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Angela Carter

Angela Carter
Surgery Date: November 2017
Starting Weight: 276 lbs.
Current Weight: 184 lbs.

Angela dealt with pain by turning to food for comfort. When surgery made that no longer an option, Angela found help through counseling with Paige Harnish, LISW.

My battle with obesity and mental health began long before I walked through the doors at Iowa Weight Loss Specialists. I had met with a few different counselors over the years and did a lot of talk therapy. I was paying people to listen to me, but nothing was sticking after I walked out the door of their offices.

I consider my journey to be before fat (BF) and after fat (AF). My life forever changed on June 27, 2016.

Three days after surgery, I woke up to my heart racing, and a cold sweat in my bed at home in pajamas. I was convinced I had devoured a double cheeseburger and large fry and was on my way back for more. Had I not still been in bed, I wouldn’t have believed it didn’t happen. I was in serious remorse for giving up part of my stomach and a lot of physical pain.

The next day, I had my follow up appointment with Jon. I confessed my dream and remorse. Jon’s words of wisdom were exactly what I was hoping for. He said, “I think you should talk to Paige” and I readily agreed. I was hoping for an appointment that day, but I had to schedule for another time.

I want to make it clear, the remorse was caused by my physical discomfort. I do not handle any type of pain well, and you guessed it, food would have been my comfort, but that was out.

I walked into Paige’s office with my dream confession and asked for help. I was open to any suggestions she could give me. Paige did a lot of listening my first appointment and then we talked about EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy). She wanted me to do a little research on my own before we started anything.

I credit Paige for a huge part of my success, but I owe EMDR some of that credit as well. I was unsure about my first EMDR session. How was this going to work? What would my eye movement do for me? Then we began and while I listened to her direction I was still skeptical. I was used to counselors who just wanted to talk to me. Then my 8 year old self-appeared in a memory, and I felt her anger and sadness consume me. The best way for me to describe this is imagine an 8 year old screaming her lungs out, full of every emotion their body can muster. Through EMDR, on that fateful day, my 8 year old found comfort and peace. She no longer screams with rage.

I wish I could tell you that was the end of my mental health journey. Isn’t that how the movie ends? I see Paige regularly, and we continue to work on different triggers for me through EMDR. We are still in the process of what I believe to be my biggest trigger.

I still struggle with food addiction. I believe this will be lifelong for me. The difference is now, I have the right team on my side for success. I advocate for mental health because I truly believe the mind is the biggest battle in this journey. By numbers and standards, I am a success. I’ve lost 98% of my excess body weight. I credit that to blood, sweat, tears, and most of all, my hours with Paige.

There is not health without mental health.

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