440-Pound Woman Trapped in Basement by Her Weight

PHOTO: After a suicide attempt, Olivia dropped from 440 to 256 pounds.PlayCourtesy of TLC
WATCH 'My 600-Pound Life'

Olivia was a middle-aged woman, trapped in her parents' basement by her obesity. There she remained house-bound, as relatives brought her food.

"I secluded myself from the world," she told ABCNews.com. "I didn't want to be seen by society any more. All I did was either be on the computer, watch TV or eat."

The 47-year-old former computer specialist weighed in at 440 pounds and had been teased most of her life for her weight. At the age of 12, she weighed 180 pounds.

Super-sized model poses for cash to pay for surgery.

A 2010 flood forced her out of the house and she lost everything she owned. Olivia, who did not want to reveal her last name, said she was so depressed she tried to kill herself by swallowing a handful of painkillers.

She credits her twin sister with saving her life by calling paramedics, and vowed after that catastrophic event to transform her life by losing weight.

Her inspiring and transformational story is part of an eight-part television series, "My 600-Pound Life," which continues its second season on TLC on Jan. 7.

In the series opener, women like Olivia tell stories of how they became morbidly obese, why they decided to make the change, their traumatic surgery and recovery and how all those who love them, including their enablers, have coped.

Today, after moving to Texas to live with her brother and have gastric surgery, Olivia weights 256 pounds. But her weight is still disabling: She has lympedema in her legs, which makes walking painful. Still, she is leading a healthier lifestyle and hopes to reach the goal of 180 pounds.

Olivia grew up in Cicero, Ill., in a dysfunctional family and was sexually abused by a cousin at the age of 7. "I grew up in an abusive house," she said. "My stepfather was not sexually abusive, but he did hit us."

One of only a handful of Hispanics at her high school, Olivia dropped out because of bullying and continued on a path of eating to morbid obesity.

She confined herself to her parents' Illinois basement where they enabled her obesity, bringing her cookies, cakes -- anything she wanted. Only her twin sister refused and brought healthy food.

Then one day three years ago the basement flooded.

"I was half-way up to my waist in water," said Olivia. "I had been depressed and my parents were separated, and I was alone and trapped. I knew I would have to pull myself high up. … I fell asleep and the next thing you know, I had collapsed in black, dirty water. I didn't think twice about putting my feet in the water with the electricity running through the house."

Knowing she had to get out, Olivia called her twin sister, who rescued her. But the event triggered a suicide attempt, and she said she took "a cocktail of pills -- Vidocin, 50 of them."

By the time the paramedics got there, Olivia was unconscious.

After hitting rock bottom, she saw a TV program about an obese woman named "Myra," who lost weight. Between that and her desperate effort to kill herself, Olivia said she saw the light: "It was being in the hospital and seeing my twin's face."

"Myra posted something on Facebook about looking for [TLC] castmembers with obesity problems and I emailed her," said Olivia. "She said my life would be exposed -- they would film everything I did. But I was willing to do whatever it takes. I had tried suicide and I wasn't going to do that again."

She left Illinois and flew to Houston where she sought the help of a gastro surgeon and began filming for TLC's, "My 600-Pound Life."

Since 2010, Olivia has lost 233 pounds and intends to lose more.

"I just set my mind to it," she said. "It was determination, wanting to lose weight. I am Mexican and we eat tortillas and rice and beans, the food that makes you gain weight. I just stopped eating all that."

On June 3, Olivia she had gastric sleeve surgery. Now, she misses her twin sister, but lives with her brother and wife in Katy, Texas.

"I feel wonderful," she said. "I feel as if I have been reborn. I can go out and face the world. There is nothing to scare me or bother me. Nothing stops me now."

As for others seeking to lose weight, Olivia said: "Look for help, and if you can't find it, find me and I will try to get you help. Don't be afraid. And never give up. I didn't want to sit at home in my pity chair -- I had to get off and move. I wanted to live."