“Recovering from bulimia was the transformational experience that saved my life”
Melrose Center helped Oxana recover from an eating disorder several years in the making.
Oxana Hogan was born and raised in Far Eastern Russia, where she earned her Master’s Degree in Travel & Hospitality. She moved to the United States permanently in 2009, where she spent 6 years in Minneapolis, MN doing trading and account management in the scrap recycling industry.
At 27, thanks to support from a close friend, she admitted to having an eating disorder that first developed while she was modeling as a young woman in Russia. She recalls that during her teenage years looking good was a major focus and she was constantly comparing herself to others. “I thought if only I could be a few pounds lighter, then I would look and feel more beautiful.” At 18 she was already going on all kinds of diets.
Urges to eat grew stronger as dieting continued…
Over time, the diets began to change the chemistry in her brain. Her body wasn’t getting enough nourishment, so her brain was sending strong urges to eat. “I thought constantly about what to eat, how much to eat, when to eat.”
"Oxana developed an eating disorder while she was modeling as a young woman in Russia."
It went on for years…
It became a vicious cycle. She would eat, hate herself for doing it, but not be able to stop. Over time she realized there was a name for what she was experiencing: bulimia. But it wasn’t yet an emergency, and she figured she could deal with it later.
27th birthday | hitting the bottom
Finally, it got to the point where she had no energy. Some days she had a hard time getting out of bed. Her head ached and she felt dizzy. For so long, she had been afraid that someone would find out that she had an eating disorder. But now there was a greater fear: that she might die before anyone would find out.
“The first time I told anyone about it was when my friend Matt and I were driving up north. We were talking about our lives and all of a sudden, I blurted out that I was struggling with bulimia.” To her surprise, Matt didn’t judge her. “I could see it in his eyes – he still thinks the world of me.” Matt encouraged her to get help. “Knowing that someone knew and cared made the difference,” she recalls.
Despite a busy professional career and traveling schedule, she made her health a priority and reached out for help to the Melrose Center – which literally saved her life.
Oxana researched programs and liked the Melrose Center because they were friendly, helped check her insurance benefits and made it easy to register for a program. She drove herself to check in, and when she saw a doctor, they immediately ordered an ambulance to take her to the emergency room. Because of years of dieting, her heart was at risk of failing.
Two years after Melrose helped her recover from an eating disorder, Oxana began sharing her story.
Melrose offered a team approach and addressed every aspect of her recovery: physical, mental and emotional. Intensive work with a therapist, doctor, physical therapist, dietitian, and health educators was supplemented with an online recovery program and a lot of internal work. She learned new ways to cope by meditating, going on walks, doing yoga or calling a friend. She learned to be patient with herself and take one day at a time. She recovered successfully and considers this to be one of the most transformative and character-shaping experiences of her life.
Two years after recovery she began sharing her story publicly. Seeing the difference it has made for those still struggling with eating disorders inspired her to continue to share and spread awareness that recovery is possible and that the process of going through recovery can become one of the most incredible experiences in one’s life.
Join Oxana at the NEDA Walk Feb. 28.
Oxana will share her story of recovery at the fourth annual National Eating Disorders Association Walk at the Mall of America. It will be held in the east rotunda on Sunday Feb. 28, 2016 from 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. The St. Paul Ballet will perform and there will be a musical performance by the Sal Sisters (one of whom was treated at Melrose).