Thursday, 30 August 2012

Culture

When my family first realized that I had a problem with food and weight, they were really confused. My parents were frightened because they did not quite understand what anorexia was. I mean, my father knew about eating disorders from his practice, but he did not have much experience with it. Needless to say, both of my parents were shocked that I had ED.

My culture - one from the Middle East - is BIG on food. Every occasion includes big fancy meals and dishes. If a guest comes over, the best thing you can do for them is to feed them. If you do not eat a meal at a friend's house, you are being 'disrespectful'. If you do not offer people food when they come over, you are being a bad host. Your host will continuously offer you food, a drink, or even a snack until you say yes. And when you say no, they will keep pestering you until you agree. If you do not agree to something, they will most likely get you something anyways! The fact is that eating disorders are not as commonly reported in Middle Eastern countries. Notice that I said reported. Studies like http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8178219 show that although many people suffer with eating disorders in these countries, they typically are afraid to admit it because of how the culture will react.

So, you can see how confusing and well - weird - it was when it was found that I had anorexia. A Middle-Eastern person, having a problem with food? How? Why?

My parents soon educated themselves about eating disorders. They went to creditable websites to learn all that they could. NEDIC - National Eating Disorder Information Centre (http://www.nedic.ca/) is a great place to start. They educated themselves as much as they could. Of course, it is important that not everything you read about eating disorders applies to all patients. But, the standard symptoms (starvation, low self-esteem, body image distortions, etc) are usually present in most victims.

After my family learned about anorexia, it was easier for them to understand what I was going through. It did not make my illness any less-threatening, but it certainly helped them to see why I was afraid of food, why I was acting the way I was, and why I was so resistant to getting help.

Regardless of what culture you are from, I think it is pretty safe to say that not many people know a lot about eating disorders. I suppose this is a main reason why I am writing this blog - I want people to know about ED, to learn about it, and to see how debilitating it is for patients. I pray that this blog helps people to, in turn, help others with ED - or help prevent ED from controlling others.

**As a side note, here are some useful websites that may have information you'd like to read about eating disorders**
1) National Eating Disorder Centre: http://www.nedic.ca/
2) Canadian Mental Health Association: ttp://www.cmha.ca/mental-health/understanding-mental-illness/eating-disorders/
3) Eating Disorder Foundation of Canada: http://www.edfofcanada.com/mission.php
4) Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders (this page leads you to worldwide links about eating disorders) : http://www.feasted.org/LocalSupport/AdvocacyandSupportOrganizations.aspx

18 comments:

  1. Your blog is informational as well as it is touching. Good job, you are quite the talented person...You should contact some ED Help Agencies and submit some of the articles on here, because they could definitely be of use to other ED patients...

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    1. Thank you for reading the blog and commenting! I am thankful that the blog is helping others...and I am humbled that you think it is touching. God bless you!

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  2. I agree with you and with previous comment.You may want to contact some agencies to sponsor your blog

    Jack

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    1. Thanks Jack! I'm not so sure how to get sponsors, but I can look into it! God bless you!

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  3. You are absolutely right.You know I am from Iraq and parents were rich and famous and We used to travel a lot and spend lots of time in almost all middle East Countries and all the same as you mentioned to show off and be genrous you offers as much food as you can even if you are very poor

    Thank you so much for writing about culture.

    Mays

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    1. Mays, your comments actually inspired me to write this blog! Thank you for reading and bringing this issue up. I can understand what you mean about culture being a barrier to getting help for illnesses. However, I am very pleased that you have gotten the help you deserve!

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  4. That is very interesing

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  5. Even in our Canadian culture ,it was very hard for me to realize that my daughter is about drifting into ED mud .You opened my eye to this ED illness.
    I believe you ,it hard for many culture to admit ED especially when food generousity plays a role .

    Thankful mother

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    1. You are right - illnesses are not easy to admit or get help for in all cultures. But, I am very happy that this blog has helped you understand about your daughter. God bless you!

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  6. Our Carrinian culture is similar to Middle East.Every occasion We offer food and wine .It is not surprize to my community when I struggled with alcohol that dropped me to my knees.Thankfully I am recovered now and I can taste and enjoy how good recoevry is .
    Take care

    Carlos

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    1. I can see how having a struggle with alcohol could be difficult to understand in your culture. But thank the Lord, you are recovered and can enjoy how lovely life is! I am very thankful that you have gotten better! Thank you for reading!

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  7. Let me congratulate you parents for being good supportive parents who trying to teach themselves to help their daughter.They deserve you and you deserve them.
    You are a good family that all Canadians
    need to be proud off
    I read your blog and I feel it is quite informative especailly when it comes from real personal experinece.

    Keep up with your recovery as you are an advocate to all ED victims and their families

    Janet.,
    St Cathrine ,On

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    1. Janet, thank you for reading the blog. You are right - I am indeed VERY blessed to have my parents. I am thankful that you are reading the blog and commenting. God bless you!

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  8. I am from Jordan and I know how they deny all mental health disease ,Homosexaulity and make you feel that they all are angels .The truth of the matter is basically denial.I agree with you that there may be many ED but they are hiding away from famieies and friends and not seeking any treament and no real statisics over there and who knows ,how many victims dying.

    My respect to all your efforts and knowledge.


    Firawi

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    1. Firawi, you are right about how our cultures tend to be 'silent' about diseases - often trying to cover it up with excuses. Thank you for reading the blog. God bless you!

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  9. Dear Marina, Thank you for your very insightful blog, I've read the last two posts and another and I'm so impressed in what God is doing inside of you. I'm not middle eastern but your blog does help me get insight on the culture especially when it has to do with food.... I can also relate to the whole body image thing - losing weight can be a contagious thing... nothing (sometimes) is ever good enough. Recently after a two year struggle (battle) journey, whatever you want to call it - I lost 30 lbs... I was thinner than I was before I had gained the weight, and I just wanted to keep going... (relating to one of your earlier posts re not eating) it took awhile but right now I'm fine with being 10 lbs over my actual BMI. It also does suck what Disney is doing regarding poor Minnie - she doesn't even look like a fun character anymore.... we don't all have to look like skinny models (and mind you we're not all paid to be that skinny either .. lol)...My mom was telling me the other day that re: body shape... everyone is morphing to look the same. Some people are heavier than others, some people smaller... There are some women I see who lose weight and I preferred them bigger... in any case once you find the right healthy body weight/image and I pray that the LORD would lead you in this area, the best thing is to maintain it. Our bodies our temples and we as children of God are not our own. We belong to Him and we are His vessels. I am so proud of you Marina.. keep blogging, keep exposing... righteous anger... YEAH! - Jenny :)

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  10. LOL Jenny I will keep having my 'righteous anger'! Thank YOU for reading the blog and commenting. I am glad that you are able to accept your body the way it is - even if it was not what you intentionally wanted. What a role model! Your mom is right - the media and culture of today's society is constantly putting pressure on all of us to look a certain way - the 'thin ideal'. Amazingly, the 'thin ideal' is actually NOT ideal at all! I am trying to accept - as you have - that my body belongs to Christ and that regardless of my size, it must be protected and cared for.

    God bless you!

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  11. I amazed you wrote about culture and its role in ED.Even you came to Canada when you were 19 months old.
    Your are a wonderful person and your parents are very proud of you.

    N A

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