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Bipolar Medication Made Me Fat – and (Finally) Happy

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The first time I discussed starting psychiatric medication with my psychiatrist, I told him that I would promptly throw away any medication that would make me gain weight. My priority in the office that day was to prevent weight gain at all costs. My sanity was second.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

My diagnosis of bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder impacted my eating habits from being too depressed to eat, to self-inflicting starvation for self-harm and self-sabotage. People commented on my weight loss as if I had been working out at the gym when instead I was starving myself.

So my insistence that day, that first day, was to not gain weight because while I could not control the chaos of my life at that time, I most certainly could play with my weight gain. For three years, I stuck to the weight neutral medication regimen. I was hospitalized five times, my medications were adjusted each time and I was miserable but thin. My breaking point was in April of 2019.

At the time, I was in a near constant manic state and had been waking up 20 to 30 times a night if not sleeping at all for weeks. Unsure of what to do with my medication which was “an ideal cocktail,” the doctor in the hospital put me on 50 milligrams of an antipsychotic with the intent of helping me sleep as it was a sedative.

The difference was gradually and after a few days on the medication, my life began to change. The medication felt magic and everything finally made sense after all these years. I had been in a hole my whole life and for the first time, I was climbing out. Only on a small dose I still felt halfway in the hole, so I went to my psychiatrist to raise the dose. I was warned by him and nearly everyone I came across that weight gain was a side effect. But I didn’t care.

For the first time, I felt alive. I was out of the hole. Every day that passed, I climbed out more. Once the dose was raised , I was able to step away from the hole. The warnings of weight gain continued.

As the weeks passed, I noticed my hunger increased. I found myself digging in the cabinets multiple times a day and getting seconds at dinner without hesitation.

But food tasted better and my new love for life caused me to start cooking and baking and thus, snacking and sampling even more. My waistline grew as my hunger for life grew and I no longer self-inflicted starvation as some warped desperate way to slowly off myself. I ate food and it was good.

Now, five months later, I have gained weight, and I can honestly say I don’t care at all. Well, I don’t like that I’ve outgrown some of my clothes, however that’s more of a hesitation to spend money rather than mourning my lost thinness. For the first time in my life, I am far from the hole. I enjoy my days now and I live in the moment.

My stability has to come first and the weight gain is simply reality. I can mourn my lost thinness, but I won’t. There are many worse things in the world than being fat and being emotionally unstable and miserable is one of them. Fat bodies are beautiful too and I have began to fall in love with myself, fat included. My happiness is far more important than my weight and I am glad to be fat and happy and no longer thin and miserable.

Getty image via Olha Khorimarko

Originally published: August 28, 2019
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