My Eating Disorder Journey from Suffering to Healing

0

I always wished I could be like the strangers in the pictures – I wished I was carefree and could laugh without a second thought.

In 2012, I turned 17. I was innocently scrolling through Tumblr when I stumbled across a “Before and after” body shot of a girl which showed her weight loss journey. I remember thinking, “My body looks like her before picture. Is my body the wrong body? Do I need to lose weight?” And that thought, was the beginning of my struggle, my jihad.

I started to become self-conscious. I was always stylish, whether it was eastern or western clothing and I loved experimenting with my looks. I remember waking my mother up ten minutes before school, so she could braid my hair and do a French plait. Slowly, I stopped wanting to get dressed up.

 

Dear Readers,

 

Please find below a very touching and very brave account of one person’s journey through the suffering and healing.  Thank You so Much for sharing this with us. We hope you’ll find the post below inspiring.

 

Trigger Warning: This post maybe triggering for some readers as it discusses behaviours.

My Eating Disorder Journey from Suffering to Healing

 

Author: Anonymous UK

 

So, my story goes back to 2011. I never felt the need to lose weight as I was never fat, obese, or overweight. I have always been a slim, good-looking girl and life was simple – I always ate whatever I wanted, stopped when I was full and never thought twice about anything else.

I spent a lot of time on social media, this was when Facebook was still in the works so the sites to be on were Piczo, Bebo and Tumblr. Tumblr was my favourite as I loved scrolling through blogs and choosing which world I want to lose myself in. Some nights, I scrolled excitedly through fashion blogs and being a girly girl, it was a treat to the eyes to see outfits, jewellery, make-up, shoes and bags. Other night I would lose myself in travel blogs, going through endless pictures of mountains, sunsets, beaches, BBQs, fancy dinners and road trips. It became my favourite pass-time: looking at strangers enjoying their life, never once feeling envious but counting myself lucky to come across and share these precious moments that belonged to someone else.
I always wished I could be like the strangers in the pictures – I wished I was carefree and could laugh without a second thought.

In 2012, I turned 17. I was innocently scrolling through Tumblr when I stumbled across a “Before and after” body shot of a girl which showed her weight loss journey. I remember thinking, “My body looks like her before picture. Is my body the wrong body? Do I need to lose weight?” And that thought, was the beginning of my struggle, my jihad.

I started to become self-conscious. I was always stylish, whether it was eastern or western clothing and I loved experimenting with my looks. I remember waking my mother up ten minutes before school, so she could braid my hair and do a French plait. Slowly, I stopped wanting to get dressed up.

I never really knew or understood what was happening, and I never wanted to hurt myself. My intentions were pure and harmless – I just wanted to lose a little stomach fat. But one day, after college, one biscuit led to me eating six and I was shocked that I could eat so much. Little did I know that this was going to be the beginning of a food addiction.

I started becoming conscious of what I put in my body and for two years, I started to watch what I ate. I ate a balanced diet and having a sweet tooth, I incorporated yoghurts, fruits, nuts into my diet and I loved it. I downloaded an app called MyFitnessPal where I recorded everything I ate so I could track the calories I consumed. I started using the treadmill daily that had gathered dust in the spare room. I was on Tumblr on these “fitspo” blogs, feeling inspired and motivated. I finished college, did well on my A-Levels, got onto the degree course at my chosen University and I felt good.

My four years at University was my peak struggle with ED. I was stuck in the cycle of binging. I am reflecting on those times and I truly cannot thank God enough for saving me. I ate a large amount of food continuously until I felt numb and could not move. I remember putting the microwave on or turning up the television volume, so my parents/siblings would not know I was crazily raiding every draw in the kitchen and eating everything I set my eye on, even food I did not enjoy. I remember taking copious amounts of food to my room to eat in the dark until I felt I could no longer breathe. I would go into bed and spend a few hours crying and feeling guilty. I would look at my phone gallery which was filled with beautiful, unhealthily skinny girls, and tell myself that tomorrow, I will eat nothing. I would look at the time and realise that tomorrow begins at 12am and as I still have X amount of time left till midnight strikes, so I should go back downstairs and eat whatever I want as my “diet” will begin at midnight. I was stuck like this for years. I would wear the same dress, too scared to go shopping and too scared to try on my jeans as I knew I was gaining weight. But somehow, my weight was fine. I would bloat when binging but go back to normal when starving. I was aware of my toxic behaviour, and I knew my religion was the only way out of this darkness, so I googled “Islam and eating disorders” and stumbled upon the website, waragainsteatingdisorders. I could not believe that others were in the same situation as me, so I emailed Maha, pouring my heart out to her. Little did I know that I had gained a soul sister for life. A sister who loved me, despite knowing the parts of myself that I was ashamed of. Maha, you are a blessing. I am grateful for my ED because God gave me you.

Slowly, with the help and guidance of Maha, I started to take accountability of what was happening. I started becoming aware of my thoughts, my actions, my feelings. It was a constant battle which had more downs than ups, but I never stopped fighting. I remember when my mum went abroad, I prepared myself for an opportunity to water fast for 7 days. I fasted for five days but I could not stop binging afterwards and that is when I gained weight. I remember secretly seeing a counsellor at University and breaking down in tears after telling her I did not eat for 5 days. I never went back to counselling, I knew I would never recover if I ignored my religion. Ramadan was coming up and I started researching and came across a new world which changed my life. I started doing intermittent fasting, working my way up over five years from having a 12-hour eating window, to a 30-minute eating window. I did this after doing years of research and I very slowly worked my way through. I do not recommend this to anyone as everyone’s body works differently; I only speak from my experience. I loved fasting, I loved the freedom it gave me from food. I was focused on my university work during the day and knowing I could eat whatever I wanted in the evening, even if it’s only for a limited amount of time, gave me the self-motivation and discipline to get through the day. I still had days where I gave into my cravings but over time, I learned to pick myself up and resorted back to intermittent fasting.

I graduated from University, eating this way. My family had no idea what was happening, and they are still not aware of my unhealthy relationship with food.
It has now been nearly two years since I graduated. In these two years, I was fully aware that I was not eating the right way. I was slim and had no apparent health issues, but I knew my eating was far from balanced and healthy. It cannot be right to eat junk food and general unhealthy food for 30 minutes straight. I knew I needed to level up and master my eating but the healthier I tried to eat, the more I would start binging again and return to my old ways. I did not want to go back to my old ways. The thought of isolating myself from my family, hoarding food from my kitchen, hiding food wrappers in my room and disposing off them in public, wearing the same dress, avoiding going out with friends – no. I cannot go through that again. I knew once you go into that mindset, it is a black hole and I refused to drown myself in that vortex.

In my final year at university, I had my heart broken (God saved me) and I was doing my master’s which was another stress on its own. I was stressed for 6 months and my stress took many forms – I struggled to sleep, I woke up in the middle of the night shaking, I cried every single day, I was feeling anxious and panicked all the time. I did not realise that I lost nearly all my beautiful long hair until my hair tie would slide down my hair as there was not much hair there. I broke out in lumps all over my face and it took a lot of money, treatments, pain and effort to get my skin back to normal. My skin is now, after two years, all praise be to God, normal. My hair is still recovering, slowly but steadily. It may sound superficial but losing my hair, having terrible skin, and the thought of being infertile is the scariest feeling. God wants us to take care of the body and soul he has gifted us. God has blessed every single one of us with beauty. Why do we feel if our beauty does not coincide with the western ideals, then it is not beauty? Losing your health awakens you to the reality that an ED is not a beautiful girl skipping dinner. There is so much more beyond the surface that people cannot comprehend. I realised that nothing and no one is worth losing yourself over. Health and well-being should be the motive for every human, as we cannot truly be at peace until we have mastered our physical, mental and emotional health. How can we focus on worshipping our Lord and being the best version of ourselves when we cannot control our desires and appetites? There is over-exposure thanks to Instagram and other forms of social media. Detox teas, weight watches, slimming world, atkins, paleo – will it ever end? No, it will not ever end. The world is going to keep pulling us in different directions – liposuction on those love handles, anti-aging cream for those fine lines, botox for the wrinkles, creams to bleach the skin – it will never end. We can only end this if we accept who we are. Acceptance of our body, which is a gift – I have started my journey of acceptance, and you should too.

Over the past few weeks, I stopped intermittent fasting. I have accustomed my body to this way of eating for over 6 years but eating intuitively has never felt more right. I have been listening to Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and his views on health and wellbeing repeatedly to remind myself that my intentions when I eat need to be pure. I eat when I am hungry, stop when I am full, and go about my day. I eat as plant based as possible, my snacks are fruit, nuts, dates, peanut butter or healthy snack bars. When you eat pure food, you give out that pure energy into performing pure deeds. I no longer feel lethargic after eating.

I eat the meal my mother has prepared, with gratitude, whatever it may be. I let myself eat chocolate cake or dessert once or twice a week and I feel balanced. Islam is a religion of balance and the fact I used to eat brownies, cakes, chocolates, biscuits, croissants every single day is self-destructive. I was digging my grave with my own hands. Literally.

Going out for breakfast and dinners, not having to put a timer on my phone for 30 minutes, eating till my hearts content but not over-eating – these are blessings. I had such a rigid, regimented structure and if nothing fit into it, I would lose control and it was an unhealthy mindset I battled for so long. But I have made a conscious decision to walk away from my past and begin again. I have to remind myself of this decision every time I eat. I may fall, but I will stand up again immediately. And you can too.

I am excited to travel and try different cuisines, not having to worry if I have eaten for 30 minutes already. I am excited to host sleepovers and dinners with my friends, not having to worry about calorie or fat content. I am excited to cook and learn recipes for traditional food that has been passed down over generations in the family. I am excited to bake and cook food that I can enjoy with my future family. I want to live, laugh and love so genuinely that it makes others want to love their life and their body.

I am grateful for legs that allow me to climb mountains, for lungs that allow me to breathe, and it’s a shame that sometimes we don’t realise that this is enough.

Share.

About Author

Islam and Eating Disorders founded in 2012 – run by Maha Khan, the blog creates awareness of Eating Disorders in the Muslim world, offers information and support for sufferers and their loved ones.

Leave A Reply