Friday, 31 January 2014

Published AGAIN - Happiness :)

I am so blessed to say that my work has again been published on Fr. Anthony's website. His introduction of me is so sweet and touching...so thank you, Abouna! I am so blessed to have this opportunity yet again!

This post is about happiness. It is something we all want and desire. But today, we often get missed messages about what happiness is. Is it having everything you want? Being rich? Thin? Having a family? Being close to God? Being smart?

I challenge you to read this post and consider your own experiences with happiness and how you define it. Please read it and comment here and on Fr. Anthony's site and share your feelings or experiences, or feedback! http://franthony.com/2014/01/defining-happiness/

Thank you to all my readers and family, and friends. You are all so wonderful. I cannot believe how many blessings and publishing chances God has given me. Thank you, Lord, for making me happy.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Crimes and mental illness

Something that happens almost too often is our assumption that someone who has commited a crime has a mental health issue. Why do we assume this? Because we cannot seem to understand how anyone in the right mind would do such terrible things like murder, rape, and stealing. But what we often forget is that not everyone who commits a crime is mentally ill. Some may be, but others may have other reasons for their actions. It is wrong to blame all actions on a mental health issue.

This happens in courts a lot. The criminal's lawyer will try hard to make the accused look as though he/she has a mental illness, and that is what caused them to do the crime. Often, crimes get blamed on bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, etc. If the person really is ill, then they deserve treatment. But does that mean that they are not to blame for what they did? Can having a mental health issue make you suddenly free from taking responsibility for you actions? No. Let's put it this way: if I stole something from a store last year while I was sick (which I did not, by the way...this is just an example!) and I blamed it on ED, would I be free from punishment? Likely not. But what if I blamed it on bipolar disorder? Would I still be punished? Maybe not.

The problem with this is that people come to look at mental illnesses as being fake or made up because they are so used to seeing mental illnesses be used as excuses for crimes. I have heard many people say 'well, that person must have a mental issue because he killed that lady' or 'she must be bipolar to have hurt her own children'. But what does that do for people who have mental illnesses? It downplays their illness. It makes it seem as though they must be criminal or completely psychotic because they have such an illness. It also means that people start to think of mental illnesses as being terrible and demoralizing or changing individuals. This just adds to the stigma that is already associated with mental illness. Instead of seeing patients with illnesses as needing treatment, we begin to see them as crazy people who can act out at anytime.

What do we learn? Every person is different, even if they have the same mental illness as another person. Not everyone who has a mental illness is a criminal, and not every criminal has a mental illness. To blame people's actions on a mental illness all the time is wrong because it takes the responsibility off of fhe person. I agree that to a certain extent, certain actions may be the result of a mental illness. But we cannot blame EVERY SINGLE thing that a person does on their illness. When I was sick, I was mean to my parents when they made me eat. That was because of my mental illness, ED. In this case, it WAS the illness that caused my actions. But if I had gone out and punched my neighbour in the face, would that be because of ED? No. We need to stop using mental illnesses an another word for insanity and start seeing the term as what it is: a reference to a serious disorder that can change the way a person thinks or behaves, that debiliates an individual, and that causes severe impairment in their lives. Mental illnesses are REAL illnesses and they cause a lot of distress in patients. Not every patient with a mental illness is violent or psychotic. We need to be careful with our words and how we use the term 'mental illness' because this can say a lot about our own opinions about these disorders. Also, be aware of what you believe in society and from the media. Not all people with mental illnesses are criminals, and sometimes, it takes a bit more information to make a judgment on someone you don't know.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Another HUGE Accomplishment!

God is so good. And thanks to all my readers and the love you show, I have yet another success to share with you all!
Let me give you a background in the internet world: websites aren't simply 'added' to the internet without ease. When I first started my blog, you likely had to bookmark the page or type the website into the internet to find my blog.

But NOW, you can find my blog by typing a few different things into google, yahoo, bing, and other search sites! Why is this such a huge deal? Well, to get your site onto search engines like this, you need to prove to the engines (Google, Yahoo, etc) that your site is popular and useful. Let's use google as an example. Google wouldn't just let my blog be on their engine if it wasn't popular. I had to apply for 'search access', which is when you apply to search engines in hope that they will feature your site on their engines. Before they do this, the tech geniuses at google evaluate your site. They find out how many people visit the site, why people are reading your blog, how popular it is around the world (not just Canada or the USA), and how many visits it gets a day. They also evaluate the site and see if it is appropriate to have as a searchable site.

I applied my blog to the search engines about four months and have been waiting for approval. And today, finally, it is HERE! You can tupe many different things into google or yahoo (or other search engines) and find my blog! Okay, okay. I will admit it. I tried a few search terms. I was excited! This is such a huge accomplishment! It means that my blog is recognized by search engines! It means that the blog gets enough viewers and readers to be searchable! Popular terms for my blog are apparently 'anorexia recovery blog' or 'marina abdel Malak blog'. You can also find my blog by typing in topics that I write about, such as 'anorexia weight gain', etc.  I CANNOT BELIEVE IT! I AM ON GOOGLE AND YAHOO AND BING!

Okay, so maybe it doesn't sound like a big deal to some people. But to me, this is a huge success. You never would be able to find my blog before by searching for it, without typing in the address. Now, my blog is searchable - it is available for all the world to see and read!!!

Thank you to all my readers and commenters - without you, my blog wouldn't be this popular or successful. Thank you to my family and friends who have supported me throughout this entire process. Thank you God for keeping me alive and healthy.

To be honest, I am not happy because my blog is popular. I am happy because this new success means that my blog is reaching people all across the world. I am happy because it means that people around the world are reading my blog and liking what they read. They are learning about ED, mental health, healthy living, nutrition, self-care, religion, and more. Readers are reading my blog and they feel that they can relate to what I write, or that they are learning something new. This new success means that I am helping people around the world. My writing and my work is making a difference in the world. I never intended for this blog to be famous. When I started it, I wanted to help people learn about ED and mental health. But God had bigger plans for this blog - and look what it has become today! I am pleased, not because of the fame of the blog, but because of the impact it is having on others' lives. I am happy, because God has used my suffering and pain to reach out to others.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness."
- 2 Corinthians 12:9
Thank you, Lord, for using my struggles to educate others, to make them aware of eating disorders, to make people feel that they are listened to, and to give others an opportunity to support one another on this blog, Truly, my weaknesses and my challenges with ED are being used for the good. And for that reason, I am thankful for all my struggles.

EDIT: Today, I found out MORE great news! My one and only older sister, Nansy (who is my best friend by the way, and the greatest sister in the world!) posted as a guest on Fr. Anthony's blog. She is so talented and beautiful - inside and out. She wrote a post about being a light in the world - and this means something very different than what you may expect! Please go and check our her post, and leave comments if applicable! Your support for my sister is much appreciated! http://franthony.com/2014/01/are-you-willing-to-be-rudolph/ . I love you Nan, and I am so proud of you - and thankful to God that He blessed me with such a wonderful sister like you. Keep smiling and being the beautiful and adorable woman you are. You are truly a woman after God's heart!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

'Beyond the Body' - An inner look about what happens in the ED victim's body

We know that in ED, the patient loses weight because they are not eating enough to meet their body's needs. But, for the sake of science, I want to share what exactly happens. This is important to know for many reasons: first, it can help patients see what ED is doing to their bodies and the harm that it causes. Second, it helps others learn why ED is dangerous, even if you see that a patient is not necessarily stick thin. And lastly, it gives us a better understanding of how much wotrk it takes to help the patient recover from this terrible illness. Before I start, let me warn you that this is not an exclusively long and detailed paper on ED and body changes. It is simply a modest attempt at raising awareness and helping others to understand why ED is deadly.

Le's start with the basics that we all know: ED makes patients lose weight. Why? The patient is not eating. So, naturally, their intake is less than output, and body weight decreases. But what happens on the molecular (or even smaller!) level? Well, no food/not enough food means that there is not enough glucose for metabolism to occur. Without glucose, the body slows down A LOT - especially the brain, because the brain can also use glucose for its energy needs. Without about 130g of carbohydrates a day, the brain loses energy. What about the rest of the body? Our bodies are very efficient because they can use proteins and fats to make energy. What does this mean? Let's think: if the body does not have carbs, it switches to using proteins and fats for energy. Where do the proteins and fats come from? Our stores: our muscles for breathing, walking, lifting items, etc. These are very important proteins, as you can imagine, so breaking them down is NOT a good thing. But our bodies are desperate for energy, so they use what they can: our muscles. This is why patients become so weak - their bodies break down all their muscles and protein to make energy! But now we come to yet another problem: we already learned that the brain cannot use this type of energy because it needs glucose (and can only use glucose) for fuel. So what happens to the brain? It starts slowing down. In many patients, we think that they cannot possibly be sick with ED because they are so smart and can think straight. This may be true, but that does not mean damage is not being done. The brain eventually can adapt to using other sources of fuel for about half of its needs, but it does not like doing this. In addition, the brain starts to shrink, like other muscles and important bodu proteins.

See how damaging starvation is? So, not only does ED make the patient lose weight, it also decreases their bodies reserve of functional proteins for breathing, like the diaphragm. If you think back to my story, do you remember how I could not breathe and needed to be put on a ventilator? This is why! My body had used up all my muscle proteins that I became too weak to walk or breathe! The brain also starts to shrink, and we are not yet sure if this can be fixed with refeeding. What about the rest of the body? Do you remember how I had kidney failure and needed dialysis? This was because is starvation, the body does not get enough fluids and is dehydrated. This REALLY damages kidneys because they need enough blood and fludis to function! To add to that, the kidneys are in charge of removing wastes. When we do not eat, our bodies break down proteins for energy. The remaining parts of the proteins not used for fuel need to be removed from the body - and this is accomplished by the kidneys. Well, if the kidneys do not have enough blood/fluids, how are they going to do that?! This, in turn, can have long-lasting effects on the kidneys. The stomach also shrinks because it is not getting enough energy. Also, without enough vitamins and minerals (and proteins, carbs, and fats), our bodies cannot make what they need to make in terms of proteins/cells. So, the hair begins to thin and fall out, the skin becomes dry, the face becomes pale (anemia, a lack of iron), and the body cannot fight off infections properly. WOW. Who knew so much damage can come from not eating well?!

There is SO much more to talk about, but this is just some of the main points I wanted to bring to your attention. Every single organ and cell in the body is affected when one does not eat enough. I also want to reinforce that even if a patient looks well (ex. is not thin, is not pale, etc), they can still be VERY sick. The body is extremely efficient and can adapt and try to survive as much as it can. But, eventually, it loses the battle and collapses. The patient can die any minute. I am being serious. I have known patitents with ED who were fine one day and collapsed dead the next day. The body can pass out any minute because it cannot fight anymore. Don't take this chance with ED. Get help for yourself, or for whoever is suffering. They may LOOK fine, they may FEEL fine, but at any time, they might not handle the pressure and may not live another day. It is that serious. Please, oh please, do not waste another day convincing yourself that you are not sick enough to get help or treatment. Because ED knows no limits, and will not stop until you are DEAD.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Published again - the Season at NEDIC

Although this is a little late, I am blessed to AGAIN say that my work has been published at NEDIC. I noticed that some of you beat me to it and already left comments there - so thank you for being ahead of the game and for your support!

This post is about the holiday season and how to survive with all the food. I think that this topic is important for all people, not only those with ED. Although the holidays is a great time to eat delicious food, we often get caught up with the food and forget about all the other amazing things about this season. There is the music, happiness. celebration of Jesus' birth, bringing in the new year, spending time with friends and family, and laughing from the heart. Please take a look at the post: http://www.nedic.ca/blog/.

Though it may seem that the Christmas season is over, I want to wish all my Orthodox friends and family a Merry Christmas, as we celebrate Christmas on January 7. I know you have all been fasting and waiting for this day to come, so please enjoy your time. However, in the process of eating and spending time with loved ones, please remember that the true reason for the season is Jesus' birth!

For all those who already celebrated Christmas and the New Year, I want to again remind you that it is the time of year when the media goes absolutely crazy with weight loss commercials, diet resolutions, etc. It is no wrong to make a resolution to become more fit or even lose weight if medically necessary. However, I DO want you to be aware of what you hear on the TV or radio, or what you read in magazines. The media tends to make weight loss and fitness seem more important than it really is. While it is critical to be healthy, the scale should not dictate your mood, happiness, or life. There are many other resolutions that you can make for this year, and weight loss does not always to be one of them.

Also, if you are medically in need of losing weight, try to reframe the issue: it is not weight loss or a diet because you need to 'look good' or 'fit into that dress' - it is something that your health requires. The media makes us believe that weight loss is the only commendable New Year's resolution, and that if you can lose weight, you are successful and strong. And, the media can intelligently send us this message without us even noticing that we are falling victim to it!

This holiday season, as most of you alluded to, was very different for me. I am fully recovered and am enjoying life to the maximum. Is it easy? Not always. But at least I don't have to worry about the food anymore! I do not have to worry about lying that I already ate, or trying to hide my food. I know when it is time to eat, and I do. This year is a new year - 2014. I am excited to see what it will bring, being the first full year that I have recovered from anorexia nervosa. And although the last eight years of my life have been challenging, painful, and tiresome, I know that life now will be different. Will there be obstacles? Of course. But now, ED is no longer one of them. I couldn't have asked for a better gift. Thank God, and thank you all for supporting me this far. God bless all of you!

"No temptation [or challenge] has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful. He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation [or obstacle] will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear [overcome] it." (1 Corinthians 10:13).