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Depression... What Fitness has meant to me!

Depression... What Fitness has meant to me!


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TAKE CONTROL of YOUR life! Take control of your health! Take control of you and have faith in God that it's all going to be ok...because it will! I am living proof........

I really began focusing on my fitness as a lifestyle while I lived in Kansas City. The year had to have been 1999 or so? I honestly do not remember the exact date.

I do remember signing a contract to the Bally's gym and getting very involved in cardio and lifting weights. I didn't have a trainer, I didn't have a nutritionist... all I had was me and any previous knowledge I had from being a trainer for the football team in college. I watched folks in the gym. I did some reading. But mostly what it boiled down to is that I was playing it by ear each time I walked through the gym doors.

I would get up early to go do cardio and then go to lift after I got off from work. I tried watching what I ate as best I knew how. I even lost a couple of pounds. But then a huge plateau came... which then led to weight gain. Let me explain. It wasn't just a couple of pounds. I gained more than 15 pounds in one month! How could this be, I wondered. I was still working out twice a day and I was eating what I thought was pretty healthy. (Can't say I never ate out or never ate fast food, but I swear it wasn't 3 meals a day froma drive-thru.)

I went to the doctor to have tests done. He ran blood tests, thyroid tests, heart tests, etc. He even said he thought my weight gain could be attributed to my working out; that he thought I was just gaining muscle. OK! ENOUGH! There are professional bodybuilders who would KILL to put on 15 pounds of muscle in ONE MONTH! That should have been my sign...but instead I kept trusting him. And as we talked further he eventually diagnosed me with clinical depression.

While I been through a divorce, job changes, and a few family issues things really weren't that bad but he put me on a half dose of Zoloft to start; you know, to get my body used to it. Within the next month he had me at the full recommended dosage and the weight began to come off! I bet you're thinking, "WOW!" That's great... Problem solved! Pump the breaks folks... The real problem was JUST beginning..... My body soon developed an immunity to the dosage of Zoloft and had to be increased. I was now up to double the maximum recommended dosage. But the weight was staying off and 6 days out of the week I was happy.

But the eating disorder still existed; I still had my binging and purging episodes at least 3 times a week. I even remember one night calling my mom because I truly did not want to see the next morning come. They talk about suicidal thoughts MIGHT occur in children and young adults when taking anti-depressants. Folks, I was in my 30's and had never had a thought like that until I started these meds.

I got through that night, I got through another job change, and I relocated to Charlotte. I found a doctor and informed her of my medical history. I explained what had been prescribed and why. I was completely open about my personal thoughts and experiences. She didn't like it and we ran through a series of other anti-depressants until we found that Effexor XR worked without any of the negative side effects. (Or so we thought!) Granted the suicidal thoughts came but never to the point I considered acting on them like I had before. The weight was somewhat staying off though it did fluctuate some. And yes, I still had the binging and purging episodes but not nearly as frequently. Could it be that THIS was the magic pill?


Over the next 5 years we ended up increasing my dosage to more than 3 times the maximum recommeded daily amount. I was up to 450mg a day. Then came my move to St. Louis... again, a new doctor but now with a longer history to share.

Within my first year here I was now up to 600 MG A DAY! Seriously?????? AND I had fallen out of the gym. Now the depression seemed to only be getting worse. And the side effects were almost not worth the feelings I was having.

By October 2009 I was back up to 160 pounds. (Don't believe me? Look at a very recent before and after picture I posted just today.) That was depressing enough in itself. I took a trip to Charlotte early November 2009 and realized I had to make some changes. Against doctor's wishes, I decreased my dosage to 450 mg... I left TD Ameritrade and decided to start my pet-sitting business. Money was tight and the extra exercise helped me begin to shed some of that 160 pounds. I ended up getting down to about 140. But yes, I was still on the Effexor XR.

Then came October 2010..........what a life-changing event! I met a very dear friend who is an excellent personal trainer. I didn't share all of this with him at the time. But being who he is, he gave me a hard time EVERY day until I got myself back in the gym.

It started slowly...3 days a week or so. And my diet was actually probably worse than it had ever been. I was now working out so I could eat what I wanted. I would have a bag of sour-filled twizzlers for breakfast; a cookie or 2 and a diet coke for lunch; and then something fast food for dinner. I figured as long as I watched the calories somewhat and stayed in the gym that was good enough. I was happier and now decreased my dosage (on my own) again. 300mg per day seemed to be doing the trick.

By January 2011 I felt good enough just from being in the gym that I actually went down to 150mg a day. My diet was actually beginning to get somewhat better too!!! I began taking the stairs (8 flights) up to work. I parked a block away from work. I added a day in the gym. I began seeing more and more changes right before my eyes...physically and mentally. The eating disorder was not creeping up nearly as often. Once a month maybe? The negative self-image began to improve when I looked in the mirror. And I now looked at my prescription and wondered what the heck I had been doing to myself! The combination of working out more and eating better were what the doctor SHOULD have ordered, instead of steady increasing the dosage of my anti-depressant.

I am now committed to myself. Committed to being in the gym a minimum of 5 days a week. I eat 5-6 small meals and they are healthy! I do not eat sugar very often...(can't lie and say I don't crave my sour-filled twizzlers or gummi savers from time to time.) Processed artificial sweeteners are a no-no! And I bet I've only had 2 diet drinks in the past 6 months. That in itself is an amazing transformation. I don't do dairy very much; no milk or cheese for sure. I don't fry my foods. I don't get pizza delivered. My diet right now is one for my competition in October.

These healthy lifestyle changes are what had enabled me to get a grip on my eating disorder and work myself COMPLETELY off of the anti-depressant. I have a mental clarity like never before.

Yes, I am a woman so I still get emotional from time to time. But the way I feel now is unlike any other point in my life. I am in the best shape I have ever been in... and I haven't used fat burners or steroids or any supplement other than protein powder to get here. It is hard work, dedication to myself, and a faith in God that has led me out of where I was and onto this glorious path.

The moral of the story here y'all is that so many of our problems stem from what others tell us, especially in the medical field. They prescribe medicine to solve problems and then end up prescribing another to combat the side effects of the first. It is a cycle that goes on and on and on and on.......

TAKE CONTROL of YOUR life! Take control of your health! Take control of you and have faith in God that it's all going to be ok... because it will! I am living proof........

Author: Charla Davenport

Member Comments

What a great story Charla! Good for you for never giving up on yourself...even though it took time, you still believed you could be better. Keep proving those doctors wrong girl!

Charla- your story is so inspirational:) thank you for posting! What an awesome accomplishment to make it to where you are today!! Congratulations:)

Thanks ladies! It's a constant journey...everyday! :)

Thanks ladies! It's a constant journey...everyday! :)

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