‘I feel so free’: Man loses jaw-dropping 234 pounds while overcoming opioid and food addiction, depression, anxiety

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“I began my journey to save my own life on June 15th, 2016. My story encompasses drug addiction, food addiction, binge eating disorder, and the continued battle for better mental health.

I hit a point in my life where it was a ‘now or never’ deal. Getting there was not the smoothest ride.

My starting weight was 441.0 pounds. I’ll never forget seeing that number at the doctor’s office. It was like reality punched me in the jaw. I was MISERABLE. I lived in my bedroom. I lived in my bed. From the time that I was 19 until I was 24, I was hopelessly addicted to painkillers. Not the kind you get for a sprained ankle. I eventually fell so deep into opiate addiction that oxymorphone was not off of my daily list of things to get my hands on. It was a time I don’t remember a lot of. I still have memories that come back to me in waves as my brain continues to recover from the chaos I put it through. It always starts harmless enough, but before you know it you are losing everything. When I finally gave in to a recovery program, I had lost my car, my job, my apartment, my financial security, and my will to fight. The fight wasn’t for me, though. The fight was for my family. When you aren’t able to do it for yourself, that’s when you have to do it for those you love.

Terry George

The major depressive and anxiety issues that arose after I kicked the hard stuff (almost 7 years later, the fight continues,) were unbearable. I never actually realized how much I was covering up all the invisible wounds in my mind with drugs. In a sense, I traded my drug addiction for a food addiction and had no idea how to even come remotely close to addressing my mental health. So, I didn’t at first.

So here I was, collecting unemployment for a while, bouncing around temp jobs, binge eating anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 calories a night for years. I was a prisoner of my own mind and body. One of the jobs I went through was a work-from-home type. That was the one that brought me to my final breaking point with mental health. There was a period for about 5 months that I did not set foot outside. Terrified. Everything was so scary. People. Noises. The daylight. The normal hustle and bustle of life. I was trapped. I reached a very dark place and spent some much-needed time in a mental health recovery program to try and pick apart the problems. Looking at yourself in the mirror can be hard. Looking yourself in the EYES can be the hardest. Pulling all of the buried chaos up to the surface hurts. Unfortunately, I still continued to treat these issues with food for another year before putting my foot down.

Terry George

‘If I don’t do this now and give it my best effort, I will die. I don’t want to die anymore.’ I wrote that on a piece of paper. I kept it near me. I decided it was time. If I put my absolute best effort into this hopeless journey and I failed, then I failed. Then I shifted that mindset. Failure? Fuck outta here with that. Defeating myself before I had a chance to try was my biggest flaw.

So June 15, 2016, I talk to my doctor. I was already being treated medically for major depressive disorder and anxiety/panic attacks. I have suffered with ADD issues my entire adult life as well. We discuss a new medication that treats BOTH ADD and BED (Binge Eating Disorder) with the combination of cognitive behavioral therapy sessions and a complete lifestyle overhaul. The intent was to help me focus on my new endeavors with going back to school and the appetite suppression during the day was a benefit. During the day, at least. The night time battles against food were absolute nightmares in the beginning. Never in all my days did I think I would cry over not being able to order pizza, but sometimes I did.

Terry George

The strength that builds every time you exercise willpower over your desires in the moment is something that cannot be fucked with. I truly believe the more you work it, the stronger it becomes. The more I ignored the bad, my body was craving the good. My initial adventure began by simply lowering my calorie intake. Then I focused on lowering my carb intake little my little. This was where the success began. Keto is NOT for everyone, but it is the food guide that has saved my life. My current intake never exceeds 50 carbs per day (unless we’re having a night out, then you just gotta take the good with the bad, ya dig?) High fiber, healthy fats, moderate protein. The main focus was carbs and calories. I dropped 25 pounds in the first month. From that point forward, I knew that I actually could do it. I wasn’t a lost cause. I was making big strides with my mental health at this point, so I had to grab this last chance and go as hard as I could.

Terry George

The more good that came from my dietary choices, the better I felt in my head. All aspects of my life began improving. I pulled myself back out of almost not finishing my program at school. I pulled myself out of my house. I pulled myself out of my funk. Therapy was incredibly important for me. Admitting I needed the level of therapy that I needed was hard.

Terry George
Terry George

Alas, here we are. It has been a little over 22 months, and I have dropped 234 pounds to date. My two-year anniversary is coming up, and I only have to drop a few more to be in the 100’s weight-wise for the first time in my adult life. I feel so free. I can get up and go where I want, when I want. I can feel good about myself. I truly have my life back. This is not to say the struggles are no longer there. I fight my food demons daily. I always will, and that is okay. It’s okay because I know that I’m a fighter. My 20s were pure chaos. Everything fell apart. Putting it back together now at 30 is something I never thought I’d be doing. I never thought I’d live to see this day, if we’re being totally honest here. It was almost over for me on so many occasions.

Terry George
Terry George

Please know that life is hard and everyone has their baggage. Everyone has to deal with their own form of bullshit. Life changed a lot for me when I stopped focusing on things that I could not control and spent all my energy focusing on things that I COULD. Now I can. Now I’m stronger. My armor is unbreakable. I love myself now more than I ever have in all my life, and that love spreads to my friends and family who have seen me lose over half of my own person in just under 2 years. My hopes in writing to you all is that someone realizes that they can fight. That is the only option. Giving up is so easy, but living your life to the fullest? That’s one tough job. You are worth it. I am worth it. We all have value. We all deserve love. We all deserve respect. We all deserve to try and be as happy as often as we can. If even one person makes today their day because they know it’s possible, then sharing my adventure is worth it.

Terry George
Terry George

Let the world hear me roar. I’m back, I’m better, I’m stronger, I’m smarter, and I’m dedicated. I will stumble. I will falter. I WILL NOT FAIL. Plain and simple. Get up and get back at it. My life is absolutely what I make of it. Yours is, too.”

Terry George
Terry George
Terry George
Terry George

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Terry George, 30, of North Carolina. Submit your story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our newsletter here.

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