Why I’m Accepting the 'Weight Gain' Side Effect of My Psychiatric Medications


In my opinion, many have a distorted idea of what makes a woman beautiful. She “must” have the body of a goddess, and…well actually, that’s about it. A woman should have a “perfect” body. If she does, then it often means she is sexy, successful and powerful.

But, what is a perfect body? I have struggled with both an eating disorder and bipolar disorder for many years. After I began to get a grip on the bipolar disorder, my weight exploded. What was happening? I threw myself even farther into my eating disorder, trying to combat the weight.

I had my last doctor’s appointment with my eating disorder doctor this past fall. My weight had finally stabilized from all the psychiatric medication changes. All my vitals were more than healthy. My cholesterol was great; my thyroid levels were awesome; my blood pressure and blood count checked out fine. All of my nutritional blood work came back saying I was eating enough and eating enough of the right foods.

I was healthy.

And yet, I weighed 240 pounds.

As I sat there and stared at the paperwork, my doctor pointed out numbers on charts with my configured blood work on them – percentages, ratios and abbreviations. I
listened. I understood. I can’t reiterate all of the terminology, but, what she told me was my psychiatric medications, while helping to keep my mind stable and not adversely affecting my overall health, make me what many people would consider “fat.”

It makes me sick to my stomach if I think of myself like that. It is hard to see all the jarring, red stretch marks from gaining what seems like an unbearable amount of weight. But slowly, I have come to the ability to cope with how much I weigh. It helps to have a strong family support system. It also helps to have an understanding primary care doctor, encouraging me to let it go – reminding me there is nothing I can do about losing weight in a healthy fashion, and my mental health is far more important.

Coming to the realization my mind is not something that can be cured completely has been surprisingly comforting – as I now better understand how to keep my life in balance. The medication is part of that balance.

And with finding the courage, among a world often propelled by a warped sense of physical beauty, to believe in my heart that I am gorgeous, despite my inability to lose weight, I feel myself being set free.

Psychiatric medication can take a real toll on your weight. But, just like the state of your mind doesn’t define you, your weight doesn’t define you either.

I know who I am. I struggle with bipolar disorder and I struggle with an eating disorder.

And despite all of this, I am not my illnesses.

I am so much more than that.

I am a fighter. My mind isn’t broken. My skin isn’t ugly. My body isn’t ruined.

I am a beautiful tiger who has earned her stripes.

I am beautiful.

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