My Story

   My story is a long one, it spans over eight years of my still young life. It deals with loss,  disappointment, and ultimately triumph. So bear with me as I sift through the mess that has been my life for nearly a decade.

   It started out when I was 15 with headaches, but not your everyday typical headaches. I went to my local doctor and was put through every scan, procedure, and medication in the book. Nothing worked. I was poked and prodded until the doctor finally shrugged and said “I don’t know what else to do”. I walked out of that office and never went back.

  I started my 16th year with a new doctor, and new symptoms. The headaches that once plagued me had transformed into searing debilitating pain coursing through me. On my first visit with my new doctor I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. It is a chronic condition that causes widespread pain throughout the body, amongst other symptoms. I almost always was in pain and unable to gather my strength to make it to school most days. The people in my life didn’t understand, and neither did I. As the stressors in my life gradually got worse so did my symptoms.

  As my symptoms worsened into the next year, it affected my attendance so bad that my High School forced me to drop out. I had to attend online school. I rarely got out of bed, everyday activities were almost impossible. I had hit rock bottom.

   One day while watching TV I heard about a new vegan cookbook coming out. I bought it immediately and started a strict vegan diet. I lost 60 pounds in a short amount of time. My pain was alleviated and I felt amazing. I finally had something to be proud of. I returned to high school for my senior year and over the course lost an additional 30 pounds. Everything seemed perfect. I went to prom, graduated, and was heading off to college.

    All of my dreams were coming true.

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I graduate at 145 pounds.

       Unfortunately things didn’t stay that way for long. Shortly after graduating High School I decided to stop my vegan diet. My symptoms slowly became apparent again. I started college, but after one semester I had to take a break. I began to feel unmotivated and my pain came back. In 2013 when I was 20, everything got worse when I lost two family members, who I loved dearly, within a few months of each other. I started gaining weight rapidly.

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The summer of 2015, at my heaviest, 261 pounds.

 In 2015  I was tired of feeling sick all of the time, so I decided to get help. I finally found a doctor  who I was comfortable with and she recommended that I should see a psychiatrist. I was later diagnosed with Bipolar Depression. The most painful part of the process was learning I never had Fibromyalgia. For eight years I mistook the physical pains and symptoms I experienced as Fibromyalgia, I was convinced that I would live with that diagnosis for the rest of my life. But I know now that depression can cause physical side effects. Now I had to learn how  to treat this new diagnosis that I had no experience with.

   In 2016, after a year of trial and error, I finally found the right treatment that worked for me. I am able to be my true self. I am back to being vegan again. Before, I was stuck in bed, but now, I hike every morning and I’m as active as I’ve ever been. I just started and I’m down 26 pounds. I couldn’t be happier.

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Now, at 249 pounds.

    This is not a road I have walked alone, though many days and weeks and months have felt that way. I have been isolated from emotions and the physical comfort of youth, stripped of these things by depression on a long road full of twists and turns. But, always remember this: It has been so worth it to get to where I am now.

    Some days it feels like I have lost so much… people in my life, opportunities I was too incapacitated to take advantage of, a typical high school and college experience… It’s made me a minority in my age group, but I am not willing to play victim. Now it’s my time to play catch up. I’ve spent the last 8 years healing myself, now it is time to move forward and get on a new path. A road with less rocky twists and turns, but more adventure, experience and enjoyment. I am thrilled to be starting my journey to me and I hope you’ll take it with me!

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45 comments

  1. This is such a great, touching story, thank you for sharing it with us! You truly are a strong woman and I hope the journey to find yourself is a blissful one!
    Loads of support from an Iowan!

  2. Amanda you are to be commended for your honesty and sharing with all of us. So proud to know you, the girl you were and the woman you are becoming. Keep being true to yourself you’re a wonderful person !

  3. Amanda great story took guts to put it out there , but that’s how we heal! Glad ur working through ur “stuff” ! I’ve been following ur hiking adventures on FB ! Congrats on the 26 lbs. I knew ur Grandma Claire she’d be so proud of u taking the bull by the horns so to speak! Take care, and continued success !

    1. Thank you for reading! im glad you liked my story! Im happy to hear your trying out veganism and that you’ve even lost some weight! That’s amazing!! I’d love to hear more about that.

  4. Well Amanda, I tried to post earlier but I guess I messed up. So here we go again…you should be proud of all that you have accomplished. You were imbued with some very sarcastic, witty and ironic genes. As your illegitimate GodFather I have seen most of the phases of your journey so far and can’t wait to see the butterfly you become. I couldn’t be any prouder of you. You mean the world to me, and always will. Go get em!

  5. You know, I heard a statement about education the other day, and it seems about right for your situation as well.

    “There is no one answer.”

    Sometimes your body is your own, and what works for everyone else doesn’t work for you. I’m glad you have the wisdom to treat yourself the way your body needs to be treated!

  6. I want to commend you on your diet. Dieting is really tough, and no one knows that more than me. I haven’t dealt with the pain that you have, but I have struggled to stay with diets on and off through the years and I know how tough it is. So, congratulations!

    1. Dieting is very tough! There’s a reason they say they always fail. That’s why i try to think of it as a life style, that way its a permanent change and not something I’m doing temporarily to lose weight.

  7. It can be so difficult when you feel like crap all of the time. It must have been so difficult to not be able to do the things all your friends were doing. I have been thinking of trying a Vegan diet.

    1. Thank you! Yes, it was very difficult and I lost a lot of friends. No one wants to hang out with someone who doesn’t want to get up off the couch! Being Vegan has taught me a lot, if your thinking about it you should definitely try it out. even if its just a day or two a week.

  8. My friend has Fibromyalgia and she has found relief with a vegan diet. I cant imagine finding out you did not have Fibromyalgia after all those years. I hope you continue to get better.

  9. Sounds like you had a lot of ups and downs. Great to see you’re doing better now. Hopefully you can keep that all up! I would love to try out some kind of healthy diet myself. I think it may help me feel better as well.

  10. I think you are so brave and wise beyond your years to be able to channel your challenges into a lifestyle that is healthy and stable and is helping you live your best life! I can’t wait to follow along on your adventure and hopefully learn more about what it takes to be vegan!

  11. You are extremely brave to share such an honest window into your life. It is so helpful for many people like you (and I am one of them) to know we are not alone. It’s great that you found someone to help you and make the right diagnosis. Saved my life!

  12. What a journey, I’m glad you are at a better place now with the right diagnoses. Remember to keep your head up high, and stay positive as much as you can. Life is always going to be full of twists and turns – hope those are full of amazing for you! 🙂

  13. I wish you all the best on your journey to losing weight and leading a healthier lifestyle. Reading your story has inspired me to begin my own journey. I have struggled with my weight and depression since I was in my 20s. Thank you for sharing.

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