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Leen’s Eating Disorder Story

Leen has been my client since February 2023. I only agreed to coach her because if it wasn’t me I knew she would have no one else. I say that since I am not qualified to coach anyone with an eating disorder unless they are also seeing a therapist and/or medical physician. However, I am grateful she asked for help, and I’m happy I coached her because being able to talk to someone who understands makes a huge difference. So if you suspect that you or a loved one has an eating disorder don’t delay asking for help. 

Since Leen didn’t see a health professional other than myself she was not officially diagnosed with what type of eating disorder she had, and that is why the details of a diagnosis are not mentioned in her story. No matter the diagnosis, whether it is anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, or a variation that isn’t as well known, I urge you to please seek help NOW. The sooner you get help, the better chance you have at making a full recovery AND avoiding long-term health problems. 

I am able to coach you if you are willing to also see a therapist and dietitian/doctor. You can also check Middle East Eating Disorder Association for help. 

Here’s Leen’s story in her own words…

Being “overweight” has been a “weight” on my shoulders since I was a seven-year-old girl. My mother berated me for my higher weight. My father scolded me if I bought snacks. And the comparisons to my cousins and friends all made me a marginalized little girl with little self-worth or confidence. As the years passed and I became a teenager, I felt worse. I didn’t trust myself, couldn’t see myself as beautiful, and found it difficult to make friends with the girls at school.

My disordered relationship with food began in 2020, I was 18 at the time. I had finished high school and was about to enter university. In the beginning, I just reduced the quantities of my food by walking for exercise, no more. There was no deprivation or strict rules. Not surprisingly, considering it was my first diet and my young age, my weight started to drop, one kilo after another. This motivated me to try harder. I began to reduce the quantities of my food more and more. I increased my exercise considerably. I refused any kind of food that was forbidden in my mind. I began to avoid family invitations and outings to avoid eating. I especially did not enjoy the gatherings during Ramadan for fear of eating. If I must attend an occasion where food will be served, I pretend that my stomach is full from eating earlier, even though I hadn’t eaten all day.

The days continued like this; deprivation, tension, fear, and anxiety. Every waking hour, my mind was a calculator for calories and grams.

Within a few months, my disordered behaviors shifted. I began punishing my body and myself for eating. If I ate something from the prohibited list, I would fast for the next 24 hours, or walk for countless hours. By the end of the day, my phone would tell me that I walked 4 or 5 hours straight. In addition, my period was light and irregular and the last time I had a proper flow was months ago. I knew that diet and exercise were the reasons for the lack of a period, but unfortunately, I didn’t care because what mattered to me was that my weight was going down. I couldn’t care less about my mental or physical health or my school work at the time. Within a short time, my emotional health was at its worst, and my medical tests were like a person on a hospital bed. I did not accept taking any kind of medicine and vitamins because I was afraid of gaining weight, and I struggled with the Coronavirus without any medical intervention.

Soon enough, the eating disorder shifted again. I started to binge eat. I lost all ability to stop eating, and any signs of satiety disappeared in me. I felt regretful after each binge, seeing my weight increase added smoke to the raging fire. I would try to set a diet plan and fail time and again. I thought that I had no more willpower, not knowing that willpower has nothing to do with this mental disorder. I spent months hating myself and wishing for death. Every night, my pillow would be wet with my tears and my only wish before going to sleep was not to wake up again. All this for what?! 

After 3 years and two months, in February 2022, I got to know Arwa. She was not just an intuitive eating health coach, but more like a therapist to me. She became a mother, a sister, a teacher, and my first resort. Arwa was my life savior. As if I was about to jump off a cliff, and Arwa was there to guide me to a better and healthier life. 

Here I am now in the sixth month of recovery, in good physical and mental health, with the return of my period and eating intuitively. I feel grateful and hopeful. Alhamdulilah. 

What can you learn from Leen’s story: 

  • Growing up, Leen’s family situation made her feel rejected by those who should love her the most and accept her as she is. Additionally, Leen is a highly sensitive person, and therefore she is more likely to use weight loss as a means to gain acceptance and approval. To someone like Leen, weight loss isn’t just about fitting into a smaller pair of jeans, but a cry for love.
  • Leen’s sensitive personality will work in her favor in the future considering the profession she has chosen. She will use it to her advantage and help so many people she will surely come across in her career as a nurse. If you think you might suffer from an eating disorder or disordered eating, don’t wait to ask for help. Eating disorders are deadly and some of the health complications are irreversible.
  • Don’t lose hope. Life can be so much better. The healthy part of you wants to survive and thrive. You deserve to be happy and healthy. 

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