The factors that contribute to the onset of an eating disorder are complex. It’s very surprising when you speak to different people and learn what contributed to their eating disorder. You discover that it differs from person to person, and recovery is a definite possibility but at the same time it will be different for everyone.
I spoke to this wonderful person from Pakistan and she shared her story of disordered eating with me. I thank her from bottom of my heart for sharing her story on this blog.
No Land of Eating Disorder
For me beauty correlated strongly with thinness and with time this set belief led me to adopt many eating disorder behaviors. Low in weight, popular in school, college and university Ana (Anorexia) empowered me to become best at everything. My friends envied my lifestyle and I was a happy person.
With time, this happy person turned into irritable person, unpredictable mood swings, low blood pressure, lack of energy, poor concentration, constantly angry and very controlling around myself, my family and my friends.
A person with an Eating Disorder knows what danger their body is in, but the fear of gaining weight is too intense to allow them to want to change.
But then one day in 2010, my mother looked at me and said, things need to change.
What do you mean? I ask her.
“You’re 23 years old your mood swings, your dominating personality,under eating are all a great concern to me and your father. You need to change!”
No! was my Answer. Maybe its you who needs to change, I thought in my mind.
My Mother: “No one puts up with such outbursts, such controlling behaviors. We are your family, we are connected by blood, so it doesn’t affect us too much when you get very domineering, but it does affect people who are not your immediate family. They perceive you as proud arrogant person. Your a Good Daughter a good human being, but few of your habits and behaviors can really overshadow rest of your good traits. Beauty is not about looking good or wearing a perfectly tailored outfit, beauty is also about having right manners and good attitude to life and people around you. Your behavior, and way of communicating provide others with valuable insight into your character. If your always angry, then people will perceive you as an angry person.”
And then my Mother told me, What Needed to Change.
No More Eating By Yourself- You Eat with Family
Mother, Ana doesn’t like Eating with people. I wanted to scream.
“You have to Eat with Family. A Girl from a Good Family does not Eat by herself. It’s disrespectful and very rude when a woman locks herself in her room and eats there. No place for such behavior here my daughter. This is Pakistan. Gossip spreads like wildfire. Trust me when you get married, this behavior will not be tolerated. People will talk and will point fingers at you.”
A Good Girl follows etiquette around eating and drinking and always Eats with Family. Simple, you have to Eat with people.
Ana is very Angry.
2- You have to Eat Three Times a Day- Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.
Ana does not like the sound of that. But Why?
Mother: “Your thin and weak. Your Doctor told you many times that your anger, mood swings are all a result of under eating, you pass out, your blood pressure is always low. In our culture, women are a source of strength, homemakers and the responsibility of care falls solely on their shoulders. When your married, you’ll need lot more strength. You’ll be caring for your husband and his family. They are not going to tolerate you skipping meals and you passing out because you want to remain thin forever.”
Ana is livid, what kind of country is this? Eating Three times a day. Panic rises in my throat. I’m suffocating. Stop it Ana. Stop Crying, I scream.
3- Compromise: You have to learn to compromise, you can’t always have your way.
Ana loves having her own way. Ana doesn’t like the sound of word NO.
Mother: “Girls who don’t compromise, who don’t show tolerance are seen as home breakers, you don’t want that label do you? My mother challenges me. Such behavior is not something that can be handled lightly. It can be hard for everyone to spend time around you when you just want your way.”
Ana is Furious Beyond Words.
4- No More Mood Swings, Slamming Doors and Shutting People Out.
Mother: “You have these mood swings, here at home we tread on egg shells around you. Anger is a characteristic that can damage and destroy relationships. We try not to do things that offend you or that may trigger your anger, but we never know what may set you off. Even your little niece looks at you with uncertainty. It can get exhausting, overwhelming and frustrating trying to get along with someone who must always be right, my child. “
But I don’t have mood swings, Ana protests, I only react when people provoke me and do things I don’t like. Ana is self-centered, overbearing and domineering. She must be right at all times, and no matter what you say, she will argue with you.
Mother: “Look at your sister in law, look how humble, well-mannered and loving person she is. Do you think we would have tolerated her in this house, if she slammed doors, walked out on meal times, ate what she wanted to eat, had her own personal fridge, and stayed in her room by herself?”
No, I replied weakly.
Mother: “I’m worried, in fact your father is more worried. You’ll be getting married soon. I think we should’ve put a stop to these behaviors years ago, but we didn’t. But it’s still not too late, things can change and you need to change.”
That night Ana went to sleep exhausted, while I stayed up. A saner part of my brain knew that my mother was right. In My culture, there’s no place for such behaviors. I don’t want to gain weight, I thought to myself. But they were all right. My sister in law is also my best friend. I chose her for my brother (sounds very strange, doesn’t it?). I chose my sister in law because she was beautiful, well groomed and articulate in everything. I wanted a sister in law who everyone looked up to and admired. This is a sad reality of my country, we really value beauty and appearances. We are so lucky that my sister in law is a beautiful person from inside out.
I made a decision to break out of Ana’s hold. I was engaged to a guy who I was deeply in love with. I knew when I married him, I’ll be marrying into his extended family. He’s the only son and has three sisters. After marriage I will be sharing a house with his mother and sisters.
In that household, there is
no place for Ana.
It was a battle of three long never ending years. I didn’t want a third wheel in marriage and Eating Disorder is a Third destructive, self-centered element in marriage. It was a struggle, a battle spending three full years on consuming three meals and two snacks to get to a healthy weight, working on my anger, on my inner issues and finally accepting my body for what it is. Now in 2014 I can finally say that I’ve managed to break out of Ana’s hold. In December 2014, I will be getting married. I really look forward to it.
Eating Disorder Recovery is a Definite Possibility. You really have to want it and you really have to work at it. Recovery doesn’t happen overnight but over time and all I can say is that it’s worth it.