Image by Rafael Peñaloza, used with Creative Commons License, edited by Mydnyht Rantings
I’ve written before about my contentment with my weight and body image despite having a BMI that puts me as technically overweight. I’m tall, my waist to hip ratio checks out, BMI numbers tend to be inaccurate anyway, and my cholesterol and blood pressure have always been normal. However, there have been two things going on lately that have made me rethink my health and weight: an immediate family member was recently diagnosed with type two diabetes (something that runs in the family, coming with weight gain and old age), and another immediate family member is using me as an accountability partner in their own journey toward weight loss. Examining what I eat daily and confronting the bad habits I’ve gotten into, partnered with concerns about changing habits now before I am in my fifties or sixties and struggling with being borderline diabetic, has made me wonder if maybe losing a little bit of weight wouldn’t be such a bad idea. There’s one problem: I am technically still in recovery from a not-otherwise-specified eating disorder, and the idea of actually trying to lose weight – something I haven’t done since I was fourteen and restricting and purging – is terrifying.
There are a lot of reasons why I went from 130 pounds in January of 2012 to almost 180 at the current moment. The whole reason I weighed 130 in the first place was because the stress of dealing with a repressed memory of childhood sexual trauma sent my weight spiraling downward. I put on about fifteen pounds come the summer of 2012, and I was happy at 145 – I was slim but not too slim (as I felt I was at 130), and my weight was a product of healthy eating and a lack of added stressors in my life. By the winter of 2013, I was back up to 160 or so, and my appetite had increased dramatically. I’m guessing part of this was due to the antidepressant I was put on in April of 2012 – I started with ten milligrams of Viibryd and eventually worked my way up to 40 mg. I didn’t think anything of the weight gain at the time – my weight fluctuates pretty frequently due mostly to med changes, and I had spent so long teaching myself to eat when I was hungry instead of trying to ignore those feelings to obtain a dangerous ideal that I didn’t think it was problematic that I was waking up in the middle of the night to eat even though I was getting enough food during the day. By the summer of 2013, I was up to about 175 pounds, and I’ve been that way for the past two years, give or take a few pounds.
Is it possible to lose weight while on an antidepressant that doesn’t directly cause weight gain but instead increases appetite? Yes. Is it difficult? Yes. Is it even harder when you have a history of an eating disorder? Yes, yes, and yes. I see my med provider on Monday and I plan on bringing these concerns up with him and see what he thinks the next plan of action should be. There are other bothersome side effects that I’ve put up with for three years that are making me consider a med change, but as I mentioned in my last blog post about medication, I need to be careful and make sure I’m doing this for the right reasons. It’s classic of people with bipolar disorder to want to mess with their meds when things are going well, only to then spiral downward and need to go back on meds again (and then want to go off of them again). However, as I have learned with various sleeping medications I’ve tried, sometimes a med change to avoid one’s body building a tolerance to medication is just what one needs. I’m hoping that if there is a med change on Monday, it changes things for the better, and doesn’t send me many steps backward. And if there isn’t, I’m hoping I can come up with ways to deal with the unpleasant side effects that I’ve been dealing with for far too long.