Three years ago, I weighed 270 pounds and I was miserable. Now down to 155, I get terrified when I see fat people because I know I could go back there if I’m not careful.
Medicine for psychiatric conditions makes weight control very, very difficult. It’s another one of those things that’s not fair. On Seroquel, my first antipsychotic, I never felt full. Ever. I’d go to the school cafeteria and go back for seconds, thirds, dessert, and, of course, second dessert. My stomach would hurt badly, and still I didn’t feel full. It was like being hungry for two years. Eventually I leveled out on the Seroquel and could feel full again, but by then I’d put on a lot of weight. As a student at the time, exercise was not part of my routine. I was mostly in survival mode, just trying to keep my head above water.
Over the next few years I continued to slowly and steadily put on weight. I wasn’t overeating the way I had been before, but I was making a lot of poor choices about what I ate and how much. Finally, in 2014, my mom sat across from me, watching me eat dessert, and said “If you’re not careful, you’ll be over three hundred pounds soon.” That struck terror into my heart. I’d gone too far, and I had to find a way to reel myself back in.
I started going on walks with my mom. At first, ten minutes was all I could do. I had to build up to the hour I walk every day now. I had to start small, but diet and exercise is all cumulative: it all adds up. Every small choice goes into the larger picture of your body.
I’m down over a hundred pounds now, and it’s still difficult to lose weight because of the heavy doses of antipsychotics I take, but I can do it. If you’re on psych meds and overweight, I want you to know that it’s possible to get thinner, so don’t be afraid to try. Sometimes we don’t try because we’re afraid we’ll fail. The worst that can happen is you don’t lose any weight. Pretty low risk. Go for a ten minute walk. Leave sugar out of your coffee. Switch to skim milk. Small choices add up, and I am so happy with the body I have now, especially since I’ve been fat. It’s a relief to not be afraid of looking in the mirror. I highly recommend putting some work into your body and health. You’ll love yourself more, and you deserve to be loved.
By Emily Harrington, The Goldfish Painter