I wish all the Mothers of the World A very Happy Mothers Day
This post comes in honor of Mother’s Day from a Young Mother in recovery from her Bulimia Nervosa from States. To read the previous post on her experience with Bulimia and having a baby, please visit: Bulimia and Baby- God Forgives But Can I Forgive Myself ? Sharing this post might make some angry. Maybe it will make some feel uncomfortable, while even hurting others, but this is reality of Eating Disorder. It simply pollutes your mind with poisonous dangerous thinking and Yes this Demon comes between you and your baby as well.
A 22 hours flight from SFO via DBX to KHI. I look at my lose dress, is it hiding all the evidence of my weight gain? Recently, I’ve been so paranoid over this trip and people’s reaction to my weight gain. I am heavier now than I have ever been.
In 2014, I entered Inpatient Eating Disorder Program for my Anorexia/Bulimia. Aim of the program: look beyond food issues to the core of your thoughts and beliefs that may have caused your disorder.
Seeking help for my ED was going to be my gift to my son on his first birthday. I can’t forget January 13, when I packed my bags to leave for the center. My mother had already taken my son with her to Karachi. He was going to spend 90 days with her and my father. Part of me, a very strong part wanted to turn back and pretend there was nothing wrong with me. “Turn back, and say NO, The center will make you fat”” a voice whispered in my mind. I had gone through a lethal torture to shed post-pregnancy weight. I was so deficient in nutrients that even a simple task of standing up for more than five minute was a challenge now.
My 90 Days in ED Center
A person who hides the truth
that he or she is sick
cannot expect to be cured.
Food was hard, eating was hard and not purging the food was even more hard.The first shock, how food was so less in portion sizes. How is this going to fill me up? I panicked. At home, I binged on large amounts of food. My sole pleasure came from food and losing weight.
Second shock, within two days of feeding, I had fluctuated by 8 pounds. My ankles were swollen and my fingers hurt so badly. My face was puffy.
My God, is that me? As I stared at myself in the mirror, I panicked. I wanted to run and hide.
That night in my room, I cried myself to sleep. I never really wanted a baby, I never wanted to gain weight. I was a nervous wreck, I failed to meet my daily treatment goals . I refused to have any visitors, but I did see the interfaith chaplain.
Before I entered the treatment, the Imam told me to have complete faith in my treatment team and to follow their advice. He said healing will come and cure will come.
For 90 Days I became a Robot- My routine.
7:00 – 7:30 a.m. Wake up, shower, dress , make your bed.
7:30 – 8:00 a.m. See Staff for Vital Signs
8:00 – 8:30 a.m.Breakfast
9:00 – 10:00 a.m.Community Meeting
10:00 – 10:30 a.m.Break / Snack Ensure plus
10:30 – 11:45 a.m.Process Group
12:00 – 12:30 p.m.Lunch
12:45 – 1:40 p.m.Mindfulness
1:40 – 1:50 p.m.Break
1:50 – 2:45 p.m. CBT
2:45 – 3:30 p.m.Break / Snack
4:00 – 5:00 p.m.Homework, Walk, Vitals, Meds
5:00 – 5:30 p.m.Dinner
6:00 – 7:00 p.m.Visiting Hour
7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Recovery Group
8:00 – 8:15 p.m.Break/Snack
8:30 – 9:00 p.m.Relaxation Time
9:00 – 10:00 p.m.Medication
My calorie intake during first week was 1500, in second week it went up to 1800 and then 2000+.
As days turned into weeks. Something began to calm in my mind and body. As I went through one therapy after other, I began to gain more clear understanding of myself, my emotions and my needs. I was also more open to visitors. The Imam and his wife visited me every week on Thursday.
After 90 days, I made a transition to outpatient program. I walked out with maintenance plan based on 2500 cals a day. I had gained 15 kilos over my target weight. Ten years of cleanses, fad diets and abuse of diet pills had completely destroyed my body.
I came back home and was greeted by family who didn’t really know what to say to me .
My mother was here from Karachi with my sister in law. I looked at my son, only One year and four months old, he looked so lost. He didn’t squeal in delight or come running to me. He simply clung to my mother. I only breast fed him for 3 weeks and then I stopped. I still can’t forget the wind in his stomach and the discomfort he experienced, when I switched him to formula milk.
Time flew by and eight months after leaving the center, I was in my homeland, Pakistan. In San Francisco I was still attending outpatient program and I also worked with dietitian on my structured eating. For someone who suffered from Bulimia for over 10 years recovery did seem impossible. Food and triggers are everywhere, but here I got lucky, the program worked and for the first time in my life, I was not purging. First three days of not purging are the hardest and if you can get through the first three day challenge, then you can get through anything in life.
Now with new image, I look around Karachi. Gone are hair, nail and lash extensions, in their place is my natural self. I am here for a family wedding and to participate in Poverty Relief program for a Charity. I see my father, a brilliant doctor, and I see the look of bewilderment cross his face. Second shock, my son simply runs to him. He recognizes him and my mother. He hadn’t seen them in 8 months, but he still remembered them. He starts babbling in excitement. On a long haul flight, he simply stayed quiet.
The Toxic Comments
My worst fears came true, nearly everyone had something to say about my recent weight gain, brushing off their comments was not that easy. Hurt settled in. I should have delayed my treatment till after this wedding, I thought to myself. Now wedding was just few weeks away, it was impossible to lose weight this fast. I was unhappy because I wanted something I no longer had, a thin body. This thinking is dangerous and an indication of relapse. The key to combating this negative mode of thought is to become more grateful for the positive things in life. I try to practice the art of gratitude but truth is I feel out of place.
I try to repeat the words of Imam in my mind,
“And whatever of blessings and good things you have, it is from Allah” [al-Nahl 16:53].
“And He found you poor and made you rich (self?sufficient with self?contentment)” [al-Duha 93:8].
According to the Imam, if people can feel gratitude for their life now they can avoid much suffering. But here I failed to put this thinking into practice. I just looked at all those thin girls around me and my competitive streak kicked in.
That night, I didn’t sleep. Self-hate began to settle in. All of a sudden, I was convinced that I am not pretty enough or thin enough or perfect enough. Dangerous Territory I was treading on, I was full of negativity viewing my current situation as unsatisfactory. With such destructive and poisonous feelings it’s impossible to find peace of mind.
Next day I woke up with new purpose, I booked myself into Beyond Bliss, a Spa for all the beauty and body treatments. Next I went for retail therapy and purchased Jewelry I had no need for. Then I booked myself in for a makeover session with a famous celebrity stylist.In all this chaos my son disappeared in background. I simply handed him over to my mother.
Week later, I get a phone call, I am visiting some area in Karachi where the charity was providing clean water access and improved sanitation to people living in abject poverty.
As we drove out of my neighborhood and into unfamiliar territory, everything began to change, the landscape, the people.
Poverty was everywhere. . People here had to walk everyday for clean water.
These people I met, made no comment on my appearance and my weight. They treated me with so much respect that I began to feel guilty. I really don’t deserve this.
I felt bad, bad for being so ungrateful, bad for allowing the ungrateful and negative feelings to cross my mind and bad for falling into rut of competition. I was simply competing. I even wanted to outshine the bride. Jealousy and envy are all about comparisons—and tallying up the differences between one person and yourself.
I lived in self-destructive guilt for so long. It nearly destroyed my life. That night, I turned back to God in repentance. My breakthrough was accidental and immediate, and I was grateful for that realization. To tell you the truth, I didn’t even know the toll these feelings were having on me and my relationships.
So How Did I face Toxic Triggers in Karachi?
Gratitude: Everyday I practice gratitude for 10 minutes. I am truly grateful to be in recovery, not purging and spending hours destroying my life.
I have the motivation, (my son) to do what I need to in order to protect my recovery. Children run freely, but my son stays quiet. He can sit for hours in one place without saying a word. I want to see him running around freely.
I follow my maintenance plan given to me by the dietitian.
I canceled my detox session at the spa.
There’s a blessing in silence. I avoided idle chat on hair, makeup, weight and beauty.
I wore the clothes that were comfortable for me. It was a golden wedding. A celebration. I celebrated with everyone.
Eating Out- I followed my plan and didn’t fret over the calories. I enjoyed my meal at Village.
I avoided triggering places . I didn’t go to Sunday Brunch or High Teas
Self Absorption is a huge problem in recovery. I was spending hours thinking about my own needs. I focused on my son and his needs. I feel grateful I take care of myself and meet my needs so I can focus my attention on needs of my family and others.
My last week in Karachi, I accepted an invite to dinner from a childhood friend. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal and my time with her.
I AM NOT PERFECT
I am not a perfect mother. I am learning everyday about mother hood. When my son sits on my lap and puts his arms around me, I feel peace. His love is selfless and pure. I get so lost in him. He’s so quiet and so gentle and I can’t believe, he’s mine. He was a long-time dream of my family come true—and for once I felt my luck was deserved, rather than some happy accident to apologize for.
This Sunday I wish myself a ‘Happy Mothers Day’, I forgive my self for my past and I look at life with renewed energy. I have so much to be grateful for. My time in Karachi has taught me a valuable lesson, I shouldn’t take recovery for granted and I should follow the outpatient program all the way through. The bravest thing and most life changing thing a sufferer can ever do is to seek help for their ED and then have absolute faith in their treatment team.
I look forward to my days in recovery, to work towards erasing ED from my life and to discover the true me.
If a culture treats a particular illness with compassion and enlightened
understanding, then sickness can be seen as a challenge, as a
healing crisis and opportunity. Being sick is then not a condemnation
or a moral judgment, but a movement in a larger process
of healing and restoration. When sickness is viewed positively and in
supportive terms, then illness has a much better chance to heal,
with the concomitant result that the entire person
may grow and be enriched in the process.