I HAD NO IDEA MY DAUGHTER’S AVERSION OF MEDICINE WAS LINKED TO HER EATING DISORDER
According to Psycentral: Eating disorders appear to occur more frequently in individuals with bipolar disorder.
Research has found that many people with bipolar disorder have eating issues like bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. A recent study found one in five bipolar patients in its group of participants met the criteria for a lifetime eating disorder.
Bulimia is the eating disorder most closely associated with bipolar disorder, as current research firmly supports a connection between the two.
Anorexia is not as closely associated with bipolar disorder, although some studies have found a link between the two.
Many bipolar patients report periods of binge eating, although whether they have a full-fledged disorder is not certain. Some medications for bipolar disorder promote binge eating.
Please find below a story of a mother whose daughter is diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. This story is in honor of NEDAwareness Week 2015.
I have no idea what came first Bipolar or Eating Disorder. She was always a special girl, loved by everyone. Her friends admired her and her siblings looked up to her. At the age of 15 she learned how to drive a car. At the age of 23, she completed her Double Masters Degree Programm in English Literature and Philosophy and got married. Soon problems began, her In laws and husband found her behavior very disconcerting and odd.
We had no idea her attitude, behavior around food was a result of her Eating Disorder.
She shifted between moods, but at that time, they were not aggressive mood swings. She would become very quiet and very withdrawn and would spend days locked in her bedroom completely detached from real life. And then there were days she was normal and completely with us.
At the age of 24, she was hospitalized for low weight and doctors diagnosed her with depression.
At the age of 25, she came home broken and divorced. The Eating Disorder doesn’t itself lead directly to divorce, but the combination of other factors and unacceptable behavior does. For example, incomplete house tasks and her failed attempts at completing any mandatory task became a serious issue within the family. Her behavior was labelled as deliberate and stubborn. The stress level at home increased tremendously.
She was hospitalized for ill-health and was diagnosed with Bipolar. We couldn’t believe it. The doctor prescribed her with mood stabilizer which had terrible side effects. Her appetite dramatically increased and it seemed insatiable (no matter what she ate, she was never satisfied, She kept craving food). Late nights became a battleground between willpower and cravings. She started to binge eat and became incredibly upset with her rapid weight gain.
The severity of a person’s bipolar disorder may influence the development and severity of an eating disorder. One study found that people with worse bipolar symptoms and deeper mood swings were more apt to develop either bulimia or bulimia combined with anorexia.
A girl who was once admired by everyone became an outcast, a reject. No friends, no social life and no family relations. There’s stigma attached to divorced women in our society. She slid further and further into depression. She was then diagnosed with OCD. Her behavior was frowned upon and her outbursts of anger were looked down on. She was no longer ‘normal’.
Few months back she stopped taking her medicine Epival. She became obsessed with losing weight. What made things even worse was the media and constant talks on weight loss. One of Favorite past time activities among Pakistani women is watching morning talk shows and these shows are filled with weight loss talks and how everyone needs to be thin.
We saw the doctor and tried to explain to him her concerns over weight gain and body image. Our concerns were brushed aside. Doctors want her to take her medicine and stop focusing on her weight. They are not willing to deal with the side affects of taking medicine, which upsets her even more. It’s a de ja vu, new medication, weight gain, weight loss, depression and manic behavior.
Now she’s back home. But how long is this episode going to last for I wonder. She’s a brilliant teacher but inside she’s a broken person. When she recovers from low weight, she’ll be hit by manic depression and when she recovers from episodes of Bipolar, she’ll be hit by Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Eating Disorder. I wish there was more awareness of this illness in Pakistan, but there isn’t. We are very new to Eating Disorders. It’s an illness that is secretive and very troubling. I wish there was a way of treating Eating Disorders alongside Bipolar Disorder and OCD. I wish the stigma around divorce and mental health would end. I wish people would stop avoiding my daughter. I wish she would be accepted for a genius brilliant person she is.
Stop the Stigma and Discrimination.
In our society mental illnesses carry a heavy stigma. The ignorance, fear, misunderstanding and prejudice that surround mental illness deepen the severity of the illness as individuals withdraw further from the world around them. Stigma, discrimination seriously affect the health, welfare and quality of life of people with mental health problems.
Stigma and Discrimination:
- Isolate people
- Exclude people from day-to-day activities
- Stop people getting and keeping jobs
- Prevent people seeking help
- Have a negative impact on physical health
- Delay treatment and impair recovery
‘The prophet in his visits did not discriminate against ailing people. He even visited sick non-Muslims.’
Bukhari Tafseer Surah 59 (Fiqh.org)
Anas ibn Malik narrates that: A woman who had a defect in her brain, said: Allah’s Messenger, I want to talk to you. He said: Mother of so and so, choose on which side of the road you would like to stand and talk, so that I may fulfill your need. He stood with her on the sidewalk until she spoke to her heart’s content.
This shows that the Prophet pbuh never discriminated between the sane or insane. As long as this woman conversed with him patiently he continued to listen. Anas used to tell of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that he would visit the sick.
Tirmidhi 1529 (fiqh.org)
Keep in Mind
People with mental illness may appear to behave oddly but so do many people, try to keep in mind these people’s reality has been altered by their illness. Just because it is difficult to relate to someone at the beginning, doesn’t mean that you should give up and completely exclude that person from your circle. In fact you should try harder to overcome this gap: chances are you are more similar than you think!