Hi there 🙂 This is Ana
I posted a “Before & After” pic on Instagram and got many messages asking to tell the full story. Here it is.
I grew up as one of those kids/teens that eat whatever they want and never gain weight. I am 1.72m (5.6f) and my weight was always around 54 to 55Kg (119 – 123 pounds). I always had a tough temperament, basically an angry bird 🙂 .
In 2007 I moved to Italy. As a Brazilian woman, that was really tough. Brazilian women = prostitutes in Italy. What a great stereotype, hu? My adaptation was really hard, I needed to deal with very uneducated people thinking they were better than me just because they were European. Who cares if I am a post-graduated psychologist who was seriously committed to my partner at the time? I am Brazilian, so I must be dumb, uneducated, easy, slut, prostitute, gold digger…
With all that stress, in February 2008 I had a breakdown. Out of the blue, I felt an injection of adrenaline in my body and started throwing up non-stop. I went to the hospital and they said there was a virus in the air, and that many people were feeling sick that day. That was just the first of many of what the doctors came to call “generalized anxiety crises”. And they lasted from 2008 to 2013. Six full years of pure hell.
During these crises, I would feel my body completely taken by adrenaline, tingling as crazy, shaky… I would try to hold the “puke” as much as possible, but as soon as the first one would come out, I would not stop throwing up for 4 to 5 days. And I would throw up from 20 to 35 times in 24h. As you can imagine (ugh!), in the first or second time a person throws up, they have something in their stomach to put out. After the second time, all they have is acid. So I would spend days throwing up acid 😦 My teeth are not happy about it…
During these 6 years of hell I was lucky enough to have 2 amazing partners that did all they could to support me. The first one in Italy I decided to leave after 3 years, because I couldn’t deal with the fact that I was such a burden to him. But that was my perception, he never ever thought that, he would have never left. He was precious and loved me with his full heart (Thank you, Peppe! You are pure love! ❤ ) But as a sick dog, I wanted to drag myself somewhere else and die alone. So I went away to Mozambique, but I didn’t die. I lived in Mozambique for a year and I felt a little better for few months. There was less stress since I didn’t need to deal with the Italian stereotype on Brazilian women. But after some work stress, it came back. I started to be constantly sick again, so I flew back to Brazil. It was supposed to be a trip to rest and see doctors, but I never went back. It was the end of 2010.
Getting slowly better in Mozambique 49 kg/ 108 lbs to 60 Kg/ 132 lbs
In the end of 2010, I met my next partner. Who was lovely, and decided to move from France to Rio de Janeiro and live the ‘Brazilian Ipanema Dream”. Well… it did not take him long to realize that visiting Brazil is amazing, but living here is a huge challenge. Mainly with a woman working on serious health issues. He got sad, sick and in the end of 2013, he couldn’t bear it anymore, and in order to avoid destroying both of us, he left. I am so glad he did it! He deserved so much better than that! I lost count of how many times he slept in hospitals with me, or how many doctors he fought demanding answers about my case… He was precious too… ( Thank you, Antoine! You rock! ❤ )
Italian, Mozambican and Brazilian doctors could not figure out what I had. They all literally looked inside of me many times and said that there was nothing physical. As they could not find anything inside my body, they all agreed that it was in my mind: I was an anxious person… I had “generalized anxiety crises”. I should go to the psychiatrist and they would put me on meds that would help me. I did it. And the meds did not help at all. They only made it worse.
I took tons of pills and drops of all sorts of meds, brands and labs against depression and anxiety. I was doped most of the time, lethargic. I could not function. And I kept throwing up. I went down to 42 Kg (92 lbs). Friends would take turns to help me to eat and walk. They would even carry me around.
During those 6 years, I went to emergency rooms several times in 3 different continents. And many times doctors thought I would die from kidneys failure, since I couldn’t manage to drink water. But I always survived. Dealing with uninformed people telling me “just eat!” was the toughest. A lot of people thought I was some aspiring model with a nervous anorexia problem. Everybody who bothered to spend some time around me and helped me with basic daily things knew very well that was far away from the case. But people who would call themselves my friends, but who never took a minute to visit me and watch an hour of my daily struggle, ohhh, they were full of opinion. So please, if you have a friend facing health issues, PLEASE educate yourself and research before opening your mouth. Their struggle is real and your words and attitude can cause major setbacks. (I mean, don’t be a dick!).
In the end of 2013, I decided that if I were to die , I would die in my own terms. My partner had just left back to France and I was alone to focus only on myself, and fight back the disease as hard as I could. Win or die! I decided I would cut all the toxic people from my life. And I did. That was my first big move. And it was a powerful one!
I also decided I would start getting off meds slowly and gradually. I looked for a psychiatrist that would share my view and would help me with that. After visiting 3 of them who told me I was crazy to stop the meds, I finally met one that agreed with me, and helped me to cut them gradually.
I also decided to put my energy into something I loved: I always wanted to create a business that would change the world through entrepreneurial education for kids. And teach them that entrepreneurship was an art: the art of pursuing our dreams creatively and capturing extraordinary value out of the journey. I did it. I could not walk far, but I decided that I would not be in bed; that I would sit in the kitchen table and create. At that time, I was renting a room in my apartment through Airbnb, and a Russian girl (Anastasyia) that had rented it a year before was a fashion designer. I asked if she would help me, by illustrating my content. She said yes and we worked on that together on the kitchen’s table 🙂 . And we made it! We created “Empreenda Sonhos” , roughly translated as “Take on your dreams” , a business that grows happy and successful people through entrepreneurial education since early age (www.empreendasonhos.com).
That was a big thing, and gave me energy, gave me power and gave me the sensation that I was not a sick useless person anymore. I was a fighter!
So in the beginning of 2014, I was using my energy to create and I had greatly reduced my meds. Because of that, I was being able to eat a bit better and I had gained few kilos (I was 50Kg / 110 lbs). I could walk, I could go outside… So I decided to try and exercise. I started with pilates and it was amazing! A friend gave me a Transcendental Meditation course (Thanks Bob! You are awesome ❤ ) and I learned Ho’oponopono. Both helped me to reach a more serene mind. Mid 2014, I was already feeling much much stronger, and my life was very close to a normal life. Fear was still around, but I knew better.
In July 2014, we had the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro. I was renting my room on Airbnb and this guy asked me to rent it for 8 days. He was coming from Canada to enjoy the event. I accepted his request. I also decided I would tame my fears and go for my first trip in years. So I went to Uruguay with two friends. I felt so brave, so badass that I was actually going to take a plane! I spent a week in Uruguay and I had a great time, but I did got sick in the very last day 😦 . But come on, I had a huge barbecue and 40 minutes later I went for a horse ride! Of course my stuffed stomach couldn’t handle all that shaking! 😀 You don’t need to be chronically ill to feel sick on those conditions :p
When I came back to Rio, the airbnb guy had been in my home for 2 days already. I arrived in the end of the afternoon. I met Anastasya (who had stayed in my room to help me with Airbnb check in’s while I was out) and told her I was still a bit sick. She went downstairs to get me some food in the supermarket, and I stayed on the couch, resting and telling myself that there was no reason to be afraid, that it was not a setback, that everything was alright. The door opened and I was expecting for Anastasyia to come in… But it was the Airbnb guy!
He looked at me as if I was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen! He said hi and walked inside, stumbling, with his eyes on me. I asked if he was ok (why the hell are you stumbling, man?) and he just opened a big smile and presented himself: “Hi! So you are Ana!? I am Darko” 🙂 ❤
And that’s how this wonderful relationship started ❤ Thank you Airbnb! Now give us a voucher to celebrate it in Southeast Asia! 😀
Since then, I only got better. And Darko played a major positive role on my full recovery. What a beautiful soul and dedicate partner ❤ Thank you so much baby, I love you ❤
Remember what I did in order to get better?
1- Cut stress and focus on things I loved
2- Get off meds,
3- Exercise and eat healthy
Over 2015 I gained a lot of weight and I was very happy with that. I reached 60 Kg (132 lbs). I started the gym and my body responded as a trooper, building strength as crazy. But in 2016, I kept gaining weight and started to think it was a little too much. Something was wrong: I was feeling tired, fatigue, slow, lazy… and despite of my workouts, I kept gaining weight. Initially I thought that, because I had starved for so long, I was eating too much, since my body was craving for nutrients. There was some truth to that 😛 I was eating like a refugee! But it was not the main thing…
In March 2017, I was 72 Kg (158 lbs). Knowing that my mom had a hormone imbalance that made her gain a lot of weight, I decided to check my hormones and went to an endocrinologist for the first time in my life. She asked for a whole bunch of exams, mainly for my thyroid. And she found out I have Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease in which your defense cells attack your thyroid as if it is an enemy. She explained that while the body is attacking the thyroid, it destroys the thyroid cells little by little and the hormone stored in those cells falls into the bloodstream. Guess what happens to your body when it is full of thyroid hormones??? A HYPERthyroidism quadrum. YES! Irritability, mood swings, nervousness, weight loss, depression, anxiety, adrenaline crises! Do you recognize that???
After some time, these HYPERthyroidism symptoms stop, because the Hashimoto’s attacked so much your gland, that it “broke” it ! So your gland cannot produce its hormone anymore. And you pass to a HYPOthyroidism phase, in which you have fatigue, lethargy, water retention, weight gain… Does it sound familiar?
She told me that the worst thing for Hashimoto’s is psychoactive meds. And I had tons of them for all those years! She also explained that Hashimoto’s have no treatment, but there are ways to easy the symptoms. They are:
1- Cut off stress
2- Eat healthy
HA!!! I am so freaky lucky I followed my guts and heard my intuition! I did exactly what was needed to fight this disease that I didn’t even know I had!
The hypothyroidism caused by Hashimoto’s has treatment though, and as for today I take a pill every morning (for the rest of my life) made of synthetic thyroid hormone (levothyroxine) and that is super cheap.
Do you get it? I lived 6 years of pure hell in 3 different continents and visited more than 20 doctors, and NOT ONE thought of checking my thyroid and simply decided that I was psychologically sick! That I had an anxiety problem! And NOT ONE suggested me to see an endocrinologist! And for 6 years they bombed me with tons of meds that only made Hashimoto’s worse. I destroyed 2 precious relationships because of that. And I almost died several times because nobody cared to go beyond their nose and check outside their own expertise: the gastroenterologist would look only inside my stomach, and since there was nothing there, he would say it was all in my head and send me to the psychiatrist, who would not think of checking the rest of my body before putting me on meds. And I could have avoided it all with exercise, a healthy diet, managing stress and a 10$ box of pills per month.
The only reason why I don’t go after each one of them and revenge like Liam Neeson in “Taken” is because this whole situation brought me to this day with Darko. Lucky them! :p
Moral of the story: DO NOT GIVE UP ON YOURSELF! EVER! And check your thyroid 🙂