Antidepressant Side Effects: Weight Gain and Hurt Feelings

antidepressant side effects

I stand an imposing 5’9″ with an average build, so I should probably weight 160 to 170-ish. But ever since starting bi-polar medication (Seroquel to be exact) I can’t lose weight. I spent all of last summer exercising diligently 4 times a week for 45 minutes at a time…and doing the “fat burn” session to boot…only to lose exactly 0.0 pounds. Nothing, zip, nada. Still feel like the guy in the picture below after all that hard work!

In reality, I only weigh 196.6, so I think it’s fair to say that I’m still pretty normal insofar as Americans go, but sometimes I feel like I should go on Biggest Loser. Other times, it feels nice to have some heft – a sort of way to mark my territory in the world around me. But unless I want to go off of Seroquel, it’s probably there to stay, joining whatever future pounds find their way to my mid-section.

This past Sunday my wife and I were packing to return from a trip to visit extended family. I pulled out the electric scale from the bathroom in order to weigh our duffel bags so as not to exceed the 50 pound airline limit. The relative in question, who shall remain anonymous, stood looking over my shoulder at the scale, apparently unaware that most people’s weight is a matter of some sensitivity.

There it was: 196.6 lbs.

Not only did said relative stand there staring at the scale as I weighed in, s/he was also kind enough to comment: “Woah, 196, geeeeeeez!” s/he said with genuine shock at the number (I guess I carry my extreme fat well, right?!).

Time for Biggest Loser, I guess.

Perhaps I’m just looking for an excuse, but anti-psychotics like Seroquel are notorious for making the battle of the bulge quite difficult. I suspect it is at least somewhat to blame for my inability to lose weight. Even if it’s not, I was annoyed the the general oblivion this person was demonstrating toward other people’s struggles. Maybe I seem like someone who can take it, but the truth is, I’m not. I’m one of those terrible sorts, unfortunately, who can dish it out but can’t take it. I suck at taking it!

Here’s another example: At a recent dinner, some other anonymous relatives noticed my bleeding fingers – thank you incessant anxiety that prohibits me from sitting still. After allowing them to examine them more closely, one of them asked if my fingers hurt. “Hell yes they hurt,” I said. The response: “So why don’t you stop?”

There it was after 38 years of picking at myself…THE SOLUTION! Just stop. I immediately took the advice, quit being anxious, quit picking my fingers, and I’ve never been anxious again.

Actually, I shot this person an internal bird and went on picking my fingers…and went on wishing that these people who genuinely love me and care about me would do their part to be sensitive to the battles that rage inside of me.

To be entirely honest, I’m probably more guilty of these sorts of insensitive comments to others than either of the offenders above. As a teacher, it’s rare that I make it through a day without regretting some jab or joke I make in class (I’m well known for my filter-less mouth). Nevertheless, both of these episodes really pissed me off, and if I could have a do-over, here’s what I’d like to say in response to my recently hurt feelings:

“Listen, I’m doing my best here! Every day is a roller coaster of my own bad brain chemistry mixed with the medication side effects that I HATE but that are better than the alternative. Cut me some slack! If you’ve known me for more than a week, you should know that I’m not playing with an ordinary deck of cards. I know my charm and brilliance mask my inordinately screwed-up brain chemistry, but news flash: I’m messed waaaaaaay up! So back off and let me pick my fingers and struggle with my weight in my own way.”

Did I say any of that? Nope. As usual, I sunk inside my head, thinking about how no one understands and how lonely I feel and started telling myself that maybe I’m just making a bunch of excuses for my problems when really I could easily fix them all. Maybe what I call antidepressant side effects are cleverly masked crutches meant to prove that I really have a problem when I actually don’t.

But seriously, people, I do.

anorexia

 

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