I want to start by praising God, the Most Merciful, the Especially Merciful. It is He who is the Most Loving, the Protecting Friend who has got me to the position I am today. When I was suffering with this illness, I made an intention that when I get out of the other side, I want to help others suffering and give them the rope that got me out.
Now to start off, a bit of background. I was a motivated 21-year-old male, enthusiastic and saw life as a blessing. Before actual binge eating episodes, I used to eat what I wanted pretty much all the time, and I was an average, slim guy. I used to attend the gym about 4-5 times a week, often with friends to have a laugh, whilst gaining some size. I was quite active on social media, and found myself on Instagram procrastinating about an hour a day. At the same time, I was enrolled on an undergraduate degree studying Mechanical Engineering. Also, I used to spend time with my loving family too, but I had a great hole in my life: God. I was very depressed and was looking for happiness.
Whilst I used to browse on the ‘gram and check my feed regularly, I used to be bombarded with a lot of images of bodybuilders, and videos of workout routines. These guys were very lean and muscular and seemed like they were very happy. I was very unhappy, and thought “I want a piece of that too.” I hated the way I looked and thought I wasn’t beautiful. So what I started doing was take the gym more seriously. I would go everyday regardless, and it was no longer a social occasion – I would find myself with headphones in, ignoring all the other gym users, including my friends if they were training there. At the same time, I started being more particular with what foods I was eating. My lifestyle had changed a lot. I treated my diet like a religion and never went off track, not even when I went on holiday. Not even once.
I had been following this lifestyle for about three months and I saw some changes to my body, unsurprisingly. Unexpectedly, I also saw a change to my social life and my mood. I fell out with friends over the pettiest things and became paranoid. I would hardly speak to my family, and would flip out at anything. Yet at the time I thought I was the same old me in terms of character.
Soon your body gets accustomed to the changes in diet, so I decided to change it again. I started to track every bit of food I would eat, and used to go the gym every day for long periods. After restricting myself of foods that I really enjoy, I used to indulge in a treat here and there, saying to myself, “It’s only one”. Before I knew it, I would be eating a lot. And I mean a lot. That’s where the binge eating started. I would eat a “lot” one day, and nothing the next.
I thought this was normal, as I was so engrossed in this (restrictive, heavily unbalanced) diet, which had got me a lean (unhealthy, depleted) physique. I had lost a lot of size. My mother realised this was a problem and told me to see a doctor. And now, six months on, I eat a balanced diet that I enjoy, go to the gym twice a week, and am in healthy shape.
The reason this all happened because I didn’t know my worth. I never used to value myself. I would always compare myself to others in terms of looks. But we were born to be different. We should be celebrating our originality. We have been blessed with so much that we focus on what we don’t have and forget what we do have. God created us in His way, and He is the Most Beautiful. Now if the Designer is Beautiful, how can we not be? God doesn’t make mistakes. I realised all this when I read the Qur’an.
I was born as a Muslim, but never knew anything about it. At a time when I was searching for answers to the purpose of my life, I found all the answers. This is because the Lord of everything that exists was communicating with me. It is His word, and reading it has changed my life for the better.
Instead of trying to please the creation of God, we should be pleasing our Creator. You won’t be able to please everyone. It doesn’t matter how much popularity you gain; there will always be another human that doesn’t particularly rate you. Just remember you’re beautiful the way you are, and were born to look different. Let’s use our skills and experiences and help make this world a more harmonious place. This life is short, so make it an enjoyable and productive one and leave your legacy!
Particularly with binge eating disorder, it’s so easy to get trapped in your own head and convince yourself that you are the problem and are unworthy, and this can be so, so dangerous.
To this day, my relationship with food is a complex one, but I am very much of the belief that next year will be better, and the year after that will be even better.
I always questioned “will I be taken seriously” or “perhaps I’m a just greedy person” or “everyone gets low and comfort eats” or “how can I have a disorder when I seem to have a normal life”.