One of the most awful things about taking medication for anxiety and depression is that once it is actually working, you feel great and you start thinking... do I really need this? I'm fine! (Yes, you really do need it, and no, you're not fine without the meds. Notes to myself.)
I have always associated my medication with shitty times in my life. The first time I was on anxiety medication was at the tail end of my horrible first marriage. I got divorced, and I was like, "Don't need this anymore!" (Guess what? I totally needed it. And I replaced it with cigarettes for a time, not the healthiest.)
When we were deep in the throes of IVF, a friend asked if I would consider going on medication for anxiety and depression, that it would probably help me. I was like, "NO! I am HAPPY now, this is a temporary glitch, I don't want to be on medication while I'm trying to get pregnant, I'm fine, that's for when you're in a crap marriage, no thank you, I can do this on my own!"
Hmmm. I think April of 2017 proved me wrong on that one. I made it from 2009 to 2017 before breaking, but the cumulative impact of all the losses and my body screeching at me to stop putting it through so much stress and emotional trauma was just too much. And I caved. That's how I saw it, as admitting a weakness.
But I felt SO MUCH BETTER after I'd been on my meds, and being in a constant fight-or-flight was just so awful that I felt like, FINE, I'll take the meds, it's chemical, it's not a weakness, I get it now.
I didn't get it long-term though.
I've messed with my meds a couple times, and I'm constantly trying to reduce my dose -- which I thought wasn't the same as stopping them, but ends up being just as bad. (When you lower your dose and it stops working right, you have to go up to a higher dose to get the same effect you had before. Which I learned the hard way.)
The reason why I keep doing this to myself is so very sad.
When I take my meds and I'm at a dose that works for me and makes me far less fluttery and I don't have to take fast-acting anxiety meds that knock me out . . . it makes me gain weight.
On the correct dose of my medication, I am easily 10-15 pounds heavier. Even though technically my cortisol levels should be lower, which should count for SOMETHING.
It is beyond frustrating, because I want to feel comfortable with my body AND feel comfortable within it, and it seems I can't have both. And, I am NOT interested in any kind of diet or "miracle" solution -- I love food, and I love wine, and I am not willing to live a life of restriction. Moderation, yes. But one of my great joys is eating something delicious that Bryce has made and washing it down with a tasty wine.
I have never been skinny (ahem, PCOS, ahem). Even when I weighed 125 pounds in high school and was running track, I had a little pot belly, I had tummy rolls. As an adult in my 20s, I weighed around 150 pounds. Which was fine -- I have giant boobs and I look stupid when I weigh too little. At one point I was a size 6 or 8 after my divorce, and I weighed 145, less than 150, for the first time in a decade. I was also smoking, which is not exactly a healthful way to regulate weight. I weighed around 150-160 when I met Bryce, and then we started trying to have a baby.
Infertility treatments just wrecked me. My belly never really recovered, and the stress was terrible, and then there was adoption stress and my lovely little breakdown and then weight gain from the meds. And then I had a hysterectomy that cut through my abdominal muscles. And during all this I had entered my 40s, and literally watched my metabolism take a long nap.
Knowing that going down on meds helps me to shed 10-15 pounds led me to some very poor decisions. It doesn't help that my doctor had said a few times that maybe we could lower my dose if my weight kept creeping up. Which is kind of fucked up, because which is more important, my mental health or my weight?
Especially considering that even though I weigh more than I ever have, I am stronger than I have ever been. I absolutely love Pilates, and I've been doing it 2x/week for years now, and I have been put in a more advanced class because I am progressing so well in it. I have amazing flexibility and strength and it's so good for my hips, ankles, feet, balance. I walk and hike and ride my stationary spinning-style bike. But none of it really makes much of a difference in how I look, especially in the middle.
So this is the challenge. I know that when I mess with my meds I end up in a crisis situation and feel awful. I know that I am doing all the things I can to be healthy. Not skinny, healthy. I am trying, SO HARD, to love my body as it is. To exercise because it feels good, not to lose weight or burn calories. To eat mindfully and really enjoy what I put in my body, but not overeat. Which really isn't my issue. To advocate for myself with my doctor and tell him, at my next appointment, that regardless of my weight (which is sure to depress me), I am really strong and healthy and this is just what's going to happen at this point.
I can't both have good mental health and a "normal" BMI. And, you know, BMI is bullshit.
So, body, I love you. I am sorry that you've been through so much. I appreciate all you do for me, and how strong you are. I aim to be healthy. My healthy mind is my top priority, followed by a strong body. Please be patient when I make faces in the mirror and squish the fat around the middle like somehow I could tear it right off my body. I am doing the best I can, and so are you. I am going to accept the mess, to quote the book Burnout.
This is my goal -- accept the beautiful, strong, gushy mess.