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Joplin woman using traumatic experiences to inspire others - KOAM TV 7

Joplin woman using traumatic experiences to inspire others

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

Twenty-year-old Tabatha Love of Joplin is a survivor of the Joplin tornado, abuse as a child, bullying in high school and her own suicide attempt. She's now using her life experiences to use others to pick up healthy habits.

When Love was young, she was active but continued gaining weight she could not shed. At age 13, she was diagnosed with poly-cystic ovarian syndrome, contributing to her weight gain. Her mother can recall snide comments made as they would walk through the grocery store aisle.

"Even in school they bullied her in school, they were mean to her, they were rude to her. And you just shouldn't treat people like that just because they're a little heavy. Weight has nothing to do with the way people are on the inside," Andrea Humphrey, Love's mother said.

Day in and day out, Love came home from school distraught and unhappy with herself. At one point, it got to be too much for Love to handle. One night, she ingested dozens of over-the-counter pills.

"That had to be the worst moment of my life, the night she tried to commit suicide. I sat up with her all night, we walked around all night. I called Poison Control Center, they told me to just keep her upright, not let her lay down and that's what we did. When your daughter tries to end her life because she's heavy, that is when you know it is time as a parent to step in and do something, whatever you can do," Humphrey said.

They pursued gastric sleeve surgery, taking away nearly 70 percent of Love's stomach. She does not feel hunger now and feels full much quicker.

"The common misconception with gastric sleeve and any weight loss surgery is people think it's the easy way out and it's really not." Love said.

To keep the weight at bay, Love works out four to five times per week. Her weight loss total is now 131 pounds. Her outlook on life has changed, too.

"You never know what people are struggling at home. So with the world the way it is, every time you are rude to someone or you say something mean, you are just adding more hate to the world and honestly, there's enough," Love said.

Friends, family and strangers alike have approached Love about her inspiring story of perseverance.

"I've always been one of those people that they're like 'how are you still going?' and it's because in my heart, I have an ambition to serve God and serve the world and some way, somehow, I will change the world," Love said.

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