Cheryl Moodley, a successful attorney, prided herself on being a strong woman in a high-powered position. But her on-the-go lifestyle meant that she was neglecting herself. ‘My job is to solve everyone else’s problems, so it was easy for me to forget that I also have to worry about myself.’
She never had weight issues. In fact, for most of her life, Cheryl’s weight comfortably sat in the mid-50s. But when she hit her 40s, all her bad habits started catching up with her: she wasn’t exercising, eating well or taking time for her own wellbeing. Like so many other women balancing a big career with a husband and kids at home, taking care of herself was the last thing on her never-ending to-do list.
Cheryl became too exhausted to cope. ‘I was pushing myself too hard. I burnt out. I had to take six months off work,’ she says. In those six months, she planned to face up to the reality of the lifestyle she had created for herself and make the necessary changes.
But exactly the opposite happened. With nothing to keep her busy or help her feel productive, Cheryl spiralled into a dark, depressive state. ‘I wasn’t even functioning any more. I was doing everything in my bedroom – including eating in there. My body was so inflamed from the medication I was taking. I wasn’t getting any sunlight or proper nutrients. From that point on, I just ballooned.’ As Cheryl’s weight climbed to 80kg, her mental health deteriorated.
‘I have chronic depression and PTSD, but this episode was particularly dark,’ she says. ‘I was popping handfuls of pills every day … taking 15 to 17 sleeping pills a night. My life was completely out of control.
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