The tragic story of My 600-lb Life's Sarah Neeley

Of all of the stories we've witnessed on TLC's My 600-Lb. Life, Sarah Neeley's journey might be one of the most remarkable. We first met Sarah when she came on the show, weighing in at 642 pounds, according to Newsweek, and admitted to struggling with weight since she was small. In her childhood home, her parents' divorce and her mother's addiction exacerbated her food binges, so by age 8, Sarah weighed 200 pounds.

Sarah said to the cameras, "My mom tells me I would overeat from my earliest age and I think it started when I was around 3. I had three siblings: an older brother, an older sister and one younger sister. I'm the only big one," via Newsweek. Sarah added, "I think eating was a way for me to cope with my world, because my dad had a drinking problem that led to a lot of fights between him and my mom."

Sarah was 24 when she came on the show and committed to Dr. Nowzaradan's program. She eventually qualified for a gastrectomy, according to In Touch. Through dedication and some impressive work, she lost close to 320 pounds.

While Sarah's journey has been remarkable and inspirational, it's also been marked by some really difficult moments. Because she's such an emotionally generous person, Sarah has opened up about these difficulties and it's amazing to hear how she coped.

Sarah Neeley had lost her purpose

Sarah Neeley appeared on TLC's episode of My 600-Lb. Life: Where Are They Now to give viewers a chance to see how she was doing since her time on the show. In April 2019, Sarah went through a heartbreaking moment that she shared about on Facebook. She quickly deleted the post, but Starcasm got a screenshot of her message before it vanished. Sarah wrote, "A few days ago, I signed myself into a [mental] health facility to get help with my depression and anxiety. Well the second night there i woke up to horrible pains....Ive been hinting around to you all that i was pregnant.. I was a little over 4 mnths, but i lost the baby."

Sarah added, "Im hurting in a way i never knew a person could hurt. Im hurting deep in my soul. How could god let this happen...i dont know..on top of this the cameras are rolling. Im exhausted. Im just done. For a split second i had a purpose. My purpose is gone."

This must have been such a devastating blow for Sarah. She has since recovered, however, and actually has some exciting news to share with everyone.

Sarah Neeley's amazing news

Since her tragic miscarriage in April 2019, Sarah Neeley has some very exciting news to share with everyone. As of May 2020, Sarah is engaged to be married and expecting a baby! The TLC alum spoke about her fiancé, Jonah, and her upcoming baby with Starcasm, saying, "I am engaged. And pregnant! Life is truly amazing."

Sarah is ready for this new journey. She said, "I'm ready for my life. A peaceful quiet life with my new starting out family." She added, "Being a good wife and a good mom are my focus. Enjoying life. That's all I want after all the chaos I've already lived," according to In Touch.

But that's not the only exciting news for Sarah. In December 2019, she spoke about her own battle with sobriety and shared with her followers that she was celebrating a big milestone. According to In Touch, she said, "I got to enjoy Christmas this year sober." Sarah shared that recovery is now a big part of her life.

What an exciting and happy development for our TLC inspiration. You go, Sarah!

Sarah Neeley's sobriety may have more of a connection to her life before the show than you think

While we're overjoyed for Sarah Neeley's newfound sobriety and lease on life, it's interesting to note that scientists and psychologists have found that the connection between what Sarah has described in the past as binge-eating and substance abuse stem from the same place.

According to a study published by Comprehensive Psychiatry in 2011, scientists interviewed 127 patients with binge eating disorder (or BED) and found that those with a parental history of substance use disorder (SUD) were "significantly more likely to start binge eating before dieting, had a significantly earlier age at BED onset, and reported less time between binge eating onset and meeting diagnostic criteria for BED," as opposed to those who grew up in household environments in which parents did not battle substance abuse issues.

Without having these issues treated (more so in the case of SUD) or recognized by a medical professional (in the case of BED), children were more likely to develop binge eating behaviors that eventually morphed with other comorbidities, resulting in a dual diagnosis of BED with mood disorders — things that can, in some circumstances, also lead to self-medication in other places.

Sarah Neeley's journey is reflective of ways we try to protect ourselves from harm

BED and substance abuse also share a similar origin point. Although Sarah Neeley has openly discussed the root of her own issues, the emotions surrounding reaction to any sort of trauma are ones we tend to try to avoid, and the ways we try to avoid them can manifest in different behaviors with the same aim.

As the Foundations Recovery Network explains on their site, compulsive overeating and addiction overall aim to do the same thing in terms of self-medication for the sufferer: to avoid feeling negative emotions, as a coping mechanism for everyday stressors, and to "fill a void." And above all, "people may use drugs or eat to numb their pain from something they fear they cannot prevent."

Stories like Sarah's show us that while we might find ourselves in situations that seem inescapable — that are fueled by fear — we're not alone, and we're not doomed to our circumstances. And the more these issues are destigmatized and the more we share our stories, the better.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse and mental health, please contact SAMHSA's 24-hour National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).