At her lowest point, Lisa Hardy of The Big Ward reality TV series weighed 129kg and was so severely depressed she was suffering from psychosis. But after a referral from her psychiatrist lead her to bariatric surgery, the 49 year old experienced a transformation. Post-surgery, Lisa benefited from not only the obvious physical transformation that accompanies losing 65kg of body weight, but also a significant mental shift.
Like many people in her situation, Lisa’s depression and weight problems started as a child.
“As a child and teenager, I comfort-ate. I didn’t have a very nice father. He was quite strict and the only thing I could really have pleasure in was eating. I started getting depressed when I hit puberty, probably at 13 or 14, and I didn’t medicate with drugs or alcohol – it was always food.”
The negative cycle of depression and comfort eating carried on right through to her late 40s.
“Before surgery, I was on a six-week cycle of, ‘I’m OK, then I’m down’. And the downs were so bad that I was getting psychosis. I would be hearing voices – that’s how low I got. There was self-harm and things like that. I was on psychosis medication,” she explains.
She was also taking pills for her blood pressure and cholesterol, antidepressants and blood-thinning medication as she was “mini-strokes.”
Lisa explains how her referral to Dr Richard Babor for gastric sleeve surgery came about as a result of her depression.
“My psychiatrist Dr Jay mentioned that some of his patients who had weight-loss surgery had been cured of their depression. He said that won’t happen with you because yours is chemistry, but it could really help with bringing the symptoms down.”
“He gave me a referral, which led to a team assessing me and saying, yes, I was sick enough and fat enough to go through to Dr Richard Babor’s seminar.”
Lisa and her husband Chris listened to what Dr Babor had to say about a gastric bypass. They also heard that Greenstone Pictures, which makes local reality series The Big Ward, was looking for people who underwent the surgery to feature in series two.
It wasn’t a decision that she took lightly, food had always been her crutch. But the choice to go through with gastric bypass surgery and take part in the TV series was made with three important goals in mind: being to beat her depression, to be able to wear a necklace on her ‘chin-neck’ and to be able to shop at an ordinary clothing store.
“Two weeks after the surgery, I was off the blood pressure medication because it was bringing it down too low. Now I’m off everything except my antidepressant!”
Lisa hasn’t had a symptom of depression since surgery, which is what motivated her to go under the knife in the first place. She was able to return to full-time work which she hadn’t been able to do for years due to her anxiety and depression.
Every week after surgery, except one, Lisa lost weight: “the kilos have just fallen off me.” After losing 65kg since surgery Lisa now takes pleasure in being able to fit regular size clothes.
“I am two years post gastric sleeve surgery, my highest weight was 129 kgs, my lowest was 64 kgs and i am maintaining at 68 kgs. My life has been transformed mentally and physically, I owe them a freedom that is not easy to explain.”
Lisa’s new lease on life has inspired her to train and practice as a marriage celebrant, a far cry from the before-surgery days when she unable to work full-time.
“I am back at full time work, two years in July, active and healthy, I will be off all medications in July which is astonishing as pre-surgery I was on a cocktail of anti depressants, blood pressure and cholesterol medication.
“The biggest change to me (other than the physical) is the mental health, I am mentally free of any depressive and anxiety episodes for two years, an absolute dream. I have a new lease on life at 50 years of age, fantastic!”
Surgery not a quick fix
Despite the drastic transformation for Lisa, she warns others considering bariatric surgery, “It’s not a quick fix. Before I had the operation, I could eat everything I wanted and drink everything I liked, and then I couldn’t and it’s permanent. You think, ‘What the hell have I done to myself? I cannot stand up, I’m dizzy, I’m nauseous’ and it’s a roller-coaster of different symptoms. Your whole life changes, so you’ve got to be prepared for that.”
Here at Auckland Weight Loss Surgery we love hearing these transformational stories. The well-being of our patients is our foremost concern, and that includes both physical and mental well-being.
We’ll leave you with this final thought from Lisa: “Feeling normal is just wonderful. Feeling normal was my end goal and I’m so normal now, it’s great.”
Photos kindly supplied by Lisa Hardy.
Extracts from an article by Woman’s Day.