Bodybuilding literally saved my life!

Guest Blogger Jane Curnow

With a life littered with addictions, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, heartache and insecurities Jane took on the ultimate attempt at satisfying the ego to compete as a fitness model at the tenderage of 46. Through this intense journey to achieve the perfect female form, driven by vanity and low self-esteem, she inadvertently stumbles across the answers she had spent a life time searching for. She declared herself fully recovered at the age of 50 which she celebrated on stage as symbolic of her recovery through bodybuilding. She is now an author, mentor, leader, online messenger and entrepreneur supporting women through their own transformations. She is also still a fitness model and bodybuilder at the age of 53 with plans to compete for her 60 th !

Briefly tell us about your mental health living experience

I commenced therapy at the age of 16 through the school counsellor. Once I finished school and with already a firm belief that there was something wrong with me I spend the next 16 years seeking various psychologists as I never seemed to find happiness. My first marriage broke down and I felt it was due to my inadequacies.

At the age of 32 at the break down of my second marriage I receive my official diagnosis of clinical depression and commenced my 18 year career on medication. (4 different kinds) Therapy also now involved psychiatrists over psychologists.

The first attempt on my life was at 35. I don’t classify it as an attempt as the motivation was to sleep but of course if you take a handful of sleeping tablets that is the conclusion made.

At the age of 38 I couldn’t bare the depression & suicidal thoughts any longer and checked myself into a private clinic for help. I felt EXTREMELY uncomfortable in this environment and asked if I could go home. Apparently you don’t get to leave these facilities voluntarily and I find myself in an ambulance being transferred to a public psychiatric ward. Three days of a drug induced coma with the only way I could be released was with parental consent. My father had to fly interstate to secure said release.

I continued being depressed, on medication and in therapy.

The second and more serious attempt was at 41 after 4 failed IVF treatments with donor sperm. I was single at the time and felt that life was incomplete without a man and child.

Clearly I survived and spent the next 5 years addicted to partying, binge drinking/eating, codeine & ibuprofen, eating disorders & anxiety.

At the age of 45 I discover bodybuilding and debuted as a fitness model at 46.

4 years later I declared myself FULLY recovered for my 50th birthday which I celebrated on stage. Competing for my 50th was symbolic of my journey of recovery through bodybuilding. It is also a birthday I swore I would be dead for.

I became completely drug free at the age of 51 and have remained so. I turn 53 in September and I am still a fitness model ☺ and completely devoted to health & fitness.

Has stigma played a part in your living experience and if so, how?

I did not experience any social stigma as I became a master at disguising my issues and ensuring that no one outside my immediate circle knew of my darkness. I was certainly too embarrassed to publicly declare my depression as I relied on employment to fund my alcohol & drug abuse.

I have, however, lost many friends as a result of my issues. A few very close friends who exited my life that hurt me deeply. As I look back now I understand why. I was not a very nice person..

I do think for me a lot of the stigma was more in my own mind. Proof that my parents were right, there was indeed something “wrong” with me. Once I received the official label from the medical profession my life spiraled downward. This is my own perception of failure given my upbringing and expectations placed on me.

In your experience, what have you found to be the most important things to achieve a level of well being?

Without a doubt my health & fitness coupled with the mindset work I undertook to compete on stage. In retrospect it is quite astonishing that I even agreed to compete given how broken I was! I was suicidal preparing for my first competition. My pursuit of bodybuilding and therefore mindset work was purely for ego and vanity. However I entered a whole new world that involved incredible mentors, a change in lifestyle & habits, respecting my body rather than abusing it. I went down this road for all the wrong reasons and I ended up stumbling across the answers I had spent a life time searching for! Beyond ironic that the aesthetic sport of bodybuilding literally saved my life!

I maintain my mental health now by continuing this lifestyle. Most call me obsessed and I freely admit this is my new addiction. But considering where I have been in this life I am fine with being an extremist! I no longer care what anyone thinks of me ☺

Why do you think it is important to share your story with others?

My story provides hope to many who still suffer as I used to. With the right support, diet, exercise & mindset work you can turn your life around. I am privileged and honored to be given the chance of recovery. I have now devoted my life to not only sharing my story but to mentor, support, inspire & motivate as many women as possible.

Too many of us believe that mental illness is a life sentence. I actually don’t believe I was ever mentally ill and I am not sure many who are diagnosed actually are. I was just trying to be someone I wasn’t. I didn’t feel free to be me. I didn’t feel worthy or loved. I was insecure.. I didn’t have any direction or purpose for my life. I was trying to be “normal” When clearly I was born for something very different!