As some of you may know and live….often, the medications we take for mental illnesses or mood disorders cause us to gain weight. While I do take some responsibility here, I will share that I have gained about thirty pounds since I had my surgery for endometriosis around two years ago.
Many things have happened since then, of course, but I do blame my medication for at least some of that weight gain, and/or my inability to get back to my “low” weight.
Of course, I could stop eating Cadbury creme eggs and actually exercise for 50 minutes a day like I used to, but since this all does does lend itself to a discussion about food, exercise, eating disorders, and compulsions, let’s go there briefly.
Exercise and Counting Calories
Yes, I used to exercise for about 50 minutes every day. Following my (now seven year old) son’s birth, I decided to get fit. I counted calories. I started doing said exercise religiously. I didn’t really recognize my OCD well at that point in my life, but now I can look back and see that my commitment to how long and how often I exercised may very well have been a compulsion.
At the time, I rationalized it to myself. I needed to exercise. I should exercise, etc. etc. But the fact was, I was emotionally unhealthy when it came to the demands I placed upon myself regarding exercising. I didn’t feel like I had accomplished or done what I needed or should do for the day until I exercised. It was an obsession—even doing less than the 50 minutes wasn’t enough. I had to get just the right amount of time (or more) to make it “count.”
Calorie counting was similar though perhaps not as extreme all the time. I had a set amount of calories allotted, and I calculated, weighed, measured, recorded, etc. to make sure that I hit the “right” amount.
I recorded my weight regularly (usually each day). And doing all of these things allowed me to control something in my life. I could do certain things (ie exercise and count calories) and get/see direct results. It felt amazing, to be able to control this one thing—my weight—when I felt like I couldn’t really control anything else in my life (most notably the crying newborn baby I didn’t quite understand).
Losing the Routine
I maintained my schedule for years, more or less, eventually taking off Sunday exercise at my husband’s request. My surgery for endometriosis and various sicknesses derailed it, as did moving, changing our lifestyle, etc. My OCD meltdown and going back on medication really screwed my weight up as well (in both directions at times).
When I went back off the medication more recently, I started counting calories again and my weight went back down again. However, resuming the medication has resulted in the weight gain again.
I’m trying to be okay with it. I know I’d rather be stable mentally and emotionally than “skinny.” I tried counting calories again last week, and I basically failed. I like food, okay? Haha. But also, I worry about allowing that to become an obsession and compulsion, as I know it can be. I haven’t been doing regular exercise thanks to illnesses and my endo/pelvic congestion syndrome, and I know that doesn’t help, but I haven’t yet figured out an emotionally (and physically) healthy way to get my exercise in at this point of my life.
Eating Disorders Side Note
On a related note, the other day I saw a video on my Instagram from the Mighty about eating disorders. It was a really powerful and short message, basically about how eating disorders are mental disorders too—and how we shouldn’t classify or categorize them by how someone with that disorder looks. Overweight people can exhibit the same symptoms as dangerously skinny people, and people will congratulate the overweight individual on “losing weight” when really they have an eating disorder. Anyway, these types of stereotypes and stigmas are what the post described and sought to bring awareness to and about.
While I don’t know all the facts, I know that OCD and body dysmorphic disorder are closely related, and eating disorders I’m willing to bet often go hand in hand with these conditions as well. These are real issues, and we need to be willing to accept and get help for them. First, we need to recognize if we have the issues and then decide how we want to proceed.
Don’t feel shame. It’s not uncommon to deal with anxiety AND any host of other disorders, including eating disorders or exercise compulsions, etc. You are not alone. And you can still have these disorders, even if you don’t fit whatever “stereotype” people and our culture has for them (that goes for OCD, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, etc.).
Take the time to research and get the help you need. If you need any support, let me know. Let’s help each other!
What do you know about “comorbidity” of mental illnesses (sounds scarier than it is)?