Battle of the Bipolar Bulge

2014-12-27 10.19.22

“Thin may be in, but fat is where it’s at.” – Anon.

Bizarely, when I came out of the manic-depressive broom cupboard to some friends, one told me about a close relative with bipolar. My other friend had gone out with someone with the problem.

Whilst surprising, that’s not the bizarre bit. What I did find odd was, despite the long-standing nature of their relative’s illness, my friend hadn’t connected her relative’s obesity to their medication.

Look at the two following photos. There then will follow a short quiz.

A picture from a few years back of myself, and Gerald. He's the one on the right.

A picture taken in Spring 2007. (I’m the one on the left).

Let’s call the photo above “Exhibit A”, and the next one, “Exhibit B”.

Fat Sheila 2013 with Mr TumnusNow the quiz. Which of the following responses is correct?

(1) You like to stand on the left in photos, don’t you?

(2) Whilst “Exhibit A” is in focus, “B” is not.

(3) Subject appears to enjoy hanging out with fictional characters.

(4) Wow, you got fat!

The answer, of course, is 1), 2), 3), and 4). Especially 4).

Whilst photo A was taken after I began taking psychiatric meds, it was also after I’d been on a ward for what, cross fingers, is my longest stretch, ever. (1) So my long-running on-again, off-again, meds-induced love affair with food in general, and carbs in particular, had already begun. However, periods of depression (2) also typically result in my hardly eating. At all.

Welcome, folks, to the “Depression Diet”. Also known as: “How I lost weight despite barely moving”.

One of the biggest downsides of this diet is that it is inevitably followed by the “Cheering Up Weight Gain”. Hence the above photo of me from December 2013, looking fat and happy. Because I was, and am. (3)

So, the very stuff which is supposed to make me feel happier gives me something to become desperately unhappy about: My Big Fat Bipolar Self.

Of course, as I previously observed in this rant – er, blog – it is better to be fat than dead. And eating because I’m depressed because I put on a load of weight because I was depressed is a bit counter-productive.

Hence the photo at the top of this blog. It could be taken – as the caption which WordPress appears to have eaten said – to depict my frequent despair over my size. In fact, it’s a photo from my walk earlier this morning in Hyde Park Cemetery, here in Snowy Donny.

Yes, we have snow. And yes, fat people walk. In my case, quite a lot, as I cannot drive, and am too impatient to wait for buses.

Walking is one of the ways I plan to address (4) my weight over the coming months. And, as I enjoy photography, I plan to take my camera with me, as well as write about it.

Speaking of writing, I was surprised to find out how much I missed writing over the Christmas and Boxing Day break. (5) Two days without writing any fiction, or blogs. Nada. Zipster. Since writing is a major part of how I deal with my particular brand of mental health fruitcake-ness, maybe that’s not so surprising.

Anyways, here’s to a slimmer, fitter me in a few months’ time. Good Lord willin’ and the meds don’t return.

2014-12-27 10.19.38

(1) It better be.

(2) I also find being on a ward quite depressing.

(3) Except when depressed, and/or angry.

(4) Initially typed “depressed” for “address”. How’d you like that slip up, Sigmund?

(5) A break during which I worked part of Christmas Day.


About Sheila N

Enough about me. Art by Tom Brown.
This entry was posted in Bipolar, mental health and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Battle of the Bipolar Bulge

  1. I have been there. I’ve always been a slimmer girl. I currently weigh 120-125, although I’m about to do a blog post on how it is near impossible for me to maintain that healthy weight. My current meds make me too nauseous to eat. Anyway.

    Once I was on Seroquel and other things which made me gain weight so damn fast despite recording calories and restricting to 1000-1200/day and amping up my running and pilates. I got up to 150, maybe 155, which was quite a bit for me after a lifetime near 120.

    I eventually had a psychotic break because I could not handle gaining weight and not being in control of my figure. I told my doctor, sobbing, “you can make me crazy but you can’t make me fat, god damn it, it’s just not fair.” So I quit taking my meds — all of them — for three days. Very dangerous. My lovely doc didn’t take it personally but understands, only weight neutral drugs for me now.

    My point is I can relate. It is hard dealing with this disease and the drugs that make it impossible to gain/lose weight. Especially in today’s society, where so much pressure is put on your circumference.

    I wish you luck on your walking/photography journey. 🙂 And of course on your weight loss journey. Please be safe and slow about it. Best not to rock that bipolar boat.

    • sjn25 says:

      Thank you for your concern. Understood about “not rocking that bipolar boat”.

      I am off meds, and have been long enough now that I feel I can now tackle my weight without the background chatter of medication chanting “eat, eat, EAT!” in the foreground.

      The rate and amount I piled on the weight was and is truly alarming. I am planning to be “safe and slow about it”, no worries.

  2. blahpolar says:

    I would just like to point out that thou art not obese or anything like it. The dalek on the other hand, has no waistline. Now chant lose-some-weight instead of exterminate.

    • sjn25 says:

      According to my annual check up, I am obese. Not the nicest of words, and it’s just possible the NHS has taken this “BMI” business too much to heart. Suspect I am also even heavier than I was in December 2013.

      Fair point about Gerald C Dalek having no waistline. Seriously though, do you really want to be the one to tell him?

  3. sjn25 says:

    The NHS ain’t perfect, true, as well I know. However, compared to going bankrupt thanks to the bad graces of the non-existent US healthcare system, I’ll stick with the NHS any day.

    As for Gerald – good choice!

  4. Nimue Brown says:

    Sleep deprivation, even a little bit, causes weight gain (New scientist said so!) and sleeping definitely helps weight loss. Can I recommend the winter hibernation diet, with lots of sleeping? A gentle way to go, and if you walk as well (in the awake bits preferably)… it’s all good. Too much sudden weight loss (usually accidental) is a reliable depression trigger for me, it’s a bit of a panic button for most bodies, but sleeping lots seems to reassure my insane body that all is safe and we don’t need to be carting about reserves in preparation for a disaster…

  5. sjn25 says:

    Interesting, Nimue! I sleep too much ,,, or, not at all … when depressed. When flying high, I didn’t sleep at all. Later, when I could recognise mania starting, I had to force myself to stay in bed – not easy to do.

    Now, my body thinks 5 hours is a sleep, 7 or more a rare blessing. How much is collateral damage from when I was quite unwell, and how much is night shifts? More sleep would help my physical & mental health. If it helps with weight loss as well, it’s all good!

    My husband used to subscribe to “New Scientist”. Even I, a non-evangelical non-scientist, found it an interesting and enjoyable read at time.

  6. I think the NHS has gone a bit fruitcake itself with this BMI stuff. According to one BMI table, my super skinny, super fit colleague is obese – presumably because muscle weighs more than fat. Oh dear. Here’s to happy walking, happy eating, and happy sleeping (and to the awesomeness that is New Scientist).

  7. sjn25 says:

    Cheers, Stephanie. Fancy a walk sometime soon?

  8. A walk would be lovely. We went out in the snow yesterday – pretty!

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