Yes, I have the typical “medication belly”. I’ll never forget walking into a large conference room in Akron, Ohio and seeing a crowd of consumers, all with medication bellies. I felt vindicated, understood, and a part of something that those without bellies can’t even imagine. I got tears in my eyes and, on the small stage they had set up for Glenn and me, I could only put my hand on my heart.
I know what it feels like to be forced to press on with my life in a body that does not reflect who I am. Humiliation is involved. I have had to rise above my body image when in front of an audience, (a podium helps enormously), and speak only from my heart. When I was finally able to speak to the consumer audience in Akron I yelled, “YES! You all have bellies just like me!!! And I have a belly just like you! And we are great!” Everyone in the audience yelled their agreement. It was a powerful and fun moment.
The message I got from the crowd of consumers in Akron was that they, as a group, were in charge of their mental illnesses. If you knew the humiliation involved with not only having to take medication and live with the inevitable weight gain, you would applaud those brave people.
My son, Calen Pick, gave me a good take on the weight gain and medications. He told me, “Perseverance is required no matter what.” I asked him if the weight gain has ever been so detrimental that he wanted to stop medication. He said, “No. If you think that weight gain is worse than the illness then perhaps you should ask your doctor to reconsider your diagnosis.” He also told me that from where he stood the medication has allowed him to live a pretty normal life. “My body image was such that I had a very hard time letting go. It was hard for me to except that my body had changed. That change, especially when looking in a mirror, was a humbling experience.”
I’m hoping that someday the weight gain involved with psychiatric drugs will lie in the past.
I used to be able to eat anything and stay at 125 lbs.. I didn’t used to eat too much. I was one of those women who could lose a few pounds whenever I wanted to. I think those traits have made it more difficult for me to lose weight. I have had to resort to consulting a nutritionist who will, I hope, train me in better eating habits. I tend to eat many small meals a day. That would be alright except I don’t eat the right things. And ice cream on Sundays is not working! Because I live with only dogs I gravitate to humans when I eat by watching TV. I know! I know! Bad. But I’m trying not to discourage myself.
As far as mirrors are concerned the only mirror in my house cuts off at my shoulders. Going to a hotel can be hell! Those huge bathroom mirrors tend to sap any good feelings I have about myself. But I have to keep going. I’m fortunate to have the medications that I have. I’m fortunate to be able to write and be with my children and granddaughter. I’m fortunate to be able to drive. The pluses are many more than the negatives. I’m alive.
Thank you for bringing up this topic Jesse. I was like you, able to maintain an “acceptable” weight (in my eyes), throughout my life, and could lose a few whenever the need arose. At 48 I was pretty fortunate in this area.
After being diagnosed with adhd, depression, anxiety and panic disorder, you can imagine the pharmaceutical regime I was prescribed. What took me by surprise was the weight gain! Neither my family physician or my diagnostic psychiatrist mentioned this side effect for two of the meds I needed to take. As I always suffered from low self image this was a real kicker to have to accept.
There was a scenario that happened after a 20lb increase in my size, it required a new outfit for a function I was going to attend and everything, and I mean EVERYTHING!, in my closet was too small. I was down hearted but went to the clothing store to get what I needed. I decided to come right out and tell the sales person what my story was.
I told her I had been diagnosed with mental illness, that the medication I was taking had weight gain side effects, and that I wasn’t feeling myself so could she help me put together an outfit. She really put me at ease after she learned where I was at in my life.
As we were walking the story looking for items I might be interested in I mentioned how hard it was to have to go through this particular process. She turned and looked at me and said “do the medications help you?” I got the point, said yes, and laughed, as had managed to put my life in perspective with that one, simple question.
I have a happier, fuller, more positive life than I have ever had. That day shopping for clothes, with the help of the sales woman, I realised what was more important to me. I chose the inside of me rather than the outside of me. I chose to be well. I chose to live again.
I hope you are happy and healthy, loving life and achieving your dreams. Because of my medication, this is what I am doing with mine!
Thank you again for reinforcing in me the true value of who I am as an individual.
All the best to you, keep smiling, Leigh