This post is close to home and is going to be about struggling with an eating disorder; my personal experience.
The NHS definitions for the most common eating disorders:
Anorexia Nervosa – when a person tries to keep their weight as low as possible; for example, by starving themselves or exercising excessively. …
Binge eating disorder (BED) – when a person feels compelled to overeat large amounts of food in a short space of time.
Bulimia – when a person goes through periods of binge eating and is then deliberately sick or uses laxatives (medication to help empty the bowels) to try to control their weight
Who is affected by eating disorders?
A 2015 report commissioned by Beat estimates more than 725,000 people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder.
Around 1 in 250 women and 1 in 2,000 men will experience anorexia nervosa at some point. The condition usually develops around the age of 16 or 17.
Bulimia is around two to three times more common than anorexia nervosa, and 90% of people with the condition are female. It usually develops around the age of 18 or 19.
Binge eating affects males and females equally and usually appears later in life, between the ages of 30 and 40. As it’s difficult to precisely define binge eating, it’s not clear how widespread it is, but it’s estimated to affect around 5% of the adult population. – NHS
My personal journey:
It seems like there is a lot of negativity placed around having an eating disorder, in the sense that people would rather joke about it than help others deal with it. To be honest, I have personally come across a lot of people who think having an eating disorder, anorexia, mainly bulimia is a joke. Just because of a persons size, a lot of people instantly assume that a person of a larger build under no circumstance have an eating disorder, simply because of their size. I honestly believe eating disorders are caused because of other people. That’s why you should always watch what you say when it comes to someone’s appearance, you may hit a nerve that you will not be able to repair.
Like I said, I will be touching upon personal experience too. So yes, this is my accepting that I have been a victim of suffering from an eating disorder. I know first hand how a lot of people feel. I can’t speak for everyone, but I will tell my story.
It all started when I was 15 years old, minding that the thoughts were there from beforehand, but it mainly started at 15 years old. So, when I was 15 I would look in the mirror and I would never see myself to be good enough. There was always something or the other I wanted to improve. I hated the way I looked, the shape of my body and the size. I really hated everything about myself. So, this is when I started ‘dieting’. Trying to eat less and eat healthier. This meant skipping out on lunch times, even though I usually never had time for breakfast in the morning. Come lunch time, I was hungry but I would stop myself from nourishing my body. A couple of friends thought I was being stupid and that there was no need for me to be ‘dieting’. So one day said friends were all together and we were talking, the subject of weight came up. But as usual in life, there’s always that one person who never watches what they say. So said person, started talking about how “there’s no point in dieting” and “I don’t really see any difference”. Really?!
Regardless, this hit me like a B****. I was heartbroken hearing that after all my hard work, the outcome was nothing different – according to that one person. One person can make a huge difference and a huge impact on the rest of my life. This is when the self reflection got worse, the negatives always outweighed the positives, if any. My system was shocked and I needed to do something about myself. So it started with simply not eating. But after a while people begin to notice and that doesn’t work. So it was eating less or only eating when people are watching.
This carried on through college – 2013. My close friends would make sure I ate during lunch whenever they could force me to sit and eat with them they would. One of my teachers had them make sure I was eating. So when you’re forced to do something you don’t want to, you end up find a way out of it. At this time, I would still eat as little as possible and substitute food for sweets. To me calories were the devil. I was so consumed by trying my best to stay away from calories and lose weight that one day I decided to fast. Usually when we fast as Muslims, we are meant to have breakfast before dawn. I didn’t do this, not even a glass of water.
Around 1pm, I was standing with my friends on the second floor. I stood there, and suddenly I could feel the building swirl around me. Next thing I knew, I was on the floor. I opened my eyes to my friends surrounding me, and a few teachers. I was so confused. Next thing I knew I was writhing in pain, an incredibly sharp feeling in my stomach. The teachers sat me down in an office and called the nurse who tried her best to help me. Nothing she did would help. The agonising pain had gotten the best of me, and for the first time, I screamed and cried in public. No amount of warm towels or hot water bottles could ease the pain. It just began to get worse. At this point the paramedics were called and I was taken out of the premises in a wheelchair. And taken in an ambulance to the hospital. I remember my best friend telling me how upset it made her and how worried she was the entire time. It was something she never wanted to live through again.
Seeing as 2013 ended in a hospital, you would expect it to ease up. Although it did for a short time, the impending problem was worse. Later on in 2014 the Bulimia started. The worst thing is the idea came from a self help book. This was my downfall, and from late 2014-2015 began drastic weight loss. There was never a thing I could eat that I would allow myself to keep down. The only thing I would allow myself to eat was one or two cereal bars a day. By this time I had lost too much weight and it was starting to show. Everyone had noticed, and nearly everyone was complaining. The one question you always get asked is: “why do you think you’re fat?” For someone with an eating disorder, for me the answer was always simply ‘because I am’.
During 2015 the matter got worse and I was referred to an eating disorder clinic by a doctor. The clinic helped me up my weight to my average and dismissed me as they saw drastic improvements. The thing is when you say you will get help and that you want to get better – it’s a sign of acceptance and they think you’ll be okay.
I’m not saying it doesn’t work, in terms of weight I’m still at my average and I haven’t sunk to heavily underweight again. However, I haven’t accepted myself, my body and my shape for what it is. I still see myself as a lesser being to others. When I see others with the ‘perfect’ body, I begin to body shame myself. Fighting the urge to purge after eating is extremely hard. It is hard work getting out of this cycle, it takes time, effort, persistence and most of all if the people you care about support you, you’ll get through it.
Please don’t suffer in silence. If you need to talk, talk to family, friends, co-workers, peers, teachers or even your doctor. There is always some form of help around.
For more information on eating disorders check the NHS Website in the link below:
Thank you for reading, till next time!x
P.S – If anyone would like to speak to me in regards to any of the topics, comment below or contact me on twitter at @therealmaryxm or on instagram at @therealmaryxm