I have always been a motivated athlete. I began swimming competitively at eight years old and continued competing at a high level through my freshman year of high school. I made states my freshman year and I held many team records. However, in the same way that I have been motivated from a young age to achieve I have also suffered from anxiety and depression since early on. Anxiety and depression can be extremely debilitating and anyone that has experienced it can attest to that.
Over time my mental illness came to overpower my drive to succeed and by the beginning of my sophomore year I had attempted suicide. Obviously, I was not successful and I spent some time in a psychiatric facility where I was put on anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications. I left the hospital and I was promised that the medications would help and that things would get better but unfortunately things got worse. A common side effect of the medications was weight gain and I ended up gaining around 30 pounds. I no longer felt the same motivation to compete anymore and I left my swim team of over six years. My friends and family tried to help me, but it is hard to help someone who doesn’t know how to help themself. My grades fell, many of my friendships became toxic, I could not get out of bed, I developed an eating disorder, and I lost my motivation to do anything. The medications made me feel completely numb to everything.
"Then, in May of 2018, I began working out at Orangetheory with my mother and things began to change quickly."
The staff and other people I met at OTF helped me to turn my life around and rediscover my motivation. With the help of my OTF family I made some major lifestyle changes of which included transitioning to a whole-foods plant-based diet. By the fall of 2018 I had lost 30 pounds, I was off my anti depressant medication, and felt better than ever. Because of OTF I have now gone back to challenging myself in healthy ways and pushing myself to be the best me I can be. I believe that working out at OTF is the best “anti-depressant” because I leave every workout feeling joyful and instead of feeling numb, I feel alive.
I am not afraid to share my story. I suffered from mental illness, as have many people, and it is not something to be ashamed of. I want to use my experience to inspire others and to live as proof that things can get better. I am so thankful to Orange Theory for helping me rebuild my life through my recovery. Today I am stronger, more inspired, more confident, and more peaceful than I have ever been and a huge part of that has to do with OTF.
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