I have become Rubenesque. That is to say, I have gained a lot of weight in the last few years. It wasn’t intentional, as it rarely is. It was a side effect of trying a lot of different medications, being inactive, and then being physically unable to be active for a long time. Now, a lot of the meds I’m on have the potential for weight gain and I haven’t been inspired to work out since the summer, kicked in the butt by depression and agoraphobia until recently, so I’m kind of stuck. Changing my diet and exercise regimen will make a difference but there’s the leftover effects of the meds. Brings new meaning to “fat and happy.”
During one of my first hospitalizations of the last few years my Dr. started me on Zyprexa, which honestly was a godsend for my anxiety but a nightmare for my waistline. I immediately put on weight. I stayed on it for a while until I couldn’t handle how fast the weight was coming on. So I asked to switch. I think the next thing they tried was Seroquel, which also has weight gain side effects but less so than Zyprexa. It remained the same issue: too much continued gain. I was on Seroquel for a long time, but I finally gave up because being overweight was making me nuts (well, more nuts). Now, with my current cocktail, everything still has the potential for weight gain, but not as seriously as previous drugs that I tried. Lithium and Cymbalta could be culprits, but there’s no way to know unless I stopped them.
After I broke my neck and had physically begun recovering, they moved me to a new psych ward, out of the nice, private medical ward I had been in. To get there I had to take an ambulance ride across town. Between meds, inactivity, and constantly being provided with food, I had gained so much weight that I couldn’t close my winter coat. I was wearing sweatpants and large teeshirts because of my neckbrace for ease of access so I hadn’t really noticed while I was in the hospital. At the time I had larger concerns so I shrugged it off.
My family was so good to me while I was in the second psych ward. I never had to eat hospital food. They always brought me something. I started to binge on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They were very comforting. One of the older women, who was a bitch, and I don’t use that word lightly, actually called me a pig. But this was after I had intervened and stopped her from harassing some Jewish visitors simply for being Jewish. She was old, she was sick, and she was mean. I didn’t take it to heart but I did hear it.
At one point during one of my stays, because I was complaining about weight gain, they said they were going to weigh me every day. I said FUCK no. Look, when I don’t have to deal with how clothing fits, I honestly don’t care how my body looks, but I absolutely don’t want to know the numbers. It doesn’t help anything.
I still don’t want to know the numbers. I’d rather rely on the mirror and how I feel. I’m buying clothes that fit and trying not to be sad about it, but rather accepting. I do intend to start up my exercise routine again once I figure out how to balance my schoolwork with life. And I will curb my eating as my routine gets off the ground.
When I got out of the hospital the final time (hopefully my last time), nothing fit me. It was depressing. I lived in the sweatpants and big shirts that I had been wearing for months. I eventually bought some new pieces and only now do I actually have a respectable wardrobe for me at this size. I don’t know how to shop any more. It’s a learning process for me. And sometimes it is hard on my psyche and I get discouraged.
What I have learned, though, is that although I am not happy with the way I look, I am not made unhappy by it. What I mean to say is that I’d rather be fat and happy than skinny and suicidal. If I can be skinny and happy, great. Maybe I’ll get there. The meds put up a semi-permanent blockade between me and that goal, but I would choose having the meds any day of the week. So when I imagine people looking at me, judging me, I remember my story, I remember what’s at stake, I remember what choices I have. I will work my hardest to get in shape because I know I will feel better, and for no other reason. But if I hit a limit and simply can’t surmount the side effects of my meds, so be it. I accept that, and I’m happy with it.