My Extended Muslim Family


I spent all day at Saffa’s yesterday, all nice and fun, all pretty standard things we get up to. We ate though…I mean, it’s natural to eat but you know…

Meal wasn’t that bad, girly date of coffee, cake and sandwiches and in my head I had told myself that I had specifically starved myself for this day, that it was okay, I had (in my mind) ‘prepared’ for this. But then I added up the calories…952..maybe that’s not too bad? But the number stuck in my head like glue. I had just consumed 952 calories…and no meal I ever eat should be over 400..

Why 400 I hear you ask? I don’t know, just some number my ED conjured for me years ago. Writing it out makes me realise that number is considerably tiny but…ED’s don’t succumb to logic do they?

The problem was that the number hung around in my head the rest of the day and I could feel the panic rising, the fear beginning to burn. What if I had eaten more than I realised? Let’s add on an extra 200 calories to the food diary just in case…

1152…have I really had 1152? Well it’s best to be on the safe side? You know, think I’ve had more rather than less. But now I really can’t have more than 1200 calories.

1200? Another number conjured by a demon many years gone past. The day goes on, as they all do and I was doing okay really but the panic was lingering in the back of my mind, telling me not to eat anything else at all.

I had such a lovely time at Saf’s. It’s cheesy but I don’t go just to see her, I go to see her family. Her parents treat me so normally and I love chilling with them even if Saf isn’t there as weird as that may sound. I love the way her family sit down with one another and simply be a family. It’s something I’ve never had, something I’ve never experienced.

Growing up was always me, mum and John and there are no issues there whatsoever. We get on so well, just the three of us, that it really is my perfect family. However, we’ve never really had family situations. I can’t explain it but what I mean is that we never really sat down for dinner or simply in each others presence. We’d all do our separate things and there wasn’t even family nearby that I could visit. I remember growing up and feeling jealous when my friends would talk about visiting their grandparents, or the family sunday dinner or other get-togethers. We never had that. My only living grandparent despised me and well, that was so much fun.

I loved sitting with Saf, her dad and brother playing board games in the garden to pass the time. I love going to hers and feeling as if I’m with my extended family. I help out with things if I can, get on with things that need doing and I know they appreciate that too. I like the fact I don’t need Saf to be with me at all times, that I’m comfortable enough just pottering around her house with her parents on my own.

They’re currently fasting and her dad was telling me how its a time to reflect, to be thankful for what you have. He told me that fasting during the summer months means you go for such long periods without food that you feel drained and it tests your ability  to carry on with normal life. I remember her brother saying that the lack of food makes you crave carbs and sugar, Saf told me the lack of food leaves your brain feeling all over the place.

I realised that’s how I am. That’s how I feel day in day out and it’s become such the norm for me that I simply don’t know what it feels like to have normal levels of energy anymore. This is something they experience once a year. This is something I am forcing myself to experience every single day.

Each day, you’re lucky if I eat breakfast or lunch (one or the other) but I do eat dinner…it doesn’t always stay down. When I feel hungry I force myself to push it back an hour and another hour and another. Sometimes I manage to not eat but other days I can’t. I’ve trained for 7 hours and need food. Desperate for nutrition so I eat…not always a lot…more than often just a salad…but then I panic.

It’s so much worse if I end up eating carbs. I was always told the only way I’d lose weight was to cut out carbs completely. So when i was at my heaviest that’s what I did. But after 10kg weight loss there was no fat for my body to get energy from and, admittedly, I needed carbs. The more weight I lost the more I noticed I was craving sugar and carbs and I couldn’t understand why my body wanted to eat all these things my brain was telling it not to.

My weight stopped dropping and I panicked. I was trying so hard not to eat but I wasn’t losing weight. That’s when the purging started. That’s when the real demon reared its ugly head.

Yesterday made me realise that I’ve been pushing the time elapsed between meals further and further apart. I keep thinking I’ll lose more weight and that skipping meals is the right thing but it’s not. I’m draining my system, refusing to provide any nutrition and then purging anything small that I allow myself to eat. I’m draining myself further and further.

I know I need to eat but that need makes me feel so greedy. The feeling of hunger, the desperation for food makes me feel greedy. Anything that makes me feel full, even water, makes me feel heavy and greedy. Greedy and disgusting for wanting food, for wanting something so normal.
They asked me to stay for dinner but I wanted to run home. I couldn’t bear the thought of eating even more food. But I also didn’t want to run away from this challenge, I wanted to be with Saf and her family, with my family. I finally found the strength not to run home but rather stay at this second home of mine. I didn’t run and avoid the world like I usually do but, rather, I stayed and asked my best friend to help me tackle that voice in the back of my head. My Muslim family helped me tackle that voice, they helped me eat something rather than nothing and they helped me avoid the fear and prevented the purge. I really do love them. All of them.





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