‘Oh those pills make me fat’ is a common complaint.  When I was prescribed antidepressants this concern came to mind. At the time I felt so bad that the worry stayed somewhat in the back of my mind. My doctor asked me about my appetite but didn’t really go into the weight gain question. In the apothecary I was told that I could add some kilos but that the first thing on my mind should be to get better. And I agree fullheartedly. Now I’ve noticed that it’s becoming more difficult to fit into my regular clothes. Let’s see what happened here.
First there was … weight loss.
When I began to feel stressed out, worried much, suffered with sleeping problems, I tried to relieve the stress. We went on frequent holidays to surf. Surfing is a good workout for all your muscles and it’s so fun. When working I went to the gym once or twice a week, to maintain my shape for the next surfing trip. I worked shifts, walked a lot at work. My days were long, I didn’t had the time to snack at all. I did my own cleaning and went to yoga every week. I was pretty busy. When burnout was more on the forefront, my appetite went away and because I’m vegan I eat a lot of fruit and veggies. Appetite loss can be “your body’s fight-or-flight response to acute stress and anxiety” and is precisely what happened. I was four kilos above the weight I had when I was 18. My dress size dropped, I looked thinner, not healthier but I found some pride in not being ‘fat’. I became very tired. I remember vividly those times when I came home and was too tired to eat. I was hungry but sleep was more needed. I knew this was a bad situation and it made me sad. I never want to be in that stage again.
Too tired to eat.
One day I was an active woman and the next one I was home alone on sick leave due to burn out. I tried to keep up with some activities but soon it became very apparent that it just wasn’t going to happen due to exhaustion. My appetite flew out of the window except for carbs. Did I crave carbs! Everything potato was good to bring me some comfort. And pancakes too but not necessarily together. Although latkes makes a pretty good mix of both. It is what it is. Sometimes I took a small bag of crisps for dinner. I remember even then falling asleep and waking up next to it. Hilarious no? Even a bit tragic in my opinion.
Get your priorities straight!
When I was put on antidepressants my mood was the first thing to stabilize after a long time. Anhedonia (loss of pleasure) wasn’t present all the time and I even found some things in life enjoyable. I loved to cook and after a year and a half I picked that habit up again. The real kicker came when I moved in with Pierre. ‘Living-together-kilos’ happened. While I used to skip meals, he eats three meals a day and now I do too. Feeling disconnected from my body and its signals for such a long time, I don’t have a clue what a reasonable portion size looks like. I don’t want to ‘starve’ him because my brain is a bit weird. So I cook … too much I guess. Even my dog is putting on weight to that point that we need to watch his food. I overfeed myself and my family. I hear the bells of shame, shame, shame (GoT anybody?) I feel that that is my fault of not having things balanced out as it should be. Not on my plate nor in my head.
Are there easy solutions?
My therapist tells me to ‘go out more’. Nice. Every time I change from my comfy ‘depression fashion’ (leggings, a cardigan and a longer t-shirt) I’m confronted with my shrinking clothing. Can’t I buy new, more fitting clothes? Oh yes, I could but it’s not that fun during the pandemic to go shopping alone and still being confronted with my increasing size. Did you know that at some point the sizes don’t go up anymore? If I remember well H&M carries sizes to 42 (European size). I don’t want to experience that that would be too small when just over a year ago my size was 36-38.
Can’t I just drop the weight?
Well, that is a good suggestion that I also said to myself already. I hang on to clothing, promising myself one day I will go back to ‘normal’. How realistic is that even? I hear people complaining about Corona-Kilos and I think to myself: ‘Imagine being ‘locked up’ for over two years not being able to do things.’ Imagine what that does to your body and self-esteem.
I guess that a step-by-step approach adjusted to my energy level is all I can do. I try to walk the dog but can’t do it daily. I try to cook myself but I can’t do that daily either. To be fair, it just sucks. There is no easy solution and it has nothing to do with willpower. Of course I can force myself to count calories or to eat less. I know I can because I ran on empty so many times. Will I be happier?
What would be a more balanced approach to the matter?
Doing what I can in the house. Doing laundry, dishes, a little cleaning makes a big difference in my moving; it adds to it. My hobbies like blogging and reading are fun but sedentary. I’ll keep up with regular eating because I think that’s a reasonable thing to do. I don’t need to punish myself by walking around hungry. (I used to think that I wasn’t deserving enough to have food).
There is more to weight loss than meets the eye.
I can think of all sorts of plans and resolutions but I can’t shake off the thought that those extra kilos hide something. Something that I can’t let go off from my ‘previous’ life. I’m scared to face what comes when depression clears up. I’m scared to be happy because it’s such an unknown domain. I hide in my comfy clothing and won’t listen to any ‘good advice’. I need my time to heal those invisible wounds of trauma. When I can heal them, those kilos will leave. I know that in my mind and I feel it in my body. ‘Till than I’ll be walking the way of recovery, maybe the best exercise ever.
Notes, further reading and references.
 There are different types of medications and antidepressants out there. Some will make you gain weight more, others will add less pounds. I know that people can struggle with weight gain solely as a side effect from their medication. It is a solid complaint. Please, talk to your doctor about it. This post is written from my personal perspective, meaning that I don’t think that in my case the medication is the unique reason I’ve gained weight.
Picture credits click here.