Friday - - Society -

When se­rial di­eter Shama Qudsi, 29, turned to hyp­nother­apy to help her lose weight, lit­tle did she know she would be di­ag­nosed bu­limic.

“I’ve had weight is­sues for as long as I can re­mem­ber. I’ve al­ways been the ‘fat one’ among fam­ily and friends and al­ways felt judged and un­der pres­sure to lose weight. Pre­oc­cu­pied is an un­der­state­ment. I would weigh my­self sev­eral times a day, couldn’t pass a win­dow with­out look­ing at my­self and tried far too many di­ets to count, in­clud­ing diet de­liv­er­ies.

“A voice in my head kept telling me ‘you’re fat’. Even af­ter los­ing 32 ki­los and reach­ing what most peo­ple would con­sider a healthy 68kg, the voice never let up. I was sat­is­fied to lose weight, but never happy with the re­sult. What I now re­alise is that no mat­ter what weight I hit, I would never be happy.

“I have a love/hate re­la­tion­ship with food. I love the way eat­ing makes me feel when I’m down, but hate what it does to my body. Eat­ing is like my com­fort blan­ket, mak­ing me con­tent, happy, re­laxed, tak­ing away my pain and sad­ness. I would overeat when I felt de­pressed or stressed and in­stantly feel a re­lease. But this would soon be fol­lowed by dis­gust, anger and self-hate for be­ing so weak.

“I would reg­u­larly con­sume five gi­ant-sized bags of crisps in an hour and could gain 3 to 4 ki­los in a week. Some­times I’d binge so ex­ces­sively and so quickly, I couldn’t breathe. Look­ing back, I re­alise how fran­tic and out-of­con­trol my be­hav­iour was. I ac­tu­ally couldn’t think of any­thing else while binge­ing – it was like be­ing con­trolled.

“The irony is that bu­lim­ics feel they have con­trol over food, but re­ally it’s con­trol­ling them. It con­trolled my life and my ac­tiv­i­ties, my meet­ings, my re­la­tion­ships were all planned to fit in with my di­et­ing, my binge­ing, and even­tu­ally, my purg­ing.

“It was a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion from di­et­ing to mak­ing my­self sick. I was obese, 168cm and 100kg, when I first in­duced vom­it­ing. I was on a trip, stay­ing in a ho­tel, and I’d had quite a heavy din­ner with my hus­band. I felt so much guilt for overeat­ing and pan­icked, to the point where I couldn’t breathe. So I made my ex­cuses, re­turned to my room, and made my­self sick. I re­mem­ber be­ing to­tally ex­hausted, but the re­lease felt in­cred­i­ble.

“This was when I re­alised purg­ing could be my overeat­ing fast fix. No need to starve my­self or deny my­self my binges any­more be­cause now I had a di­et­ing so­lu­tion: to eat what I wanted with­out get­ting fat. I thought I was so clever.

“At first, I purged some­times, once or twice a week af­ter a big din­ner, but the process made me feel so good – light as a feather, su­per-hu­man even – that soon I was purg­ing ev­ery day and some­times, twice a day.

“The prob­lem is, the purg­ing even­tu­ally be­came an ex­cuse to eat what­ever I wanted when­ever I wanted, rather than a fix to cor­rect a one-off binge. I’d say to my­self, ‘It’s OK if I overeat on hol­i­day or at brunch be­cause

I can throw it all back up again.’ It soon be­came a habit, an ad­dic­tion, and the de­sire to purge straight af­ter ev­ery meal was im­mense. I felt that if I didn’t get the food out within 15 min­utes of eat­ing, it wouldn’t be ef­fec­tive and I’d be fat for ever. I would get para­noid and work my­self up into a frenzy and wouldn’t be able to sleep un­til the food was out.

“Though I pre­ferred to purge at home, it wasn’t al­ways pos­si­ble, and as the purg­ing in­creased, so did the com­pli­ca­tions in my life. I re­mem­ber one evening on my way back to Dubai from Abu Dhabi with my hus­band af­ter din­ner. I had such a strong de­sire to purge, like a crav­ing… like how I’d imag­ine some­one who smokes would need a cig­a­rette when stressed, I knew I had to vomit. So, I pre­tended I felt ill, asked my hus­band to pull over, and spent an hour on the side of the road glug­ging wa­ter and try­ing to vomit. My hus­band thought I had food poi­son­ing. Not he, nor any of my fam­ily or friends, ever sus­pected what I was do­ing.

“Purg­ing was ex­haust­ing though and took up so much time, so when I dis­cov­ered lax­a­tives – an­other easy way to stay thin, or so I thought – I was elated. I loved how my tummy would look in­stantly flat­ter. At first, like with purg­ing, I’d just take one pill daily, but it wasn’t enough, so I upped it to two a day. Your body gets used to them though, so to get the same ef­fect, I upped the dosage to three.

“De­spite the way my life was be­ing con­trolled, the lies I was telling ev­ery­one, the se­crets I was hid­ing and the un­nat­u­ral di­et­ing be­hav­iour I was un­der­tak­ing, I was com­pletely un­aware of be­ing bu­limic. I just didn’t make the con­nec­tion. Per­haps I was in de­nial. I cer­tainly wasn’t con­scious of the fact that what I was do­ing could have such a ter­ri­ble, even fa­tal, im­pact on my health.

“I got treat­ment for bu­limia by chance. I went to see a hyp­nother­a­pist, Rus­sell Hem­mings, in Dubai, for weight loss, as I’d heard how suc­cess­ful he was us­ing hyp­nother­apy to shift the ki­los. Lit­tle did I know I would come away be­ing treated for bu­limia. I was shocked… not just to dis­cover I had an eat­ing dis­or­der, but that purg­ing can lead to weight gain, not weight loss, and can even cause heart fail­ure.

“It took just one ses­sion of cog­ni­tive be­havioural hyp­nother­apy for me not to feel the need to purge any­more. A cou­ple of times it did cross my mind, but only out of habit. I’ve sim­ply not felt the urge, need or de­sire. In fact, my bu­limic be­hav­iour now seems so alien to me. I just can’t be­lieve how des­per­ate it was, how much it con­trolled me.

“I feel in con­trol now. I have a much health­ier re­la­tion­ship with food, it’s no longer the en­emy and I don’t feel guilty. I en­joy eat­ing healthy food, I feel full much faster, eat only as much as I need to feel full, and no longer crave bad food. I even en­joy cook­ing, for the first time ever.

“But get­ting treated is much more than just about my re­la­tion­ship with food. I feel good about my­self for the first time. I no longer hear that voice telling me I’m fat. It’s such a re­lief. I’m calmer, more re­laxed, hap­pier about ev­ery­thing. I’m more con­fi­dent with my­self and at peace. I’m now a healthy 71 ki­los and I’m ac­tu­ally OK with that.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.