The body & Mental Health – What’s Up with Weight?

Oh those pills make me fat’ is a common complaint. [1] 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[2]” 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.

[1] 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.

[2] https://www.vogue.com/article/loss-of-appetite-stress-ways-to-cope?mbid=social_twitter

Picture credits click here.

17 thoughts on “The body & Mental Health – What’s Up with Weight?

  1. In the past there have been times when I’ve lost a lot of weight with my depression because of loss of appetite. I’ve gained a lot of weight on my current batch of meds, 3 of which are likely to contribute to weight gain. And it doesn’t help that even walking is hard now because I’m so slowed down.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I feel like my whole brain is in the ‘mix’, first too little food, now maybe too much. I don’t have a clue what the middle way would be. I just don’t know what my healthy weight would be at the moment. It’s a bit confusing.
      I’ve just switched meds so now I’m really in the dark. I hope I don’t double the size I was!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Can you, at least, regulate portion size by measuring quantities? I know it is a pain, but specifically to decrease portion size?
    I know when we started living together, we both put weight on, as you say, just because we spent time together eating proper meals (and used to go to restaurants, can you believe it?) We both added some weight.
    I guess what I’m saying is that I think some of this might be unrelated to depression. It might partially be the “event” of living together.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think that is a very good step to take. I’ll try to measure it out more to ‘normal’ quantities.
      We’re having a heat wave now, so it’s more easy preparing many salads and fruit 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I had the same experience with antidepressants: I lost weight at first, a little bit, but eventually started eating nothing but carbs and sugar (maybe because they were the only way I could feel anything) and ballooned. That’s not the reason I stopped taking them but I’ve lost another 30lbs since then with really no effort (so I can’t claim to be some kind of diet or exercise genius, lol).

    What another commenter said about portion sizes is something I’d throw my hat in on. I prep my lunches for work ahead of time and end up eating way less than I used to when I ordered out all the time. Not only better food with less carbs but less food in total. I’ve noticed that when I have a lot of food in front of me, I’ll continue eating it even if I no longer feel hungry. Giving myself as few chances to do that as possible has helped.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I used to food prep all the time but that takes energy.
      I agree with eating carbs and sugar to feel something, this combined with no exercise it’s just the recipe for disaster.
      I’m lucky that my partner is willing to help me and wants to lose weight himself, so that is a huge advantage.
      Minimizing the possibility to overeat or to eat unhealthy seems the most doable to me. (I don’t believe in a special diet and I don’t follow an exercise regime.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah I proved to myself that you can lose a lot of weight without a special diet or exercise regime lol. You can do it, especially with a supportive partner

        Liked by 1 person

  4. When I was first ill, I went down to 38kg which was obviously not a good thing and 50kg was my regular weight. I got back to this eventually, and my job (running around wards all day lol) kept me fit and slim.

    However, when I became physically disabled and unable to walk, let alone run, I’ve gone up to the heaviest I’ve ever been (apart from pregnancy) and I really don’t like it. Only today my niece was round helping to sort my old (but very new) size jeans and stuff, either to sell them online or give to the charity shop 😦

    I could have cried – but I know that realistically, I’ll never get into them – comfortably – again 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can feel your pain. I’ve got the same issue here. I hold on to my ‘old’ clothes but they all tell me that it’s time to let go.
      I’ve shed some tears too especially when I bring up the issue and people tell that they have noticed that I’m bigger. So it’s not in my head.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry for not responding sooner Kacha, had to take a bit of a break from everything. But I’m back now 🙂

        Oh dear 😦 Yep, that’s horrible, the “Oooh you look better with a bit of weight on” — Yeah, right! Just fcking point it out to me then — bitch! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hey Caz! I’m so happy to hear from you, thought a lot about you. I’m glad you’re back 🙂 Are you ok?
        Since writing that post I’ve been on a little attack, the extra pounds I mean. I hope to lose some of the weight so I don’t need to hear such weird remarks 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes, all’s good my lovely friend, and thank you so much for asking 🙂 I’ve tried and tried to lose weight but I cannot even lose 1 ounce let alone a stone or a kilo lol. Wishing you all the best 🙂 Caz x

        Liked by 1 person

  5. “Go out more”? Now? 😬 No, I think your strategy of doing housework and finding a balance with eating is a better bet. I also like your attitude that the first priority should be your mental recovery. Most likely you’re right that once your inner landscape feels more balanced, any issues with weight will be easier to resolve or already gone.

    Of course it’s hard to wait for that when there’s still social pressure to be thin all the time rather than accepting that our bodies are in constant change. My own gain and loss tends to be a yearly cycle, since my best weight loss strategy is walking in the cold. Then summer comes and I often lay around eating ice cream to cool down. I figure as long as things balance out overall, I’m doing ok, though I am trying to substitute chilled coconut water for ice cream this year. 😁

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Walking in the cold and rest when it’s too hot to do anything anyways doesn’t sound that strange to me.
      I used to make ‘icecream’ from bananas and other ripe fruit. I peel the bananas and the other fruits, freeze them in a zip-lock bag and when times comes I try to blend that into some sort of ice cream to top it of with fresh fruit.
      It’s fun to have that for breakfast when it’s really hot outside.
      My doctor told me to move more 🙄 I guess I’ll give it a ‘go’. lol.

      Liked by 1 person

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