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.