Some tell-tale signs of an eating disorder include loss of menstruation, the feeling of always being cold, low blood pressure, hair loss, and fatigue. Besides the loss of menstruation, these signs can be mistaken simply as symptoms of stress, or just feeling overwhelmed, or just naturally being sensitive to the cold.
When someone is caught in an eating disorder, it’s easy for them to wave their hand at these signs (even amenorrhea – the loss of a period due to over-exercising) and brush them off without admitting they have a problem. But admitting there is an issue is always the first and biggest step in the process of getting healthy again.
Join us as we interview Lane Arkangel, who suffered from Anorexia and decided to take control of her health and was able to go through recovery by openly sharing her journey. You can learn more about her and her story here:
Tell me about your story
I was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa (restrictive type) in 2019. I was in my second year in College. Prior to this, I never worried about food, calories, nor excessive and intentional exercise. I lived the definition of intuitive eating. I played basketball since I was 9 and was a collegiate basketball player on scholarship. During my first year in college, I gained a good amount of weight, but that never personally bothered me until I was reminded of it by others around me. I did notice that my clothes were tighter and that I had a few extra rolls on my stomach, but that didn’t stop me from indulging and having the time of my life as a Freshman in college.
After my first year, I was repeatedly reminded of my weight gain. My friends pointed out that I got “thicker” but it didn’t bother me much. But I was told by my family that I looked slower on the basketball court because of my weight gain, and that’s when I realized that I was jeopardizing the sport I loved and jeopardizing my starting position because of my unhealthy habits. From then on, I had started to diet, exercise more, and fall into a restrictive cycle.
When did you first start experiencing disordered behaviors?
My disordered behaviours gradually got worse. It began from an innocent place of wanting to lose a little bit of weight and wanting to be healthier. I did Google searches and found that I should be eating 3 meals a day and nothing late at night. That was easy. I stopped snacking and kept a timely manner of my meal times. At this point, I was still giving myself weekend cheat days, where I could eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted on Saturdays and Sundays. But week by week, my diet became more rigid, and there were more foods that I was not allowed to eat. My exercising regimen increased as well, and I found myself doing excessive cardio and workouts to burn calories. And I was doing these extra workouts on top of my 6 am practices and afternoon weight lifting for basketball.
What were the biggest challenges you had to face during your healing journey?
The biggest challenge was first admitting that I had a problem. For months, I was in denial. I had lost my period, was cold all the time, was very thin, had bradycardia, had low blood pressure, hair loss, and had fatigue, but I could not admit that I had a problem and needed help. The second big challenge was making a change and choosing recovery, which meant choosing to gain weight in a society that prioritizes thinness and diets. It was hard to eat more than others, gaining weight when all my friends were trying to lose weight, face fear foods, eat foods that were “unhealthy.” Also, it was hard living at home during this time, because my parents and I fought a lot. My parents were just trying to help save their daughter’s life, but to me and my eating disorder, they were a threat, so we fought a lot and I regret that a lot.
When did you decide to seek help?
I got really bad with my physical condition. I was having liver damage, amenorrhea, severe hair loss, edema, muscle atrophy, kidney dysfunction, cardiac issues. I was told, “you could die tonight.” And I was told that I was a miracle for still being alive.
I was an inpatient 4 times and in a residential treatment center once. These 5 treatments were not in my control, they were rather forced. I realized that I had a real issue and that I needed to make a change in late 2020. I did not seek special care because I knew what I needed to do to recover. I knew that recovery was up to me, and me only. I could go to a facility again, but the outcome would be the same, so I chose to recover myself, at home with the support of my family.
Did you reach out to anyone to aid you in your healing journey?
My family are the ones who have helped me in my recovery process, and they still are. I have learned to be open with them and speak to them truthfully in terms of my condition and recovery.
What was the main source of your healing?
My way of healing was to come to terms with the fact that I could not live in this restrictive cycle for the rest of my life. I didn’t want to be confined by anorexia anymore. I was miserable, and a different person with Anorexia. I had completely lost myself and was on the verge of death, and I knew I needed to change. For my recovery, I started making detailed and specific meal plans for myself to hit a calorie goal. I stopped exercising completely.
The only form of exercise I did was a short walk around my neighbourhood to clear my mind (which was very beneficial.) I also got into essential oils. I also started to write out my feelings. The biggest thing for me was making my recovery Instagram account. I learned that there were so many people who were suffering from an eating disorder, that I was not alone. Moreover, I saw that there were people who recovered. Fully recovered.
I saw messages on Instagram that we are more than a body. That our bodies should not define us. To love ourselves. To choose recovery. I made this account to tell my story and to inspire others into recovery, but also so that I can learn from others as well.
What would you say to someone who is weary of recovery and its effectiveness? How do you approach that?
For those that are wary about choosing recovery, I would say to try it. Give it your all. Take a leap of faith. I guarantee it will be worth it. During the depths of my ED, I was a completely different person. I was depressed, lonely, angry, cold, bitter. I never laughed, and I lied to my friends and family so that I didn’t have to see them. More than that, I stopped laughing and smiling. I was too tired to even smile anymore.
Do you face any challenges now, and if so, how do you handle them?
This was the hardest thing I had ever done in my life, and I am still in recovery, but I am so glad I chose to recover. Because there’s so much more to life. Now, I am back in college after having to withdraw due to my ED. I am working at a surgery clinic. I am eating out with friends. I am travelling. I am making memories. I am working towards my goal and future.
What starts as a simple path to being healthier can easily spiral out of control and fall over the border of “healthy” and “excessive”. But as long as you can identify the issue, admit you have a problem, and have the drive to want to get healthier, you have the power within yourself to get there.
Sharing your story publicly on a social media platform can also help you not feel alone in your journey. You can connect with other people going through recovery and inspire others who may be starting out.
Learn more about Lane and her journey by following her on Instagram:
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