Palestine, Algeria My Eating Disorder

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Me and my illness travelled together in synch , but you can’t have everything in life right? 

After returning to Algeria, my dream of traveling outside the country became a distant memory. I learnt how big and magnificent my country was and how blessed I was to be born in Algeria. Despite all our problems, Allah had given me a best country.

Why shouldn’t we value this land; where we were free to practice our faith? Where Muezzin called the Adhan five times a day? Where families looked after you and not the state? 
My ancestors fought for Algeria. We were living in slavery to Francis. After the world war 2 came to end, we came to realize that freedom meant a free West but not free world. Countries like mine and others in Asia and Africa had to continue to sacrifice so much for the little freedom we could get. 

 

Trigger: The Content in this article maybe triggering for some readers as it discusses eating disorders and conflict.

 

 

Dear Readers,

 

Please find below a very touching story of struggle and faith from Algeria. We share this story in hope to create awareness of the impact Palestinian Conflict is having on mental health of people with pre existing mental health conditions. War, in all its brutality and chaos, has been an ever-present facet of human history. Whether through images in the media or personal engagement on the battlefield, the effects of war reach far beyond the frontlines. From a clinical perspective, it’s essential to understand the profound impact that witnessing and participating in war can have on mental health.

 

Vicarious Trauma through Media Exposure

In today’s digital age, the world is just a click away, allowing us to witness the horrors of war from the safety of our screens. The constant exposure to graphic images and footage can lead to a phenomenon known as vicarious trauma. Clinical studies have shown that prolonged exposure to violent images can trigger symptoms similar to those experienced by individuals directly involved in war, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression.

For clinicians, it’s crucial to recognize the potential impact of war-related media consumption on patients’ mental health. Encouraging responsible consumption and providing coping strategies can help mitigate these effects.

 

 

 

 

Please Keep Palestine in your Prayers, Disconnected from the outside world, Palestinians in Gaza struggle to access medical care and essential goods.

 

The Impact of Conflict on My Mental Health

 

By Our Blood, By our Souls, All for Oh Al Aqsa

 

 

 

I’ve suffered from Eating Disorder for over 30 years now. I live in Algeria, this is the largest nation in Africa. We border Mali, Niger, Libya, Morocco and Mauritania. All the neighboring countries have gone through their fair share of problems especially Libya.

I don’t have a clear memory of my illness, all I know is it just happened. One day I was a fine , happy person and then I turned into a person I myself didn’t recognize. For past few years I’ve tried my best to strip myself of my ED Identity to claim my old self back.

I had to let go of so much hurt, practice self-compassion and forgive so many people.  I had to force my self to forget about the horror that prevailed in Algerian hospitals. I had to force myself to recognize that few doctors and hospitals and handful of people close to me didn’t represent the whole of country.

I spent my entire life in one house in one city. I never travelled. The only access to outside world was media, where they portrayed lifestyle of people in West glamourous and fun. It looked like a different world where there was no sickness, no harshness, no feuds and only comfort, luxuries and freedom.

In Algeria we do have some conservatism, but my family is ok. They are quite liberal. The only problem was me, they simply couldn’t fathom how can someone so intellectual and so progressive had turned into an introvert , low in confidence , picky eater. They tried everything to change me but it failed.

So decades passed between me , hospitals , my family and this other world on TV where everything was just so insanely glamorous.  My dream was to leave Algeria and go to one of the countries that colonized nearly half of the world in the past century.

I always had a strong faith but I guess when you are born into such a blessed faith you take things for granted. My illness progressed with horrible consequences to my health and my life.

I nearly died so many times and in fact I welcomed death on those times, the pain in my mind and body was so hard to bear.

Few years back, I think in 2019 I decided to claim my life back, enough was enough. I wanted to enjoy my coffee, my chocolate spread, my food. I wanted to go for walks, feel the sun on my skin and I wanted to see the world.

Since 2019, I’ve been to hospitals multiple times, was diagnosed with new painful conditions, had so many therapists and nearly died. In 2022, I had a privilege of going abroad, my first trip outside of Algeria with my parents to the House of Allah. My first air flight and my first everything. Now today I think about this trip, I am so lucky that first trip I made outside of my country is to the best place on this entire planet earth. Me and my illness travelled together in synch , but you can’t have everything in life right?

 

After returning to Algeria, my dream of traveling outside the country became a distant memory. I learnt how big and magnificent my country was and how blessed I was to be born in Algeria. Despite all our problems, Allah had given me a best country.

Why shouldn’t we value this land; where we were free to practice our faith? Where Muezzin called the Adhan five times a day? Where families looked after you and not the state?
My ancestors fought for Algeria. We were living in slavery to Francis. After the world war 2 came to end, we came to realize that freedom meant a free West but not free world. Countries like mine and others in Asia and Africa had to continue to sacrifice so much for the little freedom we could get.
On the 8th of March 1945, French army massacred 45,000 of our people. Our only crime the desire to have freedom from French Slavery. 78 years later, we still remember those who died for us. And why shouldn’t we? If we were not liberated, then we would still be living under the slavery and Africa would have seen another Gaza on their doorstep.
The past few months have not been kind to my health. With gratitude and renewed strength, I had – once again – started to fight for my life.
And then the events in Gaza unfolded in front of my eyes. Sick and on bed rest, I watched in horror as a people committed to the mass genocide pf another and the world did nothing to stop them. If you think past 35 years of life were difficult,  they were nothing in comparison to what I have gone through in these past two weeks.
I know about occupation and fortunately we have been free for 78 years now. We are poor, have more problems then I could say and we struggle to make ends meet but, we are not getting bombed. We have security, we have water, food, family, security and our mosques. All Palestine has is Iman, Tawakul. Nothing more. Nothing less.
In reflection, we want to migrate in pursuit of worldly opportunities and we reject the simple blessing we have ; freedom from slavery  and bombing. Palestinians have protected the Al Aqsa; the third holiest place in Islam. They’ve lost generations in doing so. And look at the carnage in Gaza right now- instead of losing their faith-  they have Quran on their lips.
I have been through so many emotions. I had panic attacks,  anxiety and I couldn’t eat or sleep. And strangely the same time, I had to acknowledge that there was something great out there , the pain of people in Palestine.
I cried every night and decided life was not worth living. But then I look at resistance from the Palestinians, my broters and sisters in Gaza and I know I owe them so much. I pray for them everyday with sincerity. These days are hard and they don’t pass. I feel this nightmare is continuing and not coming to an end.
I thought if I left Algeria, I would get better, but now the veil has been lifted. The countries that presented themselves as perfect, are only concerned for themselves and their interests. If you are not the same as them, you do not matter. Painfully I saw how they vetoed in UN against Palestine. This October 2023 is the hardest and longest and never ending month of my life. I am broken and I am bleeding at the sheer cruelity of humanity. It has taught me about gratitude and I value each and every single blessing I have in my life. But do you know something ? I feel guilty of these blessings, like many others, when my brothers and sisters are getting massacred right and left.
Please pray for Gaza and the rest of Palestine and please remember nothing is bigger than Allah. Allah is watching. Lets be grateful for what we have and lets reflect on our lives and do what we are supposed to do; help each other and care for each other.
This is our national anthem which reminds me of my blessings and may Allah grant the highest Janna to all the Martyrs .

 

 

Kassaman or “the oath” is the Algerian national anthem. Its words were written by the Algerian nationalist poet Moufdi Zakaria (1908-1977), during the war of national liberation, when he was jailed in Algiers, on April 1955.

 

Here are the lyrics of the Algerian national anthem “Kassaman“, in English:

We swear! by the thunders that annihilate on us
By noble and pure blood generously shed
By the bright flags flying in the wind
On the mountain peaks of our proud mountains
That we stood up for life or death
Because we swore to die so that Algeria lives
Be a witness! Be a witness! Be a witness!

We are fighters for justice
And for our independence we started the fight
No one lend ears to our claims
So we chanted them to the rhythm of the canons
And to the crackling machine gun
Because we swore to die so that Algeria lives
Be a witness! Be a witness! Be a witness!

O France! the time of the palaver is over
We closed it as we close a book
O France! here comes the day when you have to be accountable
Get ready! here is our answer
The verdict, our revolution will make it
Because we swore to die so that Algeria lives
Be a witness! Be a witness! Be a witness!

Our brave heroes will form the battalions
Our remains will be the ransom of our glory
And our lives, those of our immortality
We will raise our flag high above our heads
Front of liberation we swore allegiance to you
Because we swore to die so that Algeria lives
Be a witness! Be a witness! Be a witness!

Battlefields raise the call of the motherland
Listen to it and obey it
Write it with the blood of martyrs
And teach it to the future generations
O Glory! towards you we reach out
Because we swore to die so that Algeria lives
Be a witness! Be a witness! Be a witness!

 

 

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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.

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