[Editor’s note: This article discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)]
After losing her mother and brother to suicide just two years apart, only one thing assuaged 41-year-old Teresa Marie: food.
The Long Beach, Calif., teacher consumed some 10,000 calories a day — which included large pizzas, fast food, “triple-decker” peanut butter sandwiches, grilled cheeses and “tons of chips, cookies and junk food on a daily basis,” she told SWNS, a British news agency.
“When he died, I completely checked out,” Marie said of her brother, who committed suicide after he was allegedly bullied for being gay. "It was the very first traumatic loss I experienced and I blamed myself for not being able to help my brother.”
"I stopped taking care of myself,” she continued. “My mother killed herself a couple of years later. Their deaths played a role in [my] lack of self-love and self-care.”
By 2016, Marie told SWNS she weighed 570 pounds and was considered morbidly obese. But the 41-year-old had a wake-up call that same year when she suffered a “mild heart attack,” she said.
Doctors treating her warned that she could die within the next five years if she didn’t do something about her weight. That’s when she chose to make a drastic lifestyle change, putting herself on a strict diet before undergoing gastric bypass surgery to reduce the size of her stomach.
Between 2017 and 2018, Marie said she lost about 140 pounds from diet and exercise alone. In 2018, she underwent surgery to reduce the size of her stomach to about the size of a medium egg.
The Golden State resident says she now consumes about 1,500 calories a day and has lost 350 pounds overall. She now weighs 220 pounds.
“I started walking more and went on a ketogenic-based diet that involves eating foods with a low carbohydrate and low sugar content,” she said of her weight-loss journey. "On the day of surgery I was 390 pounds and as a teacher, I could not stand for longer than two minutes without feeling like I was going to die. Little by little, I worked out."
Today, at a healthier weight, Marie says she “feels so different about [me] and my life.”
"Eventually, I had to realize I couldn't hold on to that guilt,” she said of her family members’ deaths. "I now see a life full of love, happiness, good health, and most importantly, I see a bright future ahead. It’s never too late to turn it all around.”