MENTAL health problems and obesity are very much linked . Depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder are common among people with obesity although it must be said that not all overweight people suffer from these issues.
However, doctors warn that the stress of being obese in a size-obsessed society can undermine the wellbeing of even the most psychologically-sound minds.
But the important thing for sufferers is that there is hope – and to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, here’s one of the most inspiring stories you’ll ever read of triumph over adversity.
In January 2010 Darin McCloud was in despair. At close on 20 stone (280lbs) he was obese and had diabetes. He was in such a terrible place mentally and thought his only hope of losing weight and having any sort of life was to have gastric surgery.
But incredibly, he didn’t qualify for the surgery because the rules said he wasn’t fat enough. Darin decided he would take on the health authority and that’s when his life changed. Here’s Darin’s story in his own words – and a picture of us together when he won Slimpodder of the Year to show there’s a really happy ending!
“Because of the depression I was never making any choices that could be described as right or anything other than totally selfish.
“The depression just slowly engulfed me. My life was full of self-loathing and self-pity. For decades I hated myself, I hated being me.
“I just existed, I had no life to speak of. I would just feed the depression by eating rubbish and doing no exercise. My life was get up, go to work, come home, sit in front of the telly, eat rubbish and drink a litre bottle at least of Coke Zero (like the zero made a difference).
“That was my life for many years. At some stage I realised I was suffering from depression and went to see my GP (what a disappointment that was). I was put on anti-depressants and told I could have six sessions with a counsellor.
“That was it. I just kept going back month after month and was given more tablets and no other help or advice. I felt deflated, useless, a burden to all. There was no help. I was living under a big black heavy cloud.
“When I started to try and do something to get help – whether or not it was right or wrong – whatever my thought process was then the me today does not understand it. But I didn’t know any better back then.”
Darin trying to put on weight
Darin decided to eat junk food so he could pile on even more weight and force the health authority to give him gastric surgery.
“I don’t know what the trigger was to want to get help. I investigated a lot about bariatric surgery and I pinned all my hopes of help on this, bearing in mind the help I didn’t get with my mental health issues.
“This process gave me a purpose and helped lift the depression a little. I remember speaking to my GP to reduce the tablets as I had realised they were making me worse, not better. Whilst the year I spent challenging the health authority was hard work I believed that this was a route that could save me.
“This is the crux of the matter: I wanted help to break the cycle I was in, that was why I did what I did. I just wanted help and support. As I’ve said many times I do not regret anything that happened because I found and got the help I needed through my Slimpod programme.”
Happy Darin’s before and after pictures
Darin took part in our Slimpod programme and gradually found his eating habits improved, he started to lose weight and to his amazement he discovered he had a passion for exercise.
At first it was brisk walks, then jogging, then running – and finally he ran a 10K race before building up to the London Marathon, triathlons and a cycle ride across the island of Cuba.
Darin runs the London Marathon
He went down to 14 stone (168lbs) and his waist shrunk from 48 inches to 36 inches. Eventually he was able to come off all medication and now lives a happy and contented life which he never dreamed would be possible.