Weigh Outta Control!

December 03, 2017


Many of you have read about my journey with depression and dealing with the misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder, but you have yet to hear about my journey of being overweight as a result of my mental disorders. I will take you to places where I have been at my lowest, places of recognition and admittance and finally finding answers that will change my life forever. 


All my life I have been very petite in stature, never tall, always small in size. I have also always been involved with some sort of physical activity, whether it was dance lessons as a young child, athletics in middle and high school, or regular fitness and exercise on my own as a young adult. It wasn’t until moving to Denver, Colorado at 25 that I began to pick up weight for the first time in my life. I was living the life in Denver, away from the life and people I knew before, experiencing independence and fun for the first time ever(other than the exhilarating festivities of college life). I was around family (that I had never gotten to spend much time with) and newly found friends, eating out ALL the time no physical activity incorporated into my routine at all. Which for me was new as I was very active as a child and throughout my 8 years of college. After living away in Denver for two years, I picked up about 15/20 pounds the ladder of my years living there. After returning from a family vacation to Washington, D.C. in 2010, I looked back at photos of that trip and I noticed that I was beginning to change physically. Then I thought back to the miles and miles we walked in D.C. and remembered being very winded and sluggish as we walked up and down the city streets. When I looked at the photos I was pictured in, I wasn’t the least bit pleased at what I was seeing. I was shocked at the amount of extra baggage I was carrying around. Shortly after the return of my trip, I moved back home to sweet ole’ Alabama and got on the ball to whip my body back into shape! Two months later, the 'extraness' I had acquired had disappeared....like it had never, ever happened. 




Fast-forward a few years to 2015 - the age of 32. This was a rough year for me emotionally and began my journey to physically unhappiness. I was diagnosed with severe depression and bipolar disorder and began oral medication treatment midway through the year. After being on the medication for several months, my psychiatrist and I decided to try the shot version (once a month) of my medication. We decided on this method to see how I would do with it and to see if it would help balance my moods better since I often forgot/or opted not to take the oral medication as prescribed. In June of 2015, I started my first dose of the shot and by July of 2015 I had gained 20 pounds. Yes, I said it correctly, TWENTY POINDS...in ONE MONTH! I unknowingly went from weighing 135lbs to weighing 155lbs. Hell, I didn't even gain that much when I was pregnant with my daughter in 2012/2013. I only gained 14 pounds my entire (healthy) pregnancy, I should have known something was wrong when I gained 20 pounds IN ONE MONTH. I had not made and changes to my eating habits and was exercising daily. But unfortunately, I did not notice right away the amount of weight I had gained nor did I give it much thought. After a family get together I noticed a difference in my weight as I was attempting to wear a dress I had worn just a month  or two before. I began to suggest, to myself, that my medicine was the cause of my weight gain, but quickly tuned it all out listening to others say 'medication does not make you gain weight'. I began working out harder and trying to monitor my diet, but the pounds kept coming despite my efforts to counteract it. Before I knew it I was up to 175 pounds. I was miserable and even more depressed. I finally decided enough was enough and made an appointment with my Nurse  Practitioner and explained to her all of the things going on with me physically. She ran a ton of tests, all of which came back negative and did not provide any explanation for my new, larger body. So I decided to grind even harder in the gym. After 3 months of busting my butt in the gym and seeing not even a single loss of a pound, but gaining almost  another 20, I went into a rut. I began eating whatever I wanted to because I was already overweight, couldn’t fit any of my medium t-shirts or workout pants. Even my underwear and bras were to small for me to fit into. It was a workout just to take a shower and get dressed at this point and I had had just about enough. I was now in the 200's,  and decided to go back to the doctor and see what the hell was going on with my body. The nurse ran more tests and again nothing came of any of them. But this time, as we were discussing the major increase in my weight in 1 year, my doctor agreed with me that something wacky was going on. We were both determined not to give up without answers this time. Low and behold we found them. After going over the medications I had been on the past 2 years, she discovered an ingredient in the medication that could be the culprit. The medication I was on caused a hormone called prolactin to increase in my body. The prolactin level elevation in turn caused my weight to increase, and my metabolism to decrease making it almost impossible for me to lose the weight (no matter how good I ate or how much I worked out). My levels were over 5 times the normal limit at the time my tests were taken, one year after being off of the medicine. There is no telling what my levels were while I was actually on the medicine. I am sure it would have been mind-blowing. Normal prolactin levels should be between 3-23 mg and mine were 102.3 mg - one year after being off the medication.





After finding the solution, I began to think back to when I was seeing my psychiatrist and informing her that I was steadily gaining weight. Her reaction was to put me on yet another medication, this time to decrease my appetite (which hadn't even increased), tell me to decrease my daily caloric intake and to workout. Mind you I had been doing all to these things already and when I informed her of this, she accused me of lying and told me what I had already been told before, "medication does not make you gain weight'. Because she is a doctor, has several degrees, and decades of experience, I listened to her instead of listening to my body. I doubted myself and assumed I was just eating too much and didn't realize it. Two years and sixty-seven pounds later, I have gone from a size medium shirt to a size XL, Size 9/10 in juniors pants (size 4/6 women's) to a 14/16 women's/plus size, and from a 34B bra to a 38/40 D cup bra! Because of these major changes, I am regretful for continuing the medication and ignoring the signs my mind and my body were telling me.

I am now dealing with the after affects of this drug, after telling my psychiatrist over and over that I was gaining weight because of this medicine and her not listening to me. I have learned so many lessons from the experience. The first one being speak up for yourself and do so LOUDLY until you are being heard, especially when your health is at risk. After it was all said and done, I grew angry with my doctor for not listening to me and for just forcing more prescriptions in my mouth to combat the weight gain. In hind sight I know I should have spoken up for myself more sternly and believed in myself more that I believed in her because of her degrees and her experience.  When you  know your body, you just know your body, listen to it!  I am so grateful that this was a non-life threatening incident and that I was never in any danger (that I know of), but the extra 67 pounds I have gained throughout all of this has really put a strain on my body physically as well as my mental health. Going from 137 to 204 in two years has truly changed my life. I often times feel I will never live in my old body again and that I will never lose the weight and that saddens me. But I know I have to remain positive and confident and beat this. I am grateful to now have some sort of explanation for this major change and I am happy to begin my road to regaining my happiness. and returning to my old body. 






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3 comments

  1. Thank you so much for telling your story! I can really identify with many parts of it. I wish you the best in your weight loss journey and your search for true happiness! Much Love!

    www.loveniasimone.com

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  2. I definitely know the struggle of trying to lose weight. Thank you for being so open and sharing your story with us. Best of luck to you on your journey. Your daughter is beautiful by the way.

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  3. First things first, thank yo use much a=for being open about dealing with mental illness. That is something I am battling with myself. It made this story that much more relatable. Also, I'm really made at your psychiatrist for not listening to you. But I know. you have the strength to do what you need to do to become the woman you want to be. But keep us update on your progress. I'm super invested now!

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