Anorexia & Ramadan: A Muslim Convert’s Recovery Journey

  • Nawal

    Mashallah sister. I am grateful for this piece. I have recovered from anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa Alhamdullilah. I was also vehemently atheist during the time when these disorders ruled my life. I did not receive therapy or medication; however, I was able to heal. This is my first Ramadan fasting inshallah and I have been worried about relapse but inshallah I will prevail and my iman will grow.

    • Julie Larah

      It’s so important for us to discuss these issues openly and honestly. And really, relapse IS a part of recovery. We try to shame people for it instead of lifting them up and supporting one another’s wellness.

      I really hope that you can find peace in whatever way you are able to fast sister.

      May Allah guide your actions and intentions.

      Also, if you need a fasting buddy, I’m here for you. Feel free to message me on facebook. The link is in my info above 💗

  • Reflecting Pool

    You’re a lot like I am.

    I used to be the super atheist douche, now I don’t really talk much about it. I still don’t have a faith, but I’m glad I don’t act like I used to. I used to believe a lot of things out side of myself were the problem, like different religions, but they never were.

    I used to cover my problems, distract them, over power them, or really anything I could think of to quiet them down. When I say quiet them down… I mean literally. When I say over power them, it’s literal. I used to install blaring sound systems in my cars to over power the voices in my head. It didn’t work, and the more things I tried, the more it didn’t work. It was a long time before I reached out about my problems, but even at that time I didn’t understand my problems and ended up with a medication that didn’t work. It actually amplified the voices and delusions by 10x (My parents and friends told me my meds weren’t working, I wouldn’t believe them). I’m doing better now thanks mostly to the people around me, and a visit to a psychiatric hospital to get me off the wrong meds and diagnosed. My parents, friends, don’t understand, still, but they care, which is most important. I’m not sure if a single person’s illness could ever be 100% understood and cared for by another person, so it’s all right.

    I have been lighter than I should for my height, but never so bad that I would consider myself anorexic. I just couldn’t eat right. It seemed whatever I ate I would end up throwing up or otherwise expelling, so I just didn’t eat a lot of the time. Those problems are a ways in the past now. I believe most of it was due to just not being able to sleep at night, get up in the morning, or have any normal cycle which was required to go to school every day but going any way. I fell asleep in class almost every day, sometimes multiple times a day, throughout most of high school (still passed that shit doe).

    Anorexia is sometimes (often) hard to spot. It’s hard to talk to people afflicted about their problems as well, so I know it’s hard to stop. During the most problematic times in my life I would certainly not listen to anyone else about it. For me, it was because the delusions were so powerful that I wouldn’t believe anything else as truth. For people that are anorexic, I’m not sure. Many times it’s just that someone is commenting on their body and the afflicted can’t see that the other person is just concerned. Some may be like you and not want to give up their feeling of power over their self (the reason I didn’t get medicated for so long).

    I have a cousin that had to be hospitalized for anorexia. Her organs started shutting down, and it probably was a concern for her family before that point, but I had absolutely no idea until I heard about it. When you say schizophrenia increases risk of death by 2.5x, I believe it, because I’ve done some absolutely bat shit crazy, nonsensical, dangerous, perilous, things in my manic states, or drug induced states, or sleep deprived states, and even just in my depressive states. When you say anorexia increases the risk by 6x, I believe you, because it flies under the radar so easily. It’s hard to confront, and if most people just thought of you as an asshole when you were young, I get that. They think the same of me, because illness can look like anger and aggression and coarseness and all sorts of things that it isn’t to someone who doesn’t know.

    If you know the feeling of being hated, or persecuted, whether you were or not, then that feeling can also make it extremely difficult to get help. Personally, I couldn’t imagine anyone helping me. For many reasons, help wasn’t an option, and like a lot of people, I chose to face it all alone for too long.

    So thank you for writing this. Thank you for anyone that hasn’t been able to pull their self out of the seemingly bottomless pit that is illness and self destruction. For anyone that hasn’t found their worth yet. Thank you.