By Liana Jacob
MEET the brave Londoner whose battle with anorexia resulted in her weight plummeting to just over six-stone following her extreme exercise routine of jogging to the point of passing out.
Student, Hamna Amira (18), from London, UK, was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa in May 2017 by health care professionals at Children and Adolescents Mental Health Services.
When she was first referred, it was for her anxiety and possible depression. Neither her, her friends and family were aware that she had an eating disorder. Her weight plunged to just 6st 1Ib and child size of ages 11 to 12.
She was in denial for a month following her diagnosis, which she admits is a common result of eating disorder diagnoses. It wasn’t until she was told that if she lost one kilogram of weight, she would have to be hospitalised and miss school on a regular basis that the reality of what was happening hit her. She decided to get to a normal routine and has since cultivated a more healthy 7st 2Ibs and UK size four to six body.
“Whenever I felt the guiltiest about eating, I’d wake up in the middle of the night when my family were asleep and jog on my pillow, as to not make any noise so nobody would notice, and I’d jog and jog until I’d pass out,” Hamna said.
“I felt like I didn’t deserve those calories and I had to get rid of them. I tried purging, but it didn’t work for me, so my only solutions were to restrict and over-exercise, both of which were extremely unhealthy and dangerous.
“When I was first referred to CAMHS, it was actually for anxiety and possible depression, neither I, nor my friends, family or teachers were aware that I had an eating disorder.
“My mum and a few of my close friends had noticed changes in my eating patterns, my behaviours and some fluctuations with my weight, but nobody suspected that I would be diagnosed with anorexia.
“In fact, it took me several weeks, maybe even a month or two to accept and acknowledge it even after the diagnosis.
“I came to learn that this isn’t unusual for people with eating disorders – It’s hard to accept and understand what you’re going through and feeling.
“I also came to discover that it’s even harder for people around you who care for you and love you to understand.
“Why is she starving herself? Why won’t she eat? Why is she harming herself? It was all so confusing for everyone around me.
“It is often a mix of things going on in your life that lead to eating disorders; a need for perfectionism and control and when you can’t control other things going on in your life.
“Eating disorders are far more complex than wanting to look or feel or be a certain way and far more complex than simply starving yourself.
“After all, it’s a mental illness and there are plenty of in-depth psychological reasons behind why people develop them.
“Each individual has their own story and reasons behind it, but the misconception that anorexia is merely a phase, a diet or a choice, is absolutely incorrect.
“I was getting to a point where I was being told that losing even a kilogram more of weight would lead to hospitalisation, which would ultimately mean I would no longer be able to attend sixth form on a regular basis and finish it in order to receive a qualification and go to university.
“I’ve always wanted to go to university and with a conditional offer to study business management and psychology at Aberdeen University, I was absolutely determined to reach my goals in life.
“Anorexia was the only thing stopping me and I knew that I had to fight it. I had to fight the voice in my head telling me I couldn’t or that I was fat or a failure, the voice that made every inch of me drown in regret and self-hatred with every bite of food.
“The first step was to learn not to count calories as obsessively and eat enough to keep me stable, eat enough to not black out or feel weak or exhausted.”
She went from severely restricting her calorie intake and consistently jogging until she passed out, to having a healthy breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacking in between.
“Most days I’d try to starve myself and restrict for as long as possible, being at sixth form meant that nobody was around to notice that I wasn’t eating because I could hide at lunchtime,” Hamna said.
“I now try to have a heathy breakfast, snacks in between meal times and ensure that I am eating enough to keep my body running. Your body needs food- without it, it’s impossible to function.
“Following my recovery, I was no longer physically drained, my body wasn’t suffering from malnutrition and my body was no longer in constant starvation mode.
“I am still in the process of recovery, still learning every day that it’s okay to eat and that calories aren’t our enemies.
“My biggest piece of advice would be to speak to someone. I gathered the courage to trust someone enough to open up.
“I learnt that it’s okay to talk about our feelings, thoughts, and emotions. I spoke up – and I promise, it was the best decision I made.”
For more information visit: https://www.instagram.com/hamna.amira/