who is selfless, who is generous in spirit, who just tries to give back as much as possible and help people. A hero to me is someone who saves people and who really deeply cares.
My Sister’s Struggle with Anorexia
Description and background:
My name is Youssef and I’m 24 years old, from Morocco. I have a little sister who is 21 years old. Me and my sister are really close to each other, the only little difference between us both is our age and that even strongly bonded our relationship. At this current moment I am writing this post in order to spread awareness about eating disorders all over the world, especially in my home country, Morocco.
To spread awareness about mental disorders; namely, eating disorder.
My sister was supposedly a very normal and a simple girl, studying, spending time on social media, basically living her life normally. She used to always hide behind a smile. She always showed us strength, even in touch situations, who would ever imagine that she was would a day have to deal with anorexia. At that time, I was studying engineering. After I graduated, I moved from my native city (Nador – north of Morocco, here is my family live) to the capital (Rabat), to work in an IT company.
in 2017, my family came to visit me in summer. At first, everything seemed so normal; one day whilst we were having lunch, my sister began to shake her hand and she literally fainted in front of me, I was really shocked as I didn’t understand what was happening. I asked my parents if she was okay, and they said that she usually have this kind of states regularly, and according to the doctors, this is due to stress, more likely anxiety, and surely nothing to worry about. Later after my parent went back to Nador, I was very traumatized, I just couldn’t believe that my little sister who was full of joy would ever go through any sort of mental illness. Two months later, I got an amazing news from my family saying that she is finally getting better, and that everything is going so well.
After receiving a positive feedback from my family, I have decided to take a vacation for a week in order to visit my family, and see how my sister is doing. Honestly, this ended up being the longest week I have ever had. But Alhamdulillah for everything. Once I arrived home, my mother took me side for a talk and announced the news, she said something that I would never ever expect to hear, she said that my sister is diagnosed with anorexia; oh, Allah who could imagine. At that current time, I did not really understand the dangers behind eating disorders and such, so I said that it is okay, she just needs some medications and everything will be alright. But actually, I was completely wrong. Obviously, my sister couldn’t eat at all, she was pushing all the food away whenever the plate is being put in front of her. Along with anorexia, she has depression which with time is just getting worse and worse; she was having suicidal thoughts, and was explicitly expressing them in front of us. My heart was breaking, she was literally punishing herself physically by scratching her arms (with her finger nails), hitting the walls, etc. For once, I wasn’t recognizing my sister anymore – she was feeling horrible every day and all day, mood swings, and was constantly fatigued.
One day, out of nowhere, she uttered few words that hurt my parents more than anything, so unexpectedly, she said that she likes to see suffering because we don’t understand what she is going through. Me and my dad were lost, we didn’t know what to do. Every day is a struggle, there is no progress at all. She can never be left on her own anymore, so we had to think of taking the first step directly, so we decided to drop a visit to see a psychologist in Rabat
My Dad and I were lost we didn’t know what to do, there was absolutely no progress, every day is a struggle, we couldn’t let her home alone no more and we had to act quickly so we decided to go see psychologists in Rabat.
Wrong predictions: (struggle to get help)
Doctors kept saying that the only thing my sister should do is take her medications and fight the voices inside her head, and everything will be okay. Why? Because her weight is in the norm. I couldn’t see her struggle anyone, I couldn’t accept those words, so I went to Casablanca to look up for private hospitals that supposedly are specialized to treat eating disorders. Once we spoke to the doctors and therapists, they allowed her in treatment only for 14 days inpatient. Although recovery can take month to years and sometimes even more, I still believed them as I was desperate enough. The price was very expensive. Apart from that, there were no rooms left at all so we had to wait until they call us in, which till this day, we haven’t gotten any call back. Basically, as my sister is studying senior in nursing school, and she really dedicated into achieving her diploma, we had to go back to Nador. As time passed by, my sister has actually improved significantly, I was not exactly sure how that happened and what’s the reason behind it; whether it’s due to meeting her school friends again or being busy with school work or what exactly. Lately, she had a serious breakdown which was so unexpected again. She started punching the walls again in order to punish herself for being ill. After trying several ways to calm her down, she told me, “listen, remember all this time you saw me smiling, and you thought I was recovering? Well, I was just faking it so you feel better, but nobody here understands me or feel me.”
At this time honestly, I don’t know what’s true and what isn’t because directly the next day after the breakdown, she was acting so normal and like nothing happened at all. This honestly proved to me that this is a permanent illness and that we should adapt with it instead of hoping it would go away.
That’s all about it really, this is my story and I am sure that there are many girls out there suffering from the exact same illness, especially in our Islamic world. Here, I realized that spreading awareness about eating disorders is as important as treating them.
More to this, I received a message lately from a Moroccan girl who has bulimia, imagine her family knows absolutely nothing about it, and she literally suffers all this on her own, silently I couldn’t imagine that at all, so I asked her why didn’t you tell your family and she simply replied, “they wouldn’t understand, they are illiterate and they will never believe that such illness exists.“ This is how uneducated we are about mental disorders.
I believe that spreading awareness about eating disorders in Morocco is important and it is one of my biggest goal. Hopefully with the help of Allah, I will do my best to fulfill it. www.Nmoun.org is the first forum dedicated to Moroccan eating disorders.
Our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Nmoun-1127371317364966/
To end this, I want to thank this amazing website that gave me hope, and gave me motivation to want and have this goal that I want to achieve.