Queensland, Australia–As a young woman in her early twenties, Jodi Williams lived a life that would make most people jealous. She traveled the world, wore designer clothes, dated handsome men and did quite well for herself financially working in the corporate world.
“This was one of the happiest periods of my life. At 22, I was free, thin and young. I had good friends and lived life by my own rules. I was happy to be single,” said Williams.
However, her winning streak in life came crashing down just one year later at age 23– despite earlier warning signs that foreshadowed something just wasn’t right.
“My periods disappeared altogether for about two years when I was in London. At the time, I thought that being in a different country doing new things was just changing the way my body worked for a while,” she said.
In 1999, Williams was eventually diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome. A hormonal disease that often goes undiagnosed, it is the number one cause of infertility in women and brings with it a variety of side effects. Weight gain is one of them.
“Having PCOS was the beginning of my stairway to hell and my life falling apart. Nothing in my young life thus far had prepared for me for the anguish of the decade ahead of me,” she said. “In a short time, I went from being a happy, healthy and active girl to an overweight, broken woman,” said Williams.
Jodi’s weight became uncontrollable, packing on more than 40 extra kilos despite diet and exercise. Everything seemed hopeless and her self-esteem reached an all time low.
“I was sent back to the doctors for more tests and treatments. I was given more drugs than I knew existed. I became a walking pill box,” said Jodi.
Along with weight gain, Jodi began experiencing other unwanted side effects.
“I’d always boasted to anyone who’d listen that I’d never really had a pimple. Now I had so much acne that I could’ve spent days, even years, popping it all,” said Jodi.
Dealing with nasty pimples wasn’t Jodi’s only battle either. She began growing hair in places women typically tend to grow.
“I was packing on weight fast and turning into a prickly bearded woman,” explained Jodi.
As the years passed, Jodi’s hate and resentment toward herself intensified. She also sank into a very deep depression. She saw no light at the end of the tunnel and even contemplated suicide.
“The final straw came when I ventured into a store with gorgeous designer suits, just like the ones I’d dreamed of wearing so long ago. When I walked into the store, I was greeted by an older lady with salon-perfect hair and diamonds dripping from her body. Her first words to me were ‘I am sorry, dear, but there is nothing in the shop that would fit you,'” said Jodi. “I don’t think that lady even knew how close she came to death that day.”
Jodi’s experience in the clothing store served as her wake up call. A prisoner of her own body, she knew, for her own sake, she had to finally take back control of her life.
“I looked around me and realized that everyone else had been getting on with their lives while I’d stagnated for years. I knew that if I didn’t change, I would eventually take my own life,” said Jodi.
After a lot of research on the Internet, Jodi opted for gastric banding.
“I chose it because it’s less invasive than other medical procedures,” said Jodi. “There’s no cutting or stapling of the stomach or intestines, and the keyhole surgery is performed under general anaesthetic with minimal disruption and recovery down time. And, if need be, it’s completely reversible.”
Two weeks prior to surgery, Jodi was placed on a strict calorie-controlled diet intended to shrink her live so surgeons could have easy access to her stomach. Once the date of her operation began, Jodi was filled with all sorts of emotions.
“I think that I cried for many reasons- fear, happiness, hope and nerves. It was good to have that last release and, in a way, it felt like a decade of hurt and depression finally left my body so that, when I woke up, I could start a brighter future,” said Jodi. “From then, I don’t remember much as the drugs kicked in and I was out of it.”
Luckily for Jodi, her surgery was quick and deemed a success, but the road to recovery was not an easy one.
“After my operation, I felt like I had a constant hangover for about three months. Every morning, I woke up with a vague headache and fuzzy attention span. Every day, I felt like I’d downed a bottle of wine the night before and was being punished for it,” said Jodi.
At one point, Jodi even regretted the surgery all together. However, she soon started seeing the results. Little by little, the weight started to drop. Today, she’s lost more than 50 kilos and now sits at 60 kilos.
Her determination to get fit while battling depression and the side effects of PCOS has made her into the strong woman she is today.
“Wherever you are, know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. There’ll be a solution if you keep looking for it. And there’ll come a day when you too will be able to look back and laugh-laugh at the little experiences you’ve had, laugh at yourself and laugh because you’ve achieved something big,” stressed Jodi.
She hopes her story of hope and change will ultimately encourage others to follow their own journey in life, never letting obstacles get in the way of living their full potential.