HYPNOTHERAPY CURED MY BULIMIA
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.”