Armeen Mann: Overcoming an Eating Disorder

Anorexia impacts the lives of many individuals and the people around them.

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Armeen Mann

Armeen Mann, 10, cheering for Liberty at a football game this fall.

Everyone is scared of something. Some people are scared of spiders. Others, of heights. Armeen Mann lived in fear of being overweight.

Mental illnesses come in all shapes and sizes. Some are more obvious than others, yet they all share one common characteristic: the ability to impact an individual’s life in a negative way. One of our society’s more dangerous mental illnesses is anorexia nervosa: a disorder that causes people to obsess about their weight. This is the story of Armeen’s experience with this disorder and how she is working to overcome her fears. 

In January 2022, Armeen decided that she was going to exercise more. 

“I started going on walks every day…and then I started weighing myself every day,” said Mann. This is where her obsession with food and exercise began.

“…I was weighing myself in the mornings, after school, and after dinner,” she recalled. Armeen then began skipping meals regularly, leading to a major weight loss. 

“I was skipping breakfast and lunch, and I only ate dinner. I only had a very small portion of dinner, and I was walking, like, 5 miles every day,” Mann stated.

Armeen was eating a significantly small amount of calories. She recalled coming home from walks crying because she was so exhausted that she had no energy to remain standing up. According to the University of Kansas, 54% of people that struggle with anorexia also tend to exercise excessively.

Armeen Mann, 10, in the UIHC for eating disorder treatment. (Armeen Mann)

“It just turned into an obsession. Like, I couldn’t stop….it was like I was committed to something,” said Mann. 

This lifestyle went on for months, until over the summer, Armeen’s dad realized that something was wrong. 

“My dad just noticed how lifeless I looked, and he just took me to the doctor, because he knew something was wrong,” said Mann.  

When she was taken to the doctor’s office, the nurses wanted to run blood tests on Armeen, but they encountered a problem. Her veins had shrunk so much that they couldn’t draw any blood. 

“Being in the doctor’s office was really scary because the doctor told me that my heart rate was working at 60% capacity…it scared me so much, but I couldn’t stop [restricting the calorie intake],” Mann said. 

Armeen decided that enough was enough and she wanted to get better. So she started her recovery journey. 

The University of Iowa’s Eating Disorder Treatment Center began to phase out in Sept. of 2022, potentially impacting those suffering from eating disorders. For Armeen, if her condition had worsened, she would have had to go to Chicago to get treatment.

“[If I had to go to Chicago for treatment,] I wouldn’t be with my family. I would be lonely, in a big city, all by myself,” Mann said.

The closure of the treatment center will be a big deal for many people in the state of Iowa. It is Iowa’s only eating disorder treatment center. People now have to go out of state to get help. This makes treatment much less accessible. 

“There are a lot of people who need help, and there has to be some way to find funding for it,” she stated, when asked about the center closing down.

Recovery is a long hard path, with many obstacles to battle through. 

“Whenever I don’t want to eat, that’s when I eat, because I know you have to go against what you were thinking of before,” Mann said. 

Even in eating disorder recovery, it’s common to skip a meal or not eat enough, but Armeen is determined to take back what anorexia took from her. She wants her story to be a symbol of hope for others that are struggling.

I feel like I’m gaining back what I lost. I was so hyper-fixated on one thing, that I didn’t feel like there was anything else going for me. But there are other things in life other than just controlling what you eat.”

— Armeen Mann

“I feel like I’m gaining back what I lost. I was so hyper-fixated on one thing, that I didn’t feel like there was anything else going for me. But there are other things in life other than just controlling what you eat.”

Contact the National Eating Disorder Hotline at 741741 for support, resources, and treatment options. 

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