Two women, who have supported each other through various health problems, plan to climb Africa’s highest mountain together to raise awareness about diabetes and depression.
Jill Prins and Nicola Davidson have faced their fair share of struggles when it comes to health. Now they plan to face Mount Kilimanjaro.
Ms Prins, of Durbanville, was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in 2015 and Ms Davidson, of Kenilworth, has battled obesity and chronic illness for years.
Ms Prins ended up in hospital for depression when she was 15. It was the start of a long journey.
“Depression, suicidal thoughts and the inability to make decisions haunted me from my mid-20s, and I found myself turning to food for comfort, and starting a cycle of binging.”
In 2014 she started seeing a psychiatrist and a psychologist, as her family felt she needed professional help.
When the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD) finally came, it felt like weight had been lifted off her shoulders.
“Through this knowledge, I was able to get help and learn to identify and how to deal with BPD, but, unfortunately, the bad habits of binge eating continued. In 2016, at 115kg, however, I reached a point in my life where I was ready to take control back.
“I was obese, uncomfortable and always felt sick and tired. I signed up for a weight-loss challenge in September of that year, determined to reach my goals while battling BPD.”
Ms Davidson was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes in 2006, and, at the time, she was at her heaviest, weighing 135kg. For years she has battled with her weight.
“Since 2013, however, I made a once-and-for-all final stand at taking my life back, and have managed to lose a significant amount of weight, while reversing my type-2 diabetes at the same time. I also discovered trail running along the way – something that pushes me to my limits and makes me see what I’m really capable of.”
The two women met on Sleek Geek – an online community of support and motivation for healthy lifestyle goals. They have not only lost some weight but also inspired others suffering from various physical and mental ailments.
They have completed various races and marathons and have now started crowdfunding – raising more than R11 000 in the first month – for their Mount Kilimanjaro campaign.
Ms Davidson said tackling the mountain in September next year would be her biggest challenge to date. “I’ve done races and half marathons, I’ve run over mountains and through rivers. And now it’s time for my biggest challenge yet – climbing the highest mountain in Africa, reaching my goal weight on the year-long journey to its base and spreading the message that you never have to settle; that you never have to give up; that you never have to accept your worst life. You can change your circumstances, your health, your motivations and your life.
“All it takes is courage and a single step. And all the steps I walk on the journey to Kili, up to its highest peak and down again, will be raising money to fight the disease that was a part of me for so many years, and to show others that they can do the same,” she said.
Ms Prins said she had sat in her car and cried after completing her first 5km race.
“I had such pride in myself and realised that it had been a very long time since I’d felt any kindness towards myself. That was the first step of many I’ve since taken along races and trails.
“It’s because of this that I’m passionate about creating awareness for people who suffer from depression and mental illnesses such as BPD.
“You are not as alone as you think you are – there are other people who know how you feel, and anything is possible if you set your heart and spirit to it. You really can go after your dreams and make them a reality. And that’s what I’ll be doing when I climb Kili.”
The two have started preparing for their climb with trail runs, power lifting and weight training and are thankful to Sleek Geek and David Cross Strength and Nutrition for their support, saying they wouldn’t have gotten to this point without them.
With the climb, they hope to raise R200 000, of which R100 000 will go towards covering their costs and an additional R100 000 donated towards creating awareness about and treating diabetes and depression.
To donate towards their trek, go to https://gogetfunding.com/a-pooh-and-a-uni-go-up-a-mountain/