How have you battled with depression and health issues in your life? How have they affected you?
I suffered from depression as a child, through my teenage years, and well into my adult life. Because I have bipolar disorder, I also suffered from mania, which often times manifested as seizures and panic/anxiety attacks. I started drinking alcohol in my early 20's and became a full blown alcoholic within a few months. I was drunk most of the next decade. In February of 1997, I had a nervous breakdown (also known as a psychotic break from reality), caused by a severe manic episode. It was actually one of the best things that ever happened to me because I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder for the first time and put on medication. On October 13, 1999, I got sober. In January 2002, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and started on a horrible roller coaster of narcotics. Two and a half years later I had neck surgery for a missing disc and degenerative bone loss. Through all of this, I relapsed back to alcohol use to numb all of the pain I was in. Finally on January 12, 2006 I turned away from alcohol and have been sober ever since. I will never drink again because I truly understand what alcoholism will do to me, my health, my family and my life.
How has adopting a healthy lifestyle helped you improve your life and depression management?
I gained 65 pounds after beginning lithium medication for bipolar disorder, so I asked to be taken off of it. I've been on Zoloft for the last 16 years since I've been out of the hospital. I consider it like air or water. It's just part of my life—my HAPPY life! Just before my son was born in July 2001, I weighed 201 pounds. I'm 5'9", but very small boned. Much to my horror, I barely lost any of the weight I had gained after my son was born. Because of my medical issues, I wasn't able to do much of anything except take care of my son.
When I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia my doctor told me to exercise. I laughed at her. I said, "I can't even get out of bed some days. How can I possibly exercise?" But I bought a swimsuit and some leg weights to start working out. I had such a great feeling of satisfaction with myself that I wanted more. The next day I did it again and felt even more satisfied. By the end of the first week I felt better than I had in years—not just physically, but also mentally. I just kept going. I joined SparkPeople in February of 2008. It took me about a year, but I got down to my goal weight of 140 pounds.
''I Overcame a Life of Hardships by Making the Decision to Change''
How a Healthy Lifestyle Helped LOFLLAMA Manage Her Depression
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