Prescriptions, Weight & Body Image

I was inspired the other morning after I read an article in this daily newsletter I get in my email, The Good Trade (highly recommend you subscribe, too at https://www.thegoodtrade.com/). The article was around prescriptions and weight gain. I was inspired by this because it's something that rings true in my own life and the prescriptions I take. Now, I am not a chemist or a doctor, but in my own research and in conversations with my own doctor, weight gain IS a typical side-effect, especially when taking antidepressants/antianxiety medications, which is personally what I take.


Prior to being prescribed, I thought I was the most stable person with zero problems. I was "skinny" and having the time of my life my junior and senior years of college, which was what all that really mattered at that point. Wow, was I wrong.


While I got A's & B's in classes, work, friendships and relationships waivered. I was your stereo-typical party girl on the weekends, but that's when blinders went on and bad behaviors came out. Strong. When they party ended, the manic episodes began because of how crappy I felt, and in shame of what I did the night before, because we all know I barely remembered it. I recently read another article about how sometimes YOU are the toxic person/thing, and that hit me. I was 100% that toxic thing, and I didn't even know it at the time.


Fast forward to 2018, I decided my life was going to take a different direction. By this point, I was definitely in a better place mentally and honestly, physically, because I was no longer in college and had smartened up a bit. But still, something was missing. I still had this feeling of sadness a lot, shame for the past things I did or wasn't doing, and the occasional panic attack-some worse than others because that's anxiety for you. My stress levels were through the roof, and I found myself getting angry over the tiniest, most silly things. How silly? Well, I swore out loud and came too close for comfort to breaking my steering wheel over a leaf blowing across my windshield one morning. And that's when it REALLY hit me: after years of denying an antidepressant/antianxiety medication, it was time.


I'd been denying it for a myriad of reasons, but mostly because of these three reasons:

  1. The stigma of being on them: "she's crazy", "she's hit an all time low".

  2. The weight gain aspect, and for someone with extreme body issues, this was an absolute no-go.

  3. I didn't need them.

Again, I was 100% in the wrong here.


I went to my doctor, took some tests, had some chats, and she agreed-it was time. I started a few trials: some made me feel good, some did not. But that's common. Finally, I found the prescription and dose for me.


Since being on this prescription for a little over 2 years now, yes I have gained some weight and it does make me feel bad. But, when I think about everything that was going on before: the constant panic attacks, the toxicity I surrounded myself in and spun off, the instability-I don't have that anymore (to an extent). I'm not going to say "this prescription has changed my life!" because sometimes prescriptions don't help or can be extremely detrimental or dangerous to some, but I will say it's made a significant difference in my life thus far. Panic attacks/manic episodes are inevitable for someone with anxiety/depression, because it just it what it is. I get so mad when my computer doesn't go as fast as I want it to; I have to always be going 1000MPH, and so does everyone around me; I get 'erked' when a leaf blows across my car. But, these aren't everyday feelings like they were before (OK, the computer part sort of is, especially on a busy work day...). But the thing is, I can now admit it. And I'm OK with it. I can admit to my instability and to the days where I just feel angry.


Now the fun part: body image talk. If you know me you're going to roll your eyes and that's ok-I can live with that. Backstory: On my 11th birthday, I was showing off an outfit I got from a family member. In the living room, in front of other family members, this person said, "You should really stop eating so many desserts; you're getting a belly!" Was this person trying to be malicious? No, I highly doubt it. However, the words were out and the damage was done. At ELEVEN years old, vulnerable and already traumatized from other things in my life, I was told I was fat. It was all downhill from there.


My belly and I have NEVER agreed-it's my arch nemesis and I its. I exercise 5-6 days a week and my diet is pretty clean (most of the time; I love food, what can I say??). I also have Ulcerative Colitis (UC)-an autoimmune disease that affects the stomach/colon (that's a blog post for another day).


I've come to realize this: weight is a part of life and a part of everyday. It's not going to not affect me; I've just found ways to embrace it. For example: buying clothes NOT based on size, but how they feel and make ME feel. I need a size 10 jean? Ok. Are they the most comfortable/comfortably fitting jeans ever? Damn right. I need a medium/large in underwear? Great! I'm no longer cutting off circulation in my waist and giving myself an unnecessary roll because I "want to be a small." I am curvy, my skin is blotchy (yay for yet another autoimmune disorder), and sometimes my only exercise for the day is from walking the wine, home and dessert isles at Target. And you know what? That is A-OK by me (And by Ryan because he usually approves of the chocolate 'Mug Cakes' and cab-sav I bring home). The people who truly love you and value you won't care how much you weigh or how red your arms get sometimes. If your circle includes people who start conversations by "You look great! Did you lose weight?!"-you may need some new people; because there are 1000 other ways to start a conversation.


I'll end with this: You are worthy of all of the love you desire, and the life you want to build. And if that means you gain extra pounds because you need an antidepressant/antianxiety medication or some other medication to help you get there, honey-GET IT.


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