by Natalie Ruggeri April 10, 2016 4 min read 0 Comments

Anxiety and depression are house hold names these days, most of us have either experienced one or both or at least are in contact with someone who has. The Nat today can honestly say that they both don't live in her life anymore and so many people are shocked when I talk about suffering from them both because I am usually a happy and positive girl, but rewind to 5 years ago and both mental illnesses ruled my every waking moment.

I first experienced Anxiety before I hit my 20's which really is many moons ago, well before it was common, before social media and before people were open and honest about it, So I hid it, I hid it really well from close friends and my family I felt like a total freak at the time, why can't I go out and socialise like I used to? Why can't I do even the most simple things like catch a train, go to the movies, go to work meetings and functions or have a coffee with a friend? I couldn't explain it, I couldn't express the feelings or what was happening to me or understand it myself, how does this once happy and  fun girl become so lost and full of fear? I couldn't face the loss of control or feeling humiliated so I hid it and myself.

I totally stopped living, I really only felt safe in my own house, I made up excuses as to why I can't go out, why I couldn't interact with others and at times why I couldn't even get to work, I then began to hide Natalie, how? I ate, I ate to numb these feelings, I ate until I was protected enough so no one could see me, when you are large although physically yes you do stand out you also become invisible and that was ok for me. Through this naturally I became depressed, I wasn't living any sort of a life and most certainly not a life I envisioned for my 20's where I thought I'd be travelling, having fun and experiencing life not a life riddled with fear and confusion.

I got larger and larger every year as a result, not understanding what was happening to me and my life, being totally unfulfilled with life in general, being in a relationship I know wasn't right for me, doing jobs I wasn't passionate about and worst of all not allowing myself to be happy and do things I enjoyed all lead to my mental anguish, weight gain, anxiety and depression.

So I was asked at a wedding recently what was that defining moment for you, how did you over come this, I couldn't actually pin point a moment of over coming either of them, I simply said I just wanted to live, I don't think I felt that living feeling for at least a decade, Wow reading that has just made me cry! But it's totally true and real and I know there are plenty of you reading this have had the same or similar feelings of feeling numb or dead inside. I wanted to work on my life and not take a pill to make things better.

Once I started to start looking after myself in the form of telling myself daily just put one foot in front of the other and you deserve to be happy and healthy things just started to change, my mind wasn't focused as much on all of the negatives I saw in myself, that then had a ripple effect it empowered me to make healthier food choices and not hide my emotions with unhealthy foods and I got into a routine of doing some form of exercise every week, these new habits started to help me lose my weight and on I went. Trust me for the first few months I still had to talk myself into walking into the gym every week, I used to think I was to fat, unfit and imperfect to be exercising at the gym, thank god I didn't listen to it, exercise is everything to me these days, and I believe on so many levels that exercise saved my life and shaped the girl I am today.

I felt this was something I needed to share with you all right now because you know what we are all up against it sometimes, things aren't always perfect, things don't always go to plan and do you know what it's all ok! As hard as it is to see light at the end of any dark tunnels in life there always are brighter times ahead, Honour what you are going through right now, it might not be depression or anxiety it could be just a little rough patch, but it's all part of your journey and what's going to shape you, If I didn't experience it all I wouldn't be the same Nat I am today and I am so grateful for those darker years It has provided me with so my strength, growth and wisdom that money can't buy.

I wish you all peace through the dark times you face in your life and that you find the strength and wisdom each struggle provides you. xx



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