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Ramadan, coronavirus, and an eating disorder

Ramadan this year is very different for all Muslim households, as the coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed everything. For many with an eating disorder, Ramadan is hard enough as it is but this year, we are all forced to stay at home because of the lockdown.

I haven’t fasted for over 10 years due to my anorexia as I have been medically advised not to. The last two years, I decided not to fast without any medical advice because in my heart, I knew I wouldn’t be fasting for the right reasons because the only thing that comes to mind when I think about fasting is losing weight.

I have been doing incredibly well in recovery this past year or so and yes, even now I still feel scared about what my mindset will be like if I do start to fast again. Could it drive me to obsession again? Will I start being more conscious of what is going inside my body but in a more destructive way? Will I be curious to start weighing myself again? All those thoughts are going through my mind.

The whole coronavirus pandemic has already been an anxious time for me and I know it has been the same for many struggling with an eating disorder. With food running out in supermarkets (as people are panic buying), gyms closed and everyone isolating, my focus has been going back to my body and how I’m not “in control” of it anymore. My thought pattern is definitely becoming destructive again but it’s good I’ve noticed that and acknowledged it.

It’s hard when family think you’re “better” so they think you are capable of fasting again, when inside you’re not better. My mind is still sick. My thoughts are not healthy. Ideally, I want to be able to fast for the right reasons but I am not putting pressure on myself to fast because I know I have to do the right thing for my mental and physical health.

Right now, I am taking it slowly, like fasting for half a day or just drinking water instead of going teetotal, so at least I’m keeping myself hydrated. Iftar time (the meal the fast is broken) is still quite difficult for me. I often have my meal on my own rather than with the family at the table. Again, it is about taking small steps and doing what I feel comfortable doing.

Remember, there are other ways you can take part in Ramadan if you can’t fast. Praying and just having faith in this difficult time is enough. Your mental wellbeing is the most important thing.

Contributed by Habiba